Month: June 2015

TOP FOODIE & WINE FILMS

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The One Hundred Foot Journey (2014)—COMEDY-DRAMA100ft journey

Director: Lasse Hallström

Writers: Steven Knight (screenplay), Richard C. Morais (book)

Stars: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Daya

Lovely film! An Indian family, after dealing with the loss of their restaurant and wife/mom, leave Mumbai and their burnt down restaurant for France in search of something new.  On their way the Kadam family experience car trouble and end up in a small town, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the Midi-Pyrénées, where they come across an abandoned restaurant across the road from a French Michelin-starred restaurant. They decide this town will be their new home and they will rebuild their restaurant.  Luckily, the second-oldest son, Hassan (Manish Dayal), was being groomed to be the head cook by their mother when the tragedy happened in Mumbai. The story goes through the battles between the Michelin-starred restaurant across the street and the Indian restaurant, and the son’s evolution in cooking. There are always love stories in the middle which make this film more appetizing. We really enjoyed this film. I don’t think it is for everybody but it’s definitely in our list of favorite foodie movies.

VOTE:    4 Forks and a tasty Spoon

bignightBig Night (1996) – Drama

Directors: Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci

Writers: Stanley Tucci, Joseph Tropiano

Stars: Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini

One of my favorites by far! A drama based in New Jersey in the 1950’s about two Italian immigrant brothers who come to the United States to open an authentic Italian restaurant and live out the American dream.  Primo, the older brother, is a perfectionist chef who refuses to be Americanized and adapt his food to the American palate. He is in a moment in his life where he would ultimately prefer to return to Italy and continue being a chef at a family members restaurant then remain in America and is deciding how to break it to his brother Secondo. The younger brother, on the other hand, is in love with the American dream and the possibilities of making it in the new world so much that he loses sight of everything.

Secondo, distraught by the failing business, is ultimately unable to commit to his girlfriend; he asks a famous and thriving competitor in the restaurant business, Pascal,  for help which leads to what is known as the BIG NIGHT.  Pascal promises Secondo that he will persuade the famous singer, Louis Primo, to dine at the brothers’ restaurant in the last attempts to save the business. The movie demonstrates the dramatic efforts of Primo as he pours his heart and soul into the preparation of each and every bite for the magnificent feast.  The last thirty minutes of the film capture the art and soul of the film. Quiet scenes of just cooking and preparations dubbed in Italian at times just add to the dramatic end to this story. All you want is a bite of that timballo… YUMMMM! A must see foodie movie.

VOTE:    4 Glasses 

JiroJiro – Dreams of Sushi (2011)—DOCUMENTARY

Director: David Gelb

Stars: Jiro Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Daisuke Nakazama

Amazing documentary of an 85 year-old Sushi master Jiro Ono, his Michelin three-starred restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro.. The film portrays one man’s pursuit to perfecting the art of sushi, his life past and present, and follows Jiro’s sons who are also Sushi chefs. Subtitled in English.

VOTE:           5 Rolls and a fatty tuna sashimi

the chef

The Chef (2014)—COMEDY DRAMA

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Jon Favreau

Stars: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson

A great cast! Great for the entire family! The movie was funny and lively for any foodie audience. Jon Favreau is a professional chef who is obliged to abide by the rules and in a moment of digression, ultimately losing it via social media, decides to quit his job. His personal life isn’t any better and after he leaves his job in LA, he decides to return to his home town in Miami to fix up a food truck. In an attempt to reconnect with ex-wife he decides takes young son to join him on a food truck across the US. The trek across the USA with his son is enlightening. Happy, fun, silly, easy to watch and there’s food too.

VOTE:    4 tacos and an order of fries

ratatouilleRatatouille (2007)—COMPUTER-ANIMATED COMEDY FILM

Directors: Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava

Writers: Brad Bird (screenwriter), Jan Pinkava (original story by), 5 more credits »

Stars: Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt

Another amazing film by Pixar, Ratatouille, named after an infamous French dish, takes place in Paris, France and tells the tale of a rat named Remy who aspires to be a real chef and a young garbage boy, Luiguini, who works at an important French restaurant Auguste Gusteau. The story tells of a friendship between a boy and a rat and a rat’s desire to be a chef and have his own restaurant.  It is witty and funny and a great film to watch at all ages. JUST CUTE!

VOTE:           4 Cheeses and a Dash of Basil

chocolatChocolat (2000)—DRAMA ROMANCE

Director: Lasse Hallström

Writers: Joanne Harris (novel), Robert Nelson Jacobs (screenplay)

Stars: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina

Another production by Lasse Hallström based in France. It all started in a small town with a young mother (Juliette Binoche) and her six-year-old daughter and their love for Chocolate. The couple move from town to town as the winds change, vagabonds, until they arrive at a small French village, Lansqueet-sous-Tannes. The couple open up a chocolatier, LA Chocolaterie Maya, which transforms people’s lives.  The story shows how this small chocolate shop has ultimately changed people, even the couple. A love story, a foodie movie and much more, this film gives you a little of everything. The film is romantic and fun for all ages.

VOTE:           4 chocolate kisses and a hot chocolate

julie and juliaJulia & Julia (2009)—COMEDY DRAMA

Director: Nora Ephron

Writers: Nora Ephron (screenplay), Julie Powell (book)

Stars: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Chris Messina

The film is the journey of a young writer (Julia Powell) living in New York, unhappy at her current job and in search for so happiness in her life, Powell decides to challenge herself to cook every recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) and in order to motivate her she writes a blog that would document her progress. The film parallels the life of Julia Powell today and the story of Julia Child’s in Paris in the 1950’s, highlighting the challenges that each woman faced in their culinary journey and the culmination of their struggles with the celebration of Powell’s blog and Child’s first printed cookbook.

An enjoyable film, filled with passion, food, love, obstacles and achievements. This film inspired me to not only buy Julia Child’s cookbook but to begin my own journey into publishing a cookbook for myself and one for my grandfather.

VOTE:                       4 ½ Merci’s and Thank You’s

haute cuisineHaute Cuisine (2012)/”Les saveurs du Palais” (original title)—BIOGRAPHY COMEDY

Director: Christian Vincent

Writers: Etienne Comar (screenplay), Christian Vincent (screenplay), Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch

Stars: Catherine Frot, Arthur Dupont, Jean d’Ormesson

Haute Cuisine is the cooking and preparation of high-quality food utilizing the traditional style of French cuisine. The film tells the story of Hortense Laborie, a well-known chef who is surprised when the President of the Republic asks her to be his personal cook at the Elysée Palace. Needless to say, the President’s present staff isn’t happy with the appointment of Hortense and there are several little stories and obstacles along the way for her.

The story is good, but not my favorite film.

VOTE:                       3 Ouis and a Salute

spinning platesSpinning Plates (2012)—DOCUMENTARY

Director: Joseph Levy

Writer: Joseph Levy

Stars:  Grant Achatz, Cindy Breitbach, Mike Breitbach, Francisco Martinez, Gabby Martinez, Christian Seel, Thomas Keller

This is an amazing documentary is about 3 separate and extraordinary restaurant chefs, their restaurants and the people who make them who they are. A must see foodie film which really delves into the obstacles and hardships these chef’s go through and their amazing passion for food. I wish they would do a sequel to this. Great documentary! LOVE IT!

VOTE:                      4 ½ Spinning plates

chefs tableChef’s Table—(2015-TV SERIES ON NETFLIX)

Stars: Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallmann, Niki Nakayama, Magnus Nilsson, Ben Shewrey

This TV series on Netflix reminds me of spinning plates in that it documents the lives of 6 internationally renowned chefs. Each episode focuses on one chef, the passions, the lives, the obstacles and talents and how they are where they are in the culinary world. A great series for a Foodie or anyone who likes to learn about food and how extraordinary chef’s manipulate and research ingredients to provide us with amazing creations. I really enjoyed this series and wished there were more. Hoping Netflix will keep it going.

VOTE:                       4 ½ I love you’s

WINE MOVIES

sideways 04Sideways (2004)—COMEDY ROMANCE DRAMA

Director: Alexander Payne

Writers: Rex Pickett (novel), Alexander Payne (screenplay)

Stars: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen

The film follows two middle-aged men, who take a seven day road trip to Wine country in Santa Barbara County in California. The story is very dramatic that takes an unsuccessful writer and wine aficionado who is borderline alcoholic who takes his friend (an actor who’s career seems to have passed its peak) who is about to get married on a road trip to the San Ynez Valley. The film takes you on a journey of these two gentlemen who have reached a moment in their lives where they are depressed and reflective. A great film for the San Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara wine country. The story is very dramatic and sad.

VOTE:                       3 ½ San Ynez yay’s

bottle shockBottle Shock (2008) —COMEDY DRAM

Director: Randall Miller

Writers: Jody Savin (screenplay), Randall Miller (screenplay)

Stars: Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, Bill Pullma

I love this film! I have probably seen this movie a dozen times and I still love to watch it. I think I like to watch it because of the blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has become known as the “Judgement of Paris”.

The film takes you back to the 1970’s when a sommelier and wine shop owner Steven Spurrier who is a brit expat living in Paris and a wine lover and regular customer from the US decide to plan a blind test which is intended to showcase Parisian wine and how it surpasses all other wine. In order to do this, he travels to Napa Valley to find wine for the blind tasting. Napa Valley at the time wasn’t famous yet. The film shows the lives of these young wine growers and their passion for wine and how they convinced the other wineries to get their wines to the blind tasting. The ending is great. A must see. J’adore Chateau Montelena.

