Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Things That Count - The Weekly Roundup October, 31

Music : Brooke Fraser - Something In The Water. I can't explain it, but there's something about this song that just puts me in a good mood. It's been with me this week, especially in those cold/foggy/late autumn mornings. Brooke Fraser is a singer/songwriter from New Zealand, who has just released her third album called "Flags" and this is the lead single.

Check out photos of her below and more on her photostream.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Siviero Maria Italian Gelato: Ice Cream Review. It's worth it !

As promised, I'm back with a new ice cream review of one of the very best ice cream brands you're going to find in the Romanian stores. It is also available in other European countries, as well as in the U.S.

A couple of months ago, while I was grocery shopping in one of the local supermarkets, I stumbled upon this ice cream brand. I wanted to try something new and there were several tempting flavors sitting in that freezer, so making a decision on which one to buy wasn't going to be easy. I finally chose Pistachio, not only because it looked good and not that many brands have this flavor, but also because it reminds me of childhood. When I was a kid, this was a popular flavor around here, sold almost everywhere. However, in the recent years, I haven't seen it as often as I used to.

I got home, had some dinner and then went for the ice cream at full speed. (Yeah, trying to be patient when you have Italian Gelato in front of you doesn't really work, does it?) When I first tasted it, I couldn't believe how yummy it was. You know what instantly came to mind? Remember that t-shirt that Madonna wore in the Papa Don't Preach video? It said: "Italians do it better". Well...when it comes to Gelato, they certainly do.

When I was a teenage girl I used to dream (like many other girls out there) that one day this charming Italian man was going to come on his white horse...or in his car (whatever) and sweep me off my feet with good looks, great cooking (Italian cuisine...hellooo?) and a beautiful house in a beautiful country. Never happened. Probably this ice cream is as close as I'm going to get to having an Italian lover of my own and frankly, I am not disappointed. Italian Gelato is some of the best sex I ever had :P

I admit I don't really have time to actually go out for ice cream. You know...go some place nice, sit at the table and have scooped ice cream. I prefer buying from the store and throw it in my freezer, so that whenever I am home and my cravings start kicking in, I have it on hand right then and there. 

This is the real deal. Smooth, creamy and full of flavor. I went back to the store the next day and got more flavors: chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla. They all turned out to be just as good. 

Here's some eye candy for you :

Cioccolatissimo: "a silky smooth Italian chocolate Gelato sumptuously flavored with chocolate sauce and finished with a selection of white, milk and dark chocolate curls".  

 Vaniglia del Madagascar: "velvety smooth Italian Gelato flavored with Vaniglia del Madagascar", one of the finest vanillas on earth. This is basically a creamy smooth milky vanilla gelato, true to the real flavor.

Bacio: chocolate and hazelnut gelato, garnished with crunchy whole hazelnuts on top. Yum!

Cappuccino: "Cappuccino Gelato flavored with coffee and garnished with a dark chocolate tablet"

Affogato all'amarena: Vanilla Gelato with cherry sauce and sweet cherries on top.


Panna Cotta: a replica of the traditional Italian dessert, flavored with caramel sauce and finished with caramel curls.

Fragola: "smooth Strawberry Gelato finished with soft candied strawberries"

Pistacchio: Pistacchio Gelato with crunchy toasted pistachios on top.

Now on to the "technical details": the ice cream is called Siviero Maria (depending on the country you live in, you might find it under the name G7 or one of their other labels, but the one pictured above is their 'upscale version' from what I understand). In Romania, you can find it at Carrefour hypermarkets. UPDATE: It is now available at Auchan and Kaufland supermarkets too.

It's very reasonably priced, so what you get is a great value for money. Around here, it's cheaper than Nirvana, Haagen-Dasz, Carte D'Or and other brands that sell boxes of the same quantity (500 grams/pint). I have tried every available flavor in the line, except for Stracciatella and Tiramisu, both of which I haven't been able to find yet, but I bet they're heavenly.

So what you need to do now is go get this ice cream and tell me how you like it. Keep in mind that this is Italian Gelato, so it is going to be a bit softer than regular ice cream and it's bound to melt faster, therefore make sure you don't take ages to get home from the supermarket. That chit-chat with the next door neighbour will have to wait until you put this awesome little thing in the freezer.

I'm giving this 5 stars out of 5. Highly recommended. Definitely "foodgasm". For full flavor, take it out of the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes or so before eating.

As far as packaging goes, I'm okay with it. The lid is easy to take off/put on but also sturdy and the box is not made of the cheap plastic that I've seen with other brands. It's decent and it doesn't look like it was made in someone's garage. I personally like the see-through packaging because I can actually see what I'm buying.

Photos and info from the official website.

