Italian Cinema

Luce Cinecitta and The Italian Cultural Institute Of San Francisco present a weekend of contemporary films 22–24 November 2019 at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco.


The eight features scheduled are: The Traitor directed by Marco Bellocchio (Italy/France/Germany/Brazil) 2019, The Invisible Witness directed by Stefano Mordini (Italy) 2018, Vivere directed by Francesca Archibugi (Italy) 2019, Volare directed by Gabriele Salvatores (Italy) 2019, The First King: Birth of an Empire directed by Matteo Rovere (Italy) 2019, Food Makers directed by Enrica Cavalli (Italy) 2018, The Vice of Hope directed by Edoardo De Angelis (Italy) 2018, and Ordinary Happiness directed by Daniele Luchetti (Italy) 2019.

For more information contact Italian Cultural Institute.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Kitchen Diplomacy

Abe directed by Fernando Grostein Andrade (USA) 2019 is a delicious cinematic treat.


The 12-year old protagonist is the only child of a nonobservant Jewish mother and an atheist Palestinian father. He’s caught between the religious and political demands of bickering extended family members.

After training with a Brazilian chef who adopts Jamaican touches in his cuisine, the young boy plans a Thanksgiving family meal combining both of his cultural traditions in an imaginative way.

However matters get a lot worse before getting better.

Abe screens a second time during the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Sunday morning 28 July 2019 at the Albany Twin.

Contact Jewish Film Institute for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2019 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Chocolate And Roses

Paris Can Wait written, produced, and directed by Eleanor Coppola (USA) 2016 is a Francophiles delight.

While this feature film is presented as narrative fiction, it’s based on an incident experienced by its creator a few years ago.

Anne is the wife of a successful American, film director who spends most of his waking hours in Cannes talking on his mobile phone about business. Their vacation is cut short by the necessity for him to visit the location of his next film.

Since Anne is still suffering from a painful ear infection, she’s advised not to fly with him. Her husband’s French producer offers to drive her to Paris, where she and her husband have an apartment.

The seven-hour drive becomes a two-day adventure.

Jacque is not a very good driver, but he takes every opportunity to indulge in some of the best food and wine of the regions he traverses.

Paris Can Wait screens Monday 10 April 2017 at the San Francisco International Film Festival before opening in theaters 12 May 2017 in New York and Los Angeles.

Contact the San Francisco Film Society for more information and tickets.

copyright © 2017 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Shared Dish

Hummus! The Movie directed by Oren Rosenfeld (USA/Israel) 2015 documents a popular Middle Eastern spread.


Chickpeas (garbanzos) and tahini are the basic ingredients for a dish that probably originated in Egypt. But the Lebanese have strong claims to it.

It’s increasingly appreciated by people from the three major religious faiths in the area and increasingly enjoyed by a very diverse group of both locals and tourists.

Hummus has become an all consuming activity for a widow who took over her late husband’s restaurant, a religious calling for a spiritual seeker, and an adventure for someone unsatisfied with the established business passed on to him by his father.

The documentary hops around from one town to another in its quest for the culinary treat.

The film will be screened three times during the upcoming San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: Cinéarts, Palo Alto Square Saturday 23 July 2016, Castro Theatre, San Francisco Sunday 24 July 2016, and Piedmont Theatre, Oakland Friday 5 August 2016.

Contact Jewish Film Institute for more info and tickets.

copyright © 2016 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

Graphic Normandy

Gemma Bovery directed by Anne Fontaine (France) 2004 is based on the graphic novel by the same name written by Posy Simmonds. It takes place in the village where Flaubert wrote his classic work, Madam Bovary. However, the time is the present.

GEMMA BOVERYRéalisé par Anne Fontaine

GEMMA BOVERYRéalisé par Anne Fontaine

Much of the story is seen through the eyes of a local baker who’s smitten by the young English woman who settles nearby with her husband Charlie. The baker begins to imagine the modern Gemma moving toward a tragic end as did Emma in the Flaubert novel.

The film is now showing at the Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco, Regency Cinemas in San Rafael, Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley, and State Theater Modesto in Modesto.

Also Ritz at the Bourne in Philadelphia; Music Hall, Portsmouth in Portsmouth; Enzian Theater in Orlando; Cosford Cinema in Coral Gables; and Varsity Ashland in Ashland.

copyright © 2015 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved.

Culinary Roots

Ikaria: Lessons On Food, Life, And Longevity by Diane Kochilas published 2014 by Rodale spotlights the Aegean island heritage of the author. While there are a substantial number of health tips scattered throughout because of the locale’s Blue Zone status, the heart of this book and its most valuable asset lies in its recipes.


One surprise for me was the inclusion of tarot root among native ingredients and I look forward to trying the instructions for skordalia (page 9), a dish I’ve only had using potato or bread as the base for this garlic dip.

Other tantalizing dishes are: whipped feta kaponisti (page 7); old style Ikarian tourlou (page 135) casserole combining potatoes and zucchini; noodles with yogurt and herbs (page 190); smoked herring rice (page 201); and baby goat with avgolemono (page 243).

When searching for a recipe in the index, look first for a key ingredient and then zero in on the name of the dish!

I frequently cook savory pies from an earlier Kochilas book, The Glorious Foods Of Greece but my attempt to make my own phyllo dough was unsuccessful. However I’m going to give it another try with one of the recipes in the section on savory pies and breads.

