Saturday, November 23, 2013

My very first self-made wine!

Today I tasted the result of our first ever home-made wine experiment - and it was awesome. The wine turned out to be sweet and reasonably strong.

I followed the popular instructions from Kosukadi. We used only common ingredients - regular dark grapes and yeast. Didn't look for any fancy grape varieties or special yeast.

The only deviation from the recipe was that I didn't add any egg white. And perhaps I slightly overdosed on the wheat too. Don't know if that has any effect anyway.

I followed the instructions thoroughly. The ingredients were mixed in a sterilized glass jar. As instructed, for the first 21 days, I opened it regularly and mixed the contents with a clean spoon. I might have missed a day or two, though. On the 21st day, the contents were filtered and the solid residue was removed. The filtered brew was stored back in the jar for about another 40 days (no daily stirring required).

And today, I siphoned off the clear liquid from the top in to glass bottles using a clean plastic tube. The wine turned out to be both sweet and strong. We loved it. I'm not a seasoned wine taster, so I can't make an educated comment on its quality. But for me, the experiment is a resounding success and inspiration to try out more variations and recipes :-)

For those wanting to try wine making, I'd strongly recommend Kosukadi's recipe. Its simple, cheap and gets great results.

Once we're done with this batch, I think I should try pineapples. He he..

Monday, November 11, 2013

Philips and the Monkey Pen - Movie Review

Philips and the Monkey Pen is a children's film that showcases the innocence of childhood. The central character is Ryan Philips (played by Sanoop, actress Sanusha's brother), a mischievous school boy who has a special dread for Mathematics. His parents (played by Jayasurya & Remya Nambisan) are good folks who love him and generally let him do whatever it is that he does.

Ryan is exceptionally bad at mathematics. He is terrified of the subject and hates the teacher (played by Vijay Babu) who regularly mocks and canes him for not doing his homework. Ryan's quest for a solution to his maths homework chores first takes him to his love interest - Joan. After that route fails, he stumbles up on a magic pen - The Monkey Pen, from his grand father's (Joy Mathew) antique collection. The pen is believed to have magical powers and had even helped Robert Bristow to build Kochi's Willingdon island. The rest of the story is about how Ryan's days are transformed by the pen and the magic it does to his life.

Sanoop as Ryan Philips has delivered a decent performance although some of his lines seemed to be artificial and forced.  Jayasurya has done a fair though not spectacular job while Remya Nambisan didn't have to do much with her role. Vijay Babu as the mathematics teacher was convincing while Mukesh's character as the school principle wasn't specifically noteworthy.

Overall I find the film only slightly above average. The film is notable for its great visuals and good performances by the child actors. However the script and direction weren't up to the mark and the story telling left a lot to be desired. The movie wanders off track in several places and the makers seem to be confused about the correct dosage of preaching to be stuffed in the movie.

When Ryan went to work at the school with his magic pen, I couldn't help but recollect Haley Joel Osment's performance in the movie Pay It Forward (just another kid-in-a-school story, no plagiarism accusations please).

PS: I wonder how they come up with the kids' names! Ryan Philips is perhaps one of those stylish (read western) christian names that have become popular these days (along with the likes of Rex, Max etc.). His friends have Amar-Akbar-Antony names, making it look like they want to maintain cultural balance in their panel for winning the next elections! The class topper is named Decimal! What's next, Binary?

PPS: മങ്കി പെന്‍, മങ്കിപ്പെന്‍, മണ്ടിപ്പെണ്ണ്..  ആ..യെന്ത്? ഛെ ഛെ..