Stories of Friendship, Family, Fun and Food.
All the way from the Emerald Isle!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wise Movie(s) Review

It always surprises me to see what exactly motivates me to sit down and write (or blog). This past week, the Chef & I spent most of our time painting the guest room, our bedroom and the living room whilst discussing the future career paths we were pondering (see future blog on this topic). During the week, the Ffrench twins (high school friends) came out for a visit (twice) and we discussed the movie Australia which they had already seen. As it was already downloading we decided to curl up with a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the company of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman for the evening. I have finished the rest of the commentary down below the image of Australia the movie because I actually thought the movie we just finished watching a few minutes ago was better!

Now I know that in order to love this movie, one would have to be a dog lover. I do understand this, because I am (as is the Chef) true dog lovers. For the first 1/2 an hour I was a little annoyed by the raucous behaviour of the puppy, the bad acting of Owen Wilson (not sure he has even done a great job as an actor) and lets be honest about Jennifer Anniston - she made her fame and money during the years of Friends (I was never an avid follower) and that was about as great as I ever expected her acting to be.

The screenplay was written by Scott Frank (Little Man Tate, The Interpreter, Flight of the Phoenix) & Don Roos (Single White Female, Boys on the Side) and I was hopeful that they would make it memorable. WOW - did they ever. I am going out on a limb here and letting you all know that Owen Wilson can actually act. OK, it took him almost the entire duration of the movie to see what he is capable of, but he delivered.

The writers of this movie brought reality to the table. A marriage that goes through ups and downs, loss of a baby, a dog that destroys their house and keeps babies from napping, a couple that struggle to remember who they were before the kids came along, how they have changed or adapted to the new condition's of family, jobs (or lack thereof) and the threat of separation or divorce because sometimes you are just too tired to fight to get through the harder times.

As the story unfolds, the dog is there from destructo puppy hood all the way to the last day of his life at the vets office. My favourite quote from the movie was " A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his - Forever" . Don't you wish humans could learn from this!
Keep reading for a very honest review of Australia!

I will freely admit that I was dying to watch this because I LOVE HUGH JACKMAN. I do. Not because he is a super talented actor - just because he is cute and I am a huge X-MEN fan. Not to worry readers, the Chef is aware of my obsession and seeing as Nicole Kidman shared the limelight in this flick (his fav. female actor) he indulged me as we nestled in for a evening of wine and romance watching this chick flick.
I did not like it at all. I almost want to say I hated it, but I think that is a little harsh. Actually, no, I am just furious after watching it! I think what really happened was Baz Luhrmann co-wrote this with Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean) and as Baz has enough money to make the world go round, no-one told him it sucked!
It was Australia's attempt at a Gone with the Wind type of movie and even the cover image looks like a Mills & Boon (Harelequin) romance novel cover. Not that there is anything wrong with those, it was just not what I was expecting.
I must have set my expectations too high (ok, WAY too high). See, I had heard this movie was about the history of Australia during WW 2 and the mis-treatment of half cast (bi-racial children). Needless to say this would be something of great interest to me as my children are of that kind.
What I waded through (for 3 + hours) was a poorly written VERY HOLLYWOOD story of 2 people thrown together during the war in Australia and a little boy (awfully cute) becomes part of their life. If the story had the basics like a great beginning, one main climax and a killer happy ending, then it is possible I would have tolerated the cheesy one liners and camera grins from Hugh Jackman (sellout) and the stiff as a poker acting from Nicole Kidman (who can do soooooooooo much better).
But, NO! This movie started weirdly like an out of the west movie (Think old Clint Eastwood movie - crossed with the Mask of Zorro - Sorry - but it felt like that), then moved on to have 3 or even 4 climaxes, love found, cattle run completed, love lost, child lost or dead, love found again and then somewhere along the way after 3 + hours, they all lived happily ever after only the little boy left to go walkabout with his grandfather.
Bad, bad writing. Glad I did not pay for it!
Let us compare the 2, shall we?
With Marley & Me (in my humble opinion) the writers sucked you in to what is real today, right here, right now. Although I am not a fan of the actors, I could relate to being their with them and OH, feeling their pain. With Australia, it was never 'like' being in the late thirties or early forties, I never felt an ounce of compassion for any of the characters and when Nicole Kidman held up a PHOTOGRAPH of her, her partner (as they remained unmarried but lived together as a couple!!!) and this little boy (i.e. Happy Family photo) I almost threw up. Really, you want me to believe that y'all rode into town after one of the cattle drives, all dressed up and got your photo professionally taken - in 1942....................?????? This movie took up too much of my time. End of story.
Incase you are wondering after all this commenting, it was Marley and Me that motivated me to write. I love that a movie about a dog can make me cry like a baby.
That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wise WINE Alert!

