Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Prozak For Lovers

Girlfriend X has a sense of humor about everything, but you'd expect that from an attorney. She sent me a link to this CD this week, it is, as they advertise, dripping in sarcasm, dusted with irony and drowned in cynicism. Covers of hard rock classics set to a more 'happy lounge' tempo.

I loving the almost robotic calm, lol.

Click away, Prozak For Lovers, please listen to all of the songs. I was rolling on the floor.

Enjoy. Relax. Have another wine cooler.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


3 C Kidney Beans, cooked - liquid retained
3 C Onions, chopped
2 T Ginger, chopped
3 T Garlic, chopped
2 T Garam Masala
2 T Cumin
2 T Coriander
2 C Tomato, chopped
1 T Salt
1 tsp. Tumeric
3 Jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 T Aleppo Pepper (mild red pepper)
1/4 C Oil (olive or canola)
Cilantro, Chopped

1 Process garlic, ginger and onion into a paste. You can do this in a processor or do it old school in a mortar/pestle.

2 Stir-fry paste in oil until it starts to brown. Add jalapeños and stir fry for an additional minute or two.

3 Add tomatoes and stir to blend. Add seasonings, except cilantro, and stir.

4 Add kidney beans (with cooking liquid) and stir. Taste and adjust. Cook covered over medium-low for 30 minutes, then uncovered to desired consistency. Serve over basmati with chopped cilantro to garnish.

If you are hot pepper adverse, leave out the jalapeños. One pepper makes it Midwestern hot. 2 peppers makes it Cajun hot. 3 peppers makes it 4-alarm Indian hot. Proceed accordingly.

I usually make a basmati with dried currants and toasted pine nuts to go with this.

If you are using canned kidney beans or canned tomatoes I would leave out the salt.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Boss, The Rabbi & The Fairy

If you haven't see The Usual Suspects, rush right out and rent it, its one of my favorites and definitely a 10/10, IHMO. While there is much to like about the film, what I enjoyed the most was the cleverly written story and end-over-end plot flip at the close. Those kind of plots are the best for me since I then have to retrofit a new reality back through the rest of film to make sense out of the whole story.

Lucky Number Slevin has elements of The Usual Suspects, which is why I liked it, but it is not nearly as strong of a film.

Slevin (Hartnett) is mistaken for someone else, and that someone is wanted by the mob. Actually he is wanted by two mob families; one headed by The Boss (Freeman) and the other headed by The Rabbi (Kingsley). Each puts Slevin in a difficult position, a position which has him crossing the path of Mr. Goodkat (Willis), a ruthless ghost of a hit man.

The acting is very good, particularly from Willis and Hartnett. Willis just seems natural in these quirky roles with a hint of violence. I had never heard of Josh Harnett before but he gave an impressive performance and anchored the rest of the cast.

Production and direction are slick and seamless, each scene giving you more than enough detail to hold your attention before segueing to the next plot wrinkle. Each wrinkle that unfolds casts doubt on previously assumed truths. The truth unfolds in the last two scenes in a way I didn't see coming. Very nice twists and completely entertaining.

Fair warning: this is a kinda violent film. Oh, and as for The Fairy part, you'll just have to watch and figure that one out for yourself :)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Meeting Middle Easterners

I needed to find the Rajmah (spicy Indian kidney bean dish) seasoning I found in Cincinatti and my usual middle eastern store didn't have it. So, what's a boy to do? That's right, when one place doesn't have what you need you move on to another and hope for the best. (Is there subtext in that, lol?)

Most of the middle eastern people I know at school shop at this place, so I decided I would give it a try. I drug Neighbor Blair with me, since she had never been and she is getting into more exotic cooking these days.

World Food Warehouse - Dallas

World Food Warehouse
13434 Floyd Circle
Dallas, TX 75243
(972) 480-9911

Its a little tricky to find since they have redone every access road around I-635 and I-75. Its basically behind Texas Instruments in an isolated warehouse district. Once you get over the shabby hood you should also quickly get over the fact that, if you are white, you will be the only white person in the store. Also, you wont hear much English. Oh yeah, and many of products are labeled in Hindi, Farsi or Arabic.

Now that we're over that, lets go inside and witness that they have everything from Sour Cherry Jam to Halal meat to Foul to freshly-made Lavosh and Samosas. Alas, no Rajmah seasoning packet so I guess I will make that one from scratch.

What I continue to find very interesting is that middle eastern people are the most friendly people. I met Persian Ex in a middle eastern grocery in Houston, come to think of it he was a little too friendly :)

Lebanese Guy:A nice man walks up to me while I am looking at the lavosh. He emphatically announces that he is from Beirut, Lebanon. Then he helps me.

"Dont buy the lavosh here, just go to the bakery where they make these and tell them I sent you, they are personal friends. Now, when you have the fresh lavosh I suggest making my favorite Lebanese dish."

Which he described in detail, giving me the Lebanese and English names for the ingredients as well as specific instructions on how to prepare everything.

Birka Girl: A young lady in full birka-wear holds her finger up in a no-no fahsion as I attempt to pick up a couple of cans of Foul(small fava beans), she points to another brand and gives me the international approval sign, a thumbs up. She was right, these foul are spicy with cumin, yum. Thanks Birka Girl!

