Pork Chorizo and Cheese Empanadas Recipe

This is a sponsored post by Cacique®  and Society Culinaria. The opinions are my own.

It started out, as my recipes often do, with A Big Idea. 

I'm planning a Weekend Brunch which is simple enough. There should definitely be an egg dish. And fresh fruit, I think. And something sweet. (Pastelitos or Cinnamon Rolls?) And coffee, of course, because Cuban. But I also wanted to add a meat dish with a little bit of a kick to it to juxtapose with all of the above elements.

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Disney's 'The Finest Hours' Review

As I sat down to write this review for the new Disney Pictures film, 'The Finest Hours,' I found myself struggling. I didn't want to write another boilerplate "the film is like this and you should see it for reasons" review. 

Nonetheless, here are my Big Thoughts about 'The Finest Hours.'

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The Finest Hours Press Day

"Seen any good movies lately?" As a matter of fact...

I recently went to a screening of the latest Disney film, 'The Finest Hours' which chronicles the true story of the most courageous small boat rescue in Coast Guard history. In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast struck New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and literally ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat faced with frigid temperatures and 70-foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue the more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly sinking vessel. 


Happily, I also got to interview the four principals in the cast, Casey Affleck, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Holliday Grainger, as well as director Craig Gillespie. 

I will write a review of the film in a couple of days, but let me tell you about the press day with these guys. 

Marta Darby covering 'The Finest Hours.'

Marta Darby covering 'The Finest Hours.'

It's been unseasonably cold here in LA and I have that Cuban thing that I must keep my neck warm or I'll get sick somehow, which is why I'm wearing a tightly wound scarf, but that's not important right now. You can tell by the look on my face that I'm always just so happy to be invited to these things.

The interviews took place in a 'round table' setting. That is, a dozen of us journalist/bloggers around a table and the talent took turns coming into the room we were in. This, of course, makes it that much harder to control my fangirly urges. (I know. Shut up.)

First of all, let me tell you about Holliday Grainger, who plays Miriam in the film. She is an absolute wonder. Although she is from Manchester, England, she rocks a Boston accent like no other. Here's what she had to say about being the central female character in what is very much a man's world:

Holliday Grainger as 'Miriam' in 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney

Holliday Grainger as 'Miriam' in 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney

HOLLIDAY GRAINGER:  "It was slightly intimidating the first day only because I had literally flown overnight from a job in Wales actually that I was shooting.  So I had arrived on set quite jet lagged, slightly terrified about the accent and everyone had been working with the guys for like two months and so as soon as I walked on site I did feel like I was like a museum piece. Everyone was all eyes on me.  Like here’s a woman, there’s a girl, she’s got lipstick.  She’s like – she’s in heels and a dress, what is this? *laughs* 

So that was slightly scary. But Craig was just so lovely and really, I mean immediately it was just we can try it in lots of different ways, you know, so that kind of took away any kind of intimidation."

Casey Affleck shared what it was like to play 'Ray Sybert,' the engineer who was one of the survivors of the terrible weather related accident that literally ripped an oil tanker in half. 

Casey Affleck as 'Ray Sybert' with director Craig Gillespie on the set of 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney.

Casey Affleck as 'Ray Sybert' with director Craig Gillespie on the set of 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney.

CASEY AFFLECK: "We started filming in the fall; then we went until Christmas and it gets pretty cold in Boston during that time.  And we were mostly outside. But it was cold and wet and it sucks and then it’s fine and you kind of forget about it.  Or you get used to it.  You never really forget about it, but you know it was a nice group of guys who we were with so you get to complain all together and that’s comforting."

On having ice cold water thrown at him for hours at a time during filming:

"It’s much easier than pretending anything and all you have to do is sort of like get your lines out and you’re already shivering and you can’t help but like keep your eyes half closed because you’re being pounded with water and then you just look like a good actor maybe.  And like you really just stood there and took so much physical abuse.  So it makes it easier. If you can call that easier."

Next we interviewed Chris Pine (Bernie Webber) and Ben Foster (Richard Livesey) together. 

They were so close to me that I could have easily reached out and touched them, but I didn't, of course, because it's, you know, weird and creepy. So that didn't happen. But I'd just like to go on record right now and say that Chris Pine is seriously just as dreamy in person as he is on the big screen. And we were asked not to take any photos, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

But I did thoroughly enjoy their back and forth banter and I was impressed that these actors had so much respect for the characters, the real live people they were playing and were very honoring of the Coast Guard in general and the bravery of these guys specifically.