Villa Recougne
White Bordeaux, 2007

I know it is only mid January and here I am dreaming of the warm sunny days with nothing more to look forward to than a lazy afternoon at the beach with a nice book and a bottle of lovely wine to share with the Chef.

This is another of our favourites and judging by the price you can see why! It is one of those relatively cheap easy drinkers. With or without food!

We shared this with some friends a few nights ago and the Chef had prepared a platter of sauteed shrimp (loads of garlic and crushed chilies) and lightly grilled veggies and we drank way too much! Well, I am keeping with my New Years Resolution!

Everyone always says that you need to drink white wines when having fish, chicken etc. but I never follow that rule. I like to drink what ever tastes good. Look for it, stock up on it and enjoy every tasty drop.

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wise Movie Review

I suppose you can all consider this a confession. You see, I have fallen in love with another man. I did not really realise my infatuation with him until I watched his most recent release - Seven Pounds - with none other than the gorgeous sexy and very talented Mr. Will Smith.
If you liked 'The pursuit of Happyness' or any of his movies then you will very much enjoy this. The last movie I watched (2007) was " I am Legend" and although quite a disturbing movie, he was practically the only character in the movie. It was then, that I realised what a fine actor he has become.
I would love to give you the details on this movie, but I can't because I REALLY REALLY want you to go watch it. It moves a little slow for the first half of the movie but you will tolerate that because the story slowly unfolds and the cast (although they have teeny tiny roles) are just perfect for this movie.
I can actually see someone doing what he does to feel relief from the incredible weight of guilt he feels. Great movie! Oh, and girls, on a side note - he does take his shirt off and yes, at 40 he is fabulous!
That is all the drooling WiseWords I have for today,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wise WINE Alert

Paco & Lola
Albariño 2007
€ 11.99

What a DELICIOSO Wine! Print out this page and make an effort to stock up for the warmer months. OK, you can tell from looking at the label, that YES, once again I fell prey to "pretty label" again. I had a good feeling about this because it was an Albariño which the Chef and I are more than fond of, and boy was I right.

Paco & Lola wine is grown and created in the Rias Baixas wine region in the northwest of Spain and one of Spain’s leading ‘Denominations of Origin’ and a region that has been going through a period of revolutionary change and growth in recent years.

Crisp, clean - grapefruity yumminess! Let's hope we get a lovely sunny summer and you will see me mention its name several times. We will be drinking it by the bucket all summer l'd say!

Oh, and on a side not - the label is creative, clean & almost simple. Awesome marketing! It worked, and so does the wine!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blast it, I have already blown one of my New Years Resolutions

The Chef is not good at gifting in general. He just leaves things to the last minute then has a major panic attack and I usually end up with soap or shower gel or something weird that suggests I have bad body odor. So we have come up with a great plan that has served us both well over the last 13 years. We developed a wish list. I add little things to it from time to time, and so does he. That way when birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas etc. rolls around all he (or I) has to do is consult the list.

This year, Christmas came and went and I got a weird scented massage oil with several tokens for a massage. OK, we are in a new country, and it is possible the Chef forgot about the list. I was humble and thanked him and have enjoyed the massages (no doubt).

