Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The fork image is from Amodiovalerio Verde courtesy of flickr.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
To rub it all in, there's this comment from an audience member at last night's taping of the Daily Show (with Bill Gates as the special guest):
"Do they advertise? I didn't think they advertised." audience member Skye Reiner, 31, of Los Angeles, referring to Microsoft, when asked how she thought its advertising compared to Apple's ads.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I've been enjoying two CDs by Chris Chameleon that I got from CD Baby recently, one of which is titled "Ek herhaal jou". It features songs using the poems by South African poet Ingrid Jonker (Wikipedia entry). I had forgotten that Nelson Mandela read her poem, The Child, in the original Afrikaans when he opened the first session of parliament after he was elected.
She was awarded the South African National Order of Merit in 2004. (More info on her, but in Dutch, here)
There a story here about Chris' move from his previous band Boo! to this particular project.
PS: Look for a copy of her poems in English from a local library by going here.
I've also discovered a few new artists that I thought I'd share with you, my readers. If you subscribe to a music service like Napster or Rhapsody, check them out.
- First off is Beirut, heard on KEXP one night. (They have a new EP, Long Gisland). The lead singer sounds like Thom Yorke from Radiohead, but the music is more acoustic and gypsys-inspired, with a good bit of brass. [Amazon link]
- Second, is Peter Bjorn and John, recommended on Napster for folks that like The Shins and The Decemberists. Dreamy, literate pop music. [Amazon link]
- Third, is Ray. I forget how I found them, but they're great. More rock than pop (lots of guitars), with varied songs, but a darker, more mellow sound mostly. At times they remind me of the South African band Sharkbrother. [Amazon link]
- And last is Teddy Bears. Their song, Punkrocker, features Iggy Pop and is being used in a car advert on TV at the moment. It's insanely catchy - you have been warned! The rest of the album is very varied, with a bit or rap and hip-hop, and a pervading upbeat dance tempo. [Amazon link]
The sad thing is that the show seems to not be doing well with viewers and may be cancelled due to low ratings. The show is by no means perfect: The major weakness being that the show's comedy routines and comedy stars are not that funny. That's a bit of a problem when the show is meant to be about a comedy show. Ken Levine's blog has an interesting comment on the show, and a link to a YouTube parody/comment on the show.
(Psst! Ken's blog is well worth subscribing to)
I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that Aaron Sorkin won't go too far into the Romantic Comedy swampland in an attempt to lure viewers.
Friday, January 26, 2007
The only problem was what do you do with them? I'd never cooked them before, so I headed off to Foodtv.com to look for recipes. It looks like there are basically 3 options:
- Mash them like potatoes
- Bake them (a la gratin)
- Make soup
We went for the last option this time around, and this recipe turned out very nicely. The sunchokes have a slightly sweet taste, with an earthy tone - quite like artichokes.
This is a story about a bottle of wine. A very expensive but also very delicious bottle of wine—a wine that so captivated me when I first tasted it that I immediately resolved to taste it again. What followed was an almost two-year odyssey that tested the limits of my resourcefulness and perhaps also exposed the warping effect that wine has had on my brain.
One of the fun things about being on Garagiste's email list is seeing the really expensive wines come around. Wines that cost $4,000 and more per bottle. Needless to say I haven't bought any of them, but it's always interesting to see the description of the wine and how it's marketed to folks that would consider spending that much...
My own mental upper limit seems to be around $40 for a wine, although I've spent $60+ for some Domaine des Relagnes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Petits Pieds de l'Armand and the Barolo Chinato.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Like most sons of sons of Maine fishermen, Mr. Bridges, 61, grew up eating fish stews that were as diverse and densely packed as the local waters.
Cod, haddock, white hake, halibut, cusk and dozens of other groundfish, fish that live near the ocean bottom, mingled with clams, shrimp, lobster and mussels under the creamy surface of the stew, cresting a puddle of yellow butter here, a slick of smoky pork fat there.
