Depp to star in Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired film

Depp to star in Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired filmLOS ANGELES: Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard are set to star in a movie inspired by the scandal that brought down the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The film, entitled “The Libertine,” will be directed by Brett Ratner and is “loosely based on the DSK incident,” Ratner’s spokesperson Kate Rosenbaum told AFP.

Several media reports said Depp will play a character based on the disgraced former French politician, who stepped down as head of the IMF after he was accused of assaulting a hotel maid in 2011. The criminal case was later dismissed and a civil suit was settled out of court.

The Wrap website said the script “offers a comedic take” on Strauss-Kahn’s brush with the law.

The scandal has already been the subject of another drama, “Welcome to New York,” which starred French actor Gerard Depardieu.

It was unclear what role Cotillard will play in the new project.

– AFP

Depp to star in Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired film

Depp to star in Dominique Strauss-Kahn-inspired filmLOS ANGELES: Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard are set to star in a movie inspired by the scandal that brought down the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The film, entitled “The Libertine,” will be directed by Brett Ratner and is “loosely based on the DSK incident,” Ratner’s spokesperson Kate Rosenbaum told AFP.

Several media reports said Depp will play a character based on the disgraced former French politician, who stepped down as head of the IMF after he was accused of assaulting a hotel maid in 2011. The criminal case was later dismissed and a civil suit was settled out of court.

The Wrap website said the script “offers a comedic take” on Strauss-Kahn’s brush with the law.

The scandal has already been the subject of another drama, “Welcome to New York,” which starred French actor Gerard Depardieu.

It was unclear what role Cotillard will play in the new project.

– AFP

Solar Impulse 2 set for next leg in round-the-world flight

Solar Impulse 2 set for next leg in round-the-world flightLOS ANGELES: The Solar Impulse 2 will resume its record-breaking quest Thursday to circle the globe without consuming a drop of fuel, with a flight from Arizona to Oklahoma.

The experimental sun-powered plane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is set to take off from Phoenix at 3:00 am (1000 GMT).

“After sustained efforts from the entire team, at the Mission Control Center and on the ground, we have found a clear weather window that gives way for a 17 hour and 50 minute flight to complete the flight to reach the heart of the United States,” the Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) team said in a statement.

“The objective is to reach New York as soon as possible!”

After being grounded for several months to undergo repairs, the plane resumed its round-the-world voyage in April, flying from Hawaii to California. It then flew to Pheonix on May 2.

It is expected to make one or two more stops in the United States before landing in New York City.

The SI2 was grounded in July last year when its batteries suffered problems halfway through its 21,700-mile (35,000-kilometer) circumnavigation.

The crew took several months to repair the damage from high tropical temperatures during the flight’s final Pacific stage, a 4,000-mile (6,437-kilometer) flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii.

The aircraft was flown on that stage by Piccard’s teammate Andre Borschberg, whose 118-hour journey smashed the previous record of 76 hours and 45 minutes set by US adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006.

The plane is expected to cross the United States, stopping in New York before a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe, from where the pilots plan to make their way back to the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.

– AFP

Solar Impulse 2 set for next leg in round-the-world flight

Solar Impulse 2 set for next leg in round-the-world flightLOS ANGELES: The Solar Impulse 2 will resume its record-breaking quest Thursday to circle the globe without consuming a drop of fuel, with a flight from Arizona to Oklahoma.

The experimental sun-powered plane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is set to take off from Phoenix at 3:00 am (1000 GMT).

“After sustained efforts from the entire team, at the Mission Control Center and on the ground, we have found a clear weather window that gives way for a 17 hour and 50 minute flight to complete the flight to reach the heart of the United States,” the Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) team said in a statement.

“The objective is to reach New York as soon as possible!”

After being grounded for several months to undergo repairs, the plane resumed its round-the-world voyage in April, flying from Hawaii to California. It then flew to Pheonix on May 2.

It is expected to make one or two more stops in the United States before landing in New York City.

The SI2 was grounded in July last year when its batteries suffered problems halfway through its 21,700-mile (35,000-kilometer) circumnavigation.

The crew took several months to repair the damage from high tropical temperatures during the flight’s final Pacific stage, a 4,000-mile (6,437-kilometer) flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii.

