Chow Bella

Les Misérables and Dinner at Scratch Pastries in Scottsdale

While a jumbo tub of hot buttered popcorn is one of our most frequently indulged guilty pleasures, we think a good movie deserves a little better company than junk food. Try out our movie and meal pairings for yourself or feel free to suggest one of your own favorites in the comments.

The Movie: Les Misérables The Meal: Scratch Pastries

See Also: - Les Miserables Doesn't Dream Daringly - Tastemakers 2012: Duc Liao - The Hobbit and Dinner at Cornish Pasty Co. in Tempe

Les Misérables The Christmas season has its fair share of depressing movies with happy endings, but Tom Hooper's Les Mis makes the starving and deathly ill Tiny Tim or George Bailey's attempted suicide seem almost cheery. We have never heard so many people sniffling in one movie theater, and there was even a grown man openly weeping somewhere behind us by the end of the film. So is all the misery worth it cinematically?

After hearing the film was shot sans lip-syncing, we were definitely more excited to see the latest take on the classic French tale of despair, revolution and love. In some scenes, the long, dramatic, emotional monologues told via song were a little hard to get through. The nearly two-and-a-half hour movie could have done with some more conservative editing in general. Not to mention some of the rougher vocal moments from Russell Crowe could have been clipped.

However, in other scenes, such as Anne Hathaway as Fantine (who had just finished selling her hair, teeth and body) singing "I Dreamed a Dream," the live singing paid off. Hathaway is sure to be an Oscar favorite with her gasping, sobbing and heartbreakingly realistic performance, but her parts were the most interesting and once (spoiler alert) Fantine dies, our interest kind of did, too.

Scratch Pastries The road to recovery after hours of emotional lashings is long and arduous, but if Duc Liao's absolutely awe-inspiring French cuisine couldn't make us merry, there's nothing that could. First off, there's something to be said when you see the man, Liao himself, walking around the dining room asking every customer how their meal was and stopping for small talk in his thick French accent and broken English, often offering regulars free pastries for the road.

For dinner, we tried the linguine with pesto and grilled asparagus, a very lightly dressed dish that, like most of the plates at Scratch, lets the veggies steal the show. Next, we had the roasted lamb shoulder, perfectly medium rare, in a garlic sauce. The seasoning and sauces really add another delicious dimension to their proteins.

While the main courses at Scratch are delicious and very reasonably priced, there's a reason pretty much every customer walks up to the counter right after being seated: the pastry case. The macarons are luxurious and rich, especially the buttery salted caramel and floral blueberry lavender. Luckily for us, the macarons, parfaits and mousse sang, even though Russell Crowe could not.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch