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What the Manolo Is…

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Last year, when the Manolo was living in Argentina, he discovered the greatest television chef of them all, Francis Mallmann. And so when the Mallmann recently released his newest cookbook, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, it was only natural that the Manolo should rush out purchase this book, and read it at the single sitting.

And now, the Manolo is happy to report that he has not been disappointed; the book is excellent.

Of the course, the written word, even with accompanying full-color photos, cannot capture the true Argentine charm of Francis Mallmann. What the Manolo first said in 2008 holds true today..

If you do not know Francis Mallman, you must learn of him immediately. He is not just the greatest chef ever produced by Argentina, but also perhaps the most completely self-confident and instinctively correct lifestyle maven to emerge in the past 25 years. Compared to Mallmann, Martha Stewart is the dowdy and self-doubting hausfrau.

To watch Mallmann is to know immediately how one should live one’s life. And his masterful cooking show, Un lugar en Medoza, is both the oddest and most satisfying cooking show ever to appear on television, anywhere. It is, above all else, completely mesmerizing.

There are several videos available on YouTube, including the whole episode of Un lugar en Mendoza (in three parts).

Why is Mallmann so mesmerizing? Here is the person at HotelChatter explaining Mallmann.

Mallmann has a quality you don’t find much in hoteliers: pleasantness. Not only that, he’s a scholar, a gentleman, and a romantic. His poetry collection greatly exceeds his cookbook collection. He smokes good cigars. He likes camping and mucking around on his Blackberry. He dresses like John Wayne dressing up as Oscar Wilde. He would make a good character on Lost.

Speaking of camping, here is the video of Mallmann camping…

This is on the Laguna Garzon, near the Pueblo Garzon, which home of the fabulous Mallmann restaurant and hotel, Garzon.

Finally, you must see the video below, even though the quality is execrable. You must see it for the coat that Mallmann wears…

This is how to live!

What the Manolo is…

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The Manolo has been all about the art song for the past few weeks, for now it is the Peter Warlock. Soon….?

What the Manolo Is…

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The Manolo has come to the work of Frederick Buechner very late, and regretfully so. Godric is, without doubt, simply brilliant.

What the Manolo is…

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As you certainly already know the Manolo has been enjoying greatly the singing of Fritz Wunderlich and the leider music of Franz Schubert.

As for the movie Nine, it stars the Manolo’s favorite cobbler/actor together with three wonderful actresses, and the costumery is marvelous, and the music is moderately fun, and yet, still, the whole thing adds up to the big snooze.

What the Manolo Is…

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Before this past month, the Manolo had never heard of the R&B singer Billy Stewart, and now he cannot get enough. This has been one of the serendipitous musical discoveries the Manolo has made since he has been listening to Pandora.

From the Manolo’s experience, the Pandora is very good with pop and rock music, both old and new, and very bad with such things as light opera and German lieder, which is perhaps not surprising. (And by “good” the Manolo means, serves up the good mixture of old standards and surprising selections that the Manolo has not heard, or has not thought of in the very long time”.)

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Manolo says, after reading the news about Danielle Steel’s spectacular shoe collection, the Manolo picked up the copy of Passion’s Promise to see what it was in her writing that was pushing many ladies of the Manolo’s acquaintance into the frenzy of reading.

On the one of the hands, there is the sort of propulsive force that drives one through the Danielle Steel novels, with one soap-opera-ish disaster after the next befalling her high-born characters. On the other of the hands, it is not the best written thing in the world. Indeed, the major problem is that Danielle Steel leaves no potential detail unmentioned, spending paragraphs on descriptions of things that are of minor concern. There is nothing for your mind to do when reading such things, which is perhaps the point.

By thirty pages into the book, the Manolo felt as if he were swimming in molasses.

And when he was 60 pages through, he put the book down and picked up Charles Bukowski, as the palate cleanser.

He has not returned yet to Passions Promise…perhaps someday, he will go back…

What the Manolo Is…

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The Manolo commends to you the oeuvre of the French prankster Rémi Gaillard, who is sort of like Johnny Knoxville only more impish and surreal, and much, much funnier. For the example, the last minute of this video made the Manolo laugh so hard that he had to wipe away the tears…

And the next prank is so irresistibly sweet and funny…
(more…)

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Sade has returned!

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It is nearly St. Patrick’s Day, with all that means for people who like to drink too much green beer, listen to diddly-diddly fiddle music, fist fight with the authorities, and pretend to weep about the “auld sod”. In short, it is time to drink and think romantically about the Irish.

And yet, strangely, attempts to anti-romanticize the Irish experience are even more compellingly romantic than the old-fashioned Emerald Isle blather. Shane MacGowan, Martin McDonagh, and even those insufferable frauds, the McCourt brothers, describe the Irish condition in horrific and unpleasant terms. And yet we lap it all up and continue to schedule our Dublin vacations. Very curious, no?

Of the course, the Manolo, although not the least bit Irish, is as guilty as the rest, and completely enjoys the Pogues and the McDonagh plays and all of that (although he would happily push the entire McCourt tribe into the ocean), even as he wonders about what it all means.

What is one to do when saddled with the contradictory desires for authenticity and entertainment?

P.S. If Darby O’Gill = Uncle Remus for Irish People, then the Pogues = N.W.A. for Irish People. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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It is almost time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Chopin!

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The good news is that El Bulli is not closing; the bad news is that it will still be many, many, many years before the Manolo can get the reservation to eat there.

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On the one of the hands, this Quentin Tarantino movie, the Inglourious Basterds is the loathsome and pernicious celebration of fantasy violence. On the other of the hands, it is very entertaining.

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