The aircraft was flown on that stage by Piccard’s teammate Andre Borschberg, whose 118-hour journey smashed the previous record of 76 hours and 45 minutes set by US adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006.

The plane is expected to cross the United States, stopping in New York before a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe, from where the pilots plan to make their way back to the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.

– AFP

Cheers in London for ‘Brexit the Movie’ premiere

Cheers in London for ‘Brexit the Movie’ premiereLONDON: Britain’s EU referendum campaign took a film star turn on Wednesday as Brexit supporters took to the red carpet in black tie and evening dresses in for the premiere of a documentary backing their cause.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage beamed and waved at hundreds of onlookers in London’s West End, including men with Union Jack bowties and T-shirts reading “It’s Time to Break Away”.

“Brexit the Movie”, which is being released on YouTube on Thursday, combines interviews of pro-Brexit economists, politicians and small businessmen with Monty Pythonesque cartoon graphics, a potted history of the EU and its workings.

“It’s fabulous! It’s a contribution to the debate,” Farage told AFP at a champagne reception before the showing at the Odeon Cinema on Leicester Square with lawmakers and “Leave” campaign funders.

During the showing, the audience cheered at a mention of the Magna Carta, the 1215 royal charter seen as a founding stone for modern constitutions.

There were loud boos when archive images were shown of former prime minister Edward Heath signing Britain’s European Economic Community membership in 1973 and one audience member was heard shouting: “String them up!”

There was laughter too when former Sun tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie was shown saying: “The expression I really hate is ‘pooled sovereignty’. It’s bollocks!”

The film also includes a sketch showing hapless “European” umbrella makers — wearing sleeveless vests and braces — competing with efficient-looking and maths-proficient Asian businessmen.

“You have to wear braces and eat spaghetti to make a brolly,” the narrator, director Martin Durkin, says, mocking protection rules for European Union producers.

In another sketch, a man is shown reading French newspaper Le Monde, wearing garlic around his neck, a black beret and a sailor’s striped vest as the narrator says: “You need to wear berets and drink Ricard to grow food.”

A British fisherman who blames EU fishing quotas for the decline of his industry and a sugar businessman who berates the high tariffs on raw sugar imports from outside the EU are also interviewed in the film.

The film noted the prosperity of non-EU member Switzerland and harked back to British history, calling for “a return to the commercial and trading giant we were in the 19th century”.

Durkin thanked the 1,800 people who supported his film through crowdfunding before the showing.

“The EU is a big organisation that likes power and money. The really sinister thing is that it’s our power and our money,” he told the audience.

In the first lines of the film, accompanied by a stirring soundtrack, he states: “This film is a rallying cry. We must fight for our independence.”

– AFP

Cheers in London for ‘Brexit the Movie’ premiere

Cheers in London for ‘Brexit the Movie’ premiereLONDON: Britain’s EU referendum campaign took a film star turn on Wednesday as Brexit supporters took to the red carpet in black tie and evening dresses in for the premiere of a documentary backing their cause.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage beamed and waved at hundreds of onlookers in London’s West End, including men with Union Jack bowties and T-shirts reading “It’s Time to Break Away”.

“Brexit the Movie”, which is being released on YouTube on Thursday, combines interviews of pro-Brexit economists, politicians and small businessmen with Monty Pythonesque cartoon graphics, a potted history of the EU and its workings.

“It’s fabulous! It’s a contribution to the debate,” Farage told AFP at a champagne reception before the showing at the Odeon Cinema on Leicester Square with lawmakers and “Leave” campaign funders.

During the showing, the audience cheered at a mention of the Magna Carta, the 1215 royal charter seen as a founding stone for modern constitutions.

There were loud boos when archive images were shown of former prime minister Edward Heath signing Britain’s European Economic Community membership in 1973 and one audience member was heard shouting: “String them up!”

There was laughter too when former Sun tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie was shown saying: “The expression I really hate is ‘pooled sovereignty’. It’s bollocks!”

The film also includes a sketch showing hapless “European” umbrella makers — wearing sleeveless vests and braces — competing with efficient-looking and maths-proficient Asian businessmen.

“You have to wear braces and eat spaghetti to make a brolly,” the narrator, director Martin Durkin, says, mocking protection rules for European Union producers.

