Jul 1, 2007

The word of the day is "Synergy"

As some of you might know, I've got a fabulous new job. You may have even heard of my boss? He's about yay-high, super cute and fuzzy? I'll let you smart lil' cookies put two and two together 'bout that one.

Anywho, the catch-phrase that everyone around here is fond of tossing around is "synergy." My handy-dandy Wikipedia definition for synergy is "the phenomenon in which two or more discrete influences or agents acting together create an effect greater than that predicted by knowing only the separate effects of the individual agents." Originally a scientific term, it now encompasses economics, technology, and culture. It can even apply to our favorite topic, food.

In honor of my new job and my bottomless appetite I've journeyed to that wonderous place where the culinary and cinematic arts fuse together and food appears larger than life [and sometimes in 3-D]. Here are my thoughts, musings and tummy rumblings on two of this year's highly anticipated [by me, anyway] food-oriented movies.

Waitress (2007), Kerri Russel: [TBB]

Ratatouille (2007): Dir. Brad Bird.
Everything about this movie is enjoyable. Remy is adorable. The score is jazzy and the art direction is beautiful. The attention to detail is AMAzing. Every little pot, aside from being realistically copper-y, had miniscule wear-and-tear scratches, just as if they were in any actual bustling kitchen in Paris. For me, I got the impression that the filmmakers were really trying to make a throw back to the canon of the Classic Disney Cartoon. It totally didn't feel like a Pixar film. Something in the art direction reminisced of the oldies-but-goodies. One part "Aristocats", a dash of "101 Dalmations", with just a hint of "Rescuers". I found the resemblence particularly noticeable in any of the scenes where a character would smell or taste the food and a sensation symphony was depicted in a very groovalicious way. I'm pretty sure the old 60's films all had similar trippy scenes of sensation overload, where the characters are just transported into another realm.

That's all well and good, but what about the food. Well, I must say, unfortunately, the rats in the kitchen definitely bugged me more than I thought they would. [Total non-sequitor: remember that spelling mnemonic "A Rat In The House Might Eat The Ice Cream"?] In the past month, I had determinedly held on to the notion that this was a Disney rat and, therefore, it was perfectly acceptable for his paws to be in the pastry dough. I must admit, I did cringe when Remy and his pals took charge of the culinary affairs, but I got over it. For the casual foodie, the film was a wonderful introduction to the structure and flow of a kitchen. I wasn't too fond of being hit on the head by the film's mantra, "Anyone can cook." Remy's obvious talent in the kitchen is enough to inspire beginning chefs. Even my sister, who, let's face it, is not the cook of the family, emerged from the theatre all gung-ho to put on an apron. That didn't last too long, however, when she insisted we stop at the Taco Bell drive-thru on the way home.

One slight note of criticism: Was it just me, or did those faux-French accents become slightly un-intelligible? And if the bumbling chef's name was Linguini, why didn't he speak with an Italian accent? Minor hiccups, but I thought I'd point them out.

On a completely unrelated note, never go to the Grove on a Sunday afternoon. Not because of the lack of parking, abundance of strollers and tourists, but because of the proliferation of the High School A-List Scene. I can only describe it as a page from Zoey Dean's teen fiction series The A-List. Every girl there was a size 0, uber-blonde, face skillfully painted and decked out in only the best couture. Excuse me, did I not get the memo? Is it noticeable that my Lucky Jeans are Ross rejects and my Rainbows are outlet bargains? Am I supposed to put on make-up everytime I leave the house? Clearly. The boys were not as bad, but definitely were thematically dressed up for this mass date. Just a word to the wise.

***In case your eyes are hungry for seconds, here are a few more films I may or may not have slept through during my career as a film student:

What's Cooking? (2000): Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Pre-Bend it Like Beckham, Chadha explores the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving through the eyes and mouths of four non-traditional families. Chances are, at least one of the families will remind you of yours. =)

Chocolat (2000): Dir. Lasse Hallstrom. Johnny Depp covered in chocolate. 'Nuff said.

Moonstruck (1987): Dir. Norman Jewison. Nic Cage's first lead role emphasizes the importance of kitchen safety and Cher's acting chops never cease to amaze me. I highly recommend making the "egg toast" that Cher's momma cooks up. Just cut a hole out of a piece of bread and fry the egg in the middle of it. Flip the toast once the egg is mostly set.

Heartburn (1986): Dir. Nora Ephron. Meryl Streep is the original domestic goddess and Jack Nicholson is an ass (surprise?). If I recall correctly, Streep makes a romantic "spaghetti a la carbonara" in bed for the two of them. While it looks like an intricate pasta dish, it's really quite simple. I've thoroughly enjoyed Nigella Lawson's version. However, do your sheets a favor and devour the spaghetti straight from the pan on the stove.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983): Dir. Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones. One of the last sketches in this film serves as a warning to all foodies. Watch for it, you'll understand. Just a waifer thin piece...

Lady and the Tramp (1955): Dir. Clyde Geronimi, Wildred Jackson, Hamilton Luske. Any man who nudges the last meatball at me while dining al fresco is a keeper.

