Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ABC Cocina gets an A in my book

As most bunnies will know, it is a rare occasion that I mention food on the b-logue and rarer that I do a restaurant review. I have to break that rule today, however, given my epic epicurean experience last evening at ABC Cocina. Look at me with the alliteration today. So, yes, let me start out by just saying, YUM.

Before going, I had previewed the menu and may or may not have googled pictures of the grilled shitake mushroom platter I was surely going to order. The photographs were, forgive the cliche, definite food porn. And I was psyched for my upcoming trendy and delicious dinner out. Suffice to say, though, those photographs did not hold a flame to the actual food and insane level of deliciousness.

The Latin-infused diverse menu is rather lengthy so without a pre-read, definitely has the potential to overwhelm. But overwhelming or not, get through it. Because, take it from this non-foodie girl, it is so worth it. Finally making a decision of what to order was hard because almost everything appealed. Opting for a couple starters from the aptly titled "Light and Bright" section was a solid decision. The shaved brussel sprout salad topped with goat cheese and a citrusy orange marinade was bliss on a plate. If you have any inclination towards brussel sprouts, this plate is to die for. The second Light and Bright fare, the roasted cauliflower with raisins, chilis and cilantro was equally delicious. Some of the the best, most unique flavors I have experienced as of late.

Moving on from Light & Bright, we made way down to the Wood Burning Grill section of the menu. Not to be overly food-dramatic here but the maitake mushrooms with goat cheese, fresno pepper vinaigrette is about the equivalent of a ... well, you know. My, oh my. The stringy mushrooms were perfectly charred with just the right amount of goat cheese and again, another orange colored tangy sauce that was the perfect add. I think I could eat that dish for every meal forever. Second from Wood Burning was the charred octopus. Hands down the best octopus I have had. Perfectly crispy on the outside without being too chewy inside. Unless you are anti-octopus, there is no feasible way this dish will not blow your mind. Seriously.

Last up - fluke. I'm just going to say this. Fluke fail. The inferior order of the lot. Much too oily and paled in comparison to all of the other divine deliciousness taking place. But everything can't be totally perfect all the time, right? So, if you're struggling to order, flake on the fluke.

On the ambiance front, it's pretty fucking awesome. With exposed brick walls adored in colorful geometric glass shapes, mirrors and modern ornamental finishes, it is both palate and eye candy.

All in all, complete satisfaction from this veggie-loving, "super trendy" girl ;). The company wasn't too bad either. Highly recommended.

Restaurant link here:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Movie Musts.. a list of my favorites

Sometimes, believe it or not, I find myself actually wracking my brain with things to write about. Writing, and writing a blog in particular, is a weird sort of phenomenon. At times, my fingers can't move fast enough to capture all the things that I want to share with you all. My brain speeds up with excitement thinking about all the many topics I have to scribe. And then there are other times, days, weeks or even months, when the notion of writing almost seems like a foreign entity. Well, maybe not foreign but not at the top of my list. Sometimes during those rare times, I find myself filling the time I might otherwise spend writing, watching movies.

After all, to me, there is nothing better than escaping into the stories and lives of other people if only for a couple hours at a time. Life is so full of challenges, confusion, bills to be paid, garbages to be emptied, decks to write and emails to file... and sometimes the best thing is just to sit back and escape for a bit.

So, with that long-winded intro under way, I give you the list of my top 15 favorite movies of all time.  Enjoy.

1. The Talented Mr Ripley. So clearly deserving of the #1 spot on the list. TTMR is, for me, the ideal movie. A psychological thriller, an A-list cast with Matt Damon, PSH, Cate Blanchett and Jude Law (how much better can you get than that?!), twists, turns and a setting in the heart of Italia. Absolute perfection on screen.

2. Beaches. If you know me at all, you will know I had a rough time placing this in the #2 spot. It was a hard decision but ultimately I had to decide. Watching Beaches from the time I was a measly 11 years old to now is one of my most precious pastimes. Beaches, the story of best friends CC and Hillary, is so much more to me than a movie. Beaches introduced me to the glory of Bette Midler, the first in my lifetime of diva loves. There is nothing better than Miss M as CC Bloom in this beautiful story of friendship, truth and, at the core, life. So much love.

3. Match Point. Like TTMR, another fucked up psychological thriller (yes, you will see a clear theme emerging here), this one from the equally fucked up Woody Allen. Love him a lot, though... his films, that is. British tennis players, a hot ScarJo, and a mind-bending plot unparalleled to anything previous from Woody Allen. Loves it.

4. Blue Jasmine. Probably the most recent film to occupy a spot on my coveted list. Another theme - I love Cate Blanchett. (See #5 as well). Woody Allen brings the psychological drama again, this time in an interpersonal drama woven with themes of financial fraud, mental illness, family, and friends. Became an instant classic the first time I saw it in the theater.