In another sketch, a man is shown reading French newspaper Le Monde, wearing garlic around his neck, a black beret and a sailor’s striped vest as the narrator says: “You need to wear berets and drink Ricard to grow food.”

A British fisherman who blames EU fishing quotas for the decline of his industry and a sugar businessman who berates the high tariffs on raw sugar imports from outside the EU are also interviewed in the film.

The film noted the prosperity of non-EU member Switzerland and harked back to British history, calling for “a return to the commercial and trading giant we were in the 19th century”.

Durkin thanked the 1,800 people who supported his film through crowdfunding before the showing.

“The EU is a big organisation that likes power and money. The really sinister thing is that it’s our power and our money,” he told the audience.

In the first lines of the film, accompanied by a stirring soundtrack, he states: “This film is a rallying cry. We must fight for our independence.”

– AFP

Playboy names first Playmate of the Year in post-nude era

Playboy names first Playmate of the Year in post-nude eraLOS ANGELES: Playboy, adult entertainment’s most iconic publication since Marilyn Monroe appeared as its inaugural centerfold in 1953, on Wednesday named its first Playmate of the Year since doing away with full nudity.

Eugena Washington, a model and actress from Palmdale, California, was unveiled at the opulent Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, posing for the world’s media in front of her prize — a Fiat 124 Spider sports car.

The 31-year-old, who also gets $100,000 to spend, is featured on the cover of the June issue — the fourth since it eradicated full-frontal nudity from its pages.

“It’s a great time for this. The world is changing. I hope this brings different eyes to the magazine and new audiences,” Washington said.

Washington, who first appeared in Playboy as the magazine’s December 2015 Playmate of the Month, is only the third black model among 57 to be named Playmate of the Year.

“This is a story and a chapter in my life to build around. I’m enjoying the ride, and right now I’m doing whatever I want to do, day by day,” she said.

Washington’s career began in 2006 when she appeared on Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” finishing in the top three, and she has since played a recurring part on daytime soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” and appeared in rom-com “The Perfect Match,” released in March.

Playboy Enterprises, the company which owns the magazine, announced in March it had hired an investment adviser to look at offering itself for a possible buyout.

The sale is expected to be worth a potential $500 million while the iconic Playboy Mansion, put on the market earlier this year, could fetch some $200 million.

The magazine has been pursuing a new image in an age of easy access to online pornography, and has already toned down in order to be allowed on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Its circulation peaked in 1972 at seven million, but stands at around 800,000 now, editorial director Jason Burhmester told AFP.

“It has sort of balanced out. There were older readers who wanted the nudity who dropped out,” the 42-year-old said.

“And at the same time the news stand sales — because we’re not in a poly-bag anymore and we’re on all the cash registers at Barnes and Noble — has really helped attract a reader who didn’t think about us.”

AFP

Playboy names first Playmate of the Year in post-nude era

Playboy names first Playmate of the Year in post-nude eraLOS ANGELES: Playboy, adult entertainment’s most iconic publication since Marilyn Monroe appeared as its inaugural centerfold in 1953, on Wednesday named its first Playmate of the Year since doing away with full nudity.

Eugena Washington, a model and actress from Palmdale, California, was unveiled at the opulent Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, posing for the world’s media in front of her prize — a Fiat 124 Spider sports car.

The 31-year-old, who also gets $100,000 to spend, is featured on the cover of the June issue — the fourth since it eradicated full-frontal nudity from its pages.

“It’s a great time for this. The world is changing. I hope this brings different eyes to the magazine and new audiences,” Washington said.

Washington, who first appeared in Playboy as the magazine’s December 2015 Playmate of the Month, is only the third black model among 57 to be named Playmate of the Year.

“This is a story and a chapter in my life to build around. I’m enjoying the ride, and right now I’m doing whatever I want to do, day by day,” she said.

Washington’s career began in 2006 when she appeared on Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” finishing in the top three, and she has since played a recurring part on daytime soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” and appeared in rom-com “The Perfect Match,” released in March.

Playboy Enterprises, the company which owns the magazine, announced in March it had hired an investment adviser to look at offering itself for a possible buyout.

The sale is expected to be worth a potential $500 million while the iconic Playboy Mansion, put on the market earlier this year, could fetch some $200 million.

