Monday, February 28, 2011

The 2011 Oscars (aka our Superbowl)

Ciao Bloggisti,

What did you think of the show? Co-hosting the Oscars is difficult. I wonder who they will get for next year.

Most of the predictions were dead on.

Several of the acceptance speeches were very funny and/or moving. Some of my favorites were, David Seidler who one for Best Original Screenplay, Colin Firth's, Luke Matheny who won the Oscar for Best Short and Christian Bale's.

I wondered about the special Lena Horne tribute by Halle Berry. Hmmm, interesting it happened in a year where there was A LOT of mainstream press about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

I really liked the Best Picture montage.

The dresses!! The detailing on Cate Blanchett's was stunning. She always makes interesting choices. I liked her dress and I don't care that some people are putting it on their "worse dressed" lists. They can go kick some rocks.

Sandra Bullock looked beautiful in red. I loved the color of Jennifer Hudson's dress. Not sure about the fit or her lace front.

Of course I will be watching the "Fashion Police" post-Oscar show. Kelly Osbourne's dress was very pretty.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - Oscar Weekend - "West Side Story" Trailer

The Oscars are this Sunday. It's also the 20th anniversary of "Goodfellas" getting screwed but I will have to write about that outrage later.

"West Side Story" is the first movie I remember watching on TV. It remains one of my favorites.

The play (based on "Romeo and Juliet") was a critical and commercial success and it changed American musical theater forever.

In 1961 the film adaptation won ten Oscars, including Best Picture.

Leonard Bernstein's music is timeless and Jerome Robbins' choreography has influenced countless dancers during the last fifty years.

My favorite scene is the rooftop "America" number. I used to pretend I could dance like Rita Moreno. My parents probably thought I was nuts.

Random fact: Actress Amber Tamblyn's dad, Russ, played Riff.

We'll see who wins Best Picture on Sunday. "The King's Speech", much to the chagrin of many, is the favorite to beat "The Social Network", "True Girt" and "The Fighter". I haven't seen "The King's Speech" yet but I understand the controversy.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Can we talk about the deliciousness that is Chef Eric Ripert?

I've been watching "Top Chef" Season 5 on LEI (the Italian version of Lifetime...television for women). It's down to the final four.

Chef Ripert was one of the guest judges on an earlier episode. He's the head chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in NYC. This four star restaurant is known for fish and is considered one of the best restaurants in America.

I love his accent. I could listen to him read the United States Capital Gains tax bill.

I get down right giddy when he and his best friend Anthony Bourdain show up on my favorite cooking and travel shows.

It cracks me up that in the video below, Chef Ripert says his recipe for sauteed cod with pea shoots and ginger-lemon scallion broth is easy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snapshot Rome: Pastificio San Lorenzo

A few weeks ago I finally made it over to Pastificio San Lorenzo.

Last year an Italian friend had pointed out the building, telling me it used to be a pasta factory. Above the restaurant are artists lofts and there's also a gallery space.

My friend, Jessica, suggested we meet there for her birthday drinks. It was a fantastic idea.

San Lorenzo is a serious schlep from my side of town. While in the area I had to stop by SAID for some chocolate.

We had a great time sitting at the bar. The cocktails are excellent (Jessica and I had Moscow Mules). My wine expert friend appreciated the variety of Sicilian wines and the food was delicious. Our waiter was super friendly.

I really like the decor and the vibe. I will definitely return.

Pastificio San Lorenzo
via Tiburtina 196 (near Piazzale Verano)
+39 0697273519
Closed Monday
Open lunch and dinner Tues-Fri & Sun
Open dinner only Saturday

Some dessert for the lady celebrating her birthday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Women in Italy demand some RESPECT

Yesterday there were nationwide demonstrations in Italy. There were also several protests in cities around the world, like Tokyo, London, etc.

Piazza del Popolo was PACKED. I have never seen it that full of people. It was great to see all the families and men who came out to support women. As I walked over to meet some fellow expats, Aretha Franklin's RESPECT was blaring from the loud speakers.