VOTE:                       4 NAPA’s and a Chateau Montelena

Well I hope you enjoyed these reviews. I know there are more films to explore and see so I will keep this updated as I find more and more film guilty pleasures.

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Habitual Wining

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“OZ”The OZ


First off let’s be clear, we are by no means self-proclaimed sommeliers, merely a couple that is on the endless journey for the next best sip.

A read and respond feedback piece of wine habits. The Why! Did we just say habit? Nooooo, not as if we have a problem. Although who knows, lol, but that we are passionate about our wine.  So how to begin? I guess we should begin by providing our who, what, when, where, why and how’s on how we approach wine and the way we go about our wine habits. Habits? We use habits very loosely because we believe that you should think out of the “bottle”, obviously not out of the box, habits after all are meant to be broken.

We know if you are reading this, you must be interested in either wine or interested in how others approach and appreciate what a simple grape can do for you, right? Well let’s just go with that. So why wine? Is it because we always envied that actress or actor sipping that nice glass of wine in their formal wear on the big screen and we wanted to portray ourselves in that aspect? Or is it because mom always had that box of Chablis in the fridge and we always associated wine drinking with happiness and celebration? Have we finally hit that stage in our lives where not only do we want to find that perfect wine and wine combination, but also enjoy the exploration of it as well? We are sure all of this has contributed to where we are today and each coming from different families and backgrounds some have added more or less to our lives but we have definitely hit a time in our lives where we enjoy the finer things in life, where we are in search of that perfect sip, that perfect bite, and that perfect destination. So I guess we choose wine to be the vehicle that transports us and takes us on a journey. It allows us to explore and to learn, to taste and to smell, to stop and to be patient so that we don’t miss all of the passion and technique put into it and we begin appreciating life’s simple pleasures and the people who have given them to us.

Lord knows the first wine we ever tasted, tasted like wine. Not Chocolate or red fruits, vanilla, it wasn’t dry or fruity, there were no tannins, it was just wine. We didn’t know anything about wine except for the fact that we enjoyed the taste. That’s it. We had no clue of the dynamics, complexity  and diversity there could be in wine until we began going to wine tasting and listening to friends and families at dinner parties and learning from others. That’s where we began to have a greater appreciation for the vintner, the man behind the curtain “OZ!” So, have you ever asked yourself or wondered why you drink wine? Please share! We’d love to know.

Next Saturday’s post we will explore the which wine to drink and go from there! So cheers to your Saturday libations, hoping you find that perfect sip. See you next Saturday!

The good, the bad and the ugly of meal planning

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RGHH

My friend first got me into meal planning during one of our morning workouts. Initially it didn’t sound appealing because although I try to stay active, I am a foodie and eating clean and meal planning isn’t exactly exciting to me. Reflecting on how I eat, I realized that I had become more and more reliant on buying food while I was at work and my pocket book definitely was feeling it as well as my body. I felt like I wasn’t eating properly and wasting money on salads that can be $4.00-$10.00 from the cafeteria or fast food place when I can probably it for about $1.50/2.00 and it would be much healthier.

Meal planning although daunting can be a healthier, faster, more economic approach to eating especially in this day and age when time is of an essence. I love cooking so deciding my meals and what I was going to eat actually was a challenge for me to eat healthier and be more conscious of what I am buying and how I will use the products.

So I decided, why not! I will try and see if I can follow through with a lunch and dinner meal plan for me and my family and see how it impacts how I feel and the money I spend.

After a month of organizing my meals I can definitely provide you with a little insight:

Pros

  • Definitely healthier!
  • Fun if you love to cook (and challenging but mostly fun)
  • I think we have saved money. Definitely saved.
  • We utilize more of the produce and products we buy instead of throwing them away which makes me happy

Cons

  • Thinking of new ideas
  • Prepping the meals for the week
  • Not a lot of “free apps” to find recipes
  • Restraining from joining coworkers for a lunch out is hard to refuse but we’ve been good
  • Restraining from ordering delivery when you’re tired and not feeling the recipe you had I mind for the night

Ugly

Well the only ugly part about this is not always are you really wanting or craving what you planned for on a Saturday morning. I have been able to mix it up or change around the recipes a bit so that I use all of the ingredients (or most of them) but just change what we had actually planned.

We have stuck to it and I think in the end we are all very happy with how its going. I plan to post some of the cool, fast recipes I’ve found in the meantime or provide you with links.

Happy cooking! Thanks for listening.

Hollywood Sign Here We Come!

