Tuesday, March 10, 2009

La Casa del Mojito - a yummy cultural adventure

La Casa del Mojito

Categories: Cuban, Latin American

Neighborhood: Roosevelt
7545 Lake City Way NE
(between N 11th Ave & 75th St)
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 525-3162

A good friend of ours recommended this spot to us, and so we decided to bring a small group of people to try it out. We are in the middle of a religious fast right now, so a GOOD dinner is very appreciated, and I think overall, we got that.

First the atmosphere, it was SMALL, but cozy, quaint and bright. I am glad our group wasnt any bigger (9 people) because they had issues fitting us! This is where my review of the staff comes in. Our waiter (never new his name) was difficult. He had that "its all good" attitude, however he didnt seem to be able to handle very much and was a bit slow at times. Example: One member of our party was arriving late. So we ordered drinks, appetizers while we waited and said we would wait for him to order. You would think that would be enough. Apparently not, as he kept harrassing us to order. I understand they are VERY tight on space and like to turn over tables, but we were talking about no more than 20 minutes - and it seemed very rude.

Thankfully, the owner was very helpful and came to our table often to make sure we were taken care of - if it wasnt for him, the service rating would have totally failed. Even at the end of our meal - we wanted the bill split - and the difficult server couldnt figure it out. He said "Too many numbers for me". WOW.

So to the food. OVERALL the food was delicious. Here is a photo review of what we had:

Drinks: You must have a Mojito at the house of Mojitos right? Well none of us drink alcohol, so it was VIRGIN Mojitos to the rescue! They were quit tasty I must say.

Then onto the appetizers. We ordered Luam's platter and our friends ordered a shrimp dish. Our platter was 3 different types of plantains - and they were amazing. The shrimp was also very good, and well flavored.

Next up was dinner. It was served pretty timely - thankfully. Between us we ordered their famous steak dish "Parilla De Luigi", the Whitefish dish, the Flank stead and the kids all got cuban fried chicken with fries.

First Luigi steak dish. It was mouth watering. Served with rice, black beans and more plantains, it was amazing. Cooked how you request it - mine was perfectly medium rare and amazing. My only issue was that I had MORE plantains, being that I had SO many in my appetizer, it was a bit much. I was wanting some fries honestly lol.

The person with the white fish dish - said it was TASTY, however very "Fishy" tasting. Overall they gave it a thumbs up except for that.

Next to the Cuban Fried Chicken. Rave reviews on this - white meat, cooked perfectly, still juicy and seasoned so well but not too much.

One person had the most beautiful salad I have ever seen. Taste wise they said it was great, though a few of the fruits tasted a bit off with the combination.

Lastly the flank steak. This one wasnt as good as the rest. The person who ordered it says it lacked flavor, the meat was tough and the beans and rice unseasoned.

So besides our difficult waiter and the one not so good order - OVERALL this spot was amazing. The rest of the staff was friendly and the owner thanked us and walked us out, even let us snap a picture.

Two suggestions: 1) their website says they take reservations, but they DONT. They should take this off.

2) The one waiter in particular needs to work in the kitchen OR learn to serve properly.

Rating: *** 1/2 - Overall a great place to eat with yummy food!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gomorra - a REAL Mafia movie, almost too real

Rating: R
Director: Matteo Garrone
Language: Italian (English subtitles)

Grand Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival

For those of you who don't know me. I am Italian. 100% Italian. My family comes from Naples, Italy - where this movie was shot. This movie is about the mafia in Naples, Italy.

I have always had a fondness for mafia movies because of my heritage but also because its comforting. I know that sounds crazy, but the culture of mafia movies is comforting to me, the braggadocio of the men, the loud women, the cocky kids, the visions of food, cigarettes and liquor and corruption that lies between them all.

This movie covers 4 parts of Neapolitan life that is tainted by the mafia. The director skips around a lot between the different stories, which makes it hard to keep up at times, but if you follow close, you can get it.

This is not your typical "Ah yo getthefuckoutta here" Mafioso movie. Hollywood tends to paint a very tough, cold picture in mafia stories. You see money, fine suits, cigars, women, drugs etc. This is not the case in Matteo's movie. This is real. Naples has GHETTOS and the mafia resides in them. The mafia has to watch over where they work - keep an eye on their people. Can't do that from the mansions on the hill.

At times you feel sad and sorry for certain made members - because of the constant struggle they face daily with keeping their bosses happy but never being able to get out of the mess they are in. One man, who pays off people who "know too much" is a frail older man, who is constantly roughed up or has a gun put in his mouth because his bosses change "the list" and those that used to get money, arent anymore because their info is no longer sensitive. He is abused by both sides of the gun, literally. By the end of the movie you really feel sad for him.

By far the two best characters of the movie are the two young men (on the movie poster) who WISH to be mafia made and will do anything to be part of things. The scene on the movie poster depicts the hilarious scene of them in their underwear, shooting guns they found in a mob stash. This eventually leads them to more trouble than they ever imagined, but I won't spoil it.

The cinematography is amazing. Documentary style, you often find yourself questioning if this movie is REAL or actors. The way the camera holds a little too long on peoples emotions, to make sure you feel them. Almost like imposing on their privacy in some way. The slums of Napoli are filmed so you can FEEL the dirt on your feet. The directors ability to capture the violence of a scene but then draw your eye to the impoverished area and scenery as well, its fantastic. I found myself scanning the landscapes, shocked at the visual he was able to create at times. His ability to convey the feeling of a typical lower class Italian home, was impeccable. Smoke filled rooms, loud TV volume, laughter, cards being played, food cooked, spit fire dialect being spoken at each other, sun rays coming through the shades, dirty animals in the halls. It reminded me of Naples 100%.

I won't divulge anymore into the storyline, in fear of spoiling. What I will tell you is this. If you have any love for Mafia movies - SEE THIS FILM. This movie is better than ANY Mafia film I have ever seen, because its real and because of how its filmed. There is nothing glam or Hollywood about it. Its gritty and bloody but at the same time sad, lovely and real. If Scorsese doesn't LOVE this film, I would be VERY surprised.

Rating: ***** Closest thing to a perfect mafia movie ever. IF you ever wondered what it was like in real life, real times - this movie shows you.

**Here are a few more movie photos