Today there is nothing but lobster to be fished commercially near Stonington. Lobster floats alone in the local chowder, pinking the cream and, in the mind of food lovers, perhaps elevating Everyman’s dish to luxury status. But when Mr. Bridges looks at a single species stew he sees a dangerously impoverished fishery.
There's a photo-gallery for this story here.
Monday, January 15, 2007
So, you have these options:
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Blogger RSS feed: http://willforkforwood.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
FeedBurner feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/WillForkForWood/
I'll update my blog template so the FeedBurner feed shows up automatically in future.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
- Leonardo nails the South African/Zimbabwean accent, and gives one of his best performances
- Djimon Hounsou gives a solid performance
- For the most part it's gripping and beautifully filmed
- It's packed full of action and violence, but it's not mindless violence. The film has a message, and while it may be a bit heavy-handed and one-sided in trying to convince you of that message, any film that makes you think is a good thing
- Jennifer Connely is really easy on the eyes
- Jennifer's character is not quite convincing - partly due to poor writing, and partly due to her acting
- The disregard Djimon's character shows for this wife and children after leaving them at a refuge camp to search for his son makes no sense. Lenoardo's character even remarks that the wife and daugher are likely to be raped in the camp, which gets no reaction from Djimon's character. He needs to find his son. The women folk don't seem to be worth a pile of beans...
- The movie was a little flabby - some scenes could have been cut without losing any of the plot or character development
- Some of the child soldier scenes wore thin. Yes, I know they exist, and child sodliers were part of the conflict in Sierra Leone, but the movie couldn't quite carry this in addition to the "diamonds are bad" message
I got a kick out of seeing a lot of familiar South African actors - Arnold Vosloo and Marius Weyers are baddies again (they've been in a few US films and are always cast as baddies), and Jonathan Pienaar has a small role too. (I saw him act on stage when I was younger).
I also chuckled when I realized where the final scene was filmed - at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. I remember serving snacks and pouring drinks there when my mom provided the in-house catering there. :)
There's also a nice list of other wine and food blogs.
The rating system is also interesting: focusing on QPR (quality-price ratio) instead of an absolute score. From the blog:
QPR vs. Scores
Because any score is subjective, I'm experimenting on this blog with indicating QPR (quality to price ratio) rather than using a 100-point scale. Of course, this is subjective, too, but I think gives a better sense of the criteria I am using to evaluate wine. Excellent QPR designates a wine that has strong varietal characteristics and an attractive price point for that varietal. Very good QPR designates a wine with strong varietal characteristics and a less attractive price point OR moderate varietal characteristics and an attractive price point. Good QPR designates a wine that is average in varietal characteristics and price point. Poor QPR designates a wine that is not a good quality for the price paid. If you want to see a 100-point scale score generated by the tasting notes of ordinary wine drinkers (including me), check out Cellar Tracker!
On a related note, last night we went to Lola, a great mediterranean restaurant in Seattle (part of Tom Douglas' empire). The food was incredible, and the wine we chose was a nice find (at a decent price): 2005 Shooting Star Blue Franc (made from Lemberger grapes, which are called Blaufrankisch in Austria, hence the name Blue Franc). An article from 2000 about this variety's history in the Pacific NW is here.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Since the last blog entry, I've been there for dessert and can happily report that the hype for once is justified.
Coco La Ti Da focuses on dessert and is a wonderful place to head after a show, but they also serve some savoury food - see the lounge menu here. I had an amazing trio of chocolate (I think it was a Thursday special). All 3 items were good but the hot cacao was mind-blowing - it was like drinking the best chocolate bar you've ever tasted.
I look forward to my next visit!
PS: The 2nd best hot cacao I've ever had was at The Salish Lodge restaurant. It was almost too rich, and they stupidly don't allow you to just come in for dessert, so you need to find room after a full meal to squeeze it in. Apparently if you stay at the lodge you can order the cacao from room service - something to think about if I ever splurge and stay here.