5. The Aviator. Next emerging theme: the god that is Leonardo DiCaprio. Beautiful and talented Leo playing deranged and yet brilliant Howard Hughes is utterly mesmerizing. Add to that the cast of his women,  including Ms. Blanchett as a spot-on Kathryn Hepburn, his crew of aviary pals and retro sets, I could and have watched The Aviator on repeat.

6. Side Effects. Will keep this short and sweet, A great psychology lover's movie. Rooney Mara's twisted character, her, ahem, ill-fated late husband, the twisted relationship with Dr. Shrink Jude Law and the always lovely other Dr. Shrink Catherine Zeta Jones...there's all of that. Need I say more?

7. Black Swan. Yes. Please. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Ballet. Bloody feathers. Swan Lake music. I'm overwhelmed just thinking about it. Epic and classic ballet thriller. So much love for this movie.

8. Funny Girl. One of the lovely Ms. Streisand's first films. Ain't nothing like her. Barbra IS Fanny Brice and plays her like no other. Hello, gorgeous! 

9. The Way We Were. This should actually fall above #8 but somehow it landed at #9, likely due to chronological reasons. My personal absolute favorite in the catalog of Ms. Streisand's work. And, please, is there anything better than a young and gorgeous Robert Redford playing her goyisha love interest? Hubbel and Katie take the 60's in this movie... and my heart.

10. Doubt. I was introduced to this intelligent story when I saw it on the Broadway stage with my lovely mother. I love this story because rather than telling us the answers, dictating the takeaway, it allows us to create our own inferences, stories and endings. Telling the story of a priest and teachers at a Catholic school, Doubt inspires just that in its viewers. The late and amazing Philip Seymour Hoffman facing off with a habit-wearing Sister Meryl Streep is an unparalleled viewing experience. Everyone should watch this movie and take it to heart. "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty."

11. The Devil Wears Prada. Well,  yeah. Classic Meryl Streep as, ahem, not Anna Wintour. Obviously it was Anna Wintour, you know, in movie form with gray hair. Fashion, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Ms. Streep. Epicness. I needn't say more.

12. Terms of Endearment. I am confident all are familiar with the sob story that is Terms of Endearment. I have seen it in the double digits, I know the ending and every time, the water works are inevitable. 

13. Catch Me If You Can. My personal favorite Martin Scorsese/Leo DiCaprio piece. Leo's ever-changing Frank, trying to flee the law from his repeated illegal acts, is, to me, acting incarnate. Solid solid story and even better performances.

14, The Rose. Miss Midler playing Janis Joplin-esque rocker Rose. Think baudy singing, drugs and drinking galore and Bette in her hey day. Her first film, her first Oscar, if you haven't seen it, it should be your first Midler movie. Just trust me.

15. Vicky Christina Barcelona, Love this Woody Allen piece. Kitschy, fun, great scenery, good cast. Enjoyable but yes, the last on my list.

Phew, that was intense. My hope is if you have not had the pleasure of seeing any of the above, that you do so immediately. Movies are life and these are some of the best.

Happy Friday, happy Valentine's Day, and happy long weekend, all!

Philip Seymour Hoffman

While it may seem delayed, I could not immediately bring myself to write one more word about the late, wonderful Philip Seymour Hoffman. As it was and still is, there is way too much attention being paid to trivial matters that took place in his life... and in typical Hollywood fashion, posthumously. But a couple of weeks later now and a couple recent viewings of two of my all time favorite of his films, I did want to take a moment to pay respects to one of the most talented actors I have ever seen grace the screen & stage.

Unlike others, I say this now not as a posthumous discovery of a raw talent but as someone who enjoyed and appreciated PSH for his brilliance while he was still living. In writing the list of some of my favorite films the other day, the realization that Philip Seymour Hoffman was in a majority of them slapped me in the face. My clear #1 favorite The Talented Mr. Ripley, Boogie Nights, Doubt, Capote, Synecdoche... among countless others. The slap was harsh. The thought of going to see a movie, never again having the thrill of an upcoming PSH film release, is a morose one. It is a void that has already made its way into my life and undoubtedly into the lives of so many others.

I do not wish to add to the media's insistence on capitalizing on this man's death to write about addiction in broad terms. Whatever the cause of his death, heroin, alcohol or otherwise, the fact of the matter is that he died. Addiction is a bad thing - it has always been and always will be. Ain't nothing pretty about addiction. But a brilliant, much-too-young talent is no longer here and that, my friends, is all that sadly matters.

So, in summary, Philip Seymour Hoffman, thank you for gracing the public with your superb skills, your ability to portray all the characters you played with grace, truth and passion, and for being here for the time you were. You made this movie loving girl's life more enriched with your presence.

Rest in Peace.