...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Archeology News Again

Huge statue of Emperor Hadrian discovered.
Not bad quality, either.
While you are at the link, that's the website of the magazine I am subscribed to: the AIA's official publication. Lots of fresh news and musings on all things archeological.
They also have a kids' magazine, so for those friends of mine with children interested in old moldy history stuff :-)--here you go!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I don't even want to start thinking what the ramifications of this archeological discovery will be in today's world, if proven that the walls are indeed what they think they are...

UPDATE 8/31/07: Yep, there are already doubts as to its authenticity...

UPDATE TWO 8/31/07: Ah, I see now. The whole thing started with an unnecessarily large dig to lay down a tiny electrical cable. ::sigh:: I told you...this will be ugly.


A trip will be in order to see this at some point...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dante's Prayer


Words and music by Loreena McKennitt
From The Book of Secrets

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

Things That Make The Bunny Happy

Among other things this week...:-) I learned a while back that my favorite songstress, Loreena McKennitt is planning an US tour this fall, and that Dallas is one of the possible stops on the road.
Her music, from the first time I heard her on the radio in Hungary, was absolutely mesmerizing, capturing and uplifting for me. I still remember: it was a late night world music show in 1991, and the guy played her version of 'Greensleeves'. I thought immeditately that I need to get her music, but it was absolutely unavailable in Hungary, and as an imported rather niche product, it would have been prohibitively expensive for me, the second-year archeology student anyway.
February of the next year, however, found me in the UK, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for three months, due to a research grant from the project I participated in at the university, so pretty soon I had my hands on her The Visit album on a tape. I was walking down on the main shopping street of Newcastle, just outside of campus, slid the tape in my walkman, pressed the 'Play' button, and as the first accords of 'All Souls Night' filled my ears, I thought: "Yes. This is IT."
Ever since then, I turned to her music whenever a Big Thing happeend in my life, and it never failed me. She has songs that make me cry, others that make me smile, yet others that just fill me with the need for getting on an airplane and go see places really bad...I was listening to Kecharitomene from her latest album, An Ancient Muse, this morning, that really wants me to go and see Istambul when it was still Constantinople. Real bad. Or use it as a soundtrack for one of my stories.

About two weeks ago I got the newsletter from Quinlan Road, her record label (I am a member of their online community) that the dates are finalized and that indeed, she is coming to Dallas.
And I am going! Yay! I cannot wait!
Tickets are still available, so if you like her, don't wait getting them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Arteries!!!

The poor things...They are clogging up just by reading the article about this year's State Fair foods...
And yet, I have this strange desire to try at least the deep-fried peach cobbler...Or the deep-fried cookie dough with coconut, pecans and raisins...

Anyone else has this feeling?
Well gear up...the Texas State Fair is opening in a month, on September 28th.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Tuna Pomodoro

This is my take on a Sicilian recipe from Clifford Wright's impressive tome Mediterranean Feast, which, although I take serious issues with a lot of his research methods and basic history biases, is still a veritable treasure-trove of recipes both exotic and simple, complicated and mundane. I already owned one of his other books, Little Foods of the Mediterranean, so when I stumbled upon this on at the flagship Half-Price Books in dallas two weeks ago for less than half of the original cover price (hardcover book with almost 1,000 pages, no way I could have budgeted this in otherwise) I was more than happy to try something.
I happened to have in my freezer some really good yellowfin tuna from our fishmonger at the incredibly good albeit small Coppell Farmers Market, plus tomotoes of the large and beefy kind from the same place, so this recipe was a natural for a weeknight dinner of the comforting but summery kind. I suspect it would be equally good from some other firm, think white-fleshed fish as well such as swordfish, although tuna really is a natural.

