Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm Still Here -Under the Joke is saddness

I'm Still Here

2010 Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Directed by: Casey Affleck

I like everyone else in the entertainment television watching community was intrigued when I saw Joaquin Phoenix, in all his disheveled glory, announce that he was quitting acting and becoming a rapper. My first thought? Its official. Everyone in the world wants to be a fucking rapper.

The media frenzy began and just after 2 weeks - it leaked to the media that this could all be a plot for media attention - to set up for this mock documentary. So in essence - it was all fake, a rouse...or was it?

The movie follows Joaquin through his new identity, trying to find people to help him with his new music, all the while pacifying his seemingly over zealous eccentric appetites - i.e. drugs, alcohol, hookers...your a-typical Hollywood train wreck story. Almost too typical.

Just when you think you have the movie figured out - and you think Joaquin - or as I knew his name growing up Leaf, the brother of heart throb River - has gotten the best of us all....the mood changes. Right about when he starts to organize meetings with PDiddy aka Puff Daddy aka Diddy Dirty Money. After two tentative meetings via his agent that Diddy blew off, Joaquin finally meets him in Vegas - but not without almost fucking the entire meeting up by getting wasted just before and not getting up in time, and being 2 hours late for their meeting. Diddy, with some coaxing, ending up seeing Phoenix - but not without an initial tongue lashing about wasting his time. After an odd, uncomfortable meeting, Diddy agrees to hear what Joaquin has and says he will work with him if he likes what hears.

Between this and making some club contacts in Vegas - Joaquin has a new found hope - happiness shines through his beard. Preparations begin for his big opening show in Vegas, to premier his new music to the world. He puts everything he has into the planning of this event, (except a stylist it seems). Finally the big night arrives, and Phoenix seems nervous but excited. I wont ruin the movie, but his reception wasn't what he had hoped.

Throughout the movie you see clips from what seems to be an old home movie from when Joaquin was about 10 or 11. The movie concludes with a long emotional trip to visit his father, one of the places most of us find support when we put our heart and soul into something and fail. There, in the jungle of Panama, he was just that 10 year old boy, performing with his siblings for the camera. It was there he could close his eyes and let the world of Hollywood fall away and his father embrace him. There he could accept his defeat, heal his dreams and find himself once again.

My rating **** 4 stars. Under the seeming set up..there is a deeper and darker message, which Casey Affleck nails. Brilliantly sad film.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monte Cristo MADNESS!!


(Various Restaurants)

From Wikipedia:
The sandwich can differ regionally. Regional variations may include sliced turkey along with the ham and cheese. Traditionally, the sandwich is dipped in its entirety in egg
batter and fried. In some regions of the United States it is served grilled, and in some regions it is served as an open sandwich with just the bread battered. It can also be served as an open sandwich using french toast as a base, with ham, turkey and Swiss cheese piled and then heated slightly under a broiler.

The sandwich is sometimes served with fresh fruit or with
clotted cream on the side, sometimes with fruit preserves, powdered sugar, maple syrup, or sweet mustard sauce instead. Monte Cristos also may be served with a dusting of powdered sugar. In the North Country of New York State, Monte Cristo sandwiches are savory rather than sweet and served with Thousand Island dressing. This variation is often referred to as "Cumberland Head style."

OKAY PEOPLE. HOW on EARTH did I not know that this sandwich exsisted??

I was at dinner with friends for a birthday celebration (holla bday girl Kristen!) and I saw this sandwhich on the menu. I casually asked my friends what it was. They all were flabbergasted that I had never tried it -knowing my love for sweet and savory mix. I was then schooled that this creation had been around since the turn of the century and I have just heard about this NOW!

So I ordered this sandwich, realizing I was taking a huge risk with such a different dish - but I had to do it. I really had no idea what I was in for...

Now this particular version was served with a fruit compote, which I didn't eat. I had at that point, had my heart set on JAM with it (Thanks Rick James) which I was told was the traditional way to eat it. I am glad I did - the jame was the perfect additon.

Let me try to channel Adam Richman from Man vs Food when I describe this sandwich.

It was the perfect mix of melted cheese and warm meat in a semi sweet fried egg batter. The bread wasnt soggy but done perfectly and the jam just adds enough sweet to balance it all out. Its SO SO rich but such an amazing combination of just the right flavors, it made me curse. Then I gave half to my 14 yr old daughter - and she curse. Rightfully so.

***** 5 stars - this sandwich rocked my world!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Man vs. Food - Its like I'm at Church...

Travel Channel Series

Staring: Adam Richman

"I could eat that!". Something every one of us has said when watching at least one episode of Man vs. Food. If you haven't, either A) you have never seen the show or B) you are an incredibly picky eater with boring eating habits.

Adam Richman is the luckiest man in the world. He has no "special talent", he isn't an expert on fine foods. Hell he isn't even TRYING to be. He is simply a man who enjoys good food, BIG portions and loves celebrating the mom and pop establishments.

