Thursday, July 23, 2015

Photo of the Day - Pizza Week - micro review

My husband and I had our own imposed Pizza Week last week and here are my mini reviews:

Monday: Zayda Buddies (Ballard) 4 on the yum scale. Great service, loud trivia and great beers. (Bottom left)

Tuesday: Rocco's (Bell Town) 5 on the yum scale, great service after a wait for our initial drinks. (Top right)

Wednesday: The Masonry (Queen Anne) 2 on the yum scale. Boo don't go there I was so disappointed! Yellow mozz really!? Ew! (Bottom right pic)

Thursday: i made homemade Calzones at home. You will have to ask the people who ate them where on the yum scale they rated 😜 (bottom middle pic)

Friday: Vince's (Renton) 5 on the Yum scale and I have been eating that pizza for 40 years and it's still just as good. (Top left pic) 

Moral of this story. Fun times and great excuse for 5 date nights in a row but we currently both realize how much a lie "I could live on pizza"! Really is lol. #pizza #foodie #foodporn #seattle #northwest #cooking #recipes #reviews #instafood

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Its Clear, the should have talked about Kevin...

We Need to Talk about Kevin
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Rated: R

NOTE: This is NOT a movie for kids. I know parents are very lenient with Rater R movies but I would not recommend this for anyone under 17.

This movie blew my mind. It is from the perspective of the PARENT of a youth that commits a horrible crime. Her experience in the neighborhood where the crime happened, AFTER the fact - as well as flash backs to the crime itself.

Tilda Swinton, who garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Eva, mother of Kevin was SO convincing as the troubled and forlorn mother who struggled with her child literally since birth.  The movie opens with Eva at something that looks like La Tomatina in Spain - where she is metaphorically held up by the crowd, in the position of Jesus on the crucifix, covered in tomatoes, to represent blood, then slowly lowered down and covered dramatically by the commotion. Certainly setting the tone for how her life would run its course down the road. As a kid who took film classes in high school and college, the symbolism was awesome.

The movie touches on the effects of Postpartum Depression, and her own depression and self worth as a mother as she was aware of her depression and its affects on her son.  The balance of her motherly instincts and her intuition that something was not right with her son, was played in such a torn and heartbreaking way. You find yourself sympathizing with Eva - who tries to get people to see his red flags, only to be labeled a bad mother or out of touch.  We even see Eva get won over by his sweet little boy moments, second guessing even her own thoughts of behavioral issues.  Kevin goes from fussy baby to terrible twos that last several years, with moments of madness that only his mother seems concerned with.

The most shocking and intense part of this movie were the flash backs, and that is how we get to the topic of the actors that played Kevin - and portrayed the process of how the child became the young boy/man that ended up committing this crime.

Before I get started on the brilliance of Ezra Miller as the teenaged and current day "Kevin" I must acknowledge the younger actor - Jasper Newell played Kevin ages 6-8 years -- he was bone chilling. As we watched we kept wondering HOW they were able to get a kid to act SO well at such a young age. The lack of remorse, the sterile reactions to when he inflicted pain, and the ability to change from angelic to demonic behavior was incredible.

Now lets get to Ezra Miller. Talk about brilliance. This kid - who I had been impressed with in Perks of Being a Wallflower had the amazing effortless ability to switch on and off the troubled teen to adoring youth. His ability to inflict pain with NO remorse really freaked me out as a mother.  He showed love for his mother at some moments and then flipped back to the angry and insane teenager that frightened her to her core the next.

The mother in me kept trying to find SOMETHING good in him. Something redeeming, some reason for it all. Where was his anger and hostility coming from? Why did he hate her so? What lead him to have no remorse or accountability for his actions. I KNOW the movie was fiction..but the story was real. Real in the fact that in the U.S. we have seen it happen OVER and OVER. This movie gives you a scary and seemingly accurate view of how the entire ordeal could have begun or started. It goes to places that we as society don't want to talk about. It answered the questions I often ask after these tragedies "HOW does his mother sleep at night" or "I wonder how he was raised for this to happen!" and it gave me perspective on the humanity of the people involved in such a sad and horrible situation.