Tuna Pomo'd'oro alla Anna (serves 2)

1 pound good quality tuna steak, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 large ripe tomotoes, chopped fine
1 bunch green onions or 1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
5-10 basil leaves

In medium bowl, mix tuna cubes with crushed garlic and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Chop tomtoes and onions while tuna is marinading.
Get out a large, heavy skillet and heat it on medium-high. Pour in the tuna with everything from the bowl, and sear until it is no longer pink on any side.
Pour in wine, reduce heat to medium and evaporate a little bit. Add onions and tomotoes, cover and simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until tuna is firm and white. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed, and toss in basil leaves that are coarsely chopped. Stir carefully so nothing breaks up.

Meanwhile, prepare some couscous according to usual directions: boil water with some butter and salt in it, add couscous, take off heat, cover, let stand for 4 minutes, stir with fork, add more butter. (1 cup water, 1 cup couscous ratio).

Serve tuna on top of couscous.

The colors of this dish are incredible, and so is the taste...I have come pictures that I will upload later. Until then, happy salivating!

UPDATE: Well, here it is.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another From the iPod--On The Road

As we came back from a much-enjoyed visit to our friend's home in Campbell, Texas, on the dark midnight I-30, the iPod imp played some of the songs I'd forgotten I even put on the thing...nevertheless, we caught ourselves humming and singing ad nodding the refrain with The Husband of this one:

Fortress Around Your Heart-Sting (from The Dreams of the Blue Turtles)

Under the ruins of a walled city
Crumbling towers in beams of yellow light
No flags of truce, no cries of pity
The siege guns had been pounding through the night
It took a day to build the city
We walked through its streets in the afternoon
As I returned across the fields I'd known
I recognised the walls that I once made
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I'd laid
And if I've built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

Then I went off to fight some battle
That I'd invented inside my head
Away so long for years and years
You probably thought, or even wished that I was dead
While the armies all are sleeping
Beneath the tattered flag we'd made
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I'd laid

And if I've built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

This prison has now become your home
A sentence you seem prepared to pay
It took a day to build the city
We walked through its streets in the afternoon
As I returned across the lands I'd known
I recognised the fields where I'd once played
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I'd laid

And if I've built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Things That Make The Bunny Misty-Eyed

Watch this first:

then watch this, then this.

Now I know this was all over the news much earlier, and I heard about it in passing but just had a chance to watch it last night thanks to one of the managers at work who showed it to us as the 2 Day Meeting From Hell wound down (weirdest sources, I know)... but darnit, Nessun Dorma is one of the greatest arias in opera history ever, and this guy gets it. Really gets it, I mean, what opera should be about. It's about friggin' feelings. Not logical synopsis of the story, not believable characters, not realistically dying on the stage...this is about feeling. Emotions. Being human. Stuff. (For further information on this topic, read Master Pratchett's opus on...well, mostly, opera.)

So that's why this made me, and all three judges at the BGT misty-eyed, I think. (Which, in the case of Simon Cowell is like, say, Lucifer getting misty-eyed over a day-old dewy rosebud, so watch really, really close...) :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Week's Song

Despite my migraine-like headache yesterday.
Despite the 3 day meeting this week.

The Proclaimers - I'm on My Way

I'm on my way from misery to happiness today
I'm on my way from misery to happiness today
I'm on my way to what I want from this world
And years from now you'll make it to the next world
And everything that you receive up yonder
Is what you gave to me the day I wandered

I took a right, I took a right turning yesterday
I took a right, I took a right turning yesterday
I took the road that brought me to your home town
I took the bus to streets that I could walk down
I walked the streets to find the one I'd looked for
I climbed the stair that led me to your front door
And now that I don't want for anything
I'd have Al Joilson sing "I'm sitting on top of the world"

I'll do my best, I'll do my best to do the best I can
I'll do my best, I'll do my best to do the best I can
To keep my feet from jumping from the ground dear
To keep my heart from jumping through my mouth dear
To keep the past, the past and not the present
To try and learn when you teach me a lesson

And now that I don't want for anything
I'd have Al Joison sing "I'm sitting on top of the world".

Monday, August 20, 2007

Strawberry Napoleonettes

SInce I had multiple guest visits this weekend (yay!), I decided on making something that I could assemble when they arrive, but can keep the ingredients in the fridge ready for the two days I needed them. And as I had frozen puff pastry in my freezer, this is what I decided to make, based on a restaurant memory and the package of the pastry.