There's something really comforting about a nice rich Thai curry when it's cold. The spice and the coconut milk and the perfect antidote to sub-zero temperatures (Seattle is currently a snowy wonderland with snow and ice on most streets. See the photo gallery here).
So, a few nights ago A+I rustled up a quick curry, and it turned out really well. We decided to put tempeh (Wikipedia link) in instead of tofu (being vegetarians) - tempeh is originally from Java & Indonesia, so geographically it sort-of makes sense. Interestingly (for me) tempeh actually contains fungus (it's held together by the mycellium), and the fungus has antibiotic properties. Before I gross out the people who've never tasted tempeh, it's actually quite yummy. It's firm, has a nutty flavour (depends a bit on the specific tempeh you use) and is kind of crumbly/chunky. If the texture of tofu is too squishy or you find it too bland, try tempeh! :)
Just in case I want to make it again (highly likely) or you, dear reader, are in search of such a recipe, here it is:
Thai green curry with tempeh
1 pack of tempeh (such as Turtle Island's), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or minced
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste (check it's without shrimp if your a veg*n)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 large zucchini/courgette, cut in half and sliced
1/2 small can water chestnuts and/or bamboo shoots
1 jalapeno chilli, seeded and minced
1 can of light coconut milk
1 tsp salt
Optional: 1 lime, chopped peanuts and green onion (scallions) for garnish
Heat the oil and sautee the onions, garlic, chilli and curry paste over medium heat, until they are translucent. Add the coconut milk, stir well and heat the coconut milk a little. Add salt to taste and add more curry paste if you like your cury hotter. Once the coconut milk is simmering gently, add the tempeh cubes. Simmer on medium low for about 10 mins, then add the carrots, water chestnuts/bamboo shoots and zucchini. (You could add bell peppers too). Add water or veggie stock if the mixture is too thick. Simmer for another 10 mins until the veggies are just cooked but not too soft.
Serve over rice, and sprinkle with the peanuts and green onions. Squeeze some lime juice over the top.
Note: To make this more authentic, add kaffir lime leaves (lime yest works too), Thai basil and Asian eggplant to the ingredients. Some recipes add sugar too, and of course fish sauce if you're not veg*n (light soy sauce can be substituted).
Image from DeathByBokeh (Flickr)
Glad to see Ian's already done Brigh Blue (official website, more info). They are one of my all-time favourite SA rock/pop bands. I came to their music somewhat late (they broke up in the late 80's or early 90's I think - before I really got into music). Weeping is a phenomenal song, even more so when you realize what the lyrics are about. It was also voted song of the century by SA Rock Digest / Amuzine. As John Samson wrote in 2000:
It still amazes me that the SABC did not ban it for it's blatant musical reference to N'Kosi Sikelel' iAfrica, let alone for it's political charged lyrics, yet this powerful track reached number 1 on the Radio 5 charts. This is a big song in the same way that Bohemian Rhapsody is big, but without the obscure lyrics.
Other SA artists/bands that made an impression on me were Mango Groove (sadly dated now), Just Jinger (I'm ashamed to say), Tananas, Tony Cox, Boo!, Benguela, Van der Want and Letcher, Urban Creep, Sharkbrother. Tananas definitely warrant their own post in the future. (I wrote about the bass player, Gito Baloi, here, but writing about my positive memories would be good).PS:
There's a comprehensive list of classic SA rock songs here (caveat: these are one person's pick). Some songs have links to samples you can listen to...
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It should be no surprise then that his daily "news show", The 700 Club, is also good for a few laughs. I'd never seen it, so Yum Lass decided to record an episode which we watched yesterday. (You can watch it here)
Pat's segues between each segment are worth watching, for example this bit after a segment on a French-speaking woman that had been conveted to Christianity:
Pat: Je suis francais!
Co-host: Wow Pat, do you speak French?
Pat: Un perchais
Co-host awkwardly looks at the floor and grimaces. Pat looks sheepish.