I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Carte D'Or Stracciatella - Ice Cream Review

Ice cream review? I're probably wondering :"where did this come from?"  Well, I have recently been testing many ice cream brands and flavors available on the Romanian market (this task rocks, right? This is the type of "homework" I would have loved when I was a school kid). The other day, I was in a stracciatella mood - or, should I say "stracciatella state of mind"? - so I went out on a quest for this flavor. Unfortunately, there isn't much variety to choose from in the supermarkets here and, for the life of me, I don't know why that is, since this ice cream flavor is popular worldwide. Given my limited options, I decided to go for Carte D'Or Stracciatella (owned by Algida, which, in turn, is owned by Unilever).

Many pics you'll find on the internet look like this :

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Little Things That Count - The Weekly Roundup

Music: Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown.

This is their fifth album (released a few days ago) and it's been with me every day this week. They're one of my favorite bands from the last years and I'm hooked on this CD (Yes, I'm a dinosaur who still buys and listens to actual CDs. To my defense, I own an iPod too).

Movie/TV Show: House M.D. - It never gets old.

Food: Risotto. For some reason, I've had it 3 times this week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

INXS - Platinum Greatest Hits - brief album review by request

One of my Facebook friends wrote to me a few days ago, asking about this album. She knows that INXS is a band that was always very dear to me. I grew up with them, I own every single one of their records and, when it comes to writing anything about them, you don't have to ask me twice.

So, Vicky, this one is for you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall/Winter 2010 Movie Preview - Part Two

Russell Crowe...How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Yes, he's one of my very favorite actors and I'll probably talk more about him at some point. But for now, let's just focus on his upcoming movie, The Next Three Days, whose cast also includes Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson. At first glance, the storyline is pretty basic :"A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder", but given the fact that the movie is written and directed by Paul Haggis, hopes are high. Allow me to remind you that Haggis wrote and directed Crash and he also wrote Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Father and Letters from Iwo Jima, all 3 directed by Clint Eastwood.

US Release date for The Next Three Days is November 19. Here is the trailer

Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in the same movie is enough to guarantee a box office hit (although I'm probably one of the few women on the planet who's never been crazy about Johnny Depp. Ok, don't hate me now). The Tourist comes in December for the Italian scenery, I guess? Because the rest just doesn't look very promising to me. Trailer here

Ryan Gosling has two upcoming movies and I'm looking forward to seeing both of them. First, there's Blue Valentine, about a "contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods". It co-stars Michelle Williams, comes out at the end of December and you can watch the trailer here.

Also starring Ryan Gosling, All Good Things is a "love story and murder mystery based on the most notorious unsolved murder case in New York history". His movie partner here is Kirsten Dunst. Gosling is one heck of a talented young actor and if he continues to make good choices, he's got a nice future ahead of him. Click here for trailer.

True Grit is an upcoming Western movie, written and directed by the Coen brothers and is another adaptation of the Charles Portis novel (the previous one got made in 1969, starring John Wayne). This time around, the U.S. Marshal is played by Jeff Bridges, who helps a young woman track down her father's murderer. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin are also in the movie and I guess it could show up on the Oscar nominations list, even if not in a major category. We'll see. Take a look at the trailer.

Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand and Teri Polo are back with Little Fockers, the 3rd installment of the "Focker trilogy". Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Owen Wilson co-star and while it looks underwhelming , it's probably going to attract viewers because of the cast and's one of those easy fun, uncomplicated Holiday movies and we all need a bit of that every now and then. Trailer here.

Sofia Coppola writes and directs Somewhere, a movie about "a hard-living Hollywood actor who re-examines his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit". The film is scheduled to be released in the US on December 22 and it stars Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning and Michelle Monaghan. It was shot in Los Angeles and Italy and it won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival last month. Your trailer is here.

Mark Wahlberg stars in The Fighter, a look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s". A very thin Christian Bale and the lovely Amy Adams join the cast. Wahlberg has come a very long way since his New Kids on The Block days (remember?) and he's turned into a good actor. In fact, acting suits him much better than singing if you ask me. Trailer here.

Kevin Spacey is back at what he does best: playing arrogant, corrupted and manipulative characters. Casino Jack is his upcoming movie and it focuses on Jack Abramoff, the Washington D.C. lobbyist, businessman and con man. It's going to be released in December in the US and the reviews have been ok so far. For trailer click here.

I was starting to miss Jack Nicholson, but he's back in the comedy How Do You Know, alongside Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. It's basically a love triangle romantic comedy, just in time for the Holidays. You can watch the trailer here.

Finally, Biutiful is getting the much deserved attention with a wider release, that will include the US (in December). It stars Javier Bardem, who won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for this role and it's directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose work I personally love. I think Babel was a great movie and I also liked Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Biutiful is a slow-burning drama about a father who tries to redeem himself as his imminent death draws near. It's gritty and bleak (Iñárritu does not do "happy" movies), Bardem's acting is superb and it will be interesting to see what the Academy Awards will bring for this movie. Biutiful has been selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, which will take place in February 2011.

Biutiful is one of five productions in a $100 million deal between González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, as well as the film companies Cha Cha Cha, Universal Pictures and Focus Features International. Watch the trailer here.

