There is good news and bad news if you do not find a person to marry within 45 days in this world. The bad news is that you will be transformed into an animal. The good news? Well, you can choose what animal you want to be. See it’s very important to belong and find a mate in Lanthimos’ weird, brutal and sometimes funny film. It’s also important to find someone with whom you have something in common like being short-sighted or that both you and your prospective mate get occasional nose bleeds. If that sounds too bizarre, it is and we have just scratched the surface! It’s also like no other movie with its tone and plot. The film gets darker as the story of David (Colin Farrell) and his search for a partner at the “hotel” progresses. It’s not a film that will work for everyone but it is a unique vision. It’s very well-realized, deliberately and confidently directed and the actors all do a very good job. It lacks love and compassion in most of its run time so when we actually see glimpses of those emotions they are a welcome relief until reality sets in and the film gets to its inevitable bleak conclusion.
Mid-week dinners do not have to be boring, sloppy or rushed. A meal like this looks great, tastes awesome and comes together in less than an hour. The only shopping i did for this was to stop by at the store to figure out what the protein is going to be. It could’ve been fish or poultry, but the pork tenderloins looked the best.
I seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and bagged it with a few slices of butter, orange peel and thyme. While the pork cooked sous vide at 60 C I prepared the sauce and the vegetables. Brussels sprouts can really suck if prepared improperly. They can be stinky and mushy. What I do is deeply brown them on the cut side in oil, turn them over and cook them on the other side while seasoning them until they are barely tender. They are deliciously perfect at this point and can take on more flavors like crisped bacon or pancetta, a splash of soy, a drizzle of vinegar,….
Cauliflower is another vegetable that could suck if cooked badly. I, more often than not, roast the florets after tossing them in olive oil in a very hot oven (around 475 F or so). When the cauliflower is browned all over and tender it’s also good to go and can be tossed with more flavorings and seasoning.
The sauce is mostly reduced chicken stock cooked down with shallots minced and sautéed in butter. The key to making it special is boiled apple cider. It’s a great product that is tart, sweet and tastes like the essence of cider. When sufficiently reduced I swirled in a few knobs of butter to enrich it, give it a nice gloss and tame down the acidity of the boiled cider. Apples and pork are a classic of course and the sauce did not disappoint. It went perfectly with the pork.
To serve, I patted the cooked pork with a paper towel and browned it all over in butter. I plated the vegetables and topped them with slices of the pork. I drizzled the sauce all around and we tucked in.
When Ricky shows up at his latest in a series of foster families in the wilderness of New Zealand I was not sure what to expect from this film. The family is made up of just a couple, probably a bit older than you’d expect. The man is dour and sullen and played perfectly by Sam Niell and his partner is jovial, hard-working and seems to care for Ricky. Before we know it though Ricky is forced to go on the run with his dour foster uncle into the woods. They are being chased by the government and CPS! It proceeds to be a charming, exciting, sweet and really funny film. Really high marks go to the young actor who plays Ricky as well.
A unique film set in the Amazon jungle of Colombia in two time periods, early and mid 20th century. It’s a film someone like Werner Herzog might make and that is high praise. Through the journey of a shaman in both timelines, as a young man and a wiser older one, whose tribe is going extinct the film shines a light at cultures few have ever heard of. It’s a tragedy that so many of those have existed and got decimated -by progress, disease, rubber barons or Christianity- without anyone noticing. Filmed in black and white the film really looks and feels timeless. It could have been filmed in the 30’s or 60’s instead of the 21st century.
This is another recipe from this past holiday season and it is worth recording for reference (and I got it posted before the end of January!). It worked very good but I will need to change a few things next time around, so a quick record of it is a good idea. Usually I make a Panettone or Stollen for Christmas but never with a 100% natural leaven. The idea to make a Panettone with natural levain is something that I wanted to do as soon as I saw the loaves made by Roy.
I used my regular 100% rye starter to make the levain as always using 50-50 mix of white and whole wheat flours. For the recipe, I used Peter Reinhart’s from Artisan Breads Everyday as a reference. Seeing pictures of Roy’s bread I decided on chocolate and cherry as my flavors.
I soaked the cherries in dark rum while I worked on the starter and dough. To make the levain I mixed roughly 40 gr of the rye starter with 170 gr of 50-50 white and whole wheat flours. After about 6 hours it was bubbly and good to go. The dough in Reinhart’s recipe uses commercial yeast in addition to the levain, I opted to stick only with the natural starter and skip the yeast.
Since the dough is enriched with soft butter and egg yolks it is a good idea to make it in a KitchenAid mixer to get everything well incorporated and the gluten developed. I decided to bake it in one large loaf using a bundt pan that I sprayed with non-stick oil. The dough, like most Panettone is too slack to really shape it so I just transferred it from the bowl of the mixer into the bundt pan and evened it out as much as possible.
The dough rises slowly for about 12 hours and develops a lot of flavor. After baking and cooling it is ready to slice. The shape, look and texture of the finished loaf are all excellent. Due to the levain and the long fermentation time, the bread had a great robust flavor. This however did not really work as much as I would’ve liked with the tart cherries and dark chocolate chips. There was almost too much flavor in there and the bread needed more sweetness and mellow flavors. Next time I’ll go with some almonds and some sweeter fruit like currents, apricots, prunes and maybe just a few cherries.
This is an unconventional creepy horror film that is genuinely scary at times. It is not out for the jump scares and over-the-top violence (both of which I do not like much). Instead it immerses us in a world of religion, witchcraft and just the type of moody horror that makes your skin crawl because it is not fully understood or explained. It is so well shot and even better performed by the small cast. It is set in the 1600s and has a cast of 2 adults and their 4 children living alone in the woods of New England. They were more like banished to the woods by their community because the father believes he is more pure and more God-fearing than his neighbors. It goes downhill in the woods and slowly the family starts losing members literally and maybe figuratively. We start getting the sense of dread, chaos and evil. We are really not sure of what we are witnessing as the pious father tries to keep his family together. We know this will not end well even before we see it happen. This all works incredibly well with amazing performances by those kids and period-specific olde English dialogue.
Black and white and foggy. Set in what seems like the 1920s maybe. It’s like a cross between a Jack the Ripper story, a travelling circus and whatever character Allen is supposed to be…well as usual he is playing himself. Doesn’t matter I guess. I enjoyed it as a minor Woody Allen film that is entertaining and has some cool style and a few well-executed shots.