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Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel

It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.

In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to wooly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More

Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Ajo blanco de malagueño (or, white gazpacho)

Yes, that’s a whole mess of Spanish and Català up there in the post title.  No, I make no apologies.

This meal was a bit ambitious for us, even for a Sunday night: in the mood for some delicious José Andrés-style tapas after hearing about Michael’s visit to Zaytinya during his recent trip to DC. Picking four dishes (the three listed here, along with a variation of this salad), I made a plan to get some of the work done early in the afternoon, after my workout but before I went down the street to see the Chilean movie No at the local non-profit movie theater. I really thought that I had it all in hand: I made the sofrito for the rossejat after we got back from the store, and everything else was pretty much self-explanatory. Or so I thought. 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

True Grit. (click image for source)

I have a bunch of posts that should come before this one, but given the time-sensitivity of sports, it’s kind of necessary to write about the World Cup final hours after it ended. I heartily congratulate Japan on its World Cup win because it was well-deserved and came after a pretty epic performance by both teams. As happy as I was when Spain won last year, the game was tough to watch with the physical aggression and some playacting and diving and whatnot, so it was gratifying to see both of these teams comport themselves with grace, dignity, grit, tenacity and a hell of a lot of spirit. This was a game decided on playing football and not on bad calls or bad attitudes, and while I’m glad Japan has had a much-needed boost of national pride and joy, I want to thank the US Women’s National Team for one hell of a ride with this World Cup and for playing their hearts out on the pitch time and time again. It’s a performance that was extraordinary and inspiring, and while they faltered during the penalty kick phase of this game, they truly are the epitome of American sporstmanship.

OK–onto the food!  Read More

Remember this from a year ago?

Spain winning the 2010 World Cup, July 11 2010

Oh, I still do. I can still remember the emotions when I watched that game a year ago (when this posts): I can still feel how I was wracked with anxiety, willing the Spaniards to overcome that whole “no team has ever won a World Cup when they lost their first group game” statistic and win against the Netherlands. And then Andres Iniesta scored and it was amazing and wonderful and Iker Casillas started to cry in happiness.

And then this happened yesterday:

The USA triumphs over aversity. (click picture for source)

This was a quarterfinal game, yet it was treated like a semi-final or a final: the number-one-ranked team in the world versus the number-one-ranked player in the world (that would be Marta), and it was rife with controversy thanks to some really bad calls from the ref and some childish behavior from the Brazilians during the extra time in order to run out the clock. But then a (literally) last-minute goal thanks to the combined powers of Megan Rapione and Abby Wambach tied up the game at 120 minutes of play, and  then the team dominated the penalty kicks. It was an American triumph at its cheesy-80s-sports-movie-best, and dammit, it was amazing. That it fell on the 12th anniversary of the women’s team WC win in 1999 in Pasadena was the icing on the cake.

That we made some delicious food seems almost secondary, but it’s the last home-cooked food I’ll have until Thursday (as I’m off to Chicago) so we reached, we shot, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Read More

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Cotzas a la Marinara (Algherese mussels, sailor-style)

I had a few key negotiation points when it came to the move–I wanted to live someplace more urban than suburban and on the Metro North New Haven line–but one of the most pressing, at least from a timing perspective, was being able to watch FC Barcelona in the Champions League final on the 28th. After all, I had spent all season following this tournament (in addition to La Liga play) and the match was guaranteed to be a good one–they were going to play Manchester United! Good to his word, Michael took care of it and I was able to watch the Catalans win the Cup in a most triumphant fashion, unlike the clásicos from April that were just  bitter and awful and so heated. Watching Barça slowly decimate Man U, sapping their energy in chunks (and then finishing them off with a decisive third goal courtesy of David Villa) was just what I needed as we started sifting through our things and emptying boxes.

So naturally I made sure that I had Catalan Cuisine unpacked in due order so we could make a lovely victory spread of tapas. Read More

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