Watch this movie. Its on Netflix.  5 Stars for sure. *****

Monday, July 6, 2015

Kesté Pizza & Vino - "that was it" and it was outstanding

Kesté Pizza &Vino
           271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014
                                   (212) 243-1500

Kesté - in Italian Neapolitan dialect literally translates to "this is it". To me that translated into what every Italian does when they cook you dinner, put their heart and soul into the meal and then present it to you as if saying "this is it" or "this is everything". That is definitely the feeling we had at Kesté.

I was in Manhattan for a medical emergency that my daughter had experienced while there for a ballet training program. I had a horrible week and my uncle Vince, owner of Seattle's  Pizzeria Pulcinella (Seattle's premier Neapolitan wood fire pizza restaurant), called me and said - when Madison gets out of the hospital, I want to treat you two to dinner at my friend Roberto's place in West Village. I welcomed a treat after the stressful week, so he arranged reservations the upcoming weekend. 

There was a line out the door and it was pouring rain. I told the waiter we had 7pm reservations, and was told politely that they didn't take reservations. I apologized and said "I must have misunderstood my uncle Vince..." and the manager threw up his hands, smiled and in his thick Italian accent  "ahhhhh you are Mariangela! We have been expecting you! I will get you to your table now!" We were taken to a table in the center of the small busy restaurant, where all the waiters rushing around (who spoke fluent Italian to each other)  greeted us as we were seated. 

They took my wine order and we started with the Caprese, after seeing they made their own mozzarella in house. It arrived in a ball with fresh tomatoes sliced around it and aromatic basil leaves. They served it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side and offered freshly ground pepper. The homemade mozzarella was soft, fresh and light, melting in your mouth, not too strong of a taste,  very well balanced. Perfect way to start the meal.

I must say, as we ate, though it was a BUSY and bustling restaurant, being a people watcher, it was fun to sit back and watch the staff.  Every member of the wait staff and management spoke fluent Italian.  I pride myself in understanding most Italian (though never speaking enough to be fluent) and was enjoying the banter and family feeling as they yelled to each other while working. It made me feel as though I was at a family dinner, and I loved it.

Next up were our pizza's. My daughter ordered the Salame pizza and I ordered the house special, The Kesté. Being a picky teenager, my daughter was a bit worried about the spice level of the house made salame, but was pleasantly surprised. It was flavorful but not overpowering - the salame was lovely and aromatic, sliced thin and cooked till just crisp enough in the oven, and the pizza had just the right amount of sauce and cheese, and finally topped with more fragrant basil.
As a half Italian who's mother has been making homemade pizza her whole life and a pizza restaurant in the family, my daughter is picky in regards to sauce and crust, both which got her thumbs up approval, verbally and in the amount she consumed.

Now, there is reason I ordered the house special, other than the fact that the ingredients were mouth watering and I am ALWAYS enticed by the tease of an imported Buffalo Mozzarella.  I like to try the house special at all pizza restaurants I visit. Growing up with Seattle's Vince's Restaurant and Pizzeria in my family - I was in LOVE with their house "Special". To me it says to the customer "This is what we believe in and trust enough to put our name on it, and that when all else fails, this you will love". Its the standard, a way to judge the establishment and their product.  

The Kesté : Tomato Sauce, imported buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula, gran cru, extra virgin olive oil.  Again - I was enticed mostly by the buffalo mozzarella, but after my first bite, in love with the entire thing.  The balance of the fresh greens that seemed to cleanse your palate for each bite - with the rich mozzarella, the gran cru and salty prosciutto was a VIP party in my mouth. I almost had a When Harry Met Sally moment however restrained myself.

This pizza was the perfect representation of what Roberto Caporuscio has created in an establishment. I am proud to be not only 100% Italian but my family is from the same region as Roberto, Napoli. So I appreciated not only the feel and the dialect shared, but also the essential authenticity of the Neapolitan wood fire pizza. The technique is very boutique popular right now, so every time one opens, I am a little weary, knowing that my standards are high, and most don't pass my critiques.

At the end of our meal, we were contently full, and had some to take home as well. In true Italian style, was asked if I wanted any espresso after my meal, to which I quickly welcomed. 

Served and brewed perfectly, it was a smooth after dinner treat, as we were both too full for dessert - though the REPUTATION of the Nutella, Berry and Ricotta stuffed pizza was SO enticing and is my reason to want to return.

Please visit Kesté when in Manhattan next. Go for the amazing food and go for a taste of what it is like to be in a real Neapolitan restaurant in the heart of New York city.

***** 5 Stars easily