Wednesday, July 25, 2012

FOOD POST: Whoa! What a Pleasant Surprise!

I'm a Yelper. I find Yelp to be very helpful. So, tonight I looked on Yelp, saw something about the 'greatest burrito' (which I thought my date would like), and off we went to Niles. So, we parked and started walking to our proposed destination. Well, the Mexican restaurant I thought we were going to turned out to be a taco-truck. I guess I need to read those Yelps a little more closely.

Anyway, I didn't quite feel up to risking a taco-truck stomachache. As we walked past The Vine, I noticed they had a sign out for a surf n' turf special, which I figured my date would like. (I'm so considerate like that.) So, in we went. Cute little place with a cute little patio out back. Menu looked pretty good. Prices looked reasonable. 

First off, we ordered the cheese hush puppies with spicy pepper jam. It was a bit of a wait for them to arrive, and at first I was a little disappointed because I was expecting jelly-jam and it was more like pickled peppers, but nonetheless, delicious! And they did serve marinated olives during the wait.

I had the pork loin chop which came with crisp blue lake green beans. It was accompanied by an apricot chutney, which was less like a chutney and more like a paste, but, again, quite tasty. The topper, though, was the deep-fried mashed potato it was served upon. Yeowza!

My date had the surf n' turf: flat iron steak with pesto sauce (repeatedly remarked about how good it was), grilled shrimp, green beans and (non-fried) mashed potatoes. The tender meat was cooked perfectly. 

And the pièce de résistance? The dessert special!! Maple-bacon bread pudding, very prettily presented on a syrup-drizzled plate, topped with bacon, and flanked by a halved strawberry and a squirt of whipped cream. Super-yeowza! 

All this for fifty bucks. Yes, I did not misspeak!! Geez, we spent forty at frickin' TGIFriday's last week and we didn't get an appetizer or a dessert! This was a great deal. I've paid nearly twice as much for similar meals.

The Vine was sure a lucky find! Quite an upgrade from the taco-truck.

Saturday, July 21, 2012



Let's start with the upside. I often enjoy movies that develop slowly. I definitely enjoy movies taking place in countries other than the U.S. (It's just fun to go someplace else). Freida Pinto is gorgeous. (Although, she's twenty-seven portraying a nineteen year old. She's a very sophisticated beauty, and that doesn't really lend itself well to playing someone younger.) The cinematography is beautiful. There are plenty of beautiful shots of landscape and historic architecture juxtaposed with shots of bustling and colorful inner-city action. (In movie-life you aren't smelling the smells and swatting the flys). The story, based upon Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles, is mostly interesting.

But here's where this movie went all wrong for me. The movie clearly portrays the two main characters (Trishna and Jay) very much in love, and having a great time together at one point. He's handsome, charming, and kind to her. Then, as the story unfolds, things take a turn for the worse. He starts treating her poorly, including prodding her to engage in degrading sexual acts. At no point, though, is he physically violent or even threatening. She never says "no", never walks away or runs away...until after she stabs him to death. Yeah, that's right. She gets on top of him with a gigantic butcher knife and plunges it into him a few times with quite a lot of zest.

So, of course, it's shocking! I mean geez--- sure your boyfriend is an a-hole, but don't you think that's a little extreme? He wasn't beating you or attacking you. He was just being an a-hole and a bit of a pervert (by your standards). There really was no observable reason for killing him. Even though you are a timid country girl, you ran away just fine earlier in the movie, and you ran away just fine after you killed the guy. So, it's not like running away wasn't in your repertoire. 

Naturally, having never read the source material, I wanted to better understand what was going on here. So, I investigated. Well, DUHHHHHH>the book makes a great deal more sense. She hated the guy from the beginning. He raped her, following which she had a baby who died shortly after birth. That alone makes stabbing someone to death a lot easier to understand. 

So, I'm not saying it wasn't an interesting trip to the movies. I'm just saying they blew it in the adaptation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

NEW REVIEW: To Rome With Love

Make no mistake about it, I think Woody Allen is a disgusting little man. C'mon, hooking up with your longtime girlfriend's teenage daughter? That is vile. Plus, your teenage lover is also your son's sister! You need to go on Jerry Springer with that nonsense. But even so, Mr. Allen has an unmatched career in film, so I've got to give him that.

I was never a Woody Allen film fan, though. I found his characters unlikable and his dialogue extremely annoying. (And that's why I can never be a serious film critic. Apparently, I have no taste.) Then I saw Vicki Cristina Barcleona and Midnight in Paris. I found those two movies beautiful, charming and thoroughly enjoyable. Of films I've seen in the last several years, I'd put those up near the top of my list. I have seen Vicki Cristina three or four times, and, although I've only seen Midnight in Paris once, I'd be more than happy to see it several more times. So despite some pretty crappy reviews, it was hard for me to imagine that I wouldn't enjoy Woody Does Rome. I mean he was, after all, a barrel of fun in Paris and Barcelona.

Well, it was definitely not a barrel this time around. Maybe like a styrofoam cupful. The film is comprised of three vignettes, none of which fully took flight. Ya know how that little movie-review man from the SF Chronicle kinda sits in his chair with a mild, pursed-lipped grin? It's kinda like that. I rather liked Smart-Alec Baldwin, and Penelope Cruz is always an eyeful, but everything else was just barely amusing. I chuckled a few times. It was certainly a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours, but that's about it. And Woody was actually one of the actors this time around. 

And how is Mr. Woody looking these days? Well, I certainly hope his daughter/wife is enjoying the money, cuz she sure ain't enjoying the sex. (I'm sorry. Did I say that out loud? Beg pardon.)