Strawberry Napoleonettes

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
t tablespoons of powdered cugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
strawberries, hulled, sliced thin, as needed

Separate the 2 sheets of puff pastry, open them up on a floured work surface. Cut each sheet to 3 and then each of those to 4 so you get 12 rectangles from each sheet. You may decide to make them bigger if you want to.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake rectangles on baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Set them aside to cool--this will be quick.
While cooling, whip the cream in a medium bowl with the sugar and the vanilla. SLice the strawberries.
Assemble napoleonettes right before serving: slice each pastry sheet in half, smear whipped cream on the bottom, top it with sliced strawberries, put the top on it. Depending on just how decadent you want to be, you can add a third and fourth layer to achieve extra tall Napoleonettes. :-)
Serve with coffee and dark, dark chocolate pieces on the side.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Transparent Butterfly

A friend from Budapest sends me messages from time to time; messages with images she liked, or some of those rare chain letters worth forwarding...She is one of those rare friends with whom you can take up a conversation even though you haven't seen them for a year, and talk like you'd never parted, then part again for a year, and know she'll still be there for you. Very comforting...and even though I could not meet her this time around when I was there, it's good to know she's there for me.

So this is what she sent:

A butterfly with transparent wings is rare and beautiful. As delicate as finely blown glass, the presence of the Glasswing butterfly (Greta oto) is used by rain forest ecologists in Central America as an indication of high habitat quality and its demise alerts them of ecological change.

All things beautiful do not have to be full of color to be noticed: in life that which is unnoticed has the most power! Really something isn't it?

Budapest Zoo is all over international news these days

After the showing of Persian leopard triplets, now there was another headline featuring my hometown's zoo, this time with bad news about a python and some parrots.
Does this sounds just as surrreal as I feel it?

This week's Quote

I don't post often about my religion. I do not like to put it on my sleeve or have long conversations about it with people or with my blog: that's not my style. I was raised in my faith by my Calvinist minister grandfather, and he believed that the way you live, the way you do things is the best confession of your faith, more than going to church, even. Pretty radical from such a stern-perceived religion, no? I miss him and my grandma so much...
But I had this quote as our weekly contemplative Bible verse on the Hungarian reformed Church's page where I visit daily:

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of
bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
from Paul's Hebrews 12, 15

And that's what I am working at in my life these days, in case anyone wonders.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Stuff of Legends

You read this kind of stuff in urban legend collections, but it looks like it actually happened this time: treasure found in a rubbish heap in Austria.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bokele Thyn Ers!

Pardon my French there, but that's a direct quote from one of the funniest 'translations' of one of my favorite books. Some English professors have WAY too much time on their hands.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cute Alert!

Persian Leopard triplets were born and presented to the public in the Budapest Zoo. It's an endangered species and having triplets at leopards' is apparently pretty rare.
This almost beats the ringtailed lemurs walking out early in the morning from their house by the zoo lake we caught when we wnet to the zoo just before our wedding with The Husband and his twin...
More pictures courtesy of the Hungarian webzine Index can be found here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stardust II

So: yes, we went and saw Stardust on a Saturday matinee (see my previous post on the previews I've seen). Even though the movie had almost no marketing campaign, and, as usual, started out with some abysmally bad movie reviews from critics who would not catch allegory if it smacked them in the face with a rubber chicken, there were people in the theater apart from the four of us, which for a matinee at 1:20 pm on Saturday for a fantasy flick is encouraging to say the least.