Sadly this segment seems to be missing from the online version of the episode.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Native Americans are psychic. This is according to Jami (a neighborhood knockout, and she doesn't use boxing gloves if you know what I mean...):
"I don't fall for pickup lines; I see right through them. I get vibes about people. Some would even call me psychic. I'm part Native American, and we are said to be psychic."
Magic is a great way to meet women. (This is why David Copperfield dated Claudia Schiffer). For example, if you meet a smoker at a nightclub, making their matchstick disappear and re-appear is bound to impress them. (Does anyone use matchsticks anymore? Besides, no-one in Seattle can smoke in a nightclub anymore, so this trick will mainly be of use if you hide in the bushes outside the club.)
Tired of mixing the alcohol with your Red Bull? Luckily there are now malt beverages that have the alcohol, caffeine, taurine, etc. all mixed for you. Sounds yummy! I wonder if The Guy's Guide to Wine will update their table to include a "If you like malt beverages with caffeine, you'll like _____ wine"?
Now we can come like girls. Thanks to the miracles of modern science, "the pleasure is no longer all theirs". (Those pesky women experience orgasms of greater length and higher intensity than men - and everyone knows men should be at the top of everything!) I wonder if the FDA has tested this stuff? ;)
*See this entry
I was pleased to hear that Benguela [Myspace] recorded an album with another one of my heroes, Tony Cox. Benguela have sadly disbanded, but hopefully the Tony Cox album will be released in the coming year. In the meantime, I need to get some of the intervening Benguela CD's (I only have Sputnik) and relive the "old days" :)
Looking at the SA-based online music retailer OneWorld, I see that Johnny Clegg has a new album ("One Life") with all-new songs. The "Zulu Blanc" was really popular in South Africa and parts of Europe (France, ...), and even made it out to Seattle for a show a few years back. I wonder if he could be coaxed back for a show to promote his new album? Hello, folks at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley or Triple Door? (Or, perhaps more correctly, hello promoters that put on "World"/African music)
Another musician of note is Chris Chameleon, formerly of Boo! It looks like Chris has gone solo and done a few albums. The newest one is all in English, which tempts me to get some of his previous CDs with Afrikaans songs partly to torment Army Don. (He's responsible for some of my brain cells being occupied by Taiwanese pop and Swedish folk-rock music).
Chris has his CDs available on CD Baby, so US and European folks can buy them there instead of from OneWorld.
I wish more SA musicians used CD Baby to seel their music in the USA. First, because it'd work out cheaper (no expensive shipping from SA), Second because they're in Portland and Portland is just cool, Third because they pass on more money to the artists. (I hope that's true for foreign artists too).
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Now, it's been a few years since I've lived in Cape Town, so I can't review what's on TV now, but I can provide some links and a rough guide to current TV there. The main broadcasters you'll find in South Africa are the SABC, e-TV, DSTV and M-Net. DSTV and M-Net require decoder boxes and ar emore expensive, so SABC and e-TV are the ones you can expect to find pretty much everywhere. e-TV is even headquartered in Cape Town, so it gets extra credit!
'Twas midnight in the schoolroom
And every desk was shut
When suddenly from the alphabet
Was heard a loud "Tut-Tut!"
Said A to B, "I don't like C;
His manners are a lack.
For all I ever see of C
Is a semi-circular back!"
"I disagree," said D to B,
"I've never found C so.
From where I stand he seems to be
An uncompleted O."
C was vexed, "I'm much perplexed,
You criticise my shape.
I'm made like that, to help spell Cat
And Cow and Cool and Cape."
"He's right" said E; said F, "Whoopee!"
Said G, "'Ip, 'Ip, 'ooray!"
"You're dropping me," roared H to G.
"Don't do it please I pray."
"Out of my way," LL said to K.
"I'll make poor I look ILL."
To stop this stunt J stood in front,
And presto! ILL was JILL.
"U know," said V, "that W
Is twice the age of me.
For as a Roman V is five
I'm half as young as he."
X and Y yawned sleepily,
"Look at the time!" they said.
"Let's all get off to beddy byes."