Chris Pine as Bernie Webber in 'The Finest Hours,' photo courtesy of Disney.

Chris Pine as Bernie Webber in 'The Finest Hours,' photo courtesy of Disney.

CHRIS PINE: "I had a beautifully written script and that’s really the basis of my task as an actor is to bring to life the character that I read on the page. I had some great audio recording of Bernie. Bernie wrote a firsthand account of the experience. There’s a book and then just being in Chatham and feeling what it’s like to be in a small New England town. You get a sense of these guys that are regular Joes. They clock in, they clock out. Their job just happens to be saving lives. That’s what they do."

Ben Foster as Richard Livesey in 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney.

Ben Foster as Richard Livesey in 'The Finest Hours.' photo courtesy of Disney.

BEN FOSTER: "It’s as you said these are guys. These are guys who put others before them. It’s so humbling doing a job like this where you get the opportunity to spend time with the men and women of our military. And not just, because it’s the American military but because these are men and women who have chosen to serve their fellow man and that just speaks to humans.

So a guy who said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go on the boat even though everybody else is saying no.' That’s his job. That’s what he does. He’s not looking for a selfie. He’s not looking to tell all his friends what a brave guy he is on Twitter. He’s doing it because that’s his job and it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.

So in terms of the drama of the piece of Mr. Webber’s hero’s journey, it’s more of a privilege for myself to spend time with the real guys, the real Chatham Coast Guard. But in equal measure, it's a privilege to spend time with such a wonderful actor as Chris. He’s doing work that I haven't seen him do before. I haven't seen this sort of thing in a movie in a very long time. I haven't seen this kind of underdog. I haven't seen this kind of quality of 'true blue'. There’s so much cynicism in cinema these days and what Chris pulls off, I think, is as striking as the ocean that we’re on."

I love that these actors had such a great appreciation for the real-life heroes they portray. And I doubly love Disney is making these types of films again. In a few days, I'll tell you all the Big Thoughts I had about the 'The Finest Hours.' 

Until then, take a look at Disney's 'The Finest Hours.' 

Disney's 'The Finest Hours' opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, January 29th, 2016.

My Big Fat Cuban Love Song Playlist

Valentine's Day, 1961 was our very first day in America. Read about that here and here

It's always a bittersweet date for me because I remember those difficult early days, but it's also a sweet holiday to celebrate with my husband. As you can imagine, Valentine's Day stirs up all kinds of crazy roller-coaster type emotions in me. 

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My Visit to Zootopia

I love a good 'making of' story. (This post may or may not be one of those, but that's not important right now.) And when it involves the Disney Studios, I always begin by wondering, "would this production make Walt Disney himself proud?" 

This post attempts to answer that question.


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Cubanity in Your Mailbox - Every Month!

I live in Southern California. Not South Florida. And sometimes it's hard to be Cuban here. 

There are lots of Cubans in lots of places and we manage to find each other in whatever corner of the globe we inhabit. I have often shared here on my blog that it's weird being Cuban and living in south Orange County - Go South on The 5. We're halfway between LA and San Diego.

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The Highlights of 2015

It's the beginning of the new year and I'm still trying to get used to writing the 16 at the end of my checks. (Does anybody else still write checks?) 

Like everyone does, I am compelled to take a backwards peek at 2015 and see the things that went right and wrong. I think it's good to review the things that were worth celebrating and the things that I felt strongly enough about  to write for posterity. 

Without further ado, here are the Highlights of 2015 as seen through my bloggy eyes. 

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8 Crazy Cuban New Year's Eve Traditions

On the stroke of midnight on December 31st, my American friends raise their glasses and proclaim, "Happy New Year!" They take a sip, kiss their loved ones, sing 'Auld Lang Syne' and call it good. 

Cubans? Not so much. Our superstitions...um... I mean, traditions, are a little more...um...colorful.

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How to Make DIY Photo Gift Tags

You know if you've been reading this blog for longer than 5 minutes that I tend to overshare what's happening in my life. At least I'm consistent, right? 

So the other day on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook (<--my favorite places to overshare) I posted a photo of my Christmas gift tags. I had seen this done somewhere in some trendy magazine - is that vague enough? - and it was one of those things that dropped in and I have thought of making it happen for years. "I'm sooo going to do this one day," I said to myself. 

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