Friday, September 30, 2016

Cake watch: banoffee pie (John Lewis)

The cream, chocolate on the cream and fudge binding everything together was a dream, but the base tasted a little stale. Overall, still delicious, but a tiny bit below John Lewis' (admittedly much higher than average) bar.

Grade: A-

Review: Wetherspoon’s Thursday Curry Club

I’m a huge fan of cheap and cheerful dinners. Most pub meals tend to fulfil the latter by virtue of them being in a pub, and thus me being merrily tipsy when I’m eating it, hence the ‘cheerful’. But I also recall the majority of these pub meals also tend to be annoyingly pricey for what they are, which is just a glorified microwave job which either ends up being burnt, or tasting bland.

Wetherspoon’s Curry Club, which I had a chicken korma at yesterday (pictured above) may well be a microwave job, but it still tasted great, and the garlic naan bread (for which there is an uplift of 20p) was as yummy as anything I’ve had in various authentic curry houses. Included in the £6.69 price is also a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, of which I had the Coors Light, which washed down the korma a treat.

All of this amounted to very satisfying (and filling) gastronomical experience, which has gone some way to purge memories of the last terrible curry place I visited, the foul The Cinnamon. More like the waiters there were Sinnermen, amirite?

The gold standard for something doing exactly what it says on the tin.

Grade: A-

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Restaurant review: THE CUBAN (Camden Town)

I went to The Cuban with my friend Joy a few weeks ago using a Groupon deal that cost £22, and it illustrated precisely why I’m hesitant to buy Too Good to Be True food deals from Groupon. This one definitely was.

On the Groupon page, it promised the holder to £88.45 worth of food. This is what you could get if you’d been given normal-sized dishes of the food (of which I was able to see on the tables of other diners around me). But this wasn’t what me and Joy (nor, having a peruse of Tripadvisor, anyone who went there using a Groupon voucher got). Instead, you get infinitesimal portions of the food. Blink and it’s gone! So it definitely wasn’t £88.45 worth of food, and if they were going to advertise such a deal, they should have scaled down the original price to represent the quantity of food you’d be getting, so that the buyer of the deal would have some indication of how much the food would really be worth.

I’m a fast eater at the best of times (pig.gif), but most of these portions photographed above wouldn’t even constitute half a bite. I was nowhere near full at the end of the ‘meal’.

On top of this, the restaurant was extremely understaffed. When we first arrived, there was one waitress manning the doors. She told us to sit down and she’d come to us, which we thought a little odd, as she didn’t ask where we were planning on sitting. Would she forget about us?

You bet your ass she did.

Yet, when I went up to her some 15 minutes later (we waited very patiently, deciding to give her the benefit of the doubt) to tell her where we were sat, she curtly gave me the brush off, telling me that she’d be with me. No smile, and faint flickers of an eyeroll, suggesting that if I tried to voice my discontent, she would bite my head off. An unhelpful dragon of a woman.

The cocktails were also uninspiring, both in flavour and presentation:

So yeah, pretty rotten food and service at this place, but I will shoulder some of the blame. I’d tried to get a delicious tapas experience on the cheap from Groupon and in the majority of the cases, they just don’t exist.

The Escapologist was an exception, rather than the rule, of when a Groupon deal actually delivers what it promises, but this relies on the vendor being honest and above board. The people who advertised The Cuban deal definitely weren’t that. I left feeling very short-changed.

In short, they lied.

Grade: F

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My first ever purchase from Ted Baker.

There's currently a 20% off at Ted Baker for students, so I just had to make the most of it to buy a handbag I've been eyeing at Ted Baker for quite some time and in doing so, using retail therapy as a coping mechanism for the vague post-brother flying the nest blues! 

I'm in love with the chain - it allows me to wear it over my shoulder, making it a cool alternative to the only other designer handbag I own, my sky blue Michael Kors one. Unlike my Michael Kors handbag, this one's a lot darker too, so I can accessorise it with more outfits and not have to worry about it getting dirty.

So yippee! I has two handbags now :)

The next Ted Baker I have an eye on is this cream beauty:

Anyone have this? Thoughts?

Dual roles blogathon: Paul Dano in THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007)

Slight spoilers for TWBB ahead, so, I would recommend you don’t read this piece if you haven’t seen the movie!


Paul Thomas Anderson's modern masterpiece, There Will Be Blood, is a fascinating tale of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis)'s journey as an oil tycoon, and the strategic moves he make during his ascent to the top. His rise to power is both facilitated and impeded by two characters, both played by Paul Dano: twins Paul and Eli Sunday.

The decision to cast Dano as both the Sunday brothers (and ergo, making them twins) wasn't originally in director P.T. Anderson's plans. Kel O'Neill was initially pencilled in to play the mild-mannered brother Paul. But the actor was too intimidated by the director, and pulled out at the last minute, causing some creative problem-solving in the form of casting Dano as both the characters, and making them twins.

Dano's role as Paul Sunday consists of a brief appearance, but is crucial to the plot. At the start of the film, he seeks out Plainview to alert him about a lucrative area to drill for oil in. Dano plays Paul Sunday with a meek, child-like quality. It helps that Paul Dano has one of those ageless faces. He is 32 but could pass for a teenager, a helpful trait to have in the ageist world of Hollywood casting, but one Dano capitalises on only to embark on projects that fulfil him, rather than chase the next money train, which he could easily do.

