Saturday, July 28, 2012


Dinner and a Movie

Battleship Chifa

By Steve Herte

Note: Our “Galloping Gourmet” is visiting Philadelphia. Steve writes: “I spent time at the National Constitution Center, an entire museum dedicated to the Constitution and the nation that developed from it. There was a wonderful multi-media presentation followed by exhibits such as voting booths to figure out who you would vote for this year depending on the issues alone, a trivia contest about elections, various presidential memorabilia, an interactive screen to tell you how your tax dollars are spent, and an opportunity to make a Stump Speech (only six words) and publish it on a big marquee. It was a lot more fun than I figured.”

Battleship (2012)

Hasbro merges with Transformers, and Industrial Light and Magic to create a race of lizard people who want to “phone home” from Hawaii but the Navy stops them by bringing the USS Missouri out of mothballs and crewing her with retirees. That’s the entire story behind Battleship, a movie based on a game.

Taylor Kitsch (great name) plays Alex Hopper, the screw-up brother of Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgård) who is forced into the Navy by his brother to teach him responsibility.  He falls in love with Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), the Admiral’s (Liam Neeson) daughter. He screws up again on duty and is about to get kicked out of the service.

Meanwhile, Cal Zapata (Hamish Linklater) has successfully sent a communication to “Planet G” through a network of transmitter dishes in Hawaii by bouncing the signal off a satellite. Next thing he knows is there are five UFOs zeroing in on Earth from that exact location in space. One of them crashes into a satellite, goes off course and trashes Hong Kong. The rest land in the ocean and transform into enormous battle machines that enclose the entire Hawaiian Island group in a gargantuan force field cutting off communications in the Navy.

Commander Stone Hopper’s destroyer is destroyed by the aliens and all looks hopeless until  Lt. Alex has to join up with Capt. Yugi Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), a former rival, to track the alien ships without radar (enter Hasbro) using tsunami buoys. They manage to destroy most of the alien ships, except the mother-ship. All destroyers are lost and they recruit the retirees to bring the Battleship Missouri back into action. The mother-ship is destroyed and the satellite link is disconnected using “antique” technology (Oh, brother!).

Aside from the spectacular special effects (we expect nothing less from ILM) the movie is a bit lame and a lot unbelievable. There may be a nomination for effects. The dialogue and the acting are routine and predictable, leaving me glad I watched it On Demand at the hotel and didn’t pay top price to see it in the theater.

Chifas (Peruvian/Cantonese)
707 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Don’t let the loud façade of this Latino(Peruvian)/Asian restaurant fool you. When you enter Chifas, you’re in a sleek bistro with a sexy bar lit in red on black walls and gauzy curtained alcoves for dining. The sunlight coming through the front windows provides great mood lighting but at no time is the restaurant too dark.

The specialty cocktail list looked interesting, so I chose the Diego Vega, a frothy martini-style drink mimicking a traditional Pisco Sour, with Peruvian Brandy and lime juice, which was fascinating as well as tasty. The menu had so many varieties that, with the concurrence of my waitress (who was also the bartender) I chose the Chef’s Tasting Menu - $55 – four courses (according to her). My only request was that the Red Curry would be one of the dishes. I had no idea of the feast coming. I ordered a 2010 Chilean Pinot Noir from Morandé vineyards which proved its excellence by complimenting every dish.

To keep this review from becoming extremely wordy, I decided to list the dishes with comments:

Amuse Bouche – Corn puff with spicy, fruity paste – fluffy and intriguing.

Mizuna Salad – Jicama ribbons, smoked marcona almonds, pickled ginger dressing – great greens (almost like dandelion greens) in a nutty dressing with surprise kumquats.

Ecuadorian Ceviche – Oysters, spicy tomato, chives, yellow tomato gel, avocado – two half-shells of pure delight.

Nikkei Ceviche – Ahi Tuna, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy-yuzu, sesame – a shiny steel bowl of flavorful fun accompanied by toasted chick peas.

Pork Belly Bao Bun – Hoisin Glaze, pickled diakon & carrot, togarashi mayo – a fluffy, rich pork sandwich.

Braised Beef Short Rib and Taro Puff – shredded carrot, sweet chili – an amazing one and a half inch ball filled with shredded, well-seasoned short rib meat.

Duck Taco – duck confit, house kimchi, sliced radish, flour tortilla – thank goodness the tortilla was soft, the spiciest dish in the feast but still rich in flavor.

Red Curry – Jumbo lump crab, coconut, tofu, eggplant, white rice – a black wooden bowl filled mostly with white rice and topped with the crab mixture in a creamy lightly spiced sauce.

Mussels – coconut-rum broth, lemongrass, rocoto, Thai basil – delicate little shellfish in a soupy, wonderful sauce (beware the sliced hot green peppers).

Wok Fired Greens – seasonal selection – a wonderful nutty, oniony mixture that effectively cut the spice of other dishes.

If that weren’t enough, there were two desserts. The chocolate cake with raspberry compote and almond ice cream and the Strawberry Panacotta with coconut puffs. Believe it or not I finished everything with the exception of some of the rice from the Red Curry. A delightful Indian Masala Chai crowned the feast appropriately and returned to my hotel satisfied and believing I had most of the menu for my dinner. Viva Chifa!

For the Dinner and a Movie Archive, please click here.

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