Monthly Archives: September 2017

2017 Cookery Project — Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I’d planned to dedicate September to working on Mastering the Art of French (Bistro) Cooking.

That didn’t happen.

I’ve spent very little time in the kitchen this month, preferring to loll around watching Nordic Noir television shows and old episodes of The IT Crowd all day. What time I’ve spent on food preparation has been indiscriminate and unfocused. One of the few memorable new dishes I made this month is the Shrimp Fra Diavolo pictured above.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo is an Italian-American dish, like spaghetti and meatballs. It originated in the United States, but a list of the ingredients–olive oil red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, white wine, San Marzano tomatoes, basil–certainly reads like what you’d find by opening Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and picking a recipe at random.

For the pasta, I used Ronzoni Supergreens, an “enriched pasta with 5 green vegetables,” which I chose entirely because of its green colour. That combination of red sauce and green pasta would make for a nice seasonal side dish, if it were December (which it isn’t) and if I made a big deal of Christmas (which I don’t).

The next day, I added more crushed tomatoes, water, and a little white wine to the leftovers, and wound up with a first-rate soup.

I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.


Cute Video of the Day, 28 September 2017 — Lèse-Majesté Edition

Everybody’s Favourite Royal can’t even watch the Invictus Games without some pesky commoner trying to steal his stuff.

Prince Harry handles the matter with his usual grace and charm.

“Cute Video of the Day” is an occasional feature on this blog. It includes an alarming number of videos that show children falling down.

Annihilation — First Teaser

And the Trailer of the Day Award goes to…this teaser for Annihilation, an adaptation of the first book of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy.

A biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor walk into a bar strange, isolated area known as Area X, where the laws of nature and of man seem not to apply. Eleven earlier exploration parties have entered Area X, but most the members of those teams ended up dead or deranged.

Much weirdness ensues.

The adaptation was written and directed by Alex Garland, writer and director of the excellent Ex Machina. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny make up the exploratory team.

Stong cast, talented writer/director, interesting source material. This could be next year’s The Arrival.

We have another long wait for this one. It won’t be released until 23 February 2018.

CNN’s Fantastic Images from Michelin Three Star Restaurants

Too pretty to eat!

CNN’s Travel section has posted a must-see gallery of breath-taking, mouth-watering images from some of Michelin’s Three Star Restaurants.

Included are pictures of works of art like the tomato confit with lobster salad and bonito from Eleven Madison Park, in New York (above) and the Sound of the Sea plate from The Fat Duck, in Bray, UK (below).

Time to start saving up for some high-end adventures, I think. I’ll start by cutting back on the avocado toast….

Museum Day Live! Is This Saturday

It’s that time of the year again.

“Museum Day Live!”, Smithsonian magazine’s annual celebration of American museums, takes place across the USA this Saturday, 23 September 2017. You can get free admission tickets for any of the 1,000+ participating museums, galleries, and cultural institutions at the magazine’s Museum Day Live! website.

The website makes it easy to find the participating museums in your area.

Murder on the Orient Express — New Trailer

I posted an item about the new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express back in June, when the first trailer was released. Today we got a new one.

That earlier posting has a good deal of information about the 2017 version, and a video of the trailer for the 1974 film, as well, so I won’t repeat it here.

Instead, a personal note:

When I was a kid, I had three Dream Trips:  A cruise on the Nile, a ride on the Orient Express, and a visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein.

The inspiration for the first two is pretty obvious. At a certain age, Christie’s books were much more interesting than my earlier favourites, the works of the great Franklin W. Dixon. Her detectives had more depth than Frank and Joe Hardy, too, although, in retrospect, not all that much.

I know now that I’ll never cruise the Nile, because I’ll never go anywhere in the Middle East, for obvious reasons.

The ride on the Orient Express is out as well. The original Orient Express is long gone. Its successor, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, tries to remind passengers of the glamour of international train travel in the early 20th century. Its London-Venice trip, leaving at 10:30 AM and arriving at 6:25 PM the next day, costs £2,365 ($3,205). I’m just not that nostalgic.

But one dream came true. I spent Thanksgiving Day 2005 at Neuschwanstein. You can walk up the winding road to the castle in about 30 minutes, or you can do as I did, and pay €5 to be carried up in a horse-drawn carriage.

It was off-season, with few visitors and no lines. Because of the sparse crowd, Neuschwanstein’s tour guides let us linger in the magnificent rooms as long as we wanted.

An unforgettable experience. It was one of the highpoints of my life.