Tenerife holds many sweet secrets, but the most delicious is their speciality coffee, the “Barraquito”.
Next to their many caffeinated offerings – the “leche leche”, “cortado” “cafe con leche” and “cafe solo” – the “Barraquito” is the lesser known punchy, intoxicating sibling, yet often it’s the first choice of the dedicated Canarian barfly.
Despite the throngs of tourists demanding their full English breakfasts and pints of lager, there are still many traditional bars (not as many as there used to be but enough if you look hard enough), where old timers and adventurers can enjoy a plate of tapas, and this exquisite cup of coffee.
It’s the Tenerife equivalent of an Irish Coffee and is utterly delicious – but if you look online you’ll struggle to find anyone who knows what goes in one, let alone how it’s made.
So here goes…
Take a hearty dollop of thick, sweet condensed milk and pour it into the glass, add the secret ingredient: an invigorating splash of “Licor 43” aka “Cuarenta y Tres.” It’s a south-eastern Spanish citrus based liqueur, and is available in almost every supermarket and bar. Never substitute brandy.
Take a shot of expresso coffee, add steamed milk, and top off this intricate concoction with a layer of milk froth. Finally, add a tiny sliver of lemon peel.
Some bars will sprinkle cinnamon on top of the froth, or add a coffee bean instead of the lemon but in my humble opinion the lemon complements the “43″ and as far as I can tell, is the most traditional send off.
You can enjoy a “Barraquito” without the booze (Ask for “sin liquor”) but to be honest folks, it’s nowhere near as much fun.
From there on in, it’s cafe society all the way. Take in the views of the Atlantic, eat a slice of tortilla, soak up the year-round sunshine, or if you’re me, pick up that day’s edition of Diario di Avisos and pretend that you can read Spanish.
Repeat daily until it’s time to head to the airport, with a bottle of “43″ stashed in your suitcase to remind you of those lazy, hazy Canarian days of summer.
The multi-millionaire actor/director/writer Zach Braff, has asked his fans for $2 million via Kickstarter to fund his new movie. Some people have an issue with a guy who makes anywhere between $40,000 to $100,000 a week from Scrubs residuals, panhandling for cash.
Of course, it’s up to you if want to hand over your money but here are my arguments against the move for the Guardian Film blog pages. The debate below is lively and thankfully, for a change, not too brutal to the author. But what do you think?
Teresa Palmer hadn’t bothered my movie radar before Warm Bodies but anyone who shares hospitality with the journos and brings her dogs to interviews is fine by me.
Here’s my interview with her for Sunday Magazine and here’s the trailer for Warm Bodies. If you like zombies and romance, you’ll like this. Yes, it’s a zom-com.
Jennifer Garner has a good memory.
I know this because I interviewed her for Sunday Magazine, for the first time, back in 2007. The second time was three months ago for the same magazine, at the Sunset Luxe Hotel, in Beverly Hills.
Five years is a long time in Hollywood – and she’s had two kids since then – but as soon as I walked into the room she remembered me. And to prove it, she reminded me that my tape recorder had stopped working mid-interview.
Spot on. She immediately offered to reschedule the interview but luckily for her I am a Westminster Press girl, and had taken down the entire exchange in shorthand. (Surely one of the last times in history that sentence will ever be typed). She was impressed.
Our second meeting was for her new movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea but it’s hard being tough on Jennifer. She’s just too damn personable, has a sharp sense of humour, and I absolutely love talking to her.
I interviewed Mark “Rhino” Smith about his role in the brilliant movie, Argo, for today’s Guardian Oscar special. Unfortunately, due to four pages being pulled at the last minute, the piece was slashed like a crisp packet that had just been in an argument with Wolverine. So here’s our chat in full, complete with footnotes. You can read the small but mighty newspaper version here.
London-born actor and stuntman Mark ‘Rhino’ Smith moved to Hollywood in 2008, after finding fame in the Nineties stadium muscle-fest that was ITV’s Gladiators. Thanks to his work on movie juggernauts such as Batman Begins and Pirates of the Caribbean 4, his days of smashing opponents around the head with a giant padded ear-bud are over. But it was his Rhino persona that caught Ben Affleck’s eye when he was casting the fake cast of Argo.
You’re in Argo, one of the hottest movies of this year’s awards season. How did that happen? My amazing manager, Melanie Greene, got a phone call from the Argo casting office, saying, “You’re not going to believe this but Ben Affleck has chosen you to play the Evil Villain in the film within the film. Your look will be based on Ming the Merciless.[Footnote 1]”
He literally picked you from a photo? He liked my heritage which is part Jamaican, Cherokee Indian, Ghanaian, White and Chinese. I’m the black guy with green eyes. I look different.
