Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unexpected combinations

Before discovering Ben Heine, my favorite thing from Belgium was the waffles. However, after happening upon these photos by the Ivory Coast native/Belgian transplant, it seems the delicious breakfast treats might have competition. I can't stop looking at these unique, entrancing photo/sketch combinations. Their appeal seems to stem in part from the unanswered questions they provoke: namely, why? What made the artist, Belgian "painter, illustrator, portraitist, caricaturist and photographer" Ben Heine, come up with these, and why did he pick the pictures he did? And why such a surreal take in some, and realistic portrayals in others?

Even more puzzling, why include fire by actually putting some of the drawings to flames? The effect is certainly powerful, but how could he bear to destroy such beautiful work? Perhaps these drawings didn't take the time I imagine them to, as my lack of artistic talent means doing just one of these would take me weeks and never reach the level of these, but regardless, it just doesn't seem worth it to literally burn your own work -- maybe I have too strong an attachment to my own creations, but I can hardly stand to delete a sentence I like from an essay, let alone set fire to such a carefully executed drawing.

Regardless of his reasoning, the fire certainly adds to the mood of the pieces. Although all of these are beautiful, I can't help but feel there's an almost melancholy, cynical tinge to some of them, such as the panda holding a "Lonely" sign at a table by itself. On the other hand, some are distinctly whimsical and hopeful, such as the boy above or the Mickey Mouse "If you can dream can do it" drawing. Still others are just extremely amusing; but I'll leave it to you to peruse the collection on your own.

They're all extremely original, but I was pleasantly surprised by the artists' inclusion of the hand itself in this one --- just when I thought I had the art form figured out, he threw a new curve. 

The carefree, summery feeling of this one puts it in the contenders for my favorite. You can see more of his work at his professional website

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dessert disappointment

So the cookie dough brownies did not live up to the hype. Maybe I was too excited, maybe we didn't get the ratio of cookie dough to brownie quite right, or maybe the recipe was simply not as good as it looked (I don't like to fault my own baking skills; much better to blame a faulty recipe). However, the fact remains, my freezer is now full of a pan of would-be delicious brownies smothered in an overly sweet cookie dough topping that overwhelms the brownies in a way that simply cannot be ignored.

But, I'm a firm believer that a failure just opens the door for an even greater future success -- or at least it will look better in comparison to the previous flop. So, this is my next plan:

Gooey, warm peanut butter cookie topped with melty chocolate chips and rich vanilla ice cream. I've tried making homemade pizookies before (no BJ's Pizza is one of the biggest downfalls of living in SLO) with little success, but this recipe claims to be foolproof. Now all I need is to get my hands on a ramekin, which apparently is what that little white dish it's baked in is called. I'll be honest, I kind of thought a ramekin was somehow related to a yarmulke before seeing this recipe. Who knew?

In other, non-chocolate related news -- but don't worry, still food -- I had penne alla vodka for dinner tonight for the umpteenth time. Not that I'm complaining, as it's undeniably delicious, but it did make me wonder if perhaps it's time to explore other recipes. Obviously, I don't want to stray from pasta, so my first thought was of this recipe I happened upon a couple weeks ago: pesto and cheese stuffed shells. Although I'm ambivalent about pesto, any combination of pasta stuffed with cheese is a winner with me, so I'm hoping to test out this recipe sometime in the upcoming week. Here's hoping it goes better than the cookie dough brownies!