Any foodie can’t help but be seduced by Ana Pascal’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal, never looking sexier than here, kneading dough in dungarees) passion for cooking in Marc Foster’s Stranger than Fiction. You can find a good review here on Confessions of a Film Critic. An anarchist baker, Ana runs a little café, counters laden with tempting-looking cookies and cakes – just like the kind of café that you’d like to have in your own neighbourhood. Not amused by having to be audited by IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell, playing it straight for once), she nevertheless bakes him fresh chocolate chip cookies, serving them up with a glass of milk and a helping of light-up-the-screen charisma. She also has an amazing speech which, of course, I can’t fully remember or find online anywhere, about how she realised in law school that she was meant to be a baker, giving a litany of American cookies, traybakes and brownies that will have you salivating at the cinema. And how does the IRS agent win her heart? With a box of flours – rye, wholegrain – all in little brown paper bags with colour-coded stickers. Anyone stuck for an idea for your favourite foodie this Christmas?
Incidentally, if you’re looking for a café in Dublin as nice as Ana’s looks in Stranger than Fiction, check out Michelle Darmody’s The Cake Café, behind the Daintree paper shop on Camden Street. They’ve had gorgeous gingerbread houses on the counter lately, just perfect for Christmas, and – like Michelle’s other establishment, the Curved Street Café – all the food is deliciously homemade. Well worth a wander.