Titirangi Storyteller

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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Corny Planet Nelson

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Was it only yesterday I said I liked outer space and liked putting things there in Photoshop – but they often looked dumb? OK – this is a reach, but I like this one!

Apparently Nelson’s is huge in Malaysia and has been expanding world-wide, now with over 800 franchises in Australasia, Europe, Africa and North America and growing… how I missed it until I was strolling in 35 degree heat (105F) outside a mall in Kuala Lumpur is rather a mystery. But then, everything about this all-natural fast-food joint was a mystery. The locals loved it – I mean – who can resist corn in cup???

Check out their website just to hear their promotional ditty!

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17/07/2011 at 1:28 am

Chocolate Choice

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25/06/2011 at 12:29 am

A Sticky Situation

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26/04/2011 at 11:06 pm

Planning for New York on the Cheap

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xmas-07-usa-0144I’ll be leaving for New York in just a few days now. Hard to believe it’s already here! When I booked the tickets back in January, it seemed like March was an aeon away. But I’m leaving Thursday night New Zealand time. It’s a 12-hour flight to Los Angeles, but I will be arriving in the morning before I left. In fact, I’ll make it to New York in time for a late dinner – right around the time I left Auckland. I love that – it’s like I get a whole extra day. Except that coming back, it takes two full days to get home, which I really hate.

Since this was an impromptu trip and I am going with my friend, Bindi, instead of my darling spouse – we’ve decided to do it as cheaply as possible.

loftHooray for Roomorama! I found a gorgeous loft down by the Brooklyn Bridge for $200 a night ($100 for each of us). My sisters are organising a welcoming party for us in our own home on Saturday night! Take that Hotel Club, etc and your deep-discount Manhattan hotel rooms starting at $250/night each! Actually, booking it was a tiny bit nerve-racking. We booked for eight nights and had to pay up front. $1600 US is nearly a month’s wages with the shrinking kiwi dollar – what if the place was a scam? A couple of apartments I inquired about did feel a little ‘scammish’ but this one didn’t. Fortunately my sister was able to check it out for me and confirm I’d made a good choice.

brooklyn_bridgeBut what will we do there? While the choices are endless, we want to do as many cheap and free things as possible. I got very organised – tracked down a couple hundred websites, cross referencing the ones that wanted me to pay for addresses with Google. Everything has gone into a spreadsheet – so much we couldn’t possibly do it all, but I like the idea of waking up in the morning with a menu of things to pick and choose from.

If I’m in the mood for a boat ride – there’s the free Staten Island Ferry – and we get to see the Statue of Liberty along the way. Feeling like a healthy walk to burn off some of the NY cheesecake? The Brooklyn Bristaten-island-ferrydge is a couple blocks away. Check out local culture – how about a doggy fashion show or a watching a basketball game at the West 4th St basketball courts. For a little classical music, there’s free Opera at the New Yorker hotel, Bach at noon at Grace Church and the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a to-die for ensemble in the atrium for the price of a glass of wine.

met-of-artI hear some of the finest gospel in the US can be heard in any of a half dozen churches in Harlem and Brooklyn – they’re happy to have you and it’s free – but when the plate is passed I also hear they expect you to be generous.

upright-citizens-brigade-theater_v1_460x285Every museum has a free day and they’re not all on the same day, so we can go to as many as we want. And of course there are dozens of gallery openings – where the art is fabulous and if the wine isn’t properly cellared – there’s no charge. The Upright Citizens Brigade has two nights of free comedy, hundreds of clubs have live jazz or blues with no cover charge. There’s so much to do in the Big Apple that doesn’t cost a cent, I’m wondering why I haven’t done this before?

circle_line_12june04This will leave us money for a Broadway show (1/2 price at TKTS), a trip around Manhattan on the Circle Line (and maybe a discount limo ride home after.) Bindi wants to shop at Henri Bendel and I am looking forward to Macy’s on Herald Square. Fortunately we agree on Saks and street vendors – we love them both.