They did, then "Z-z-z."
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
- Get some mushrooms - about 1/2 lb for this recipe. I used crimini.
- Make a charcoal fire, spread the coals out once they're covered in ash.
- Soak the wood chips in water for an hour or two, then make an open dish using aluminum foil (or use a foil pie plate), put the drained wood chips in this, and set it on top of the coals.
- Put the grill over the foil+wood dish, and place the mushrooms on the grill. I used foil under the mushrooms to prevent them from sticking to the grill or getting too much heat, but this blocked a lot of the smoke that was rising up from the wood - next time a perforated dish under the mushrooms would be good.
- Put the lid on the Weber, and make sure the holes are open. You should see a plume of smoke after 5-10 mins, depending on the heat of the coals and how wet your wood is.
- I smoked the mushrooms until the smoke stopped - about 30 mins. They had a nice smoky taste and smell, but were only slightly wilted and not very cooked.
The rest of the recipe is very simple (see the Flora book), and really delicious. If you've never been a fan of collard greens, this might just convert you!
- Be more healthy and active. Gym or equivalent exercise 3 times a week.
- Meditate more often - I felt it made a noticeable difference when I did it once a week a few years ago. Once a week for starters would be good, although daily would be better.
- Brush up my French - 5 years of it in high school means I have the basics, and it's a pity to let it continue to rust away. I'll aim for speaking and reading/writing fluency by the end of the year.
- Travel somewhere fun - outside the US, somewhere I've not yet been.
- Get the house in good shape - While the house is fine (and feel more like hom every day) it needs some TLC. We need a new fence, outside painting, some lawn rejuvenation. Bathroom remodel(s) would be nice too. Maybe windows too? (gulp!)
- Kick arse at work (preferrably not my own). No more wabbing*, no more procrastination. Work is actually fun when you get down to it and don't have self-imposed nightmare deadlines. :)
- Really appreciate my Yum Lass - s'good, s'nice to be with her.
- Teach Army Don to read. Maybe he can teach me how to write in return?
*Wabbing - Exhibiting Work Avoidance Behaviour.
Somehow I didn't hear about the shooting of a Tibetan nun by Chinese police as she and others tried to cross the border between Tibet and Nepal. The incident was seen and filmed by several climbers at the Cho Oyu advance base camp near Mt Everest. (ICT story here and here, video here).
There was also an article in memory of conservationist Mingma Sherpa who died in the helicopter crash last year in which 24 people were killed.
Music: Rodrigo y Gabriela's eponymous album features some mind-blowing acoustic guitar work. If you like salsa, flamenco, or fast-paced fingerstyle guitar this is highly recommended! (YouTube videos of the lads here)
The new Decemberists CD is beautiful (and I was pleased to see the national attention they got via the Colbert Report green-screen challenge Guitarmageddon thing. Check out the video on Comedy Central if you know not of which I speak - it's worth it).
Books: A while back I finished reading The way we eat, which I'd recommend if you enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma and want to know more about what we eat and the impact our choices have on the world.
I really enjoyed John Moe's Conservatize Me - he has a light, fluid writing style and the book is chock-full of humour (I chuckled or laughed out aloud on almost every page).
Now I've moved on to something completely different: The Island of the Sequined Love Nun. Christopher Moore has a deliciously twisted mind (a cross between Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut). So far I'm enjoying this - it's a bit pulpy and definitely an easy read, but the writing is decent and the plot is original (to say the least).
Movies: If you are an extremely patient moviegoer or have an unnatural fascination for the CIA, you'll like The Good Shepherd. It's directed by Robert de Niro (who also plays a small role in the film), and is an interesting look at the foundation of the CIA (and the Order of the Skull and Bones). A K pointed out, it would have been nice to see more of what the main character, Edward, does. Being the head of the counter-surveilance department at the CIA probably requires more than shuffling aound with a stoney expression all day, ignoring your wife, and making ships in bottles.
For some info on the real person that the movie is based on, see this Wikipedia page.