Sing Street (John Carney – 2016) A-

Set in the 80s and disguised as an excellent coming of age story about a kid who starts a band (but not a cover band!) it is about the connections one needs to survive as a kid. When the parents are not quiet in love anymore -they are mostly in the background here- Connor needs his big brother, the band he forms and the girl he started it all for. This is delightful and has one awesome tagline too “Boy meets girl. Girl unimpressed. Boy starts band.”

Killing them Softly (Andrew Dominik – 2012) B+

Set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crises and the Obama/McCain campaign that stuff plays like a depressing soundtrack for this film. It’s a narrow story about two small time gangsters who rob a mob card game. Not even sure where it is set but it is not a pretty film. One of the two crooks is a strung out drug addict (great performance by Ben Mendelsohn) and the other one is not terribly brilliant and the guy who planned it is not that much smarter. So, before long Jackie (Brad Pitt) is on their tail for payback. The US economy as a whole seems to be represented in how the mob economy started collapsing and opportunities start rising because of these dumb crooks who did not think the implications of their actions through. It’s a movie with lots of great performances (one of the last James Gandolfini here too) that really grows on you after watching it.

The Third Murder (Hirokazu Koreeda – 2017) B-

Expected more from this Japanese legal drama. I think It is making a statement about the Japanese criminal system with the story of a factory worker who apparently violently killed his boss and robbed him. A lawyer is trying to figure out if that happened exactly like that and perhaps try to save his client from hanging. It’s not a bad film and it looks great. The missing connection I had trouble with is with the characters.

Granny Smith Apple Ice Cream

It’s rare that I proclaim something “the best”. Even when I do -like I am doing about this ice cream- it’s sort of a hyperbole. Maybe it should be “up until now, in my humble opinion, this is the best apple ice cream I’ve had”. So, if you had not gotten my point yet, what I’m saying is this is one awesome ice cream if you like apples. I’ve prepared this recipe (it’s from the Eleven Madison Park cookbook) multiple times and it never disappoints and have not been surpassed. It’s got the deep tart flavor of Granny Smiths swirled with a vanilla scented sweet apple puree.

The ice cream has two main components, an apple custard and a puree of apples that is mixed in after the custard is churned. To make the custard we start with a bunch of Granny Smith apples. I sliced those and cooked them till softened in apple cider (this would be the sweet non-alcoholic one, not the hard cider. It’s basically unfiltered apple juice) and citric acid. When the apples are very tender I pureed them with a stick blender and strained them to get as smooth of a product as possible.

The rest of the custard is a standard mixture of egg yolks, glucose sugar, milk and cream. The yolks get whisked with the sugar. The dairy and glucose are warmed with the apple puree and gently added to the yolks. The custard is then carefully cooked to thicken. Lastly I added a bit of Calvados (French Apple brandy) to the cooled custard.

For the second component, sweet apples like Honeycrisp , Fuji or Gala are used. I peeled those, removed the cores and quartered them. They are cooked in a baking dish in the oven along with brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and the pulp from a vanilla bean. When totally soft and syrupy I pureed the whole mixture resulting in one of the most delicious apple sauces possible.

As with all ice creams and sorbets I make I like to let mixture sit in the fridge for 8 – 24 hours at least before churning. This is really essential for a good texture and better “shelf-life” in the freezer. There is a lot of science about why that is the case and it is fascinating (well, to me it is). In any case, after a rest in the fridge I churned the apple custard and layered that in two quart containers alternating with the baked apple puree.

It’s so delicious and addictive on it’s own but it also goes good with any cake, especially if it has hints of caramel. Recently I also served it with an Italian ricotta apple cake. Truthfully I was not crazy about how the cake turned out (odd texture) so I was glad I had the delightful ice cream to help it along.

Three Days of the Condor (Sidney Pollack – 1975) A-

Of course it was about oil. It always is I suppose and it doesn’t matter. I really enjoyed this classic. Basically, Robert Redford is a CIA analyst in New York. He goes to the deli and comes back to find everyone in his station killed. He’s just an analyst though, from his perspective he just literally reads books and tries to find messages in them. Now he is on the run trying to figure out what’s going on as Max Von Sidow is trying to kill him. It’s a cool movie and with all the New York of the 70s locations kind of looks great too. It is a bit odd though how quickly the Faye Dunaway warmed up to Mr. Redford even though he kidnapped her and told her some crazy story.

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