Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Restaurant Col Serena, Etroubles

We have visited this restaurant not that long ago, and the food and the service had been quite good already then.
The difference in this occasion was the presence of our kids, who however were not in top shape for eating all the very nice food that was served during dinner time.
The menu was divided in day specialties as well as the a la carte, but the chef was also sometimes suggesting some extra dish that was not written anywhere.
A nice minestrone and a very good polenta concia were our primi, while a wonderful rolled rabbit dish was accompanied with a great filet. The chef was also kind enough to cook it a little bit more, although ideally it should have been served as he proposed. 
The meat was tender and tasted wonderfully in both dishes. The polenta was tasty and the minestrone was genuinely good.
Considering the chef's kindness and availability and the food quality, we didn't pay too much for our dinner.
The portions were generous and I regret we didn't pay another visit to this restaurant at this time.
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Grill Du Beau Sejour Restaurant, Etroubles

This is the first time we ended up eating a Beau Sejour, although I have been eating in Etroubles for almost 35 years. It was definitely not a remarkable experience, but it was quite obvious from the welcoming sign that everything was done for attracting tourists and not italians.
We took two of the available menu (the one of 28€ and the one of 30€) while one of our child ate a pizza. However, I should have raised my attention since there were no other pizza in the menu and the waiter didn't think it was possible to change the size of the pizza: the pizza was infact a frozen one, decent, but I would not charge 8,5€ for that!
Although we were 4 at the table, we got a small bottle of water, which of course forced us to order a second one (and hence it became a quite expensive water).
The food we ate was reasonably ok. In the 28€ menu it was included a small antipasto with a selection of cold cut, a slice of cheese and some chestnuts. Good, but a bit "slim" in size. The waiter didn't even introduce what was on the plate, though.
The primo was a plate of tagliatelle with wildboar and pumpkin ragu', which was tasty, but had a strong background taste of stock, same one that also the classical carbonada had. The pannacotta was quite ok, but the sauce was possibly coming from a plastic bottle.
The 30€ menu included fried brie (as a memory of a friend camembert, possibly), some ravioli served with butter and sage and finally a steak with bearneise sauce and some french fries. The dessert was a mini strudel. 
The best in our opinion was the meat, although it is a bit strange to see such a sauce served in an italian restaurant! 
In general, the food was ok, but didn't make us impressed, especially because it seems a lot of shortcuts have been taken in the food preparation. The service could have been a bit more accurated: one of the waiter seemed to be also very stressed, however they were very patient with our noisy kids.
Possibly, it would be best if they try to provide a more genuine kitchen and bother less about attracting a mass of tourists, especially considering the prices.
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Neon Genesis Evangelion & Fate/Stay Night

Neon Genesis Evangelion #24Neon Genesis Evangelion #24 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I honestly do not understand the big fuzz around Evangelion.
It is surely a complex story, with clean drawings and an impressive setting, however, I find the plot lacking the proper bite that would have made me more interested and some passages are definitely too slow or too heavy.
The introspective part (considering also the characters' age) as well as the absurdity of the motives behind some of their decisions were too ridiculous in my eyes.
Possibly because I have never watched the anime, but just read the manga (which has been published quite slowly), but I have found hard to make a sense of all the story and some details have made me very confused.
I must confess I have not really got a proper grasp of the whole background or what has happened at times. I would have appreciated a linear plot, although I know it is quite common that in this sci-fi manga, the world elements as well as the history provide a usually interesting depth, despite being not always clarified properly.
Maybe watching the anime will make me reevaluate and understand better the world of Evangelion? I do not exclude giving it a chance, but as for the manga, I haven't been impressed.

Fate/Stay Night n. 20Fate/Stay Night n. 20 by Datto Nishiwaki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the few manga based on a videogame that I really fully enjoyed when reading it.
I enjoyed the drawing style, even during some of the combats (when I usually lose myself and do not understand what is happening) and I mainly enjoyed the plot and the setting.
The story is interesting and the fact that there is mentioned something happening 10 years in the past, doesn't leave the reader completely confused (also because there is a manga focusing on what had happened then!).
Despite the fact that the action take place with a quite intense pace, there are pauses which gives the possibility to enjoy some more comical moment as well as more reflective or romantic atmosphere.
I do not know how much is really taken from the videogame plot, but the story develops unvealing mysteries and parts of the background, in a very strategic way. I did get slightly confused with the role of some characters, but despite that the whole setting is built in a very intelligent matter.
The role of the heroes, the mechanices behind the Graal battle and how history and modern times are connected makes everything pleasant and intriguing so much that I could think of reading everything again, if I had the possibility, to spot new details and understand even better everything.
The characters are also far from being trivial (and they could easily be flat being taken out from a game) and, despite some minor over-reflective parentheses, they leave some a good memory behind them.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sakamichi no Apollon (Jammin' Apollon) by Yuki Kodama

