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

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


And now its almost Thursday and I'm just getting around to writing about last weekend!

I had a fun time last weekend catching up with some neglected friends.

First, Realtor and I went to look at the Metropolitan, which is the only building for purchase in the downtown area that I had not seen yet. While the other offerings in the downtown proper area have been lacking, the Metropolitan may be a good choice. I liked the location, price point, floor plans, amenities and some of the views from the upper floors are breath taking. The parking lot next to the building will be converted into a park next year, big plus. And, most importantly, the residents were friendly and from a quick glance, very diverse.

Metropolitan - 25th floor view

Metropolitan - Pool

Metropolitan - Pool Feeds

Lovely Joan and I went to dinner at Toy's on Lemmon Ave. I love Toy's but since I moved out of the Oak Lawn area I don't think about it. I love this place because it's small, family run and has the best veggie Thai in town. Toy herself will come around at least twice to make sure there are no complaints. Joan and I talked beyond their closing time but there was no pressure to get out. When we finally did come out of our conversation haze we noticed Toy waiting patiently by the door all smiles and come back soon.

Fort Worth was the main event. I had roped some friends into going with me to the Kimbell Museum to see the "Earliest Christian Art" exhibit. I found it fascinating and extremely well-displayed. Too many symbols and too many meanings to digest in one sitting but I chose a section and learned what I could. And now I know where the "ChiRho" symbol comes from, so, my life is finally complete! :) (Its the first two letters from the Greek spelling of Christ, in case you were wondering).

Early Christian Chi Rho Symbol

In order to get my friends to come to the exhibit I had to exchange going with them to the newly reopened 651, which is Fort Worth's gay country bar. I remember this place back in the 90's, it was almost an every weekend stop for me. I can't tell you how much fun I had there and how many great people I met. Unfortunately after the owner died it fell into a funk, changed hands, got funkier then eventually closed. I'm happy to say it is back in its original form and kicking ass once again.

And what weekend could be complete without a chili cookoff. Well, its Texas, what do you want? I have never seen so MANY types of chili under one roof. Every type of meat met every type of bean and sauce imaginable. I think my favorite was the black bean pork (sorry Jewish family!) chili with roasted New Mexican chilis and chipotle oil. I broke a sweat but it was worth it!

I'm intentionally leaving out all the details about the date I netted from the Fort Worth weekend. Its a dinner thing tomorrow night, so we'll see if it turns into anything, then maybe I'll talk about it :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Non-linear, Abstract Dagger

If you like films to progress in linear order, you will not like this one.

If you like films delivering small, cohesive story lines in black and white clarity, you will not like this one.

If you didn't like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive, well, this one is also not for you.

I like non-linear and abstract, so I guess I will always be a fan of David Lynch. I was very impressed with his most recent offering. To me, this is his best work yet, and I mean by an order of magnitude.

Some advice for Lynch novices - focus less on trying to figure things out and more on letting the whole film wash over you. With a running time of 3 hours, you'll probably want to practice beforehand :) Lynch is tricky-clever using his quirky techniques in perspective, framing, lighting and yanking the best facial expressions out of his actors to make you feel unprocessed emotion.

Inland Empire's plot, and I use that term loosely, is about an aging, slightly neurotic actress who has just landed the lead role in a film. After filming begins she learns that its a remake of a Polish film called "47". She also learns that "47" was never completed since the two leads were murdered before filming ended. Early on the lines start to blur between the actress, the character she is playing and the Polish actress who starred in the original, unfinished production. The blurring reaches a level of dark, disturbing madness that is trademark Lynch. What is unusual is that at the end of the 3 hours, I felt happy, I felt things had been resolved and everything would work out.

My spin on this film is that Lynch was plunging a lovely, glistening dagger into the back of Hollywood. Not only does he make the Hollywood production characters in the film seem inept and incapable of original thought, he also portrays the actors in the film as empty, fragile vessels when there is no role to play.

Laura Dern as Nikki and Susan

While the other actors, Jeremy Irons and Justin Theroux, were good, this whole film is carried by Laura Dern. IMHO, she deserves two awards, "best actress" for the role of Nikki, the actress in this film and "best supporting actress" for Susan, the character she assumes in the remake of "47". Dern will not receive either, this is not a mainstream production reaching a wide enough audience. Still, she was brilliant and I hope you get a chance to see her performance.

Inland Empire

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Hey, can anyone tell me that word in Spanish that means "person who talks big but nothing important, reasonable or even intelligent ever comes out"? My Spanish is a little rusty so I have misplaced a lot of vocabulary. Oh wait, its coming to me. The word is Hugo Chavez!

I don't normally read the news but today I did. I laughed when I read my favorite whipping boy's latest rant. Aside from the obvious, what is wrong with the president of Venezuela? He's threatening to stop sending oil to the US again and this time its because he got his hand slapped ($12 billion in assets frozen) for taking something that wasn't his in the first place (2 joint projects with Exxon Mobil).

I'm not an expert in all things oil but my family works in the industry so I do know the basics.

First, we only import 10% of our oil from Venezuela. If its cut off, sure it would be unpleasant, more expensive but it would still be business as usual. Over time we would likely shift our import mix away from Venezuela. So, really, the threat would managed, then eliminated. Yawn.

Next, Venezuela derives 90% of its income from oil sales. And guess who is their biggest customer. Right, we are. Think they can just sell their oil to someone else at the same price, maybe some energy-starved country like China? Not exactly. Oil from Venezuela is lower quality crude that requires special refining. Outside of the US that refining infrastructure does not exist in many places. So, really, not selling to the US would be like not wanting an income. Good plan!

