Saturday, 31 March 2012

What we're watching over the Easter holidays

With two weeks and three weekends to fill, the Easter holidays can be a little daunting. Last year was fantastic, as the weather was gorgeous the whole time but it seems this year that we've had our nice spell just before the holidays start.

It's always good to have something on standby for when the weather is not good enough for the children to play outside. Handily, a few nice people have sent us some things that will very handily fill a wet afternoon or be used on the children's movie nights - when they draw the curtains, even if it's light outside, settle down with a DVD, eat popcorn and any other unhealthy snack they can wangle out of us, and watch "movies". This generates far more excitement than them just sitting down to watch a DVD. It must be the curtains.

Especially for them, and perhaps the grown ups too, Warner Brothers sent us a Happy Feet 2 parcel as it came out on DVD this week. Great timing. In the package was also Happy Feet and March of the Penguins, some stickers for the kids and a hat. Monkey told me excitedly that he's seen March of the Penguins at school - as penguins were the subject of their topic in class for half a term and the teacher showed it to them. He can't wait to watch it again, as he really enjoyed it and also to show it to Missy Woo, who will get to learn about penguins next year.

Back to Happy Feet 2. The kids love the Happy Feet films  - they're simple stories but it holds their attention. It feels magical and looks beautiful - and the baby penguins are cute! The films celebrate everyone's differences - in this story, Mumble's son Erik doesn't like dancing so runs away from the flock, only to meet a penguin who can fly! Erik respects this new father figure in his life. Mumble brings everyone together to save everyone from disaster and in doing so, earns the respect of his son once more. It's voiced by some big stars - Robin Williams,  Hank Azaria, Pink, Brad Pitt, Maaaaaaaaaatttt Daaaaaaaammoooon, (sorry) and Elijah Wood, to name but a few. Warner Brothers also sent me a video clip featuring some action and interviews with some of the stars but it was fouling up the rest of the post, so you'll have to make do with the trailer from Youtube instead.



When the kids have gone to bed, I'll be settling down to another DVD that I've been sent. It's the complete first series of Two Greedy Italians that comes out on Monday, ahead of the second series starting on the BBC this April. The series, if you haven't seen it, features TV chefs Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo travelling round Italy, looking at the food in different regions and how it's changing in some places yet has remained largely unaltered for years elsewhere. The episodes are thus part travelogue, part cookery show as the two chefs - who left Italy over 40 years ago and spent most of that time living in the UK - cook dishes they have created as well as some of their traditional favourites.

The dishes are quite typical of their cooking styles - generally fairly simple, often using foods foraged from the countryside around them. You can see easily how Jamie Oliver's rustic style developed - Gennaro Contaldo became his mentor when he went to work at Carluccio's restaurant in Covent Garden in the 1990s. This double disc features all four episodes of the first series and includes 4 recipe cards, allegedly so that you can cook along; not that I could cook and watch at the same time! I will not be telling my husband that one of the cards is for Chocolate and Amaretto pudding, as he loves both (whereas Amaretto is not my favourite thing at all).

Despite being old friends, they squabble like an old married couple at times which adds an extra dimension to the chemistry on screen between them. If you like to cook Italian food beyond the standard spag bol, carbonara and pizza and also like to learn about food in its original context, you'll definitely enjoy this DVD.

(I was sent a Happy Feet 2 package containing 3 DVDs, stickers and other memorabilia and the Two Greedy Italians double DVD to review. I have not been told to write but requested to include relevant links. All words and opinions are my own.)
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