Today, the rest of my present arrived on my doorstep. Clearly, you can tell from reading this post - the Chef does not read the family Blog very often!

He got me a Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Maker. A what??
Yes, A lovely gorgeous piece of kitchen equipment!

It is true that I am a coffee freak, and do love the toys that come along with having a Chef as a husband, and although I made a decision to cut back on caffeine, I am so grateful for this present.

Since moving to Switzerland in 2007 we have been using our trusty French Press for our caffeine pleasures and it has served us well.

Ron read about the Technivorm Moccamaster in his favourite magazine for all things Food and Wine 'The Art of Eating' (Editor - Edward Behr) and I have to say this is not the first time he has run out to buy something based on Mr. Behr's recommendation.

I cannot find the past issue to recap what was said about this coffee machine so here is my best shot at it. The coffee is the cleanest coffee taste I have ever tasted. It is piping hot (brewed at 200 degrees F every time), it pours into a lovely thermos and supposedly it stays hot all day but I feel that in this house of addicts we will never know! The machine is not as bulky as it looks in the image above and is a lovely addition to our countertop. Let me know when you are stopping by for a cuppa!

Thanks Mr. Behr for my lovely belated Christmas present, which I just noticed was actually on the Chef's wish list!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wise Movie Review

Slumdog Millionaire

WOW - this was an amazing movie. It is visually electrifying & exhilarating to begin with. The first few minutes you are sweeping over the slum lands of India and visually it is just unbelievable but very believable at the same time.

The film moves along at a breakneck pace and I know I am a sucker for a great fairy tale or love story, so yes, I was sucked in right away because the Director (Danny Boyle) was able to show a serious love connection between 2 very young Indian kids and how the never stopped loving each other, even though separated and reunited, and separated again!

Everything Boyle does, including the Bollywood touches (Which I LOVED) was fantastic. There is such a lovely energy to this film. It is a little disturbing and even very sad in parts, not to mention a little terrifying too because I kept worrying and thinking the whole way through that I would DIE if boy and girl did not hook up and be together.

What Boyle has done is truly AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME! A story about a young boys life on the street in Bombay has turned into something very interesting - even to the masses. When you walk out of the cinema you will be giddy with excitement especially if you stayed to watch the end - Bollywood line dancing of all the cast members - I LOVED THIS PART TOO!

Do not put this one on the back burner. Really. It is worth the money at the movies (even though we downloaded ours!) "Slumdog Millionaire" is not to be missed. It is the best movie of the year. Maybe of the decade!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Friday, January 09, 2009

It was a great day for clothes drying!

I know it sounds crazy to most, but my love for all things laundry has increased ten fold since moving back home to Ireland. I am mildly obsessed with catching the perfect day to dry the clothes rather than having to use the dryer.
The weather has been this nice. I am so shocked that it is not pouring rain and miserable outside, but when it comes right down to it, I kind of remember winters just like this growing up.
Yes, I also remember the freezing lashing cold rain as we walked to and from the bus stop every day, but I remember (or favor the memory) the clear skies, the crisp frosty mornings and amazing sunrises or sunsets more!
OK, I digress. My love for laudry is being fed by the fact that Irish people (yes, there is a nation of us) love nice sheets, nice linens in general. So every shop I go into there are such lovely choices of stuff as simple as tea towels made from old flour bags, and the most amazing Irish Linen sheets and pillowcases.
The way I know I am truly home was when I took my King Size Duvet cover to the dry cleaners yesterday to see how much they would charge to iron it for me (as I had to leave my rolling iron back in the US) and guess what! 5 euros and come back in a few hours!
Oh, the grass is sometimes greener on the other side. It just all depends on the shade you are looking for!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's gotta make you GREEN with envy.....

