Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PLAY: Beirut Trip

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PLAY: 4 Reasons to See "Mamma Mia!"

My "Meryl rule", roughly speaking, states that I will pay to see Meryl Streep standing quietly on a sidewalk, so as far as I'm concerned whatever movie she's in is fair game. So, as such, I simply had to go see Mamma Mia! last Friday, despite all the bad reviews. And yes, many of the criticisms are spot on. But through all the moments of awkwardness, occasional bad cuts, and some amateurish photoshop scenes, this was one of the funnest movie experiences in a long time. So what makes the movie worth every single one of the 12 bucks that I paid for it?

1. The women - Meryl Streep takes silly to a whole new level - even more so than in Death Becomes Her - and her relentless energy and sheer physical strength make me wonder if the the elixir of youth from the said 1992 movie was more than just a plot element. Her on-screen craziness is outdone only by Christine Baranski and Julie Walters who both contribute with memorable musical numbers. But the real star of the movie is Amanda Seyfried, who arguably has the most to prove - and does so stunningly. Who knew that the cousin-fucking weather-forecasting blondie in Mean Girls was secretly in possession of this amazing voice and radiant yet not annoying personality?

2. The men - While not as musically impressive or entertaining as the women in the flick, they deserve a few nods: for having the courage to sing (in the case of Pierce Brosnan), for exposing themselves in cringe-inducing ways (Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth), for being hot (Juan Pablo Di Pace) or even-hotter-than-you-knew (Dominic Cooper).

3. ABBA - This may be quite obvious but the music is fun fun fun! - which I admit may be lost on those that didn't grow up listening to ABBA and can't sing along to every song in the movie. Apart from doing just that, I wanted to get up and dance - almost as much as I actually did during the Goran Bregovic concert not too long ago.. unfortunately the theater was full of civilized gays - not nearly as uninhibited as the Balkan folks who rocked out in the isles of Avery Fisher hall during Bregovic.

4. Greece - the stunningly gorgeous scenery clearly boosts the feel-good quotient of the movie and makes everyone look beautiful and happy - and will make you want to take a vacation immediately. No, this is no cerebral affair.

So I say: read the reviews (my favourite is A. O. Scott), adjust your expectations accordingly and go have fun - it's summertime!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

EAT: The Ultimate Hummus Recipe

Originally posted on Facebook but definitely worth saving..

If you love hummus as much as I do, you might have also wondered what is the secret to making hummus creamy without loads of tahini and olive oil. Smooth and rich yet light and fluffy. And while you may have wondered, I have been obsessing, for years. Many recipes, cans of garbanzos, cloves of garlic and lemons later, I am proud to announce that the search for the smoothest creamiest most delicious hummus technique is now over. My life purpose has been fulfilled, now I can retire into the mountains, hummus in hand. The secret ingredient? Garbanzo flour in lieu of whole chickpeas. Find the recipe here.

Reader's response: I had no idea that you were a hummus fanatic, but i'm excited to give this a try, even though it seems a bit like sacrilege. Is it as good as Sabra?

My response: I know, right? The culinary snob in me cringed and shed a tear at the thought of using powdered anything. I mean, what is next for me - a pre-made mix of guacamole spices? But then I justified it to myself as molecular gastronomy of sorts :) Funny you should ask about Sabra- my quest for the perfect hummus has (not-so) secretly been all about emulating the flavor and texture of their product (why someone would do that when you can simply go in the store and buy it is a whole another issue.. a man's gotta have hobbies, I suppose), which is to say, yes, this is the closest I ever got!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PLAY: Puerto Rico

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PLAY: Century Bike Ride!

An announcement to the world: I signed up for the century bike ride today. After taking a major hiatus from athletic activities after having run 3 marathons in 2006 and 2007, I'm excited to plan my participation in a semi-major physical endeavor. Go sign up!

READ: An entry inspired originally as a response to the Discerning Brute's "NADER Returns"

The more I read about people's shock and disbelief as they wake up to the cruel reality of the situation that Obama is, after all, a politician and that he is not exempt from the politics of compromise and deal-making, the more it annoys me that people didn't approach the rhetoric of "change" with just a little bit more common sense skepticism. It was nice to have a "movement" come about that lifted him above what seemed like an insurmountable lead his opponent had - to see people engaged and excited. Not to mention it was also greatly annoying at the time, since I was a fairly firm supporter of Clinton during the primary. However, rather than whine about what was or what could have been, I want to point out to all those "disillusioned" that it is irresponsible to abandon him now. Yes, shame on Obama for not being more in charge, for not communicating his views (whatever those may be) more clearly. For not making it more clear that the new post-partisan world (or whatever people were expecting to happen) is not going to mean the democrats and the republicans uniting at the far left, holding hands. Or for running on that strangely insane platform in the first place. Whatever. It is what it is and unless people figure out a way to get behind him now and allow him to understand what they need from him, when he needs it most, they are hardly anything other than flip-flopers themselves.. with a bad case of AADD.

Monday, July 14, 2008

EAT: "Simply the Best".. Part 1: Vegetable dumplings

Introducing Simply the Best: my personal list of favorites in restaurants around the world, a running tally of the most outstanding delicacies I have come across and feel the need to share with the rest of the world, my own "Can't Miss This" index. It could be the $5 appetizer that will make a $100 dinner worth it; or the dumpling that will make me travel to the Upper West Side from Brooklyn. It's the thing that makes you forget the rest of the menu, no matter how good or bad. Sometimes a dish that is commonplace or boring - transformed into one that's amazing and unique; other times something that you have probably never tasted before and probably can't get anywhere else. It's the item the waiter always recommends. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

Vegetable dumplings - LAND (website; NY Mag; map)

Who doesn't like a good vegetable dumpling? Probably not many. Nice as an appetizer, easy to share, not too heavy - good enough, but that's about it, right? While few would refuse a dumpling, not too many think of it as a something they love, let alone as a reason to travel to remote parts of the city. However, the dumplings at LAND are exactly that. Filled with a scrumptious mixture of mushrooms, peanuts, corn (I think), wrapped in a gentle green skin, these little wonders are made on the premises and are so labor intensive, that the chef/owner David Bank considers them a loss-leader on the menu, according to the article referenced below. Given the trip uptown, they aren't exactly economical for me either - but oh-so-worth the schlep!


Next: Simply the Best Crispy Okra Salad.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Welcome to EAT - READ - PLAY, an outlet for me to chronicle, publish, post and fool around. With no singular intent in mind, the posts will generally fall into one of three categories, as the name suggests: EAT, focused on food, restaurants, recipes and other culinary stuffs; READ, the more cerebral lot will cover articles, books and other random discourse and PLAY, the catch-all category ranging from cultural events to travel to my athletic endeavors. Enjoy and comment--