Ikaria by Diane Kochilas, with photos by her husband Vassilis Stenos, is available in both a hardbound and e-book edition from Rodale Books.

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Fall Food Fests

Below is a list of Greek food festivals throughout the US scheduled for the month of September:

4 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saint Nicholas • 2000 Tower Boulevard, Lorain, OH

5 – 6 Sep 2014 • Saint George • 401 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield, CA

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saints Peter & Paul • 5640 Jay Road, Boulder, CO

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Annunciation • 175 Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston, RI

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Annunciation • 500 Belmonte Park North, Dayton, OH

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Annunciation • 12001 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO


5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saint Sophia • 1324 South Normandie Avenue, Los Angeles, CA

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saint Paraskevi • 17777 Behner Road, New Buffalo, MI

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Holy Trinity  • 279 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, UT

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saint George • 8 Plainfield Street, Springfield, MA• Springfield, MA

5 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saints Constantine & Helen • 108 North Fifth Street, Rockford, IL

6 – 7 Sep 2014 • Saints Constantine & Helen • 37 Lake Parkway, Webster, MA

11 – 14 Sep 2014 • Holy Trinity • 10 Mill Road, New Rochelle, NY

12 – 14 Sep 2014 • Saint Demetrios • 1955 Kirker Pass Road, Concord, CA

12 – 14 Sep 2014 • Saint James • 195 North Main Street, Milpitas, CA

17 – 21 Sep 2014 • Saint Basil • 920 West March Lane, Stockton, CA

19 – 21 Sep 2014 • Saint Luke • 35 North Malin Road, Broomall, PA

19 – 21 Sep 2014 • Saint Anthony • 285 Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA

19 – 21 Sep 2014 • Annunciation • 245 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA

20 – 21 Sep 2014 • Annunciation • 313 Tokay Avenue, Modesto, CA

25 – 27 Sep 2014 • Holy Trinity • 1703 North Washington Street, Spokane, WA

26 – 28 Sep 2014 • Saint Katherine • 9165 Peets Street, Elk Grove, CA

26 – 28 Sep 2014 • Archangel Michael • North Hempstead Beach Park, Port Washington, NY

26 – 28 Sep 2014 • Saints Nicholas, Constantine & Helen • 80 Laurel Avenue, Roseland, NJ

26 – 28 Sep 2014 • Saint Barbara • 2200 Church Road, Toms River, NJ

27 – 28 Sep 2014 • Saint Basil • 27129 Calle Arroyo, San Juan Capistrano, CA

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Street Food Fest

The Sixth Annual San Francisco Street Food Festival takes place Saturday 16 August 2014 from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Folsom Street between 20th and 26th. This will be the final time the event will be held in the Mission District.


Over 80 vendors will the serving food to an estimated crowd of 80,000 people. While much of the dishes offered are Latin American or Asian, several booths offer Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. These include: A16, Chef Pelle, Crème Brûlée Cart, Crumble & Whisk Patisserie, Gerard’s Paella, Il Canne Roso, and Mozzeria.

For more information see

copyright © 2014 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

Three Bites

San Miguel de Allende offers a wide range of food options including several excellent establishments with Mediterranean fare. The following are my current recommendations:

I ate twice seated on the terrace of Café Firenze (Italian) at Plaza San Antonio 2 overlooking the church. Both the potato and leek soup and the butternut squash soup were rich and delicious. The servings are relatively small at this upscale restaurant. A three-course comida one afternoon included salmon as the main course and a chocolate dessert with whipped cream and swirls of raspberry sauce.


La Brasserie (French-Mexican) is open evenings at Jesus 11 and run by the daughter of the woman who has long-run Café de la Parroquia at the same location during the day. I had a wonderful fettuccini carbonara after disappointing versions of the dish at two other local restaurants.

Fenicia (Lebanese) at Zacateros 73 serves two skewers of chicken, mushrooms and green pepper with a warm onion salad, humus and pita. While the restaurant opens at noon, the afternoon I ate there the staff was late in arriving. However it was worth the short wait for the kitchen to get into gear.

Sylvia of Greece on Wheels delivers meals ordered by phone a day in advance. Natura, the organic grocery store on Ancha San Antonio, regularly stocks her homemade spanakopita and baklava; there are flyers at the front counter with full information about her service.

image & text copyright © 2013 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved

California Cooking

The doors open October 2012 at the San Francisco Cooking School, a new enterprise with an impressive roster of instructors. It promises a fresh, new approach to culinary training inspired by California cuisine and its progressive food values. And the school offers externships for graduates at a dozen local, top-rated restaurants.

The instructors include writers, chefs, cooks, and bakers. Viola Buitoni from Perugia, Umbria is a direct descendant of a family known as premier producers of pasta and chocolate. David Groff is a graduate of both the California Culinary Academy and Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Jodi Liano, Catheine Pantsios, and Kelly Whalen are also associated with Tante Marie’s, either as instructors or graduates. Samin Nosrat and Kathy Whalen worked at Chez Panisse while C. C. Sofronas worked at Palio d”Asti.

Among the fall line-up are classes in Pizzeria Pizza At Home; Regional Italian Series; Fall In Rome; and Macaroons Italian, French, & Coconut; as well as a book signing and demonstration by Matthew Accarrino of SPQR.

copyright © 2012 by N. A. Diaman, all rights reserved