Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day we prepared three courses that improved as we worked through them (blame the champagne!). First off were jumbo shrimp quickly pan-fried with garlic, olive oil, lemon, butter and finished with a flambe of whiskey.

Second were Nova Scotia Digby scallops done with curry salt and served with cannellini bean puree, bacon and a micro salad.

Dessert was a fabulous orange anise poached pear served with mascarpone cream (that I flavoured with maple syrup) and toffee sauce. A winner for sure.

All great for sure, but you know, next year we’re going out. Far less work involved. We’re a week away from Oscar’s and we’ve been busy seeing the films in preparation for a wee get-together we’re hosting here next Sunday – we’re thinking simple mini-appetizers inspired by the nine best picture nominees. It’s been eons since I posted some movie reviews and I’ve a backlog as long as my wing span so to try and get some of these up ….. here are three I saw way back.

L’estate di Martino (aka Mario’s Summer)
It’s the 1980s and 15-year-old Italian Martino (Luigi Ciardo) wants to learn to surf, well, and capture the heart of Silvia (Matilde Maggio) who happens to be dating his brother. Conveniently, on the shoreline of his small town lies a US base where Captain Jeff Clark (an excellent Treat Williams of all people) lands occasionally to hang out. Clark, also conveniently, happens to be a surfer and is eventually teaching Mario about surfing, life and girls. The film is directed by Massimo Natale and uses a couple of historically accurate Italian crises – the 1980 crash of a plane near the island of Ustica ascribed to a wayward NATO missile, and the bombing in Bologna’s train station in 1985 by terrorists to good effect. The result is a fine movie that while predicable in many respects is beautifully shot with great heart. My rating 8 out of 10.

 Burn After Reading

The Coen brother’s success as directors draws A-list stars to their films and Burn After Reading is an example of this. The plot is vintage Coen with quirky characters, subtle humour and violence; this is black comedy through and through. Fitness centre staffer Linda (Coen regular Frances McDormand doing what she usually does) wants a lad and is seeking dollars for plastic surgery. CIAer Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) has been fired and opts to write a memoir. His philandering wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) accidentally leaves the DVD with his memoir at the gym whereupon happy-go-lucky and not-too-bright Chat (Brad Pitt) finds it. Together with Linda, the duo concoct a plan to blackmail Osbourne. Meanwhile, Harry (George Clooney) a US Marshall and another philanderer doing the lowdown with Katie ends up meeting Linda through an internet dating site. The lives of all these folks and their various schemings all end up at Cox’s house one afternoon – with typical Coen results. The stars are all great here and the Coen’s commitment to messaging the baser motivations of common Americans is in fine form. Yet, it is this – the film’s usualness – that is ultimately its undoing. We’ve seen these folks before and we know where the brothers Coen are going to take us. My rating 7 out of 10.

 Män som hatar kvinnor (aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The fact Hollywood only took 2 years to release its remake of Stig Larsen’s runaway worldwide bestselling novel – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – speaks volumes about both the book and the original 2009 Swedish film. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the film follows the search by investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) into the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl named Harriet – a member of a very powerful Swedish corporate family – in the 1960’s. Hired by the girl’s uncle Henrick Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube) forty years on, Blomkvist is aided by a fine young lass with, you guessed it, a dragon tattoo and panache for internet and online hacking, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). Together they begin to unravel what is a neatly tied mystery involving cults and Nazis and some very sick family members. The film is an excellent whodunit and the forced and unbelievable love connection between the two main characters aside, is well worth watching. My rating 8 out of 10.

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3 Responses to Valentine’s Day

  1. ElusiveWords says:

    You guys sure know how to cook up a wonderful meal.

  2. Fatcat723 says:

    Beautiful meal and presentation. I did not cook that day. Had diner with my sister. By the way, I have seen the movies you reviewed – usually I have not -and I agree with your rating. Now I would have to taste the meal to rate that Meow

  3. kunhuo42 says:

    amazing dinner! mine pales in comparison… i didn’t have time to do a lot of cooking that day so dinner was a cocoa-chili spiced pork tenderloin with roasted brussel sprouts, and no dessert!

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