Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Browning Version

The Browning Version

Thursday afternoon I headed down to the Oxford Playhouse to see a double bill of one act plays directed by the legendary Peter Hall. The first, Swansong by Anton Chekov was an amusing tale of an old, drunk actor waking up in his dressing room after the theatre had been locked up and finding solace in the company of the prompter. Enjoyable and slightly melancholy, it ran for only twenty minutes and was nothing compared to the main event.

Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, written in 1948, shows us the last day of a retiring schoolmaster as he tutors a boy for the last time and says goodbye to the other teachers. It seems like nothing much, just a glimpse into the life of a man saying farewell to what he knows, but the play manages to draw us in and explores the deep sadness that comes from feeling that your life has gone off course or has been wasted. It's a deeply moving piece of theatre and the lead, Peter Bowles (better known for playing upper class twits on British television), was admirably understated in his performance as the retiring master.

If you're in the mood for a bit of a cry, you can watch the 1951 Anthony Asquith film on Youtube. Part 1 is here and you should be able to click through to the other segments.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Glimpse of Home Cooked Food (Part 1)

Home Cooked Food

Wednesday night was sunny and warm, so it was decided that we should take things out into the garden and have ourselves a little bit of a barbeque.

Home Cooked Food

There's nothing quite like the smell of chargrilled peppers and chilies to set the stomach rumbling and the mouth watering...

Home Cooked Food

However, before the main event, we started off with something simple. Smoked salmon, lemon, black pepper and some warm crusty bread.

Home Cooked Food

A simple mix of chicken legs, thighs, wings and a few chipolatas (small pork sausages).

Home Cooked Food

Chargrilled courgettes and peppers. Note to any non-British readers - I say courgette, you say zucchini; I say aubergine, you say eggplant; I say aluminium, you say aluminum... let's call the whole thing off....

Home Cooked Food

And here is the finished plate. Simple and delicious...

For dessert...

Home Cooked Food

Strawberries and sugar. Now those of you used to the delightfully sweet Korean strawberries may be surprised by this combination, but fear not for I shall reveal all. Growing up in the UK, our strawberries were always delicious, yet quite small and sharp enough to make you wince. So a small pile of caster sugar on the side of the plate helped to tone down the natural sharpness and lift the flavours. Today's strawberries are a little sweeter, but old habits die hard and dipping your finger into the juicy red melted sugar at the end is one of those little pleasures that everyone should try at least once.

Thus endeth the barbeque...

Inglourious Ajosshi

Inglourious Basterds

Ah dear readers, there comes a time in every K-blogger's summer, when they feel the need to pop off out of the country and savour a little home time. It's my turn for the next couple of weeks, so you'll be getting a little taste of England. I hope you find this vaguely interesting, but if not, breathe slowly and deeply and come back in September.

I arrived in the country on Tuesday afternoon after nine hours of boredom and 120 minutes of Star Trek. At least Asiana has those little tv screens and the flight attendants are very amicable. The food on the other hand....

Wednesday, brought the joys and pleasures of Quentin Tarantino's new film "Inglourious Basterds". This two and a half hour epic reimagining of the second world war is both brilliant and a little frustrating. It's half an hour too long and little Quentin needs somebody to slap him on the wrist every time he forgets to press the edit button, but there are some remarkable performances along with a rather gripping, suspenseful story.

Cristoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa the "Jew Hunter" steals the show with his gripping, creepy, yet slightly charming performance. He switched from French, to English to German and back again with such and ease and fluidity, that the mind boggles. Tarantino said that he couldn't have made the film without him and it's easy to see why. The other European actors have deliciously meaty roles and large parts of the film are conducted in French and German, giving a sense of authenticity sorely lacking from a lot of war films.

Brad Pitt and the Basterds are entertaining, but the real heart of the story lies elsewhere. I fear saying to much, in case enjoyment is spoiled, but the story is not what I was expecting and Tarantino does not shy away from putting his stamp firmly into the war genre.

