Archive for September, 2006


The First Gem

September 24, 2006

It’s sooooo much easier writing about a movie that sucks than a movie that’s great. It’s really hard writing about It Happened One Night.

To me, this is the first time the Academy got it really right. Can’t compare to what else was nominated, can’t compare to what wasn’t nominated. Perfect choice. Perfect movie. And it holds up. Beautifully. No one can do a human comedy like Frank Capra. We all watched this, enthralled, laughing: the 9 and 15 year old, and the special guest star, my mom the 79 year old.

Claudette Colbert was so beautiful. Clark Gable so beautiful: at the height of his Clark Gableness. Sigh.

For dinner we went from Miami to New York. Jim prepared a perfect….

Planked Salmon

Soak the plank in your sink for about 30 minutes in hot water. Preheat your oven or barbecue. Oven temp should be at 400-450. If you are going to use a barbecue, turn the barbecue on high and close the lid. Those with charcoal barbecues will need a barbecue with a lid.

While the oven or barbecue is preheating, salt and pepper the salmon, or add a little lemon pepper.

Next, place the fillet on the plank. Place two sprigs of rosemary on top of the fillet and slide the planked fillet in the oven or barbecue. The cedar taste is amazing. This is the best way to cook salmon. We accompanied the salmon with some roasted potatoes and a simple Caesar salad

For dessert, we repeated egg creams. Nothing says New York like a good Egg Cream. My mom has never had one. (OK up until a month ago, neither had I.) It was quite a treat introducing her to something new. But best of all, the town my mom lives in, the very town I grew up in has a store that, oh so nonchalantly, carries that wonderful chocolate elixir Fox’s U-Bet. The kosher kind,; thanks Highland Park . I bought two bottles.
It Happened One Night. This movie is one of the reasons why we’re doing this. My kids have now seen this. They know how great a great movie can be. Yay!


Out of Order Somewhat

September 16, 2006

We plowed through Cavalcade on a Friday night instead of Sunday. The kids didn’t watch, they should thank us later.
But, wow, Cavalcade is just amazing. Amazingly boring. And amazingly unwatchable. And an amazingly stupid film. How did this ever win? 42nd Street was nominated that year. And the Katharine Hepburn (sorry, George Cukor, but it’s Kate’s movie) version of Little Women. And Lady for a Day; a movie so good Frank Capra made twice (okay Pocket Full of Miracles, not so good, besides Peter Falk’s performance, but okay….miles better than this boring piece of blecccch, as they’d say in “Mad” Magazine.

Not even nominated: Dinner at Eight, Queen Christina, King Kong. Geez what were theses people smoking?
We didn’t do any recipes tonight. I was planning on doing some British stuff…something from Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson but life was a little bit too mean to us this week and I didn’t feel like cooking. We had fish and chips and salad and English beer from a local pub, though. Pretty good. Better than the movie deserved.
Next time is 1934 and our first real jewel in the crown of great American films that won the best picture Oscar, and one of the reasons I’m doing this whole razamatazz, It Happened One Night. And after looking at Cavalcade it’s hard to imagine that the Academy had such good taste. But, thankfully for us, they did.

Good night, Dad. I miss you. You would have gotten such a kick out of this.


Not Grand, but, Pretty Good Hotel

September 4, 2006

The Barrymore brothers were great. The made the movie stars look like real actors. Probably the best Joan Crawford ever was. But the real star, I thought, was the art direction. Amazing art deco details; it would be nice to stay in a hotel where every room was different. A few points to remember:

  • Why was Wallace Beery the only one with a German Accent?
  • Do they still make Louisiana Flips?
  • It would have been nice to see Crawford and Garbo in the same scene
  • Garbo made the best clumsiest ballerina ever

The dinner was fun. I found a non-sausage, non-cabbage German entree:
Pork Tenderloin Medallions in a Riesling sauce

They don’t tell you when to put in the balsamic vinegar or the raisins in the recipe. I added them with the wine and herbs. They used too much butter at the end as well. But a very easy meal to make. Quick. Perfect for weeknights.


One of my favorite parts of doing this movie-food match up thing is discovering new recipes and new things to eat. And with the pavlova, what a new thing was discovered. Oh. My. God. I used my dessert hero, Gale Gand’s recipe for pavlova from her book Butter Sugar Flour Eggs (her’s is on the cover). It couldn’t be easier: Whip 4 egg whites until foamy, add 1 cup super refined sugar (regular sugar that has been pulsed in a blender for a bit) 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar, 1 ans 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch and beat until stiff, 8 minutes. Spoon meringue mixture onto a cookie sheet that has a piece of parchment with a 9 in circle drawn on it as a guide. Bake in a 350 oven for 10 minutes, reduce the temp to 300 and bake for 45 minutes more. Let pavlova completely cool in the oven and when ready to serve top with whipped cream and the fruit of your choice ( I chose sliced strawberries). It’s a melt-in-your-mouth, lighter than air experience. I can see why it was named after a ballerina. Just not Garbo.


You’re cellophane

September 3, 2006

A bazillion years ago my local PBS channel used to play the greatest of the silent movies. Chaplin. Keaton. Lloyd. And, sigh, Garbo. And I would watch them, strange kid, me. but I learned a lot from them, movie wise. Those silent movies are truly an important kick off to the America Cinema landscape. If you don’t have a passing knowledge of the silents, you’re at a critical disadvantage understanding the first 50 years of American film. I think.
But, I’m digressing. I love love luv Greta Garbo. The first twentyish years of quality story telling on film begin and end with Garbo. Oh my stars, she did Anna Karenina twice. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. And both of them are great. And tomorrow both of my kids are going to be exposed to the great Garbo for the first time.

And I also get to explain to them who Jean Hersholt was. And he’s incredibly Oscar worthy, too. In an separate awards kind of way.