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dinner and a movie

Maria Elena, calling it like she sees it. Goddamnit I love this movie. (click image for source)

In poking around my blog’s archives, I found a post from 2009 documenting some tapas Michael and I made with our dear friend L to go along with a viewing of Vicky Cristina Barcelona later that evening. I cringe when I look at it now: awful photos and rather inane (and inaccurate!) commentary dominate it, and I barely wrote about the movie itself. I remember having a plan to go see it in the theater and then going to Barcelona Wine Bar when it came out, but weddings (including our own) and unexpected unemployment kind of put the brakes on that plan. Eventually I got the DVD, and then downloaded the soundtrack…and somewhere between seemingly endless drives around New Haven while listening to the soundtrack and a few more rewatches  when we moved to New York, I came to the realization that I couldn’t quite quit this movie despite identifying several irritating quirks as well as having a general unease in enjoying anything Woody Allen makes. Read More

Hable con ella - Alicia

I’ve been slowly making my way through the Pedro Almodóvar library, and one thing I’ve found that even in his most straightforward of films is that he always manages to include at least one good WTF moment that changes the whole path of the narrative. There’s always this element of the unbelievable, but to spin an oft-quoted English saying, one must keep calm and trust Almodóvar because he always manages to work himself and his characters out of any overly odd plot twist. The twist in Talk to Her (Hable con ella) is one I won’t give away as it’s pretty disturbing, but just when you think a character suddenly becomes completely unlikeable, redemption comes about in a strange way.

Hable con ella is one of those films in which the titular women are not present; they are in the past, and they are potentially in the future, but they primarily exist as coma patients during most of the film. Instead, the story is told from the perspective of the men who love them and care for them: the clownish Benigno and the standoffish Marco. It’s a story of men trying to understand women they love: Benigno thinks he understands Alicia because he talks to her, and has been doing so in the four years she’s spent in a coma; Marco is seen as someone who was open and could not stop talking to Lydia during the idyllic period prior to her accident.

They talk because they think that is what a good lover does; the problem, of course, is that they were pretty horrible at listening to the women they loved. Read More

Quasi-Bouillabaisse with Copper River King Salmon, Pacific Cod and Littleneck Clams with Rouille-Sathered Croutons)

People used to stare at fires. Now they watch TV. We need to see moving images, especially after dinner.

–Francois Truffaut, Day for Night.

Day for Night (click through for source)

Day for Night, simply put, is an amazing film. It’s joyous, hilarious, sad, and absurd. It’s a triumph of love and dedication and personal expression, and true to its tagline,  it really is a film for people who love films. The narcissism of the actors, the bullshit propelling the crew–it’s so incredibly timeless that you can easily ignore the fact that it was filmed in the 70s and therefore looks immediately dated. But it was also one of those films that I hadn’t thought about in a while until I shoved a random CD into my car’s player (yes, I have a zillion mix CDs in my ’04 Jetta, shut up) and its wondrous theme by Georges Delarue filled my car as I was making my way to the Westport train station, and suddenly I was craving to see it again, preferably after eating a big bowl of bouillabaisse.

This thought struck me in early May. I wasn’t able to actually give in to the craving until Saturday, and it ended up being an apt pairing of food and film, what with the reminder of the importance of rolling with the punches. Read More

Oysters with Fresh Horseradish

We hear a lot about the great social mobility in America, with the focus usually on the comparative ease of moving upwards. What’s less discussed is how easy it is to go down. I think that’s the direction that we’re all heading in. And I think that the downward fall is going to be very fast—not just for us as individuals—but for the entire Preppie Class.

–Charlie Black, Metropolitan

Is it weird that  the Nineties have been on my mind quite a bit lately? Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve been researching trends as part of my job for the last few months, but quoting Reality Bites and Clueless has come up more often than normal  for me (oh, who am I kidding–I always quote Clueless). When I was making my little wishlist on Amazon of various media I craved a few months ago for the holidays, the film Metropolitan called to me from my big master wishlist (yes I have one, mock me if you must) as something that I had to get and watch and fall in love with. After reading on Criterion’s website that it’s another perfect modern-day take on Jane Austen in the vein of aforementioned Clueless, albeit more verbose and less Valley Girl, I had to see it–and I must say that it takes on what’s arguably considered the least-loved of Austen’s novels, Mansfield Park, and modernizes it in a way that’s credible, funny, and true to all of the characters contained therein.

Outside Horn & Hardart (screencap mine)

Also: the characters visit an Horn & Hardart automat towards the end of the film. Automats were dying out by the 80s, but a small few clung on in New York until the last one shuttered in 1991, a year after this film was released. It’s such an anachronistic touch; the only other time I’ve personally seen an automat referenced on film was in That Touch of Mink from 1962.

Long-dead restaurant concept references aside, Metropolitan‘s delightfully cynical tone was a perfect pairing with one of the dishes that the characters likely feasted on in spades during all of the debutante-related parties they went to in the course of the story: oysters.

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Onglet Garcon with Pommes Frites

[Ed.--And here's part 2 of our epic steakhouse dinner and a movie anniversary dinner. Michael elaborates on how things got...interesting.]

I love my wife. I know I do because I put up with this ass-ache of a meal to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We began planning the feast with the noblest of intentions, and honestly, by the time the movie started everything was again right with the world. In the interim, things were tense at times, annoying at others. The fault, dear reader was not in our stars, but in our selves; the meal we selected was… ambitious to say the least, taking a snarky page- actually several snarky pages from Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

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Onion Soup de Les Halles with Honey-Glazed Onions

[Editor's note: this is another joint effort from the two of us, as we each took on a component of this meal. I'll be taking the first half, while I'll leave Michael to the steak.]

 

This all started with an email to Michael during the week–I had been flipping through our recent blog posts and noted with some alarm that they were all Mexican, pasta and/or Spanish dishes, and so I proposed that we make French food for something different and as part of our anniversary dinner…which turned into a weekend of anniversary dinners. What can I say–we know how to celebrate. Michael has been making noises lately about having steak, so out came the Les Halles Cookbook…and what happened turned things into an interesting evening. Read More

"Casi" Tlayudas Oaxaquenas con Chorizo, Guacmole y Queso Oaxaqueno ("Almost" Oaxacan Tostadas with Chorizo, Guaca-salsa and Oaxacan Cheese)

Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea.

–Luisa, Y tu mamá también

Y tu mamá también, on the surface, is a road trip film: two teenage boys tempt an older cousin (by marriage) to a beach known as La Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth); problem is, they are pretty sure such a place doesn’t exist. But they go anyway, and as we travel with them from Mexico City to the rural coastline we learn about the code of the charloastro, empathize with the feelings of inadequacy that stem from being on display, and laugh when the inevitable happens and it’s not altogether satisfying. It’s also a coming of age film, both with regard to the two male leads (played brilliantly by real-life friends Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Benal) and to the country of Mexico itself; set right before the 2000 elections that saw the dominating party unseated after a 71-year run, we get glimpses of life in the country as it was then: random car stops, lavish parties, and the slow decimation of once-preserved natural coves. A balance of rich, poor, and those who fall somewhere in between–and a Spaniard who, like us, can’t always understand her companions and their youthful exuberance.

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