That’s an incredible mix by anyone’s standards. Thanks. Last year, I filmed The Frozen Ground with Nicolas Cage, in Anchorage. He gets a bad rap but he was a really nice guy. Even he said to me, “Where did you get your eyes?” I’ve been hearing this since I was four years old. So I told him, and he said, “Yeah man, they’re fascinating. Let’s make sure we get a close up.”
It’s like you have a real superpower! But back to Argo. You shot your scenes at the iconic Beverly Hilton Hotel, right? We were on location there for two days. It was so authentic, and Ben runs a very efficient, happy set. When I met him he said to me, “Thank you so much for doing this, I really appreciate it.” I was like, “What? It’s my pleasure. I would have done it for free.” Then they sent me to costume, which was designed whilst I was standing there, in terms of the beard, boots cape, eyebrows and moustache. The costume lady showed me a picture of how Ben wanted it, and then took a picture of me in it, and sent him the shot. He texted right back, and gave the go ahead. I loved that costume, I just wish I’d been able to wear it for longer.
So you’re at the fake read-through table with Alan Arkin and John Goodman, you must have felt like you’d won the lottery? Definitely, John Goodman was sitting next to me and he was joking around with me, so yeah it was great, but this is what I came out here to do. You go through all the struggles in life and when things like that happen, you look around and realise that it was worth it.
Were you surprised that Ben didn’t get a Best Director Oscar nomination? When the movie wrapped, it almost immediately started to get heat. We all thought he would get the Best Director nomination, so when he didn’t it was like a snub. Personally, after The Town, I thought it was his time but life’s funny because he’s cleaning up everywhere else.
You found fame as a Gladiator, after a very successful body-building career, neither of which are easily obtainable. What drives you? I was the under 18′s junior body-building champ [Footnote 2] but I’ve always been very focussed. I come from a single parent background. Mum and dad separated when I was two, and mum always suffered from depression so I was bought up by my grandad, who worked at a factory. He’d leave the house at 6am in the morning, so I always had to get myself ready for school. I used to do two newspaper rounds and get six quid for each one. Grandad used to leave a pound on the table and with that I’d buy nine bars of Dairy Milk chocolate for my breakfast!
That doesn’t sound like the diet of a body-builder. I stopped when I started training seriously when I was 17. A lot of my friends were getting into trouble and going to prison, and what saved me was body building. At first I did break-dancing and body-popping because that was the craze, but body-building gave me focus. I’m a grafter, and I channelled everything into it. I was committed. But that’s always been my mindset. If I could work every day I would.
Give me an example of your commitment. Back then I’d work out seven days a week and weighed around 280lbs. Now I’m 95lbs less and running marathons but back then it was all or nothing. I’d eat 140 egg whites a week, a whole chicken every day and a three tins of tuna. Then in 1995, the producers of Gladiators, Nigel Lythgoe [Footnote 3] and Kenny Warwick, called me in for an interview, then a fitness try out at the studios on the South Bank.
And suddenly you were Rhino, a household name. I was on Gladiators for six years. [Footnote 4] For my first gig, five of us were flown to Australia. We went to South Africa and America and it was a whirlwind. It was my first time on a plane. I’d never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d go to another country let alone live in one. Nigel took me on, and it’s so funny now because I see him here all the time, and we laugh about it. I train him, we box together.
“You go through all the struggles in life… and when things like that happen, you look around and realise that it was worth it.” Mark, on his role in Argo.
Did that first taste of fame get you hooked? I remember going shopping to my local Tesco and getting swarmed by people who’d just seen me on the telly. Everyone wanted my autograph and to be honest I loved it. It felt really nice to be needed or wanted. In the end I needed a body-guard. When I did some stuntwork on Pirates 4, on the first night of shooting – it was a night shoot at Universal – this big guy from up north comes up to me and says, “Fooking hell Rhino, I body-guarded you in ’96 at a store opening in Cricklewood. How you doing?” He was there body-guarding Johnny Depp. Johnny walks over and says, ‘You know this guy?’ and he went, ‘Yeah Johnny, it’s Rhino man!’ It was so funny.
Gladiators ended in 2001, and then you started acting (EastEnders, Trial & Retribution) and doing stuntwork. Was that an easy transition? It was natural. My biggest intro into stuntwork was when I went in for Robin Hood. I played a character called Karim, and they asked if I could ride horses, so of course I said yes, got the job and then had to go away and learn over a weekend. I found a teacher in Windsor, who taught me to ride in the rain. The kids were in the car watching me take this crash course.