If you have never seen the show - this review is for you. Adam's show is based on all the best places in the US to find good, gooey, big, amazing food. And most of the establishments have a huge meal, that is unreal to most and you get a prize for finishing! Adam always rises to the challenge, whether its a 7 layer breaded fish sandwich or a 15 scoop ice cream sundae called the Kitchen Sink! He is MORE than a sport for all types of food. So I guess we could indeed call that a talent.

As an Italian, who was raised with not only a love for food but also a need to express enjoyment while I eat it - this show is truly like church to me. Cooking is a form of worship. I take pride in it and my goal is to make every person happy. Adam is amazing when he eats. He doesn't mind letting grease run down his chin, often uses BBQ sauce as a facial and licking his fingers is a ritual for each episode almost. I almost think there needs to be a meter in which his groans of pleasure and wacky word medleys for what he is tasting can somehow translate into a rating system.

I have often said i could be Adams sister from another mother. I react to food the same way. This is a great show to watch if you plan to travel and want to steer away from the touristy establishments and want to get to the small secrets of each town. The places with changing menus (or no menus at all!), and don't measure their ingredients. Because of this show, I now have a LIST of places to visit in some 10 cities in the US.

They recently did a special series called "The Carnivore Chronicles" that I loved. Being a proud red meat connoisseur, it was a fun series to watch. Sharing the tears when you see that perfect cut of steak, and know its being cooked specially for you. Its very emotional.

Some may say that this show encourages over eating, gorging and obesity. Why yes it does, thanks for that! There are a few things Adam ate for contests that were gross to me and I would bet $100 he went and puked afterward. But that's what makes him a superhero in my eyes. For me its not about gorging on big portions of food. Its about finding the BEST amazing food out there that is affordable to most people - and ENJOYING IT!

The new season coming this fall - me thinks Adam's doc may have put him on a break- he is still hosting, however has asked for videos of people around the US - visiting their favorite local spots. Basically doing what he does. I am sad we will see less of Adam, but excited they are letting the fans get involved. I have a husband who enjoys food more than i do and is from the South - so a video is most definitely in order here!

Watch the show, become and fan, and share in the joy of cooking and eating good food.

Rating: ***** Five stars - anyone who can eat and love so much food is amazing in my book!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bambino's Pizzeria - A Surprising Delight on a Late rainy night...

Bambino's Pizzeria
401 Cedar St
Seattle, WA 98121
4th Ave. (Cross Street)

(206) 269-2222

Mon-Fri 11:00AM-2:00PM, 4:00PM-11:00PM
Weekends 4:00PM-11:00PM
$2 all draft beer (microbreweries)

As usual - we were looking for late night food, refusing to fall into the fast food trap. I am always determined to find something new and worth my money. Belltown is a hard area to find something kid friendly at that time of night - so we truly got lucky.

Checking the times on the door - we were pleased to find them still serving. When we walked in - the one cook and one waiter were chatting up front - both greeted us with cheerful smiles and asked us to sit anywhere. As we came in, so did 2 other rather large parties, and the waiter didn't look the lease bit worried.

After taking our drink orders and handing us menus - the waiter cheerfully fluttered between the 3 tables, bringing us our drinks and answering questions with ease. Me - being from an Italian restaurant owning family, am an extra harsh critic with wood fire pizza - so I had lots of questions. He answered each with a smile and assured me of which would be my favorites.

We ordered a 3 pizzas with our favorite toppings and 3 salads. While we waited, our waiter came to our table, asked us if we were drinkers and proceeded to give us drink coupons for their popular happy hour. He proclaimed he doesn't give them to just anyone, and that he thought we were awesome and wanted us to come back. We found him very engaging and genuine. Whenever a waiter will admit to us what on the menu he DOESN'T like, I find that refreshing and usually will go back to that establishment. Honesty is always good when it comes to food.

My pizza had sausage and mushrooms. It was VERY tasty. Homemade sauce, the crust was done perfectly and the cheese was fresh and not too much.

My daughter got pepperoni and couldn't stop raving. Their pepperoni wasn't too spicy, however very flavorful! I liked that the crust was consistent and evenly done like mine. My husband got the Calzone and said it was amazing - tons of meat, sundried tomatoes and cheese. The only thing it lacked was Ricotta cheese. I make my Calzones with Ricotta and so he is used to them. We asked if they had it, but they didn't, so he dealt with it. That would have been the only thing he would have changed.

Here are our salads - they were good sized and VERY hearty. I notice when restaurants make cut backs, thats what gets cut first are their salads. This was not the case here thankfully.

We skipped dessert, the meal was really filling and it was late. The waiter was kind and made us promise to come back. Our experience was on the whole very positive and we will definitely go back for another late night pizza.

My rating: **** 4 stars - VERY good (5 stars if they had Ricotta)