I'm lucky I got to see this over here, so that I could enjoy the subtitles, without having to rely too much on my schoolboy French and German. I remember the joys and frustrations of Kill Bill as I tried to read the Korean subtitles during the Japanese sequences, or the quite surreal experience of watching Pan's Labyrinth with half an ear on the Spanish and half an eye on the Korean subs. So when it comes out in Korea I urge all of you to brush up on your French and German and take a chance on this long, but ultimately entertaining film.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

O Kitchen 2

Yesterday popped into the OKitchen2 in Itaewon to check out their summer menu and was pleasantly surprised by some of their new additions.

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

First off was a brand new dish that only went on the menu yesterday: a tomato-watermelon gazpacho topped with something akin to a melba toast and a prawn. While the tomato watermelon combination may sound odd, it worked surprisingly well.The freshness of the tomato blended with the sweetness of the watermelon giving it a savoury edge and kept the dish from turning into a dessert.

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

Next up was a combination of salmon, eggs, capers and orange sauce served with a side salad stuffed with dill and fennel. The owner of OKitchen2 has his own farm about an hour away from Seoul where he grows all his own herbs and I think it's the first time I've tasted fennel in Korea. How I've missed it...

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

Then came duck pastrami with a bean salad. I've had the pastrami before and it's still of a very high standard.

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

I ordered a la carte today, simply so I could have the chance to try the home made sausage and orecchiette (18,000 won) and I was not disappointed. The herby homemade sausage is served in a soupy meaty sauce and topped with plenty of cheese. It tasted like it had come out of the kitchen of a true Italian Nonna.

Summer Menu at the OKitchen2

The dessert was most definitely the star of the show. A slice of pecan pie topped with whipped cream, ice cream, nuts and chocolate sauce with a delicate tuile balanced on top, alongside a creamy, yet powerfully flavoured sesame mousse.

For previous mentions of the OKitchen2 see here and here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blow Jobs For 9,000 won?

Blow jobs for 9,000 won?

Obviously times are hard for all restaurants in this global economic recession, but does that mean the the La Cigale Montmartre bistro in Itaewon is willing to go all the way?

Free food at Cafe Sobahn?

Head on over to ZenKimchi if you fancy road testing some new dishes at Cafe Sobahn near Seoul National University this weekend.

Unfortunately I've been here too long to qualify... damn my Koreanized tastebuds...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Paul Ajosshi Went To City Hall And All I Got Was This Lousy Photo

Me and City Hall

City Hall have got a special exhibition going on to mark the transition from old City Hall to new... Why not get your photo taken with an artist's interpretation of the finished project.

And just in case you didn't know, according to their pamphlet S.E.O.U.L. stands for Soul Elegance Open Upgrade Landmark... Ahhh, a little part of me just died inside...

Fountains and Fun at Gwanghwamun Plaza

Gwanghwamun Plaza HDR

Ever since the new plaza at Gwanghwamun opened on August 1st I've been reading various accounts of K-bloggers' experiences down there (Chris, Roboseyo and The Seoul Patch to name a few) and today I decided to go take a look for myself.

Gwanghwamun Plaza HDR

I really like what they have done with the space. Simple, beautiful and great fun for families.

Gwanghwamun Plaza HDR

This kid seemed to enjoy getting a face full of fountain...

Gwanghwamun Plaza HDR

For the full set of photos click over here...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Yahoo Korea Takes An Interest...

I've been getting more hits than normal on my blog today and after a quick scan of referrals on my sitemeter, I discovered a link through to an article on Yahoo Korea.

외국인들이 좋아하는 한국의 10가지
seems to be a translation of this post from The Hub of Sparkle and includes my list of top ten things from here...

710 readers like it, only 25 don't.

Makes me wonder how many other articles from English language K-blogs are being translated and put up on Korean sites...

Now to read through the 32 comments and hope that everyone has played nice.