Monthly Archives: March 2019

Alice Waters Is Having a Yard Sale

Alice Waters, Master Chef, founder of Chez Panisse, and all-around National Treasure, is having a yard sale.


Alice Waters and her daughter, Fanny Singer, are hosting the sale on Sunday, 31 March 2019, from 10 AM to 3 PM, in the car park at Chez Panisse at 1517 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California.

Chez Panisse

The yard sale will offer “vintage and designer clothes, antiques, crafts, ephemera, and more…decades’ worth of treasures, from the high to the low… plus bargains and Alice’s hats.”

Waters will be there, to sign books, posters, and those famous hats.


Alice and Friends

Alien: The Play — High School Theatre at Its Best

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What happened in North Bergen, New Jersey, last weekend was like a real-life version of one of those high school musical movies from the 1930s, where Mickey and Judy need money to save the old folks’ home, and somebody comes up with a great idea: “Let’s put on a show! We can have it in my uncle’s barn!”

Except that nobody sang show tunes in the North Bergen High School Drama Club’s production of Alien: The Play, and a Xenomorph killed off most of the characters.

The Xenomorph

The Xenomorph

Working with costumes and scenery made largely with recycled materials, the club brought its own version of the classic 1979 horror movie to the high school stage. And the critics raved.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted this:

A non-profit founded by the mayor of North Bergen funded extra performances of the play.

And then things got heavy. Ridley Scott, director of the original film, gave “Thumbs Up To High Schoolers Who Adapted His Sci-Fi Classic: ‘Do Gladiator Next!’”

Ridley Scott

But the absolute topper was this:


It looks like the North Bergen production diverged from the original movie by including a scene that comes from the sequel, Aliens, rather than from Alien itself, but there’s no way in this or any other world that they could have resisted including one of the greatest lines in film history. With just six little words, Sigourney Weaver’s has been bringing cheering audiences to their feet for more than three decades.


2019 Cookery Project — Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

Still under the influence of my recent stay in Charleston, I craved* another taste of Southern cooking. Some spicy New Orleans-style Shrimp Creole seemed like a good idea.

The Recipe Critic gave me the instructions I needed for a fast and easy meal, in which the most time-consuming step was peeling the pound of previously deveined shrimp.

The result was good, and, more importantly, it tasted like something I’d find in a Louisiana restaurant.  Authentically Creole. This made me inordinately happy, and a bit proud. I’d created a dish using a flavour profile that was outside of my familiar safety zone, and it had turned out well, which is one of the core reasons that the whole Cookery Project exists.


Rating

★ 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.


*Note my use of the word “craved”. It’s rarely heard outside the South, where it usually expresses a longing or desire for something to eat, as in “I crave a nice big bucket of Popeye’s Spicy White. And a diet Coke.”

“In Peak Bloom” — Sound and Light and Colour and Movement

ARTECHOUSE, one of my favourite hangouts in DC, launched a brilliant new immersive experience last week. It’s called “In Peak Bloom”, and it’s perfectly timed for the arrival of Spring in Washington. You can see a sample of the new show in the above video. The projected HD graphics respond to the movements and gestures of members of the audience, making them participants in this a highly interactive environment.

ARTECHOUSE has outdone Itself with this one.


A little added touch. At the Augmented Reality Cocktail Bar in ARTECHOUSE, the coasters at the bar let you compare the “normal” appearance of a drink, on the left, with the augmented version, on the right.

2019 Cookery Project — Frogmore Chowder

Frogmore Chowder

Frogmore Chowder

No Frogs Were Harmed in the Preparation of this Frogmore Chowder
(Mainly because Frogmore Chowder contains no frogs)

According to Wikipedia, Frogmore is a community near Beaufort, South Carolina, and the name “Frogmore Stew” was coined by one of the owners of a local fish company in the 1960s. I didn’t get a chance to try it in Charleston, even though it showed up on approximately 72% of the local menus, so I decided to make it at home. I used a recipe from The Washington Post.

The dish is heavy on the cream, which has never stood in the way of my search for a good recipe. (Cream and butter are our friends!) In addition to the usual suspects, the stock contains thyme leaves, white wine, and clam juice.

The other four main ingredients—the stuff that makes Frogmore Chowder the dish that it is—are corn, fingerling potatoes, shrimp, and kielbasa sausage.

Liked it a lot.


Rating

★ 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.

Stranger Things: Season 3 — New Trailer

There’s a new trailer for Stranger Things: Season 3.

It’s the Fourth of July, 1985, and Hawkins, Indiana, is ready to celebrate. Ronald Reagan is in the White House, “Sussudio” is at the top of the charts, and the gang probably stayed up late last night, talking about the newly released movie, Back to the Future.

What could possibly go wrong?

[Insert ominous Stranger Things theme music here.]

We won’t find out until the Fourth of July, 2019, when Stranger Things: Season 3 premieres on Netflix.

Meanwhile, how times change…. For me, at least, the most shocking scene from the trailer was not the appearance of the scale-covered slobbering tarantula monster thingy, but the image of a man lighting a cigarette in a restaurant.

it just seemed so wrong….

2019 Cookery Project — Vince and Terri’s Chicken Chili

Vince and Terri's Chicken Chili

Vince and Terri’s Chicken Chili

I’d done almost no serious cooking for the 2019 Cookery Project since the start of the year, so once I made it home from Charleston, I was eager to get back into my own kitchen and get to work.

I love chili, but I’ve never been able to put together the right combination of meat, spices, liquids, garnishes, and other ingredients needed to create The Ultimate Chili Bowl. A few months ago, I was whining about that failing to my sister-in-law Terri—I do a lot of whining to relatives about various failings, a few of them even my own—and she promised to send me a recipe that she and my brother Vince use. Which she did.

The Verdict: This chili was good, as well as fast and easy to put together. I think the secret ingredient was the jar of mild salsa verde, something I’d never used before, which gave the chili a nice kick.

I’ve already used the recipe a second time, doubling the main ingredients and upping the spices by 50%, so that I could freeze most of this second batch in 1-, 2-, and 4-serving containers. There’s no such thing as having too much chili within easy reach.

But the quest continues. It may be that my search for the ultimate chili recipe is doomed to inevitable failure, like my endless attempt to find a place that serves fish and chips as good as the ones I used to get, a long time ago, at a little shop in San Francisco. But I’ll press on, like Joel Cairo and Kasper Gutman, despite the odds.

After all, ultimate chili is the stuff that dreams are made of.


Rating

★ 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.