Persian Guy: Figures I go to this place the day before Ramadan ends. Every Muslim in Dallas was there shopping for the big meal that follows, which made the checkout line a mile long. No bother, it gave me a chance to talk to Persian Guy.

He looked familiar and it turns out that Persian Guy and I worked together back when I first moved to Dallas! We are having drinks after the Ramadan fasting thing is over, which is today, I think.

Its a very small world.

I need to move, lol :)

Neighbor Blair munching samosas @ World Food

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Busy Week

Yikes, a week has gone already. It was a busy one.

Highlights -

School: midterm week, all A's, now if only I cared :)

Work: I love it when people call me at 8am and say they need a proposal by 5pm for a project that I've never even heard about before, involving people I've never met for a company I've never heard of using technology I don't know. People are bitching about budget, schedules and the lack of qualified software people. If only I cared :)

HDGuy: Got his job in NYC, got an apt in NYC, sold his condo in Dallas and moves in 2 weeks. Now if only I cared. LOL, just kidding, I do care but this is coming to a predictable end.

Interviews: Nothing new there, still waiting for a reschedule in Houston and had some interesting chats with other TX companies and one in Boston. Phase 2 starts tonight which includes the lovely cities of Phoenix, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Other Stuff: I ordered some CD's from Israel. In freaking July I ordered them. I guess there were some e*com difficulties but it took me calling Jerusalem to get them moving. My Hebrew is horrible and the guy on the other end faked not knowing English. Next time I'm going to have to learn Hebrew for 'Bitch, send my CD's or my cousin the Israeli policewoman is going to kick your ass' :) Anyway they're here now and I love them. All Ivri Lider, I think I'm developing a thing for him. Or maybe I just like the way Hebrew sounds.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Big O

My car broke on Thursday, which was very inconvenient since I had a midterm on Thursday and was supposed to drive to Houston Saturday for an interview on Monday. Ironically my interview was postponed on Friday so I had a free weekend. Persian Ex and I were supposed to see this one in Houston but I saw it here. Unfortunately now I 'owe him one'. I hate owing him one, since I'm never sure exactly what that means. LOL

Scorsese has been gunning for an Oscar for decades and IMHO, he deserves one. Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Gangs Of New York, The Aviator; he's done some brilliant work. This one forms a tie for his best with Raging Bull. Hang on Martin, I think this time you will feel the Big O.

The Departed

First lets get this out of the way. Yes, there is some violence. Hello, Irish mob film? Hello, Scorsese? You should expect violence. You also shouldn't expect a happy ending, Scorsese doesn't do rainbows and puppies.

Next, the acting. There is some extremely powerful acting throughout, all of which is delivered by DiCaprio and Nicholson. Damon was good, but he got lost in the shadow of the others. Marky Mark was also good, in fact it was one of his best performances on the screen.

I'm going to leave the plot alone since that is half the fun of the film. Basically this is a shell game of loyalty and motivation under circumstances where the lines between right and wrong are just as absent as the delineation between officer of the law and criminal.

Directing is tight and tense, framing of scenes and the creative editing only serve to further punctuate the omnipresent unsettling feeling in the film. The locations and panning give the appropriate dark decay and latent fear one expects in a mob film. Scorsese teases out Nicholson's innate creepy sense of humor at just the right times. Trust me, the packed theatre took full advantage of those times to laugh, they knew there wouldnt be many. When I left the theatre I felt as though I had been on a 2 1/2 hour rollercoaster ride in a thunderstorm while blindfolded. Now, thats entertainment.

I think we have our Brokeback for 2006, which means it will be a crap shoot within the film cast & crew to see who will be getting what award.

My bet will be on DiCaprio and Scorsese.


Friday, October 13, 2006

The Hard Way To Yourself

Society gives us guidelines for gender roles; boys look and act like this, girls look and act like that. For the most part people seem to accept the guidelines as is. But there are always those that feel transposed. Meet one of them.

Beautiful Boxer

Nong Toom is simple boy growing up in a small town in Thailand. He's a boy but would rather not be. He's quiet, shy and cringes at the violence of Muaythai, the national kickboxing sport. He cringes until one day, while defending the honor of one of his friends, he discovers that he has a deadly knack for Muaythai. He also discovers that it is a good source of income and could pay for the surgery to come. Over a period of time he becomes so good at the sport that he is eventually sponsored. At the same time he decides to glam up his appearance in preparation for switching genders, entering his fights in full makeup. Eventually his winning streak allows him to be paired in the ring with the national champion in front of a huge Bangkok audience. That's about as big as you can get for a Muaythai boxer.

Technically, Beautiful Boxer is a good film on all fronts but not great. Ordinarily I would give it a 7/10, which means I wouldn't take the time to write about it. The reason I give this one an 8/10 is because its a true story. The real life Nong Toom still lives in Thailand, but now he is a she and she is a boxer turned model.

Many of us have closets full of pretty, perception-altering masks to suit life's expectations and situations, so I think its applause-worthy to see anyone truly be themselves, even if it involves something that I, personally, might never understand.


