Featured Drink: Mojito

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In order to understand the mojito a little better, you have to take a trip south to the birthplace of this modern classic: Havana, Cuba. In reality, your trip has to be more of an imagined or virtual trip, since most people won’t ever get an opportunity to visit this unique place in the current political climate. Nevertheless, you can still feel like you’re in the vibrant city of Havana when you sip this refreshing and tasty cocktail.

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2016 Mother’s Day Gift Guide

There’s nothing a mother appreciates more than when you put some thought into their gift. You can never go wrong with classics like flowers or chocolates, but something more personal is usually better. Whether you’re buying for your mom, your wife or another important woman in your life, think about their interests and what would best bring a smile to their face. Some moms also love gadgets that make their lives easier, so keep that in mind as well. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

Bialetti Cookware

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The legacy of the Bialetti brand may be firmly rooted in the success of the Moka Express, the world-renowned stovetop coffeemaker, but the Italian company’s range of products extend throughout the kitchen with cookware, bakeware and other accessories. There are more than a dozen different lines of cookware alone (including sets made from terracotta, ceramic and granite), but of the samples provided to us, the Simply Italian and Sapphire collections were our favorites. The former is an affordable but efficient selection of pots and pans featuring an easy-to-clean PFOA-free nonstick interior that requires less oil for those obsessed about healthy cooking, while the latter boasts an ultra-durable Nanotec nonstick coating and a hard-anodized construction that can be used with all cooktops (including induction) and ovens up to 400º F. The Simply Italian line is great if you’re on a budget, but we really liked the Sapphire Executive Collection due to the fact that, although it’s about twice as expensive per item, it’s still pretty affordable for such high-quality cookware.

Fitbit Alta

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If your mom is into fitness, she’ll probably love this stylish fitness tracker from Fitbit. It’s available in a wide variety of colors, and it’s a great gadget to track daily progress for all types of health and fitness measurements, like steps, distance, calories burned and how long/how well you sleep. The new Fitbit Alta is an upgrade on the popular Flex model that adds an OLED tap display, so you can track all of the aforementioned stats as well as receive call, text and calendar notifications when synced with your smartphone. Additionally, you can personalize the tracker with interchangeable metal, leather and classic bands that will look great whether you’re at home, work or the gym.

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Drink of the Week: La Paloma (Revisited)

La Paloma.This Thursday is Cinco de Mayo, and that’s as good an excuse as any to revisit what I’m guessing is the world’s second most popular tequila cocktail. Indeed, this year I’ve got an additional excuse, which is to give a plug to some work by a DOTW Manor resident and frequent cocktail tester. Seems this enterprising young director was a finalist in a contest being sponsored by one of your classier tequila manufacturers, Avion. Moreover, I found out not long after writing the original draft of this post that he actually won a Grand Prize. Good things can sometimes come to those who imbibe (with moderation) and work (to excess).

As luck would have it, I myself can be seen in one of Joseph Lao’s two spine-tingling faux trailers, this one demonstrating the construction of a high-end La Paloma. Moreover, the last time we dealt with that drink — some four years ago and, it seems, a lifetime away — I offered the more popular, but arguably less refined, take on the beverage. This time, we’re setting aside the Jarritos grapefruit soda, and very definitely the Squirt, and going for a somewhat healthier and arguably more satisfying version of a cocktail that deserves its place alongside many better-known drinks.

La Paloma

2 ounces white tequila (Avion Silver, if you’ve got it, I guess)
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup or about 2 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar
1 splash or two of club soda
1 lime web (desirable garnish)

This is one you build in a Tom Collins-type glass, though it might be good idea to pre-chill it as well in this case. Anyhow, just add all the liquid ingredients over ice and stir, and then add the lime wedge, which really does seem to improve the overall flavor.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to May

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The next month is an interesting mixed bag of some would-be summer blockbusters, a few festival favorites and a couple of very promising comedies. Will “Captain America: Civil War” live up to its hype and buzz when it hits theaters? Can an “Alice in Wonderland” sequel actually be entertaining and not some Hot Topic-infused nightmare like its predecessor? Whether you’re interested in social commentary, buddy cop shenanigans or large cataclysmic affairs with things that go boom, there’s a little something for everyone.

“Captain America: Civil War”

Who: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner and Daniel Brühl
What: Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.
When: May 6th
Why: After their impressive work on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the Russo brothers return with this culmination of two Captain America films and two Avengers films. The storyline finds the Marvel Cinematic Universe at a crossroads and alliances tested on a personal level, while the action in the trailers looks larger in scope with many moving parts. This film also features the introduction of both the Black Panther (Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to the MCU, and based on early reviews, promises to be a thrilling ride that offers real emotional stakes for the audience. Plus, who doesn’t love superhero on superhero fisticuffs?

“Money Monster”

Who: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell and Dominic West
What: Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put into an explosive situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.
When: May 13th
Why: While this topic, taking Wall Street and its subcultures to task for their hubris, may be a little stale eight years out from the market crash, it’s sadly still relevant today for many people in the country. The trailer seemingly gives away most of the film, but it looks like a serious take on the repercussions of politics and financial institutions failing the common people, but with a real-time ticking clock (attached to a bomb) involved to make the tension even more palpable. Plus, it’s been five years since Jodie Foster last directed a film, so it’ll be interesting to see how she fares with this stellar cast and potentially hot-button topic.

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Movie Review: “Keanu”

Starring
Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man, Jason Mitchell, Will Forte, Nia Long
Director
Peter Atencio

After gaining popularity with their eponymous Comedy Central sketch show, it was only a matter of time before Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele made the jump to the big screen. The duo’s debut feature “Keanu,” co-written by Peele and frequent collaborator Alex Rubens, may not be as steeped in political and racial humor as some of their funnier skits, but it’s an enjoyable and often hilarious action-comedy that serves as the perfect showcase for Key and Peele’s excellent onscreen chemistry. Apart from perhaps Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, there isn’t a better comedy team in the business, and when combined with a cute-as-a-button tabby kitten that looks adorable even while dodging bullets amid a deadly gangland shootout, it’s no surprise that “Keanu” leaves you with a big smile plastered on your face.

The audience first meets the titular feline during the aforementioned massacre, barely escaping after his drug lord owner is killed by a pair of silent assassins and eventually landing on the doorstep of recently dumped stoner Rell (Peele), whose spirits are quickly lifted by the lovable kitten, which he renames Keanu. A few weeks later, Rell returns home from a night out with his cousin Clarence (Key) to find his place ransacked and Keanu stolen. Following up on a tip from Rell’s drug dealer neighbor (Will Forte), whose apartment was the intended target, the cousins go undercover as a pair of hardened thugs named Tectonic and Shark Tank to retrieve Keanu from the gang responsible for the robbery. Their leader Cheddar (Method Man) has already taken a shine to the kitten, but he agrees to give him up if Rell and Clarence – whom he mistakes for the Allentown Brothers (also played by Key and Peele), the assassins from the opening – tag along with his crew on an upcoming drug deal. Meanwhile, the real Allentown Brothers, who have fallen for the kitten as well (did I mention he’s really cute?), are hot on their trail.

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