Oh it was fun. Most delightfully reminiscent of The Princess Bride--very subtle humor and poking fun of stereotypes. Actors had a ton of fun in it obviously--Michelle Pfeiffer totally enjoyed being a very, very wicked witch indeed, and, well, Robert De Niro showed us what one can do with the evil pirate stereotype given an old airship, some lightning, grubby pirate companions, some purple feathers and Offenbach's music. No, really...
Claire Danes had some really good lines and her range of facial expressions matured greatly from her early works when she was just the pretty blonde who had to look fresh and innocent. Most of the time you believed she was immortal. And Charlie Cox, whom I did not know previously, showed how Tristan Thorn indeed had grown up from a shopboy to a man who once used to work in a shop but ended up as a...well, I won't spoil it for you. Go see it, and don't be surprised if you choke up at some point, or laugh out loud. We all did...
This will be in the permanent DVD collection, and one to show for the kids when time comes.

From The Ashes Rise The Colors

Bizarrely enough, the U2 song "Beautiful Day' kept playing in my hand as The Husband and I wandered through the Dallas Museum of Art's guest exhibit: "From The Ashes of Vesuvius: In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite".
I am an aborted classical archaeologist--I had two years of specialized studies behind me when I realized I just cannot get the language work done to become both a medieval and a classical archaeologist (plus some personal disagreements with certain teachers, but that's another story), so when I heard that this traveling exhibition comes to Dallas this summer, I was more than happy. They are here until October: plenty of time to go and see.

As The Husband remarked as we walked out: "I see now. Stabiae was like the hills of DC crossed with Dubai." It really was. The seaside villas of the period of 1st century BC to 89AD (when the Vesuvius's eruption ended a golden era of summer bay life to the top 0.01% of Roman elite) as nothing but impressive even with modern standards, and the exhibition's well-chosen artifacts demonstrate this to their advantage.

What really got me though (and does every time I am again immersing myself in Roman culture) is the riot of colors they used decorating their houses, and how well, in this case, the exhibitors represented those colors by painting the walls of the exhibit walls to match or counterpoint the fresco pieces or other architectural elements. Those colors seems to be alive, breathing and shouting--must have literally come alive back then in the Mediterranean sunshine...

If anyone wants to go and see it, I would be more than happy to go again with them...:-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blueberry Cake

So before all this excitement with a tire blowout yesterday, on the request of a certain Husband with a head cold reclining on the couch, I set out to make a quick blueberry cake (the official title of the original recipe was a cobbler, but trust me, this is a cake, and one of the best ones. I tinkered with the recipe a bit, made it faster and fluffier, also added lemon zest to accent the blueberry flavor more.

Anna's Fluffy Bluebery Cake For Those Days You Just Want To Hide Under A Rock

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup of brown turbinado sugar
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 whole egg
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup organic whole milk
2 cups of fresh or frozen organic blueberries

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray or grease 8 inch round cake pan.
2. Melt butter in medium microwaveable bowl. Stir in sugar, flour, baking powder, egg, milk and lemon zest. Mix with spatula until blended and smooth.
3. Pour batter into pan; sprinkle blueberries evenly over batter.
4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm; vanilla ice cream optional.


Adventure!Excitement! Hot Asphalt! Sweat!