(Yes Jason, The Departed review is coming :)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Right, say that 3 times fast.

Not just a tongue twister, she was a real person, one of the few female pharaohs of Egypt. Although there were other female pharaohs, Hatshepsut was, according to historians, the most powerful and the most effective at causing cultural change in Egypt.

Hatshepsut Exhibit @ Kimbell Museum - Fort Worth, Texas

Even though she co-ruled the country with her nephew, treating him as an equal in all decision making, it was the nephew who, after Hatshepsut's death, attempted to erase her memory from the face of planet. As the story goes, he had her name erased from every document, tablet and carving then later he blew up her tomb. Egyptologists still debate the motives of his actions, suggesting that he acted on the desires of the royal court, but in the end the joke was on him. When he exploded her tomb he created a nice little vacuum which perfectly preserved EVERYTHING, some of which is on display at this moment at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.

Grounds @ Kimbell Museum

I found the art, artifacts and history of this exhibit to be one of the most interesting that has passed through the Kimbell in the last 13 years. If you are in the area before it leaves Fort Worth (December 31, 2006) this would be one thing not to miss.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Phase 1, Check

So, I targeted a few companies and cities with my resume last week. Because you care, those cities were: Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, DC, Boston and NYC. I was surprised at the results. First, I was expecting big response from DC and not much of anything from Texas. It was the opposite. Therefore, next week begins the Texas installment of InterviewPalooza. Not to mention I have also 3 midterms next week. Oh, and my two jobs, lets not forget about those. Posting will obviously be spotty.

Before I become absorbed, I did want to mention a new restaurant, Urban Bistro. It is what took over the space formerly known as George, which was formerly known as The Riviera. The owner, who is interestingly an Israeli, also owns Aurora, which has been catapulted into the realm of 5-star.

Urban Bistro is excellent; Med. and Middle Eastern, good price point and casual-chic atmosphere. Our table of 5 enjoyed greatly. If you are a dessert fan you will not want to miss the trio of Creme Brulee, wow!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cooktops & Cleavage

Over the weekend I went to the opening of the Milestone Culinary Arts Center. This was bascially a reincarnation of the Viking Culinary Academy, they just stripped out all of the ailses of cookware and food stuff and made it a showroom for Viking cooktops. Talk about expensive cooktops, sheesh. Thankfully they left the two classrooms alone and you can still take classes there.

It was quite a nice event: celeb chef Dean Fearing, formerly of The Manision, was there shaking hands and giving cooking demos. I'm sure he is preparing to PR his new concept restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, which opens in the Fall 2007. Fearing's replacement at The Mansion, the uber-cute John Tesar was also there. Tesar is young, I'd say mid-to-late 20's, lets hope that youth will breathe progesssive changes into the menu at The Mansion.

20 or so servers were roving with red and white wine. 'Cuisine stations' were set up approximately every 2 nanometers with knockout offerings. I think my favorite was the station hosted by the Food Network, they were serving a Mac & 6-cheese with herbed filet mignon, wow! Yes, I ate red meat, and like Carrie's mom - I liked it, I liked it!

The real highlight for me was watching my friend, Girlfriend Z (not to be confused with Girlfriend X). She is currently going through a separation, actually her soon-to-be-former anchor around her neck has found someone new so he filed for divorce. Girlfriend Z was looking quite happy and extremely fetching in her Carrie Bradshaw skirt with tastefully low-cut top. Lets just say she was taking her cleavage out for the night. I had to laugh, the photographers from D Magazine were following her around like drooling, attention-starved puppies.

I hope that she and her cleavage are splattered all over D magazine next month, that would be a subtle but effective blow to her soon-to-be-former anchor around her neck's ego, and it would be well-deserved :)

(alas, I forgot my camera that night, so there are no photos)

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Neighbor Blair was asking for this one. Its a staple I make once a month, I usually make enough for 16 meals at once :)

Jim's 3-Day Spicy Black Beans

2 bag Dry black beans
2 red Onions, diced
5 heads Garlic, roasted
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 t Salt
2 T Ancho Chili, ground
1 T Regular Chili, ground
1 t Chipotle, ground
1 T Coriander, ground
2 T Cumin
2 T Smoked Spanish Paprika

1) Wash beans and soak over night. Drain and wash again. Return to pot and cover with water 2" beyond height of beans. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 2 hours, stirring a few times. Cool and refrigerate overnight. I dont know why but cooking them covered makes them more "creamy".

2) Sautee onions and chopped garlic over med-high heat until carmelized. Put onion and garlic mixture and all spices into the beans. Bring beans to a boil again then reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour uncovered, adding water if necessary. Cool and refrigerate overnight.

3)Return beans to medium heat, stirring often. Process roasted garlic with a little olive oil until a paste is formed. Add the paste to the beans then cook the lot for another hour over medium-low heat uncovered. Adjust spices and add water if necessary.

I usually roll this up in a whole wheat tortilla with goat cheese and tomato and call it dinner. Sometimes I just plop it in a bowl with some cheddar and cilantro and call it chili. Other times I add some salsa to it and make a dip for tortilla chips and call it a snack.