Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Navajo Torta - si gracias!


Alki, Kirkland, Madison

We had an awesome dinner at Cactus! in Kirkland this past week - but all I had with me was my cell phone, so please excuse the dark photos.

We have a family friend who used to live on a reservation in Alaska and made what they called "Indian Tacos". They were so amazing. Fresh fried bread, topped with taco/burrito toppings.

Cactus is the ONLY place I have found that has anything close to that dish. How close? Deliciously close.

The fry bread is obviously fresh, and the only difference in toppings is they add a few fancy extras - their own pico de gallo (dont get it in your eyyyye-o), whole beans instead of refried and even their own home made yummy chorizo as one of your meat choices.

From the warm chips, and homemade salsa and guac, to our witty and funny waiter Cooper - the entire experience was great. The waiter was also very SMART. How do you sell desserts to a group of people who are full and waivering about dessert? Earlier in the meal, he asked one of our youth if they were happy with their meal. She had been honest and said it was alittle spicier than she expected, but that it was fine and she would deal with it.

My favorite drink at Cactus - "Prickly Pear"

Navajo Torta

So at the end of dinner, as we waivered about dessert - he brought the youth that had the spicy dinner - her own big beautiful warm brownie with ice cream on top. The amazing cocoa smell wafted past each of our noses and within 3 minutes, had ordered 2 other desserts.
Ibarra Cowgirl brownie - may be the best brownie I have ever had. A rich thick topped brown served on a large plate, topped with a huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drilled around the sides of the plate a thick and yummy peanut butter cajeta.

And a close second is the triple cream FLAN.

In closing - this restaurant is a gem for the Northwest - and with three great locations, there is really no reason to not give it a try if you havent already. If you go to the Kirkland location, ask for Cooper and tell him your dinner was too spicy ;) you may get a brownie and he may sell a few other desserts to the rest of your party...

Rating: ***** Outstanding food, atmosphere and service

Friday, January 1, 2010

"A Serious Man" - A dark comedy that lingers for days....

Directed and Written by : Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed

The Coen brothers bring the darkness to light again with this darker than normal (even for them) comedy about life and its struggles. Now you say - what can be interesting about that - we all have tests right?

Joel and Ethan have a brilliant way of making you see the horrible tragedy in Larry Gopnicks life (brilliantly played by Michael Stuhlbarg). Even though his obstacles are basic issues that you and I may face daily - the writers have a way of making them seem sudden, tragic and heart breaking. More than that - your feelings of sorrow for Gopnick for his horrible "luck" grows with every minute. You find yourself thinking "Poor guy! He doesn't deserve this!".

That is where the Coen brothers get you. Deserving? Maybe not. But that's not what this movie is about. As Larry's life slowly starts to unravel, his Faith is what he turns to. But does he leave it to Faith or does he question his Faith and what is happening to him? Larry at times seems to be looking for not only solace in his Faith but also a reason for what is happening.

The movie is overflowing with the tenants of his Jewish faith. The movie even opens with a flash back of an old Yiddish speaking couple - very culturally old world orthodox Jewish. Throughout the film - Yiddish terms are intermingled in the script - and the audience has to figure out what they mean. From Larrys own meetings with various Rabbis, to his son's journey to his Bar Mitzvah and his first meeting with the eldest Rabbi. Its a very similar journey for them all, no matter what state of turmoil their life is in.

The cast of family, friends and Religious leaders are wonderful support for this movie. The most memorable performances were Sari Lennick as Judith Gopnick - Larrys unhappy wife. She is hilarious as the cold, staunch and unemotional Jewish wife who has his mind made up. Also Fred Melamed and Richard Kind play wonderfully hilarious side characters who practically steal the show at times. Overall an incredibly strong cast of characters - all the way down to the son Danny (played by Aaron Wolff, who was great for his age and the subject matter.

Does Larry find religious meaning and solace from his tests? Do things get better for him? Well if it did - it wouldn't be a Coen Bros film, now would it? I can tell you that this movie wasn't excellent for me right away. This movie takes some time to absorb. You need to take it and apply it to see where they are going with the main idea. The ending is so sudden, so final and so depressing (to some) that you will have to marinate on it. There IS a deeper meaning - you just need to find it.

And if you cant find it - then you truly cant appreciate the depth and darkness that Joel and Ethan Coen have reached in order to bring their vision to the public.

Rating: **** Four stars - VERY good - a must see!