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Makes a great gift for Food and Film lovers alike



Film Released: 2007

Genre: History Drama,  Crime,  Mystery,  Thriller
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal,  Mark Ruffalo,  Robert Downey Jr.,  ChloŽ Sevigny
Directed by:  David Fincher

This film is based on the true story of a serial murderer back in the 1960's and 1970's, who  terrorized the populace of the San Francisco Bay area with his seemingly random killings.  Making matters worse, the killer  taunts the authorities by not only leaving clues at the scenes of crime but also by sending a series of ciphers and letters signed "Zodiac",  to the newspapers, one of which is the San Francisco Chronicle where Paul Avery,  played by Robert Downey Jr., is put onto the story as the paper's crime beat journalist .


Robert Graysmith played by Jake Gyllenhal is a socially inept  cartoonist also based at The Chronicle,  who gradually becomes obsessed with the ciphers written by Zodiac and latches on to Paul Avery and David Toschi,  played by Mark Ruffalo,   the  lead detective on the case.  Both become fixated with the serial killer over a period of 20 years, following up and investigating the various clues.


The food aspect appears in a scene near the beginning of the film, where Robert Graysmith is have a somewhat awkward first date with Melanie, played by ChloŽ Sevigny,  where his general  awkwardness with people isn't really helping things along.

They meet  in an Italian restaurant and after a while Melanie orders the Penne Vodka -  "with  the cream sauce".  Unfortunately for Melanie, Robert needs to dash off before it's been served, so she never got to taste it.  However, here's a recipe for those of you who want to have your penne AND eat it.


It has to be said that there is some doubt as to whether the recipe penne ala vodka had been invented by the time, with the general opinion that it was invented in the mid 1970s, but here is a case where poetic licence rules supreme.

Happy Cooking!



Penne Alla Vodka    HT   MC   25mins


Serves 4      Hot   Pasta  Vegetables  Alcohol  Main Course   Eggless



350g/12oz  Penne Pasta

25g/1oz Butter

Ĺ  tbsp Olive Oil

1 Large Onion, chopped

60ml/2fl.oz. Vodka

120ml/4fl.oz. Double Cream

1 x 400g/14oz tin Chopped Tomatoes 

Grated Parmesan Cheese to serve




1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. 


2. Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sautť until lightly browned. 


3. Add the vodka and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring,  until it is reduced by half. 


4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cream and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. 


5. Meanwhile,  add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes.


6. To serve - drain the pasta well then return to the pan. Stir in sauce, and heat through.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.


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