The magazine has been pursuing a new image in an age of easy access to online pornography, and has already toned down in order to be allowed on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Its circulation peaked in 1972 at seven million, but stands at around 800,000 now, editorial director Jason Burhmester told AFP.

“It has sort of balanced out. There were older readers who wanted the nudity who dropped out,” the 42-year-old said.

“And at the same time the news stand sales — because we’re not in a poly-bag anymore and we’re on all the cash registers at Barnes and Noble — has really helped attract a reader who didn’t think about us.”

AFP

Cauliflower captures our culinary imagination

 

Cauliflower captures our culinary imagination

Cauliflower is about to become the new kale, according to something I read online. And that’s just fine with me, because I have grown awfully tired of kale. When a vegetable becomes nothing but a raw garnish, as kale has, a limp and lifeless ruffle at the edge of your plate, then you know its star-studded status is truly over and done with.

I suppose kale had its virtues, but there is a reason we all had to be taught to love it, and not only to love it but to contort it into all sorts of iterations, some of which were less than inviting. Raw kale in a salad, for me, is just plain roughage, and as for a kale smoothie, well, the less said the better, I feel.

And now kale is, as they say, so last year.

On to cauliflower, then, which itself offers almost as many possibilities as kale, although plate decoration maybe isn’t one of them. Unlike kale, cauliflower is fully as delicious raw as it is cooked, delightful in a salad or on a tray of crudités (raw vegetables) served with a dipping sauce.

Cauliflower, a versatile vegetable

And once cauliflower is cooked, it can be turned into any number of other dishes, starting with cauliflower on its own, garnished with black olives and capers, perhaps with toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds on top. Take the leftovers of that dish, chop them up and toss over medium heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil, just long enough to brown them, and you’ll have a perfect sauce for a suppertime pasta dish, in the Italian style of just-about-anything-goes-with-pasta. Call it penne al cavolfiore and tell your guests you had it last summer in Sicily.

Or cook the cauliflower a little longer in some chicken stock, along with a small potato cubed, until both vegetables are very tender, stir in a dollop of cream, then purée the whole thing until smooth as velvet and you will have a superbly elegant French soup to serve as a starter – crème velouté au choufleur. And it’s even more impressive with a spoonful of very fine cultured butter, maybe another dribble of cream and a scattering of fresh chives over the top.

Then there’s that old-fashioned English dish called cauliflower cheese, in which the cauliflower, cooked just till you can easily break apart the florets, is arranged in a buttered dish, covered with a sauce Mornay and transferred to a hot oven until the sauce has blistered slightly and browned on top and the florets are tender.

And what is a sauce Mornay? Simple: Make a béchamel sauce with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour, stirring together over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick and has lost its floury smell.

Stir into it, a little at a time, 2 cups of very hot milk, whisking all the while, until you have a thick sauce, then add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese – Parmigiano, cheddar, Gruyère, it almost doesn’t matter as long as it’s a firm cheese that’s easy to grate. (This is a good way to use up leftover bits of cheese in that drawer in the refrigerator where you’ve hidden them all.) You can add salt, pepper, maybe some cayenne if you wish, and that’s all there is to it.

Despite its pale color, cauliflower is actually one of those powerhouse brassica vegetables and a surprisingly good source of vitamin C. When shopping, look for tightly clustered clean, white heads with fresh green leaves. You’ll trim off the leaves and stem for cooking, but don’t discard them. Chopped in smaller pieces, they make a nice addition to a vegetable minestrone. And what about packaged, cut florets in the supermarket produce section? Don’t bother. They are a waste of money, flavor and vitamins.