You’ve also worked on some movie juggernauts such as Batman Begins and Pirates 4. Is it hard not be in awe of the scale of the movie? Batman was a massive movie, and obviously so was Pirates but Gladiators was huge introduction into the fame world. I was flying around the country in helicopters, doing two or three personal appearances a week, opening malls and cutting ribbons. I’ve been around a lot of people in terms of A listers and they just wanted to be treated as normal. I get on with everyone. I was in Badass last year and had to fight Danny Trejo. We filmed it in downtown LA and he ends up knocking me out. He looked at me and said, “Hey, don’t hit me by accident because you’ll knock me out. I was like ok, I won’t, don’t worry!”
You live with your wife Simone (they got married at Babbington House in 2006), and two children, Brodie, 8, and Stirling, 22 months, who was born in the States. Do you think you’ll stay in Hollywood? I have a baby who is more official than I am! He was born at Cedars in Bevely Hills. You know, I never intended to be here as long as I have, and I still fly between LA and London for work. I love getting back to London. But I came here for a week, I’m still here and things are going really well. I’ve just finished No Good Deed with Idris Elba and Taraji P Henson, and The Frozen Ground is out this year.
It’s a long way from two paper rounds for six quid. It’s all down to Simone really. When Gladiators finished in 2001, which is the year we met, she stuck with me while I clawed my way back up. I owe it all to her, she’s the strength of the family.
So will you be watching the Oscars on the TV, and cheering on Argo? Definitely. I’m throwing a little party at home for the kids and the missus. We’ll get some Indian take-away, some crisps and cup cakes. Binge meal! I really hope Ben wins Best Picture. I truly think he deserves it. And I’ll also be rooting for my friend, John Gatins who is up for best original screenplay, for Flight. He’s a really good guy, and amazing writer. I hope he wins too!
- Ming the Merciless, the emperor of Mingo City, is a fictional character from the Flash Gordon comic strip. In the 1980 movie of the same name, Ming was played by Max von Sydow.
- Rhino went on to win other many other titles including the London Men’s Heavyweight Championship and Northern Regional Championship. He also boxes – one of his most high profile fights was in June 2005, when he beat £9.7 million Lottery winner, Michael Carroll.
- Ex-hoofer Nigel Lythgoe is now an executive producer and director on American Idol, and also the executive producer/judge on So You Think You Can Dance, presented by Cat Deeley.
- He was the only Gladiator to arrive with his own name, which he was given after he won the Junior British title in 1989. People said he was built like a Rhino.
I am delighted to announce that from mid March 2013, I will be teaching the UK’s first ever Celebrity Journalism course, at the London Journalism Centre, in East London.
I am also proud to be able to draw on my experience in Hollywood, and offer extensive Media Training – either individually, or for groups. I can help you rehearse for specific media interviews, as well as prepare for press events and launches.
NB: This website will be undergoing extensive refurbishment over the coming months to reflect this exciting new direction. In the meantime, feel free to look through my archive, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The wool fairies were in the air just before Christmas; Ryan Gosling was wearing a very colourful Xmas jumper when I met him to talk about Gangster Squad, and Mila Kunis was sporting the most gorgeous chunky cream knit. You see, these are the details that count, people.
This was my second time in a room with Mila. The first time I met her, she was just about to start filming Black Swan, the psycho-ballet thriller that thrust her into the international spotlight. Not that she wasn’t ticking along very happily beforehand, thanks to her role on That 70′s Show, and as the voice of Meg, on the animated show, Family Guy.
Since then she’s become more famous for dating Ashton Kutcher and I noticed how guarded she was. For one who clearly loves to talk, she was very obviously trying not to give too much away. She’s still one of the nicest actresses to interview, and I think Sam Raimi’s highly-anticipated, Oz, The Great and Powerful, will show another side to her. Or at the very least, as much as she’s willing to reveal.
The second time at the Chasing Mavericks junket, in Beverly Hills, I made him blush.
Bring on round three.
Hear my disembodied voice on this Film Talk clip for the Guardian, as I chat to the cast and director of Gangster Squad. But mostly just admire Ryan Gosling’s Christmas jumper.
There’s something about the era, the location, the costumes, the constant presence of a Zippo lighter and the snappy one-liners, that makes this film so much fun. (You just need to get off your high horse.)
Happily, my first published article of 2013 is the second travel feature I wrote about my trip to central California last September. Above is a snap I took as I drank a glass of champagne by the Neptune Pool, at the legendary Hearst Castle.
Happy New Year to you – may it be full to the brim with good food, great wines and that most precious commodity, sunshine.
For more information about Sunset’s Savour The Central Coast, the food and wine festival I attended, go to www.savorcentralcoast.com