Jun 22, 2007

How a nice girl got Knocked Up

I saw Judd Apatow's much-anticipated follow-up movie this week and I was simultaneously rolling on the floor and closing my eyes in terror.

Clearly it had its laugh-out-loud funny moments-- the entire Vegas sequence. <3 Paul Rudd.

But at the same time, it was eerily familiar... and no, I am not preggers. But for some reason I could project myself and every hobbit-like guy I have ever crushed on right up there in front of my nose.

I do not want to have hobbit children!!

*panic panic*

What does this all have to do with food? I have no idea.

But I'm trying to find comfort in the 3 dozen cupcakes I am frantically baking for a housewarming party on Saturday night. Maybe if I bake fast enough, I can avoid the haunting images of Ben without his shirt on...

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

[insert recipe here]

Coconut Cupcakes:

[insert recipe here]

Jun 11, 2007

There's something about Wendy

Those bright, firey pig-tails. The sprinkling of freckles. The impish grin that just dares you to resist the calling of square burgers and Frosty delights. Simply irresistible.

I just so happened to catch an informative episode of Unwrapped on the Food Network last week about Dave Thomas's fast food empire. I've summarized it into a tidy outline here:

November 15, 1969: The very first Wendy's opens in Columbus, Ohio.

November 1979: The salad bar is introduced. Vegheads everywhere rejoice.

October 1983: The baked potato is added to the menu. Carbo-loading yuppies everywhere rejoice.

March 2005: A woman in San Jose, CA claims to have found a finger in her bowl of chili. This story is later determined to have been a set-up and the lady was sentenced to prison.

April 2005: A future food blog-ess is hired by UCSB's UCen Dining services. Her first assignment: man the nugget & french frier.

A smattering of fun facts:

*Wendy's burgers are "square because they don't cut corners."

*According to the takeout bag, "there are 256 ways to personalize a Wendy's hamburger. Luckily somone was paying attention in math class."

*One can get a Mystic-quality tan in less than 10 minutes working the French Frier & Hot Food station during the lunch rush.

*Freshly made Chicken Nuggets are the BEST hang-over cure.

*When aforementioned Chicken Nuggets are unavailable, the NEXT best hang-over cure are the mini-packaged saltines meant to be finger-food (sorry, couldn't help mah-self) for the chili...

So needless to say, Wendy and I have history.

I don't know who's decision it was, but there is NO Wendy's west of the 405. (There also isn't a Burger King within miles of my house, but I get more than slightly creeped out by the King.) I call this reverse discrimination and a travesty towards Westsiders everywhere and I will have it no longer.

Today's mission: visit the Wendy's nearest to the office located in Culver City within the designated 1 hour time frame. Can we do it? For the sake of my stomach, I hope so.

*45 minutes later*

Mission accomplished.

Not to sound like a walking (scrolling?) advertisement, but the latest thing at Wendy's is the Frosty Float. Gotta say, it was delicious, yet nothing spectacular. Just a standard Coke float. But maybe that was my fault because in my flustered rush at the drive-thru, I ordered vanilla instead of the classic chocolate flavor. Fresh out of the frier, the fries were perfectly salty golden goodness, which I devoured while speeding down Sepulveda.

Back in my corner cubicle, the dregs of the fries are staler than cardboard. *Sigh*

As my post-lunch coma sets in, I'm starting to think maybe it's all for the best that Wendy remains an ethereal Pan-like fantasy. I can remember far too many bleary-eyed Sundays when I would drag myself out of a warm bed to cross the expansive distance from dorm to UCen in order to make sure some other equally hungover soul got his 8 Jr. Bacons with Cheese.

Jun 10, 2007

Bienvenidos a Miami

If there is one thing that I am well versed to write about, it has to be food. I live for food. In fact, in recent months it has grown to a mild... er... moderate(!!) obsession. But that's not a bad thing, right? Food is important. Right.

Well, with that in mind, I've decided to channel my energies into something productive. Something far-reaching. Something... delicious. A food blog.


For those few friends that I have yet to tell about my latest thrill. Here it is: The Delicious Life. My inspiration. Sarah, you've got a good thing going there. I hope I can live up to it. :)

So on to the first course! My very first post. It's always a difficult task to get started, but once I get rolling, there ain't no shutting me up. Unless you happen to have pie... mmm. pie.

My very darling friend, Emily, has just informed me of the premiere of the new season of Top Chef, happening this Wednesday. Admittedy, I have never watched the show, but I am a fan of Shear Genius, a sister reality/competition show on the Bravo Networks. She suggested we get together to watch it every week.

What's so special about this season of Top Chef, you might ask? One steamy word: Miami.

Miami. Home of the Hurricanes (the sports team AND the natural phenom), humidity, Gloria Estefan, all things Cuban-American and, most importantly, lil ol' ME.

So I have readily agreed to join the reality band-wagon. I will invest myself in the players. I will root for the underdog. I will scream at the judges when they make a bone-headed decision.

And I will play along. I've decided to *attempt* to put myself through the rigors of the Top Chef competition.

Crazy, you say? Why, yes, I am. But no one loves a good culinary pyrotechnic show more than I do...