Saturday, January 26, 2008

Beer is vegetarian, even though I'm not

No movie tonight! I did watch an episode of the excellent Planet Earth documentary while I was making hummus for a friend's party, though. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend buying it on DVD or Hi-Def. It has some of the most amazing nature footage you'll ever see. Many of the shots were done from hot air balloons with huge zoom lenses, over every type of terrain. I'll give an in-depth review once I finish watching the series.

I also started watching Witness, the film with Harrison Ford as a Philly cop protecting an Amish child who saw a murder. It began very well, and I immediately picked up that it was Peter Weir directing. How's that for film nerdiness? The score, and his quiet, reflective shots were the giveaway. I enjoyed the first 35 minutes a lot, but then my DVR choked and jumped an hour ahead. Right to a spoiler, too. So, it goes to the top of my NetFlix queue....

So a friend of mine who's mostly vegetarian invited us over for dinner. I'm a full-bore carnivore myself- having just made a pilgrimage to The Spotted Pig for a Crispy Pig's Ear (the best pork rind you'll ever eat) and Calf's Liver, which was a transcendental experience- but I do enjoy vegetable dishes, and to her credit she eats fish, but another guest is pure vegetarian... so no shrimp or salmon tonight.

I love hummus and have made it before, usually strong on the garlic. My recipe follows. It was a big hit.

3 15oz cans chickpeas or garbanzo beans, juice reserved
1 12oz. can Tehina dip or tahini sesame paste
1 lemon's juice
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp dried mint or minced fresh mint
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice

I used a hand blender, but a food processor or blender can work. Mix all the ingredients except the juice from the canned beans, and blend until smooth. Add the liquid as necessary to make the dip smoother. Add more oil (twice as much, if you like) if you want it creamier. I like mine spicy so I used half a head of garlic and a lot of tahini. Scrape out to a bowl and sprinkle a little oil and spices on top and swirl it with a spatula if you want it to look purty.

Serve with apple slices, carrot & vegetable sticks, or toasted pita. This makes a big bowl, enough for a party of 12 or more. It went over real well.

Another guestbrought some Abita Jockamo IPA and Anchor Steam Liberty Ale, which were quite good. The IPA was one of the best I've had, and that includes Dogfish Head's 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPAs.

It has a great smooth and fruity start like a good wheat or Belgian white, and a standard IPA bitter finish, nice and crisp, it would be better on a hot summer day but they go down easy in the winter too.

Right now I'm watching The Fountain in HD, a movie suited to the format. It looks gorgeous. The movie itself is a dreamy triple tale of a research surgeon trying to cure brain cancer, which his wife is afflicted with; it is expertly dovetailed with that of a conquistador looking for the Tree of Life in Mexico, and a man traveling in space with the Tree of Life. The men are all Hugh Jackman, the wife and queen are Rachel Weisz. It's not a perfect film but it is incredibly ambitious and succeeds on many levels, making for an immersive viewing experience and a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss. Full review later, but this is a highly recommended film from me to you.

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