Berlusconi has dismissed those protesting against him as moralists and prudes. This is BS. Other than some hard core conservative Catholics, no one is up and arms about his sexy times.

What is a problem is while he's calling police stations to help poor Ruby, garbage continues to pile up in Naples. Didn't he campaign to clear it up? Why isn't he focusing on that? Or the brain drain, or high energy costs, or on all the other issues the country is facing.

He's paying young former show girls a salary higher than what President of the United States makes to "work" in the government. Meanwhile, the average 25 year-old college grad in Italy is lucky to make 1/10 of that salary.

Also, I thought he and his racist peeps, The Lega Nord were very anti-illegal immigration. Ruby, who was arrested for stealing, is not sent back to Morocco. Why because she's hot? Instead the Prime Minister of a G8 country finds the time in his busy schedule to call the Milan Police and say they have to let her go because she was Mubarak's niece. WTF? If this were any other G8 country, the PM would have to resign immediately. That is abuse of power.

Since he controls and indirectly controls 97% of the broadcast media, along with newspapers, magazines, a soccer team and a huge publishing company, I don't think Berlusconi is going to leave anytime soon. He doesn't give a damn. He has said so. He's "having fun"! The publications he owns print positive stories about him and say the far-left is out to get him.

The opposition is weak and divided (and charisma free). I wish Berlusconi would put the same amount of effort into making things better in Italy as he does toward avoid jail, lining his own pockets and sleeping around.

The New York Times has a good overview of the demonstrations HERE.

La Reppublica has excellent photos HERE.

The sign below says "I am a girl who does not want to be a Veline." Veline are the half naked women giggling and dancing all over Italian TV game and talk shows. Berlusconi brought the Veline culture to Italy. During a political rally he told young Italian women the way to make it is to marry rich, older men. It's this sexist culture women are fighting against. Basta!

The sign on the right says "The alumni of my school are not the nieces of Mubarak." The one on the left says, "I've read article 54 of the Constitution."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flashback Friday - Chet Baker - "My Funny Valentine"

It's Valentine's Day Weekend. As usual, I don't have a Valentine.

In Italy it's kind of celebrated but not to the steriods level it is in the States. As a single person this is fine with me!

I picked up some amazing porcini mushrooms at the market and will make myself a very romantic dish of risotto. Along with a nice bottle of Sicilian wine, I'm good to go.

Back in L.A. the build up to Valentine's Day sent me into a funk. You couldn't even go out to dinner as every restaurant had a special V-Day menu. I felt bad for men who were under a lot of pressure to spend x-amount of money on flowers (the prices are always hiked up) and other gifts.

I ADORE flowers but I think there's something weird about the mass marketing/commercializing of romance and love.

When it comes to matter of the heart, I say keep it simple. Actions and words speak louder than a dollar sign.

This short instrumental version of "My Funny Valentine" floors me. The emotion, the longing, expressed without a word. Beautiful.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Prada and a serious case of Spring Fever

It's only February.

During the last few days we've had highs in the mid-60s here in Rome.

The store windows are full of pretty clothes for Spring. Why must I be tempted so?!

For the first time in a while, the clothes coming down the runaway were fun and optimistic.

I'm kind of obsessed with these Prada shoes. I don't have Prada money.

Every year Prada does some variation of a Mary Jane. I have a pair of black patent leather Mary Janes I bought over ten years ago. I bought them as a treat to myself after getting completely screwed over at work (long story). I couldn't afford them back then either. I convinced myself, cost-per-wear, the Pradas would make more sense in the long run.

And they did. All the cheaper shoes I had are long gone. My Mary Janes are still in excellent condition despite getting quite the work out in L.A.

If I could figure out how to walk on cobble streets, I would wear them more often here.

I can't wait until Spring fruits and vegetable arrive at the Farmers Markets.

Warmer weather means a return to sitting outside for aperitivi or lunch/dinner with friends.