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It was our typical Saturday morning not knowing what to do for the day. So we jumped in the car, as usual, with no destination. Is it possible that we are almost in the prime of our lives and we haven’t hiked up to the Hollywood sign? knowing it’s only a 40 minute drive from home? So why not?! Heck yeah!

I immediately yelped what would be the best route while Chris drove, and lets face it,  I wanted one of the easiest hikes to do being that we were beginners and I didn’t want it to have the opposite effect on us, discouragement. Noah, our 13 year old was excited to go too! I was so happy that everyone was happy and interested in doing this since I had been longing for awhile and I know Chris had been too.

(Note: I say beginners because since that hike we’ve done another 4 hikes and try to get 2-4 in each month.Yelp was very handy in this search and now we’ve found All trails too that allows us to judge the hike by the terrain and difficulty. We definitely recommend.)

Back to our story. So unfortunately we probably wouldn’t be able to find our trail head again even if we tried. We did, however, find the perfect spot that turned out to be about a 5 mile round trip hike with little parking difficulties. I must say at the beginning of the hike we were a little confused on the direction, as were many random hikers that decided to start from different points of entrance (probably because like us they got lost trying to find the main one… Oh well), but that’s where the fun begins, right? It seemed like we were going in the right direction, although we did climb a rather treacherous hill at the beginning that could’ve been avoided if we just would’ve gone a little farther. Fellow hikers also provided us with direction or at least confidence that we were going in the right direction. Water, Ice and Drinks are offered at the base of one of the main trail heads made us laugh! (Wish I had a photo of that).

The climb was pretty vertical but taken at a steady pace was well worth the final destination. THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN! As we sat on the small dirt hill overlooking LA, enjoying some apple slivers and drinking some of our well deserved water in the 85 F weather typical of Southern California, we admired our city and relished in our achievement for the day. It was probably an hour and half journey but fun and well worth it. Thanks to this hike we have begun to explore new ones.

A couple notes for the interested hikers.

1. Our route was probably the fastest route to the sign although there are many others that boast a 15 mile hike so if you’re more adventurous like we will be moving forward, you might want to try a more difficult route.

2. There are three different ways to the Hollywood sign so make sure you get directions on how to get to the trail head. We missed it by a mile but it was an easy flat terrain to do.

3. Bring water and a snack so you can stay awhile to admire the city

4. There are tons of people. Some tourists, some first timers and a load of everyday people who go there for the nice work out while having that panoramic view.

Safe hiking and look for more posts on our hikes & adventures!

IMG_4409 IMG_4415 IMG_4429 IMG_4442

Pigging out….oink! 

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So we are on our way to Long Beach to go to the amazing Farmer’s Market we love so much when we realize that…OOPS, today is Sunday and the market is closed.

So our thoughts wen to what we should do on a Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when you really wanted to eat and get some fresh organic veggies to cook. The logical answer could only be THE OINKSTER of course!!!

Okay, maybe that wouldn’t have been our first choice but we had been driving for awhile and getting hangry, unable to find somewhere to go to satiate our tummies. Then as we were listening to the radio and navigating our phones for anything, we hear an advertisement on the radio stating ‘todays the last day to get the gourmet burger at The Oinkster’ and our mouths salivated. There was no need to question where we were off to.

Now the funny back story was that I had just recommended stopping at some burger joint and going home as this radio ad magically aired.  Ok, so maybe this wasn’t destiny her se but I am definitely sure someone was guiding us there and I am so happy we had a chance to try this place out.

We unfortunately hit the place on the last day of their infamous burger week–a 7 day challenge which basically is:

  • Get their specialty burger each day of the event (The first week of June every year)
  • For every day you purchase the burger you will receive a fancy plastic colorful bracelet
  • At the end of the event, if you can show all 7 bracelets you will receive a free Oinkster t-shirt.

This place attracts all different crowds. I am sure the reviews from Guy Fieris’ infamous Diners, Drive in’s, and Dives,  also attracts this diverse crowd.  The burger joint is fashioned as an old-school diner and had lines wrapping around the building for their sandwiches. The wait isn’t actually as long as it looks and definitely well worth it. The place is famous for their house-cured pastrami or slow roasted pork sandwiches. The fries are yummy too.

In the end we got the specialty burger: a krabby patty and fries and they were both really delicious. We weren’t able to even buy the t-shirt because those are reserved for the challengers but we did get a nice, fancy pin. Yay us!

The Oinkster is located between Glendale and Pasadena in Eagle Rock on Colorado Boulevard. We definitely recommend this place and if you are able to do the entire BURGER WEEK every 1st week of June that would be awesome but definitely a must try. We are going to try to do Burger Week 2016 next year.

Cheers to yummy burgers and an end to a good weekend.


The OINKSTER