Well, or something very similar happened to me this morning. I am toodling on Beltline towards work, listening to my iPod and getting frustrated with how the radio station I was tuning the converter to was kinda full of back noise, when suddenly there is this REALLY LOUD NOISE coming from somewhere underneath the car...I think first'wow, that old car next to me is sure having engine problems' ten I realize it's not on that side, it's towards my front and left, and that the Saturn is REALLY HARD to steer...
Yup. Tire.
Hazards on.
I managed to limp (in morning traffic) to the left turn lane at the intersection of Beltline and the Bush Turnpike/ 161 (aka The Kuwaiti Border as we affectionately call it), pull over, kill the iPod, kill ignition, keep hazards on, fish cellphone out, find the home # on autodial and alert The Husband what happened. Meanwhile, the delayed stress reaction set in and shaking of voice and hands commenced almost on schedule. Brain started to shut down too, but still managed to, while waiting for him to show up (lucky I was close to home and that he was not working) call work and leave a voicemail to my coworker letting her know I'll be in late.
Then The Husband showed up (after I got two cars stopping and asking if I needed help, which is very reassuring) and announced that I will have to change the tire myself, and he'll instruct and supervise, because, as he very correctly put it: "you'll need to learn this".
That did NOT make me thinking any better, or being very charitable towards him as I struggled with the jack that is JUST a bit too short--good thing it is Friday and I was wearing jeans--or being unable to get the tire caps off with my 139 pounds of body weight and poor balance.
Meanwhile, The Husband is sitting next to me, giving instructions while I am half on the ground, half crouching, trying to jack lift the car /tire in the air, relatively sure that this does NOT look good for all those driving by, seeing the woman sweating on the hot asphalt while the man next to her sits there in his stylish sunglasses and gives her instructions...:-)
Well, he was patient and I calmed down as we worked out the kinks in how he communicates when he wants to teach something versus how I want to be taught when I do something the first time...so the tire got taken off, the donut from the bottom of the trunk got put on, I got educated in the mysteries of which order to unscrew/screw back tire screws...and in about 40 minutes, we could swap keys and I could head to work in the Jeep while he limped the Saturn to the dealership to tell them the tire they JUST changed four months ago had spontaneously exploded into bits (no really, you could see the thread failure almost halfway across the tire surface). Funny I've just seen a feature on TV yesterday about totally faulty Chinese import Firestone tires--guess what kind of tire our car is having? We were sitting in the lunchroom with some coworkers yesterday watching this, and one of them says: "I swear, they try to kill us..."
Well, they tried this morning--but I am still here. Disheveled, sweaty and in a ruined shirt, getting ready to head down to the company gym to shower and change into a promotional company shirt I found in our storage room (XXL but hey...)--and finally arriving to the club of women who know how to change a car tire.

::tiny little sounds of whee!::

UPDATE at 11:55: This is unbelievable--The Husband is STILL sitting at the friggin'dealership waiting for a TIRE to be DELIVERED...AAARGH!! Needless to say, my confidence in them is just a tad shaken right now. Not a good day this far, and I am having more delayed stress reaction here with more shaking.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Slow Music for Fast Times

We have this unlimited subscription to Hearts Of Space, an online music streaming service of the radio program of the same name with nearly 700 archived programs and a bunch of albums online for streaming as well. If you ever listened to the radio program (which, goshdarnit, no one carries in the DFW metroplex, the closest one is down in Waco), you know that they started out as a purely space music program but later they branched out into world music, ambient and ethno-tech as well, but all the while keeping the high quality and the soothing, contemplative nature of their chosen albums and musicians. As they themselves define their niche: a "mix of ambient, electronic, world, new age, classical and experimental"music.

While due to copyright issues you cannot really download full programs, streaming this on your desktop while working is really helping my steess levels, and is incredibly soothing at home in the evenings as dark finally seeps through the curtains in the sunroom.
They have a three-day trial subscription to stream as much as you like during those 3 days, for $3, to see if you like what they offer, in case you are in need for some slow music in these fast, fast times indeed.

Visit from a Friend

About a week and a half ago I got a phone call from my friend Virginia who lives in Memphis; we work for the same company and used to be in the same workgroup but when her boss have been promoted to VP and moved to the HQ in Memphis, she hired her there as her admin. So we keep in touch and meet about once a year (last year I stayed at her house when I was there for training). V said she was coming to town for a meeting of her boss and would I like dinner with her? So we agreed that we go to our house after she is done with her meeting at 1700 and go and have Mexican food with The Husband.
Boy, that was good. Our usual hangout, La Mexicana y El Gringo in Irving on Story, a little hole-in-the-wall with simple but impeccably fresh and delicious dishes did not disappoint this time either; V polished off her enchiladas verdes with delight, and even though they were out of flan, she declared that the sopaipillas were pretty good too.
And it looks like even though she is definitely a dog person, as she declared, and does not much care for cats, BooBoo, my pencil-headed pixie-bob started to have her perhaps changing her mind regarding kitties. As silly and affectionate and pretty Boo is, he keeps winning hearts over to just how cool his breed is! Yay!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ol' Leonard Again