Algonquin Hotel

Algonquin Hotel

I’m looking forward to a slightly posh lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, where Bindi and I will bask in the lingering glow of Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle. We’ll gossip and say terrible things about the passersby. And we’ll also make a stop at The Chelsea Hotel, just because I’ve always wanted to go there, and considered staying there this trip – but it’s gotten a bit pricier than the days when Leonard Cohen and Sid Vicious stayed there (not at the same time…) I wonder if it’s it’s still cool.

We considered making a booking at a Michelin restaurant to have one ultra fabulous dinner – but nah – it would be out of place. This is about having fun and doing it in style, without breaking the bank. I figure our biggest expense will taxis and pizza. Mmmm New York pizza…  Just a few more days and I’m there!

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10/03/2009 at 11:38 pm

Everything is Illuminated

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This flick came out in 2005. But great movies, like great books, great songs  – any great work of art, deserve to be revisited every so often. I see probably 300 movies a year and four years on, this one still plays in my mind as vividly as the first time I saw it. I went to watch the DVD last weekend and much to my horror, found it was not there! I wonder who has it? And will I ever get it back?

eii-bandThe real star of this stellar indie from actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber is Ukrainian Eugene Hutz’s narration. Previously best-known as the frontman for the Gogol Bordello Ukrainian Punk Gypsy Band, he  plays Alex, a third generation tourist guide specialising in rich American Jews searching for their history. His long-suffering father has organised an excursion for a young American collector, Jonathan Safran Foer, to find a village razed by the Nazis in 1940, where he hopes to meet Augustine, a woman he believes saved his grandfather’s life.

Bespectacled Jonathan (Elijah Wood) is possibly the most uptight person on the planet. He is speechless on his arrival at the Kiev train station, where Alex has mustered a brass band to play the American national anthem; horrified when he spies the Soviet-era car he is to travel in with an apparently blind

Officious eeing-eye bitch

Officious Seeing-eye bitch

driver, Alex’s grandfather, also named Alex (Boris Leskin); and apoplectic when told he is to ride in the back with the elder Alex’s vicious ‘officious seeing eye bitch,’ Sammy Davis junior junior. Yet, he is powerless against Alex the younger, and complies, curling into the furthest reaches of the back seat while Sammy Davis junior junior growls.

The first half plays as the road trip from hell – at least for Jonathan, Wood playing the hapless straight man to Hutz’s obsession with Michael Jackson and American culture channelled through his own brand of self-taught English. He is a strict vegetarian – a phenomenon completely alien to the proprietors of the inn where they stay. Perhaps a sausage? Perhaps not. The only comfort zone in Jonathan’s life is his bedroom wall, where he has posted relics of his family history. Drawing closer to the reality of the past, he is removed from everything he has ever known.

Jonathan and Alex

Jonathan and Alex

As we approach the lost village of Trochenbrod, the tone of the film darkens. Alex the elder also has secrets that vent themselves in mindless rage against his grandson. But just as the weight of the past becomes oppressive, and the film turns bleak, everything is illuminated in a series of stunning emotional scenes.

Some critics panned this film on its release, claiming it failed to live up to Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. While it is true there are some narrative and factual diversions, first-time director Liev Schreiber, who wrote the screenplay, was also pursuing his own lost family history in the making of this film and the screenplay received the novelist’s blessing before going into production.



Paul Cantelon’s dazzling soundtrack, which ties traditional Ukrainian folk tunes, cuts from Hutz’s band, Gogol Bordello Ukranian Punk Gypsy Band and some spare jazz-fusion complements the mood, without dictating how the viewer should feel. But Matthew Libatique’s cinematography will leave you breathless. His previous work includes Requiem for a Dream and Gothika. He is a master of the subtleties inhabiting the darkness – and here brings us into the light. If you haven’t seen this gem, rent it now. And if you have fairly recently – is that MY copy you’ve got there?

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03/02/2009 at 11:41 pm

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