Lets not forget that Venezuela actually imports almost all of their food, so its not like they are self-sufficient in the resource department like say, Brazil. And we all know by now that their attempts at socialized farming have not really gone according to plan, lol. So, no oil sales, no food is the rough translation.

So, Hugo, lets review: We dont need you, you need us and you're sending us threats?

That makes no sense. All I can say is ¡Cállate!, you embarrass yourself and bore us with your childish theatrics.

Friday, February 08, 2008

CP Dallas

My group of foodies and I have renewed our commitment to jointly explore one new restaurant a month. This time we are limiting the count to 10. We found in years past that trying to get a group of more than 10 people into a restaurant for anything other than a special event is an exercise in frustration. Not to mention you only get to talk to the 4 people seated closest to you. And then there is always that one person that wants a separate check.

January we tried Charlie Palmer, which opened up downtown (conveniently across the street from me) inside of the yet-to-open Hotel Joule.

If the name Charlie Palmer sounds familiar it might be because you have been to Aureole in NYC or maybe his restaurant inside Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay. Or maybe you just know good chefs.

CP Dallas is swanky but not intimidating and very cozy. The crowd seems to be a mixed bag and pleasantly devoid of the see and be seens. The decor has a theme - wind. I found out that the reason is because CP Dallas was funded by Hunnington Oil, which now advocates wind energy and Texas is one of the larger producers of wind energy. I liked the big metal turbine recessed into the ceiling and spinning at a slow pace. I also like the paintings of the cast from Wizard of Oz standing in a breezy open field.

Service here is fantastic. Hostess watched our table all night from afar, coming over at lulls in conversation to ask how we liked everything and to bring us free stuff. Wine Guy brought over their funky laptop based wine list. When we all got bored using the wine computer he brought us the paper menu. When we were overwhelmed by the hundreds of choices he made recommendations - they were spot on.

The food is legendary. The complimentary Lobster Corndog made me laugh. A corndog of any flavor just wasn't what I expected in a 5-star. But I stopped laughing when I tried it, it was incredible - big chunks of butter poached lobster all wrapped up in a greaseless corn-batter sweater, resting nicely on a muted mustard sauce. A meal in itself!

The beet and goat cheese salad looked like an ice cream sandwich. 1/4" discs of ruby beets forming strict boundaries to the soft, pungent goat cheese between. Its seemed almost a shame to eat the beet-cheese tower since it was so beautifully presented with a circle chopped beets and roasted hazelnuts, but I did and it was exceptional.

If diver scallops are on the menu, I will try them. They were, I did. Bigger-than-your-face scallops, pan fried to a buttery crunch accompanied by an odd but delicious combination of lemon confit, artichoke pesto and roasted cauliflower. A surprisingly good balance of sweet from the scallop, savory from the pesto and sour-sweet from the lemon confit.

Desserts were all successful although for myself, not being a fan of sweets, the uber-strong key lime pie was the winner. Good thing Hostess noticed we didn't have one initially and rushed one out.

At the end Chef came out and invited us to the kitchen. Wow, it was so clean and organized that I almost felt guilty about my own. I've heard and seen horror stories about the levels of grotesqueness in restaurant kitchens but this was not the case at CP.

I'm hoping Dallas will embrace CP Dallas and it will make through the obligatory one year test. It's fantastic and for me, very conveniently located.

(Alas I forgot my camera so no pics this time!)

Charlie Palmer at The Joule
1530 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201


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Monday, February 04, 2008


Girlfriend X: So tell me Jim, at what age does a woman become a cougar?

Me: Um, I don't know, 40 I guess, why do ask?

Girlfriend X: One my friends called me a cougar because I have a 33-yo boyfriend.

Me: But you and boyfriend X have been dating for almost a decade and living together for 5. I think the term cougar implies that you're a 40-something woman chasing down 20-something men for sex; its more predatory.

Girlfriend X: So my friend is probably just jealous because she's my age and dateless?

Me: LOL, I would bet. Hell, my guess is most 48-yo women are building shrines and temples in your name and generally consider you a goddess with special powers.

Girlfriend X: LOL, great, all I need is a pre-menopausal fan club.

Me: LOL, besides you look late 30's and act late 20's.

Girlfriend X: LOL, I'm taking that as a compliment and not a clever way of calling me immature.

Me: As well you should. Besides, you two have a good relationship which is the important bit and its noone else's business that there is a 15 year age gap.

Girlfriend X
: I need a boob job.

Me: I'm hanging up now.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Daniel Day Lewis doesn't do too many films but when he does you can be almost certain his performance will be excellent. Similarly menacing as his character in Gangs Of New York, he puts forth what will surely net him the best actor award on Oscar's night. But what surprised me was newcomer Paul Dano's (Little Miss Sunshine) performance was equally as strong.

I liked There Will Be Blood, the story that, at least on the surface, is the story of a man's drive to become one of the founding fathers of the oil industry. But just below that surface we see it's really the story of unchecked greed; the irrational sacrifices , human and otherwise, he makes on the way to becoming the oil tycoon and all in the name of money. What makes this film so strong and even more important is the equally greedy pastor (Dano) who plays with devil to spread the word of G-d, at least his misguided and over-architected interpretation.

The only complaint I have, and its small in the big picture, is that some of the scenes were painfully slow and seemed not to add much to the overall flow of the film. But that being said, the last 30 minutes are an incredible roller coaster ride of oilman dueling holy man that will keep you guessing which evil will win.

In any case the title is dead on balls accurate - there will be blood.

9.999/10 :)

There Will Be Blood

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Friday, February 01, 2008


Sorry for the long break, I hit a busy patch at work and have been feeling kinda crappy. I'm back now. Soon I will review There Will Be Blood and a new restaurant in downtown Dallas, Charlie Palmer.