To My Husband: Hey, happy anniversary, sweetie!
Ain't No Cure For Love (from Leonard Cohen's-I Am Your Man)(the title song of which was, incidentally, our date song...) :-)
I loved you for a long, long time
I know this love is real
It don't matter how it all went wrong
That don't change the way I feel
And I can't believe that time's
Gonna heal this wound I'm speaking of
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure for love

I'm aching for you baby
I can't pretend I'm not
I need to see you naked
In your body and your thought
I've got you like a habit
And I'll never get enough
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure for love

There ain't no cure for love
There ain't no cure for love
All the rocket ships are climbing through the sky
The holy books are open wide
The doctors working day and night
But they'll never ever find that cure for love
There ain't no drink no drug
(Ah tell them, angels)
There's nothing pure enough to be a cure for love

I see you in the subway and I see you on the bus
I see you lying down with me, I see you waking up
I see your hand, I see your hair
Your bracelets and your brush
And I call to you, I call to you
But I don't call soft enough
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure for love

I walked into this empty church
I had no place else to go
When the sweetest voice I ever heard, whispered to my soul
I don't need to be forgiven for loving you so much
It's written in the scriptures
It's written there in blood
I even heard the angels declare it from above
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure,
There ain't no cure for love

There ain't no cure for love
There ain't no cure for love
All the rocket ships are climbing through the sky
The holy books are open wide
The doctors working day and night
But they'll never ever find that cure, That cure for love

Dinner at Cipriani's

That was lovely...Yesterday, as it was our 7th wedding anniversary, we decided to do more than our usual 'let's go and have sushi in our jeans' run, and we put on nicer clothes (that means slacks and collared shirt for the Husband and a nice ankle-length summery flowery dress for me with pearls, nothing ultra-fancy) and get to Las Colinas for a 600pm dinner at Cafe Cipriani. It is a venerable North Italian restaurant, being here for as long as Las Colinas existed, which in DFW restaurant terms is quite significant (we have more restaurants per capita than New York, actually, and a lot of them tends to change hands and character rather often).
First Impessions: Cafe C has valet parking due to its location, and once entered, you need to take a shiny copper elevator down to the dining area, which is dimly lit, mostly by candles, has crisp white tablecloths, heavy dinnerware and some real flowers on the tables. Very understated.
Service: During our previous visit and this, our waiters were top notch. It is increasingly difficult to get real waiters these days, those who know and love their work, know and love the place, food, the wines, everything, and are able to convince you that you do, too. Waiters who are extremely courteous but not pushy, appear exactly when needed, don't push the special just because that's more expensive but because it's really special, and are proud of what they do. Needless to say, you tip these guys 20% or more, like we did, because you'd like to keep them in business.
Food: So...on to the food (after all, I promised to my lovely sister-in-law that I'll give a detailed account of what we ate..):-)
We got appetizers: mine was a fresh Mozzarella Caprese, with ripe red tomatoes, flavorful olive oil and finely chopped basil. It was good. The Husband's appetizer, however, totally overshadowed it. If you go the Cafe C, get the Frutti Di Mare. Please do. Lovely plump mussels, shrimp, calamari and other seamonsters in an out-of-this world light garlicky vermouth sauce with bits of fresh tomatoes, steaming hot. The sauce is enough that you can mop it up with the crisp Italian sourdough bread they put in front of you as soon as you get settled in.
The Husband won the main course round as well--at our waiter's advice, he chose one of the specials of the day, the Chicken Val'd'Aosta--this was chicken breast stuffed with really good prosciutto slices and mozzarella, sauteed until juicy and tender, and served with fettucine with roasted garlic bits and red pepper, in a light cream sauce. The harmony of those flavors was only slightly marred by the fact that the pasta got a bit tough due to sitting on an extremely hot serving plate.
My veal with forest mushrooms entree had suffered from the same too hot plate problem around the edges a bit, but the sauce with red wine and different kinds of wild mushrooms was tangy and flavorful, the side of haricots verts, red pepper strips and oven-roasted new potatoes was well-flavored and not overcooked.
After all this, we still had room for dessert: I pre-ordered at the beginning of the meal the chocolate souffle that they are quasi-famous for, as it takes time to prepare and has to be absolutely on time. The Husband chose from the dessert tray a rum-pecan cream cake with vanilla sauce. His cake was not too sweet, light but a perfect finish after the chicken dish he chose. My souffle...ah, well, it was a chocolate tower, light and airy, that the waiter cut into tableside, and poured a light and strong chocolate sauce flavored with chocolate liqueur. It really was rather out of this world; I am not sure which one of us won this round as I am heavily biased toward anything chocolate-y and thus, frankly, unable to make an objective call here. We finished with two good cappucinos-unfortunately, since I roast my own beans fresh at home, I just cannot really enjoy restaurant coffee any more, but for what they were, they were decent, freshly brewed drinks, with good solid foam on top.