Cauliflower With Lemon, Capers and Black Olives

  • Prep time: About 10 minutes
  • Cook time: About 15 minutes
  • Total time: About 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  • Ingredients
  • 1 firm head of cauliflower, about 1 pound
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt
  • Pinch of crushed red chili pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, preferably a deep-flavored oil from Italy or Greece
  • 2 tablespoons or more of toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds for garnishing, if desired

Directions

  1. Trim the cauliflower and break the head into florets.
  2. On a chopping board, combine the olives, capers, parsley and lemon zest and chop together to mix well.
  3. Bring a pot of water large enough to hold the cauliflower to a rolling boil. Add a big pinch of salt and, when it returns to a boil, add the cauliflower. Cook until just barely tender, about 6 minutes (less if using very small florets).
  4. Meanwhile, in a skillet large enough to hold all the ingredients, warm the chili pepper and garlic in the oil over medium-low heat until hot, 3 or 4 minutes. The chili and garlic should be starting to melt in the oil, rather than sizzling and browning.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the olive-caper mix, give it a stir, take it off the heat and set aside.
  6. Drain the cauliflower well, shaking the colander. Combine the cauliflower with the olive-caper dressing in the skillet and set the skillet back over medium heat. Warm it up to serving temperature, tasting to make sure the seasoning is right, and serve, garnishing with toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds if you wish.

Note: This recipe is equally good with broccoli or with romanesco, the green spiral cauliflower. You can also mix white cauliflower and green romanesco together for a handsome presentation. If you wish to serve this as a pasta sauce, simply chop or break the florets into smaller pieces. Add everything to a skillet and set over low heat to warm while you cook about 1 pound (500 grams) of penne or similar short, stubby pasta according to package directions. As the pasta finishes cooking, add a little pasta water to the cauliflower and raise the heat. Drain the pasta and combine in the skillet with the cauliflower sauce, tossing to mix. Serve immediately, passing grated cheese if you wish.

– Reuters

Volkswagen’s other speciality: Curry sausage

Volkswagen’s other speciality: Curry sausageWOFSBURG: Known worldwide for its popular Beetle camper van and, of late, its engine-rigging scandal, German automaker Volkswagen also has another slightly lesser-known speciality: the curry sausage.

An icon of popular food culture in Germany, the pork sausage smothered in spiced ketchup and topped with curry powder has been a workman’s favourite for decades, sold at greasy spoons and railway stations — and at VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg.

In the vast auto plant’s kitchens, Francesco Lo Presti is cutting up pieces of pork, to be minced and stuffed into sausage casings, which are then smoked and grilled.

A short distance from the car assembly lines, the master butcher in his white chef’s hat has worked here for more than 15 years making Volkswagen’s very own “Currywurst”, based on a recipe dating back to 1973.

Under the supervision of Lo Presti, some 30 kitchen staff participate each day in the industrial-scale production of 30,000 curry sausages, which is also a favourite snack at the local football stadium of VfL Wolfsburg.

Given its employees’ enthusiasm for the beloved banger, VW offers it in canteens in most of its plants worldwide, including in the United States, India and China, where it is produced under licence by a supplier.

In Germany, VW’s curry sausage is often offered by company car salesmen as a treat for prospective clients, and also features on the menu at corporate marketing events.

The celebrated sausage has even made it onto the shelves of some Edeka chain supermarkets, along with a VW-branded spicy tomato sauce.

‘Secret blend of spices’

For Lo Presti, the Currywurst is a labour of love, as much as the latest car model is to the plant’s designers, engineers and mechanics.

“The well-selected meat, a blend of spices that is of course secret, these are the essential ingredients,” he says.

“You just add ketchup… It’s unbeatable.”

He cannot imagine Volkswagen without the sausage, which is even listed as an official VW component with the product code 199 398 500 A.

“Without their curry sausage at 9:00 am, the employees would go on strike immediately,” he says, only half joking.

This delectable delicacy “is an integral part of the corporate culture of Volkswagen,” says Tina Berthold, curator of an exhibition dedicated to the cult sausage at the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, which is running to the end of May.

Martin Cordes, director of VW’s gastronomic division, says the company’s Currywurst has half the fat of most rival products and is made from the finest cuts of meat, making it “very healthy and easy on the stomach”.

Since the mad cow disease crisis of the late 1990s, it no longer contains beef but only pork — a change that some fans initially found hard to swallow, says the master butcher.

The manufacturer used to slaughter its own animals on company farms but now uses pork from regional suppliers. VW also launched a vegetarian version in 2010 and a vegan Currywurst in 2015.

“Whoever tastes our Currywurst falls in love with it,” insists Lo Presti.

And the numbers seem to back him up: in 2015, Volkswagen sold about 7.2 million curry sausages, twice the number sold in 2008.

– AFP