More in Part Three coming soon....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall/Winter 2010 Movie Preview - Part One

Fall/Winter has always been one of my favorite times of the year for checking out new movies, especially with the Awards season in sight. Here are some of the movies coming out soon:

From director Danny Boyle, 127 Hours stars James Franco, a mountain climber who is trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone in Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. The movie is based on the true story of Aron Ralston who had to cut off his own forearm to free himself. We get to see that in a very graphic scene, that one critic described as the most realistic arm amputation ever filmed. Three audience members fainted at the Toronto Film Festival after watching the scene.
There's already talk of Oscar nominations for this movie, which comes out in the US on November, 5th 2010. You can watch the trailer here. The beautiful Utah scenery is an added bonus.

Hilary Swank has a new movie coming out, called Conviction. It's based on the true story of a woman who puts herself through law school in an effort to represent her brother, who has been wrongfully convicted of murder. It's being released as I'm typing this, so click here for trailer if you want to know what to expect. Swank's previous movie (Amelia) flopped, so this one better be good.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is a little quirky movie that looks promising. It stars Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) and Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls). The main character is played by Keir Gilchrist who is Craig, a depressed teenager checking himself into an adult psychiatric ward. It's already out in the US in limited distribution. It sounds like the little movie that can....and I'm really hoping it will. Trailer here

Since I just mentioned Zach Galifianakis, he also stars in Due Date alongside Robert Downey Jr. This movie is coming out at the beginning of November in the US and it's basically a road trip during which we expect both actors to be hilarious and do no wrong, yes? You can watch the trailer here.

I like both Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton, so I'm looking forward to Morning Glory which will be released in the US on November,12. Adams plays a television producer trying to revive a morning show program, despite the constant feuding of its high-profile anchors (Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford). While the storyline doesn't sound extremely promising, I'm hoping that good acting will save this movie. Click here for trailer.

The Oscar buzz is on. Natalie Portman's performance in the movie Black Swan, in which she portrays a ballerina consumed by a twisted friendship with another dancer played by Mila Kunis, might end up on the nominations list. The trailer looks intriguing and it's worth mentioning that the movie is directed by Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan comes out in the US on December 3rd and it should turn out to be more than just the movie in which Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis kissed.

I've never really been a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal (now, his sister Maggie is another story), but I'm going to mention the following movie, as it also stars Anne Hathaway and she's done great in movies like Rachel Getting Married and The Devil Wears Prada. Jake and Anne have also appeared together in Brokeback Mountain, remember that one? Now they've teamed up again for Love and Other Drugs in which Anne plays an independent, free spirited woman who won't let anything tie her down...until she meets Jamie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) a salesman who works in pharmaceuticals. Until it comes out (US release date : November, 24), the trailer will have to do for now.

I love Denzel Washington (who doesn't?). He's amazingly talented and one of the finest actors of the last decades. Now...please excuse me for a moment, while I ask him the following question :"What the heck are you doing?" His new movie, Unstoppable, seems like one of those movies we've already seen too many times maybe. Yes, it's about a freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas and it needs to be stopped from wiping out a city. But...but...he already did the train movie last year with The Taking Of Pelham 123. Seriously, he needs to ease up on the train movies.

Unstoppable is from director and producer Tony Scott who also directed Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Deja Vu and The Taking of Pelham 123. I'd like to give Unstoppable a decent review when it comes out, simply because I love Denzel Washington and well...Tony Scott isn't too bad either, but I'm not sure about how this will turn out. Check here for the trailer.

We're keeping it in the family for the next movie, directed by Jake Scott, son of director Ridley Scott and nephew of the above-mentioned director Tony Scott. Welcome to the Rileys has the following storyline : "On a business trip to New Orleans, a damaged man seeks salvation by caring for a wayward young woman". The cast includes Kristen Stewart (don't frown), James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo. It's an indie movie which will be out in limited distribution on November, 10. Here's your trailer.

Clint Eastwood is at it, yet again. He directs Hereafter, a drama centered on three people, a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy, who are all touched by death in different ways. The movie stars Matt Damon, it comes out in the US on October, 22 and it's rumored as a possible Oscar contender. Trailer here.

Secretariat is already out in the US and tells the story of the 1973 race horse winner who set an unbeaten record for winning the Triple Crown. The movie stars the lovely Diane Lane, alongside John Malkovich and might earn Diane Lane a second Oscar nomination. Click here to watch the trailer. 

And for the end of Part One of this preview, I'm taking a look at The King's Speech starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce and Geoffrey Rush. The movie tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. It's got a great cast and I'm sure the acting is superb. This is the kind of movie that gets Oscar nominations, so expect to see several nods for this movie. Click here for trailer.

Part Two coming soon...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tom Ford Black Orchid Limited Edition Collection Fall/Winter 2010

One of the (many) things on my Christmas wishlist is the new Tom Ford Black Orchid Limited Edition Collection......fabulous, yes !

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'm here, let's not waste any more time, shall we?

I'm sure I'd pretty much have to begin with some sort of self presentation, but let's skip that for now and dive right into it. I promise I'll do the obligatory "a few words about me" post later on. By the way, I am still working on the site, so bear with me.