I have a few big things on the horizon this Spring. Our movie Jumping The Broom opens (ahem, May 6th, Mother's Day) and I hope to move to a new neighborhood. I will miss my current apartment but with yet another bar opening in Campo, I cannot renew my contract.

I know we still have the rest of February and the month of March before we can start packing away the winter clothes. However, I've noticed the days are already getting longer.

What are you looking forward to this Spring?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Homemade Nutella Banana Pancakes

I cannot believe it's already the fifth anniversary of this glorious event!!

Thanks to the wonderful Michelle at Bleeding Espresso and Sara at MsAdventures in Italy, all across the world people will be enjoying World Nutella Day. Sara and Michelle will post a round of up all the yummy goodness on Monday, February 7th.

This year I decided to make Nutella Banana Pancakes. Before I moved to Rome I always used pancake mix. Then when I realized I could make them from scratch and not have to pay four euros for a tiny box of mix at Castroni, I never looked back.

It's so easy, no more preservatives and they taste better. Not sure why the heck I didn't make pancakes from scratch earlier.

Here's the recipe adapted from THE BIG BOOK OF BREAKFAST COOKBOOK.

Basic Pancake Recipe

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 3 tablespoons melted butter
* 1 or 2 bananas smashed
* 1 or 2 tablespoons Nutella

1. Crack eggs into small bowl and whisk until foamy.

2. Whisk in milk and melted butter.

3. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and stir together.

4. Gradually add dry ingredients, whisking briefly after each addition, just until smooth. Do not overmix.

5. Stir in bananas, Nutella

6. Heat griddle. If using electric, aim for 375; if using stove, heat until water flicked on surface bounces but does not evaporate immediately.

7. Brush griddle with oil that has a high burning point; vegetable or canola will work well. (I use butter)

8. Using 1/4 cup measure for small pancakes, 1/3 cup measure for larger, scoop batter out of bowl.

9. From about 3” above griddle, pour batter in solid stream onto griddle.

10. If batter is a little thick, spread it out so that cake is roughly 1/4" tall

11. Watch cake closely; once edges are dry, and a few dry-edged bubbles have formed on top, check the cake’s underside. It should be roughly the color of honey.

12. Flip cake, cook until golden brown.

13. Serve immediately.


Don't overmix the batter
Use a nonstick skillet or griddle
Use a spatual with a nonstick coating.
Turn pancakes only once

Friday, February 04, 2011

Flashback Friday - Nutella celebration "Chocolate Rain"

In honor of tomorrow's WORLD NUTELLA DAY, I decided to post this video.

"Chocolate Rain", with over 62 millions hits, was an Internet sensation a few years ago. The first time I saw it, I thought WTF is this?

I love it. The lyrics are so freaking random.

Tay Zonday was interviewed on Late Night shows, newspapers etc. I wonder what he's up to now.

I will post a recipe tomorrow for World Nutella Day.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Style Inspiration - Italian Rustic by Elizabeth Helman Minchili

I bumped into Elizabeth last week in Monti which reminded me to buy her book.

This book is gorgeous. Packed with photographs of farm houses (interiors and exteriors) in Tuscany and Umbria, the book also gives clear details on how to bring this type of decor into your own home.

Elizabeth's husband, an Italian architect, contributed to the book and I found the how-to sections very accessible. They also highlighted several artisans in the region. This is so important. I get why fast fashion, fast food, cheap furniture, etc. is successful but there's a value and quality to craftsmanship that cheap and fast could never replace. Never.

Italian Rustic
's chapters cover flooring, kitchens, outdoor spaces, bedrooms, roofs, etc.

Even if you're not going to buy a place in Tuscany or Umbria soon or redecorate your home, this book is a great read. I have an issue with home decor books that skimp on the photography. That makes no sense to me.

I'm obsessed with outdoor showers and on page 174 there is one on a terrace. I DIE! Really, to have an outdoor shower off your bedroom or bathroom? Sigh. Someday.