Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pancuito loves the summer, the summer loves Panciuto

Aaron Vandemark, the chef/proprietor of Panciuto, is one of my favorite chefs and runs one of my favorite restaurants.  As good as this place is all the time, though, in the summer it becomes even better, as we learned at dinner earlier tonight. 

Every single dish was fantastic.  We sampled all three sides--twice-fried broccoli, marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and grilled carrots--and they were more delicious than vegetables have any right being.  My starter, a crispy fried softshell crab with soft scrambled eggs and asparagus, delighted with every bite.  The only flaw I could find with my main, a grilled heritage pork chop with yellow zucchini risotto, is that it was simply too big for me to finish--and that's a flaw I love, because it makes a fine leftover.

I sampled both strawberry desserts, one a warm strawberry-almond cake, and the other a strawberry panna cotta, and they were superb.

I've raved about Panciuto before, and I expect to do so again, but if you want to catch it at its peak, go this summer. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

If you need a book that will make you laugh...

...pick up just about any Carl Hiaasen novel.  I'm reading his latest, Bad Monkey, right now, and I was laughing out loud before the first scene break. Check it out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chef: My favorite movie of the year so far

As you can tell from this entry's title, I fell head-over-heels in love with this Jon Favreau film.   I'm not alone in liking it--check out what Rottentomatoes says about it--but I am probably unusual in the degree of my enthusiasm for it.  The movie simply hit me perfectly.  Though I knew within five minutes exactly how the plot would go, I didn't care; I loved the ride.  The construction was flawless, the restaurant bits spot-on, and the sentimentality just right, at least for me. 

I also left the theater ravenous for a Cubano sandwich.

At the film's end--do stay for all the credits--a good third of the audience clapped.  I was among them.

I don't want to tell you more about this one, because you should get to enjoy every moment of it without any spoilers. 

Go see Chef if you possibly can.

A word to the X-Men anonymous commenter

Please drop me a note via the form on my Contact page. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I can't even remotely pretend to be unbiased about this movie.  The first comic-book series I truly and deeply loved was The X-Men.  The first issue of a comic book that I mail-ordered from an ad in the back of a comic was issue 3 of The X-Men.  As an alienated kid who fancied himself special, this Stan Lee & Jack Kirby comic hit me perfectly.  To this day, I have a soft spot for this superhero team in all its many variations.

I loved the first X-Men movie, because I finally got to see this team on the big screen, and I've liked all the others, even the Wolverine films and the admittedly weak third X-Men entry.  I'm a soft touch for the mutant flicks.

All of which is by way of making it clear that you probably can't trust me when I tell you to make sure you do not miss X-Men:  Days of Future Past, which I greatly enjoyed.  The time-travel mechanics are more than a little convenient, and it takes almost no time for Wolverine to convince Beast and the professor that he (Wolverine) has come from the future, and I could list many more problems with the movie's construction, but I don't care; it worked for me.

Fortunately, with this film you do not have to trust just my opinion.  Over at Rottentomatoes, as I write these words the critics are 92% positive and the audience 95% positive

Whether you trust me or prefer to rely on them, you should go see this movie. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Travel and work, work and travel

A day that starts at The Inn At Little Washington and includes a wonderful lunch from them is hard to complain about, so I won't.  I will, though, note that the rest of the day went to driving and work, lots and lots of work. 

I'm home now but beat, so this is all I have to offer.  Sorry about that.

Tomorrow, normal work life resumes!

Monday, May 26, 2014

On the road again: Balticon, day 4

Today, I drove away from the con and into the wilds of Virgina, all the way to The Inn At Little Washington.  Chef/Proprietor Patrick O'Connell has relentlessly pursued his singular vision here, and the result is a wonderful experience in a delightful setting with fantastic food.  As with each year's trip here, dinner was at one of the two tables in the kitchen and featured a lovely tasting menu. 

If I were richer than I will ever be, this is one of the places to which I'd love to retreat for a month to finish a novel in a quiet setting that would lend itself well to writing and walking. 

Tomorrow, I head home. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On the road again: Balticon, day 3

My day began entirely too early with a 10:00 a.m. panel that assembled all the attending Compton Crook Award winners:  Michael Flynn, Maria V. Snyder, Myke Cole, Chuck Gannon, and me.  Moderator Jonette Butler asked about our experiences with the award, and then we fielded questions from the small but very attentive audience. 

I had a short break to work on my show before I had to head out to moderate the ninety-minute Liars' Panel.  With fellow panelists Chuck Gannon, Gail Z. Martin, and Jo Walton, we answered questions--sometimes truthfully, sometimes not--entertained the audience, and raised almost three hundred bucks to buy books for kids who could not otherwise afford them.

Less than half an hour after leaving that room, I was on stage performing my new stand-up show, Mr. Poor Choices II:  I Don't Understand.  A mix of new and old material, all in a new framework and at a better pace, I think this was the best show I've done.  The audience of 150 to 200 people all laughed when they should and seemed to have a good time.

I am now, though, wrung out, so I'm calling it a day.


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