All in all: this is really a memorable experience and one that, while not exactly cheap, will not necessary break the bank. If you need a very quiet evening where you can sit by candlelight and talk while enjoying a leasurely meal without really worrying about the right side of the menu, do give Cafe Cipriani a try.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Annoying Observation of The Day

So if you have a Prius, and the latest model to boot, why do you smoke your cigarette to a stub and then toss the stub out your open window to the road while waiting at the stoplight?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Today's Song on the iPod

Maybe because I am a archeologist/medievalist/historian, but I really like this one...:-)

Mad About You-Sting (from his album The Soul Cages)

A stone's throw from Jerusalem
I walked a lonely mile in the moonlight
And though a million stars were shining
My heart was lost on a distant planet
That whirls around the April moon
Whirling in an arc of sadness
I'm lost without you,
I'm lost without you
Though all my kingdoms turn to sand and fall into the sea
I'm mad about you,
I'm mad about you
And from the dark secluded valleys
I heard the ancient songs of sadness
But every step I thought of you
Every footstep only you
Every star a grain of sand
The leavings of a dried up ocean
Tell me, how much longer,
How much longer?

They say a city in the desert lies
The vanity of an ancient king
But the city lies in broken pieces
Where the wind howls and the vultures sing
These are the works of man
This is the sum of our ambition
It would make a prison of my life
If you became another's wife
With every prison blown to dust
My enemies walk free
I'm mad about you, I'm mad about you

And I have never in my life
Felt more alone than I do now
Although I claim dominions over all I see
It means nothing to me
There are no victories
In all our histories
Without love

A stone's throw from Jerusalem
I walked a lonely mile in the moonlight
And though a million stars were shining
My heart was lost on a distant planet
That whirls around the April moon
Whirling in an arc of sadness
I'm lost without you, I'm lost without you

And though you hold the keys to ruin of everything I see
With every prison blown to dust my enemies walk free
Though all my kingdoms turn to sand and fall into the sea I
'm mad about you, I'm mad about you

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I almost did not realize until this week that a. they are making a movie out of Neil Gaiman's Stardust b. Neil Gaiman is the producer of it, c. it comes out next week.
Here is the website of the movie with notes, images, etc. It looks utterly fabulous, and hey, Robert De Niro is in it!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bulwer-Lytton Awards 2007

The results for the most abominable examples of English-language prose are in for this year, and can be (for those inclined to have their forebrains hurt as much as mine did after reading) found here. Have fun, but beware--consume responsibly, this is some horrendous stuff!

UPDATE: While there, don't forget to check out the samples from actual fiction rather than made-up first sentences, here. Provided you still have some braincells left, that is. And if you do try the Dark and Stormy Night cocktail recipe, be a good sport and let me know how you liked it.

Two Filmmakers on One Day

Two pillars of European filmmaking, whose movies I got introduced thorugh my late mother, died this week: Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman. And the same day, too. Here is a good essay on their works, their legacy and their importance in modern art.
While I never had the deep appreciation for them as my mother had, I think their films were the last of so called 'art cinema' I was still able to tolerate, even as a relatively serious and mature pre-teen. Theirs and Fellini's...okay, add Pasolini to that mix, and I think I am done.