(Incidentally, for the movie nerds out there, Dano playing a character called Paul in this film means that both Daniel Day-Lewis and Dano play characters with the same Christian names as themselves). #Symmetry

With Paul Sunday's tip, Daniel Plainview makes his way to Little Boston, California to scout out this piece of land. It requires buying acres from the Sunday family, where Eli Sunday, an ambitious preacher, drives a hard bargain for his father's land. He wants whatever Daniel’s offering, and $5,000 for Eli's church. 

Plainview takes an instant dislike to Eli Sunday and his sanctimonious ways, finding the way Eli constantly badgers him about his debt to the church infuriating. Eli's compelling sermons also draw workers away from working on Plainview's ranch and towards his church.

But the thing about Eli that Daniel Plainview loathes the most is that he can read Eli like a magazine, and he sees himself in him. Both men are con artists, who will do and say whatever the audience wants to hear to get what they want. They just go about it in different ways. Plainview sees Eli as a low-rent version of himself, and Eli knows that. Eli isn’t buying what Plainview is selling, and vice versa.

There Will Be Blood undoubtedly belongs to Daniel Day-Lewis, who won a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar for his mesmeric, unforgettable performance. It truly is a spectacular, charismatic piece of acting, and what impressed me most about it is that DDL, like other actors who I admire (Saoirse Ronan, Rooney Mara), does 95% of his emoting with his pupils.

But it his scenes with Dano which linger the memory the most, the way the men interact and play off each other, being spurred on by their mutual dislike, makes the power struggle between them in There Will Be Blood so gripping. The fact that the Dano was pretty much ignored come Awards Season 2008, with only BAFTA acknowledging his excellence in TWBB with a nomination, makes me sad.

The baptism scene, where Eli makes a spectacle of exorcising the past from Daniel, humiliating him, shouting at and even slapping at Plainview to exorcise the bad spirits from him. It's a hypnotic and darkly comic scene, and I definitely noticed a rise in Dano's character's spirits, like he was mirroring the mannerisms of the man he was preaching at. The way he goads Plainview about his Achilles Heel - his son - illustrated that, in that scene at least, Eli had the control over him, and he was going to make the most of it.

Because Dano plays both the Sunday brothers, some film-goers have wondered if they were supposed to be the same character pretending to be two people, particularly as you never see both of them on screen at the same time. But I read Paul and Eli Sunday as unambiguously, two different people. Eli's rant at his father about his 'stupid son Paul', as well as the final scene, where Daniel lauds over Eli how he paid Paul off and how is brother is a winner, and he, a loser, pretty much put that to bed.

Nonetheless, having the same actor play two different roles does have an inherent element of confusion and trickery. The kind of odd cinematic game you wouldn’t put past Paul Thomas Anderson, who’s offbeat Punch-Drunk Love teased out a fine serious turn from Adam Sandler, of all people. If anyone can turn the tables and pull the rug from underneath you, it’s P.T. Anderson.

I've got a lot of time for Paul Dano, who constantly surprises me with his off-kilter acting choices. I squeed with delight when I spotted him playing the fictional embodiment of the Tolstoy in the BBC’s War and Peace this year (my brother was watching).

The fact that he's not a conventional Hollywood heartthrob yet has still done very well for himself in a predominantly superficial industry is a testament to his talent (incidentally, this is precisely the reason why I idolise Jonah Hill, even if the two men’s acting styles are quite different), and I like how Dano pursues film roles for the art, rather than the money. I also dig that he doesn’t thirst for awards like some (tho, seriously. Just because he doesn't strive for recognition doesn't excuse him being passed over by the Award bodies for his work in this movie).

There Will Be Blood ranks as one of his finest performances, and certainly the best film he's appeared in. Of Dano’s upcoming projects, I'm most psyched for his writing & directorial debut, where he will direct his Prisoners co-star Jake Gyllenhaal in a tale of a relationship falling apart. I will be first in the queue to see it at the cinemas.

Godspeed, Mr. Dano. Cinema needs more auteurs like you.


This post is my entry in Christina Wehner's blogathon about Dual Roles in movies. Head on over to read other fabulous articles from bloggers on actors who have played more than one role in a film!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Brief reviews of two fast food places, QUALITY FISH CHIPS N KEBABS and MORLEY'S (Orpington)

Quality Fish Chips N Kebabs

I'm not sure why I willingly opted for kebabs when I was sober, but I decided to get my Sunday junk food from somewhere other than McDonald's for once (which is situated across the road from this place).

The combo pictured above was £5.90. I enjoyed the chips - chunky chips that you usually get with your fish and chips are my favourite kind, but the kebab didn't seem to have any flavour, and the salad and sauces that were added to it weren't very well distributed. There was too much in the way of cabbage and barely any onions (a much preferred ingredient).

Overall, not a big fan; don't think I'll be going back.



My brother swears by this place, and as I'm always keen to give patronage to local fast food joints in Orpington rather than the big multinational companies (McDs, KFC), I was keen to give this place a try.

Quite the opposite of Quality Fish Chips N Kebabs, Morley's chips disappointed (stale, made me pine for McDonald's fries), but the chicken completely hit the spot. I wolfed mine down. 

I've since been to Morley's several times (you can get lunch and a drink for £3) and in terms of cheap, cheerful, delicious junk food lunches, it does exactly what it says on the tin!