Birthday dinner, 2011

My birthday dinner
Hangar steak at Blue Ginger

Thanks again to all the friends and family who sent birthday wishes! Being 43 isn’t so bad — so far. I didn’t go to my high school reunion in Westchester, New York, this past weekend because only a few of the people I was friends with 25+ years ago were attending (we’ll arrange an informal gathering in spring of 2012). On Saturday, 15 October 2011, Janice and I browsed among the shops in Wellesley, Massachusetts, including the Wellesley Booksmith and Wasik’s Cheese Shop.

We then met Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. for dinner at Blue Ginger, the restaurant of celebrity chef Ming Tsai. We had talked about eating there for years, and we finally managed to get a reservation a week in advance. The Asian fusion cuisine was very good, and the open kitchen was a nice touch. (I’ve posted versions of this review to Yelp and Zagat‘s Web sites.)

For appetizers, we had the tender salmon and beef carpaccio, attractive charcuterie plate, and shiitake-leek spring rolls. For entrees, we ordered tasty hangar steak, nicely spiced Vindaloo-glazed lamb, and flaky Alaskan butterfish.

For dessert, we ate a sorbet trio with a ginger kick, spiced buttermilk donuts, a sweet petit four plate, and foie gras-shiitake shumai. (Janice also baked me a chocolate cake at home.) The dishes were all an interesting blend of flavors, if a bit rich and pricey. The service was prompt and efficient. I’d definitely recommend Blue Ginger for special occasions.

Thomas asked an interesting question: How would I compare Blue Ginger with Tango and Smith & Wollensky, where we’ve dined together previously? Although the cuisines are different, we’ve ordered steak at all three. I thought that Smith & Wollensky, at which Beruk A. and I joined Thomas, Stuart C.G., and Stuart’s son in Boston a few years ago, was the best but also the most expensive.

Tango, an Argentinean steakhouse in Arlington, Mass., had a somewhat more limited menu, but I’d rate it slightly higher than Blue Ginger, whose dining room was a bit noisy. We also discussed our busy schedules, travel, and other eateries to try, such as Summer Shack in Dedham, Texas Roadhouse in Walpole, and Petit Robert Bistro and Rice Barn in Needham. Of course, if money and time were no object, I’d happily eat at any of these places.

Coming soon: More genre TV roundups, New York Comic-Con announcements, gaming updates, and more…

Catching up — Megamind

Megamind poster

This past weekend, I met fellow blogger Thomas K.Y. and role-player Josh C. at Thomas’ condominium in Lexington, Massachusetts. We watched Megamind on DVD. I liked the superhero movie more than I expected.

Although it’s part of a recent glut of computer-animated comedies focusing on villains turned heroes — including the Shrek franchise, Igor, and Despicable MeMegamind respectfully spoofs comic book conventions and has a sharp script. The film has numerous allusions to its inspiration but still feels fresh, reminding me of one of my favorite Pixar works, The Incredibles.

Megamind also features a strong cast, including Will Ferrell as the self-absorbed titular alien, Brad Pitt as Superman knockoff Metro Man, and Tina Fey as intrepid reporter Roxanne. The supporting cast also has fun, with David Cross as fishy sidekick Minion, Ben Stiller as museum curator/alter ego Bernard, and Jonah Hill as protégé gone wrong Hal Stewart/Titan. I wasn’t distracted by the celebrity voices, but it helped that I watched the film long after any promotional hype.

Unlike the “uncanny valley” of Robert Zemeckis’ animation, the cartoony yet realistic style of Megamind and movies like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, How to Train Your Dragon and Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole doesn’t bother me. Megamind‘s action scenes were well-choreographed, and we’ve come a long way from the original Tron or ReBoot (whose complete series is finally available on DVD).

I’d give Megamind, which is rated PG for language and violence, a solid B+, 8 out of 10, or three stars. Although I’m still a fan of “traditional,” 2-D animation, I do enjoy the best of the new wave, even if I haven’t yet seen Toy Story 3 or Tangled. I hope to screen the anthropomorphic animals in Western comedy Rango this coming weekend.

After lunch at Watch City Brewing Co. on Waltham’s Moody Street, Thomas, Josh, and I watched Alien vs. Ninja, which is just as silly a “B” movie as the title suggests. Janice and I also ate at regular haunts Comella’s, Acapulco’s, and Wild Willy’s this past weekend.