Sakamichi No Apollon: 10 (Bonus Track)Sakamichi No Apollon: 10 by Yuki Kodama
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How this manga has developed during the 10 volumes has not always been having the same "quality". Some chapters have been very well written, while some others have been a bit boring and less intriguing.
I thought that the most interesting aspect of the story was the setting. It is the first time that I read something set during the 60s and, although the historical aspect is just brushed, both the drawing and the story per se' got a very nice patina thanks to such choice (or maybe the other way round).
The characters are another strong aspect of this work; they are not exactly trivial, they are very complex and what I believe emerges very clearly is how each of them (especially the three main protagonists) needs each other in order to develop or to be more complete.
Despite this, the favorite part of the story is the one involving Jun and Yurika, even though it is just a minor story which however plays an important role in order to get a proper start to the main plot.
If the definitive end of the story lacks some originality, there are some nice elements of surprise which were pleasant to find in a quite classical plot.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Baltic Exhibition

I do not remember exactly for which reason I have become interested in the Baltic Exhibition which was held in Malmö 1914. Possibly, because the period of time in which it happened is very much connected with our house.
Since I started to spot few related items to the Baltic Exhibition, we have found out that this is a red thread in my "historical" research on Åkarp and more.

Last year it was a 100 years jubileum for it and in Malmö few exhibitions were prepared. During the summer, we manage to go to Malmö Konstmuseum, where we have been watching a short movie and started to understand a bit what this was really all about. Among the paintings, some Carl Larsson that I could have easily been bringing home... :)

For a "small" town as Malmö, this was an event that should have been making the town shine - and it did, for how long it last, since the shadow of the First World War was just behind the scenes ready to take over.
This was very well explained in another exhibition, same building but different (Sommarsol och mörka moln, Malmö 1914, summer sun and dark clouds, Malmö 1914), where we also got fascinated by the fact that they built in what today is Pildammparken the most amazing buildings and, since labour was cheap, they didn't mind to remove them as soon as they were done.
During our visit, we didn't have really the opportunity to deepen our interest on the subject, since Isabella and Oscar were accompanying us and, especially she, didn't appreciate the visit.

Among the several other events and arrangements organized, which we have also discovered too late (and with the ocean of free time we have, we would surely anyway have missed them), we have visited the one related to the national costume,Baltiska utställningen-Nationaldräktsaffären. The exhibition was very small, but quite interesting.

Bo Malmgren's collection on items from the Baltic Exhibition

A stiff lady miming a amost stiff lady at the exhibition. Raffinated clothes, but maybe a bit boring?

The crown prinsess Margareta had her own pavilion. Of course, related to gardening

Map of the exhibition

Mattias is keeping a lecture
 It focused mainly on the fact that Charlotte Weibull's aunt had a pavilion at the exhibition. Charlotte Weibull is from Åkarp and is famous for her dolls and the national costumes shop she inherited in Malmö. Her aunt Ingrid started up first that shop and that's why she was at the Baltic Exhibition.
Jugend details on the advertisement poster for the national costume shop.

National costumes and textile. The big texted textile that is hanging around the walls comes from the 1914 pavilion

On the left, the pavilion at the Baltic Exhibition
What will come next that is connected to the Baltic Exhibition and what we will manage to explore before the Jubileum will be officially over?
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Shampoo hat

Washing a kid's hair can be a traumatic experience, both for the parents and the kid (maybe also for the cats that have to hear the screams), I still remember myself how annoying it was too.
I don't have hands big enough to protect the eyes from the soapy water and my daughter have a tendency to not keep the head back long enough to go through a proper rinsing phase.

However, when reading Thermae Romae, I realized I wanted to buy an item that is described there as a "fantastic invention of the people with the flat face", a shampoo hat.
The problem though is that finding it here in the "Western world" is almost as impossible as to find it in Ancient Rome.
Thermae Romae #2 cover with the shampoo hat wore by a statue of Laocoon

Eventually, after some serious web surfing, I have found here, so I gracefully paid for it and for the delivery (whose cost was higher than the item itself) and after few days I have tested it on Isabella's head successfully.
Maybe we should all do some time/space travelling to Japan and import some useful items here...
The shampoo hat which we purchased in white

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