I know, I know, you cannot really read the small print - Wear your glasses or just go directly to the website. Seeing is believing!!
Today, I get a little reminder email from Ryanair that they are having the January Sales and what a joy it is, just to look on the main page.
Fly for FREE to Cuneo, Italy or Turin, Italy. Free. Yes, in the middle of ski season you can fly to the Alps for free from lovely old Ireland.
Ryanair is loved by most and hated by several. They do charge you per bag, and of course there is no avoiding the inevitable tax man, but have a look at the other destinations and prices. 2.50 euros to London-all airports, Glasgow, Berlin, Frankfurt, the list goes on my friends.
Why not take a trip to the Emerald Isle for a visit with your old pals then bounce around Europe a bit. Recession may be here, but you can still get around for FREE!!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We shall call her Pearl!

Those of you that have known us for many years know it took us along time to give our first born a name, and when we finally did, Ms. Rory Belle was not liked (her name) by several of my family members. Needless to say they changed their tune as soon as they met her!

I felt like we were entering the same kind of hell over naming this gorgeous pup, but thankfully, Rory herself has put a stop to it by naming 'her' dog!
"We already know a dog named Pearl and it could get confusing if they ever meet" was the argument the Chef presented a few days ago. "Let's call her 'Keris' after one of the characters in the book he is reading right now World Without End by Ken Follett.
Rory agreed to 'sleep on it' a practised custom in the Wise household and the next morning firmly announced that she was willing to take her chances that with the other Pearl living over 3,000 + mile away there was a good chance they may never meet! She would call her puppy 'Pearl' as intended because 'Daddy wants to call her 'chaos' and that is a silly name for a puppy!'

Shortly after she made her little 'name' announcement and made sure everyone knew this was the only option, she shared with us another revelation that she had just had!
"Mum, now there are 3 girls, and only 2 boys, so there are more girls than boys in our family''.
Be still my beating heart..................
For most mothers out there that have had the joy of giving birth (alas I am not one of you) I am sure you would have a joyous moment of pride knowing your child was truly the fruit of your loins.
I have to tell you - this girls all mine!! Not only (at the ripe old age of 5) was she brazen enough to take ownership of the naming situation, she decided it would be OK to rub their (the boys)noses in the fact that we (the girls) now have more seats in the house!
That's my girl!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today,
(loving the majority!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Clatter of Forks & Spoons by Richard Corrigan

This is what is on the night stand right now. It is a lovely read. It is one of those cookbooks that have several stories behind the recipes and a lot of history of Irish and English Food Culture and the pending Food Revolution that is supposedly going to take over Ireland (The Green Food island??) any day now.

This was in a stocking hung carefully by the fire for yours truly, but methinks the Chef will be the one taking full advantage of these pages as I still have no skills in the kitchen and not much intention of improving! However, it should be known I am a dab hand as the dish or pantry bitch and make a mean Wise Cocktail! (anyone care to recall the ingredients??)

I am certain there were one or 2 things about this book that attracted the Chef to it. Firstly, it has a very lovely cover. A very simple photo of forks and spoons and an understated backdrop.

The reason he felt sure I would love it, is that it is linen bound the old fashioned way, hardback and printed on that old very heavy silk touch paper. God, I was mesmerised when I picked it up and started to fondle the pages. I do love the book itself. It smells of old book, it feels lovely to the touch. Hey, some people like this, I am one of them!

The recipes are sure to be tasty and I will make reference to them as I blog about what we eat!

That is all the WiseWords for today,


Sunday, January 04, 2009

My New Year Resolutions

As we trudge through these times of uncertainty and are plagued by the media and politicians over the state of the economy, and the impossible task President (elect) Obama has to fulfill - I think it is time for me to speak my mind a little more and worry less about what people think.

I decided this year I am setting myself some very realistic goals and I am positive that I will not only keep them, I will enjoy every second fulfilling them! So, How many new years resolutions have you set for yourself, and can you dare say the same???

First and foremost, The Chef and I have pledged to get out and listen to a session of Irish music several times a month. There is no excuse not to, and truly - Galway has some of the finest pubs (with no cover charge) offering the kind of music that makes you come alive!

