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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

A visual feast: Meal ideas for watching your favourite Netflix show 

With summer well and truly upon us, it's time to admit defeat and embrace the box set. Here are some ideas to turn your viewing marathon into a feast 

Natalia Dyer plays Nancy Wheeler in Stranger Things, and she'll be visiting Dubai for this year's Comic Con. Courtesy of Netflix
Natalia Dyer plays Nancy Wheeler in Stranger Things, and she'll be visiting Dubai for this year's Comic Con. Courtesy of Netflix

We’re at that point in the summer when we have to admit defeat. The signifiers are certainly there: the sea is the temperature of a warm bath, sunglasses steam up the second you step outside and the water coming out of the cold tap really isn’t delivering on its promise.

So what can you do until the cooler weather arrives? One option is to treat the stifling summer like you would a harrowing winter: take refuge indoors, hunker down and bring on the box sets. While that might not be a novel suggestion, this year, how about taking your marathon television watching sessions to a new culinary level? By that I mean make a real meal of things and and match your menu to the mood of your current TV squeeze. From classic 1980s munch to food fit for a queen, here are some ideas to get

you started.

The Crown

A Netflix Original, the first season of this lavish drama depicts the unexpected accession of a young Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1953, following the death of her father King George VI at the age of 56.

Over the course of 10 hour-long episodes, we witness a young woman initially struggling and later succeeding to assert herself both publicly and privately.

The gorgeously shot series delivers real attention to detail and some fascinating insights into the lives of the royals, notably the Queen’s relationships with a bombastic Winston Churchill, her fun-loving, high jinks-seeking husband Prince Philip and vivacious younger sister, Princess Margaret.

While food doesn’t feature often in the first series (here’s hoping for sumptuous feasts in season two), if you’re eating along at home, quintessentially British fare is the order of the day.

The menu

Cucumber sandwiches

Done properly, these are a delight. Properly means: pliable, good-quality sliced white bread spread with softened butter and topped with slithers of peeled, lightly salted cucumber. The crusts must be removed and the sandwiches cut into slim fingers or dainty triangles.

Coronation chicken

The dish that was created for the Coronation banquet is often done a disservice by way of a claggy, sickly-sweet, raisin-heavy sauce. Don’t let that put you off: look out for recipes that feature poached then cooled chicken, lightly bound in a spiced yogurt-mayo sauce that goes easy on the dried fruit.

Watch The Crown while indulging in a very British desert, Eton Mess. Courtesy Scott Price
Watch The Crown while indulging in a very British desert, Eton Mess. Courtesy Scott Price

Eton mess

The people of Britain were treated to an extra ration of sugar to mark the Coronation, so a sweet element is essential here. For a TV-friendly take on this 1930s’ dessert, layer crushed store-bought meringue nests, whipped cream and sliced strawberries in small bowls, then dust liberally with icing sugar.

To drink

Sparkling elderflower cordial with crushed ice and freshly picked mint leaves.

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Stranger Things

One of the runaway television hits of 2016, this eight-episode series combined the paranormal with a splash of classic horror, a hint of CIA conspiracy and a dash of both high-school romance and angst. At the centre of all this were surely the most endearing protagonists of the year, in the form of four Dungeons & Dragons-playing besties. The whole show, meanwhile, paid homage to the 1980s in a way that left even those who are too young to remember the decade feeling nostalgic for it.

As well as the music, fashion and lingo, Stranger Things

embraced classic 1980s American food with enthusiasm. It’s no spoiler to say that Eleven is a voracious eater right from the get-go: in one of her first scenes she ploughs through a mountain of French fries, makes short work of a hamburger and washes it all down with an ice cream chaser.

El also has a serious penchant for frozen Eggo waffles (the product is currently enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity) and isn’t fussy about how and where she eats them.

Over the course of the series the references to retro food continue, with meatloaf, mashed potato and green beans (canned, we suspect), Tater Tots, chocolate pudding from a tin, packet-mix pancakes topped with maple syrup, pancakes and sausages, and pancakes with scrambled eggs (and a maple syrup drizzle for the experimental).

Whether you’re watching the show for the first time or going in for a second helping before series two airs in October, here’s what to tuck into while dong so. Food from another dimension.

The menu

Savoury snacks

In homage to Dustin (Henderson), start your TV night snacking with a selection of easy-to-eat, old-school munchies: Pringles, Cheese Balls, Space Raiders, Doritos – you get the idea.

Meatloaf

Suspend your preconceptions here; meatloaf can be really tasty and is endlessly customisable: add cheese to the mince mix, pop a whole boiled egg in the middle, or brush with a sticky, saucy glaze before serving. And, if you can’t bear to tear yourself away from the screen to use a knife and fork, you can always pick up a slice with your hands.

Take a trip down memory lane with this waffle dish. Courtesy Scott Price
Take a trip down memory lane with this waffle dish. Courtesy Scott Price

Waffles

Eggo waffles are sold in supermarkets across the UAE, so do follow El’s example and indulge. When it comes to toppings, the choice is yours: think ice cream, fresh fruit, whipped cream, caramel sauce and nuts.

To drink

Wash all this down with ice-cold Coca Cola, in retro glass bottles if possible.

Narcos

Series one of Narcos followed Pablo Escobar’s explosive rise to prominence in the Colombian drug world and the creation of his power-wielding empire, along with the DEA’s thwarted attempts to stop him. A second series relayed – in equally graphic fashion – Escobar’s demise and the establishment of the rival

Cali Cartel.

The third instalment of the gangster drama is due to air on Netflix at the start of September, so there’s still time to catch up if you’re willing to put the hours in – and in this heat, why wouldn’t you? Sustenance will be key to this endeavour, though, and it should, of course, have a South American feel to it.

Nachos are the true kingpin of all TV snacks and it’s easy enough to give them an Escobar-esque makeover with patacones (fried strips of green plantain) or banana chips in place of the traditional tortilla chips. Add a classic Colombian drink and a decadent dessert and you’ve got yourself a menu that would have pleased even Pablo at his most portly.

The menu

Get in the mood for some Narcos with Patacon nachos. Courtesy Scott Price
Get in the mood for some Narcos with Patacon nachos. Courtesy Scott Price

Patacón nachos

Top salted plantain crisps or banana chips with fresh tomato and chilli salsa and grated cheddar cheese. Warm through in the oven. Dot with lightly mashed avocado, fresh coriander and sour cream.

Arequipe (dulce de leche) wafers

Arequipe or dulce de leche is loved all over Colombia and finds its way into numerous desserts, from cakes to ice cream sundaes. For a treat best eaten in the privacy of your own home (no judging), spread ready-made dulce de leche over crackers or wafer biscuits, and finish with sliced bananas and a sprinkling of sea salt. So wrong it might just be right.

Limonada de coco

This Colombian drink – coconut lemonade – is deliciously thick and sweet, while its slushy texture means it’s refreshing too. Blitz coconut milk or cream, crushed ice, lime juice and sugar in a blender until frothy, pour into tall glasses and then garnish with a slice of lime.

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