I am going to drink more! I am. (sorry Mother). The Chef and I have become a little anti-social out here in our country home and as much as it may seem we are drowning in wine & vine - the truth is, there are plenty of times where we do not even finish a bottle of wine. WHEN, I ask you has that ever happened??? Those days are over - bring on the Whisky! (Says she, as she sips a cup of tea by the fire).

Eat more fish! This is one I am truly passionate about. We actually (as a family) eat plenty of fish, but I am amazed on a regular and daily basis of the number of Irish people that do not. (Mother included). So, I am going to make it my mission this year to get more Irish people to at least start tasting the fruits of the sea - seeing as we are living on the edge of the Atlantic, and this will be my hardest challenge - except for the fact that I have a secret weapon (OK, maybe not a secret) - My own reliable handsome Chef! He is equally committed to help educate those fussy fish eaters out there!

The photo above does not correspond to this section, it is just a photo taken recently of the Cathedral in town, and I thought it was a lovely picture of one of the Cities Gems!
Drink less caffeine is last on the list!
This will not be difficult as the nearest Starbucks is almost a 3 hour drive and the availability of decent coffee for my french press is terrible! I plan to find a new place to hang out. Hopefully somewhere that offers free Wi-Fi and has great beverages. I always feel good when I sit and people watch, it gives me the mental break I need sometimes in order to get through the rest of the day. I will let you know when I think I have found my new haven....OK, cutting back on caffeine is a stretch for me. But I am willing to give it a try!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today,


Friday, January 02, 2009

Oh Chef, How do I love thee, let me count the ways!

Our first dinner of the New Year, was a Suckling Duckling that we had bought at the local farmers market. Granny came over for dinner and after we got the kids tucked into their beds for the night, we devoured the tasty duck washed down with my new favourite house red Al Mouvedre, Tinto Joven (2004). (remember, that was the one that tasted like a baby Amarone - yummy!)
There were potatoes roasted in duck fat, carrot and parsnip puree (my favourite) and of course the old standby of brussel sprouts!

Ron had made a beautiful pavlova for dessert which he and Granny put a serious dent into.
But, the object of this post (as the title may imply) is how I started my day today. I awoke to the usual noises of the kids thumping down the stairs and fell right back to sleep until almost 11am!! OK, for those of you that are sitting there in MAJOR DISBELIEF - I really did sleep that late.
When I came downstairs, I stopped into my new office to turn on my space heater only to be greeted with a blazing hot fire in my fireplace. The Chef followed me in to my office, with a tray of piping hot coffee, and the best breakfast ever!!!
Fried Duck & Potato hash with a perfectly poached egg ontop! Oh, GOD! It was so tasty & delicious I did not want that last forkful to end. What a start to my day. I am getting the feeling that the year is off to a happier start for the Wise Family..................what a relief!
That is all the WiseWords I have for today (as I wipe the duck fat of my face)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Whilst I was sleeping, the elves were hard at work!

As you may recall, I was sick in bed the week before Christmas with a rotten dose of the flu. The Chef had asked me to find him a simple recipe for a gingerbread house so he could make one with the children. This was his first attempt ever at making one. (I hate him).
I started by looking for a recipe on the Martha Stewart website, because she has a knack with making really pretty gingerbread houses and I found a basic recipe and he literally threw it together in a few hours. If you want the recipe, just click on the title of this blog and it will link you to the Martha Stewart website.

He did not leave a stone (or gum drop) unturned in the decor of this house and as you can see dedicated it to his babies.

For this first attempt, he did let the children help with the decorating, but was fairly strict with the placement of each piece. A little control freakish I would say (for him!!). As you can see the results were quite amazing and tasty to boot. The children are still slowly working their way through eating all the sweeties of the house and getting ready to take a hammer to the Ginger nut house!

That is all the WiseWords I have for today!

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