This week was filled with food and movies, as it is the last week before all of my TV shows come back on, which is this week and I won’t have much time to watch movies. And when it comes to food, once in a while I have these weird periods when I don’t know what I want to eat and I just make something whenever I get hungry. Very poor system because it’s way more time consuming without proper planning. But those periods also make a nice and long foodporn fever section. So let’s begin.
1. Foodporn Fever – century eggs and other yummy things
Whenever I think about figs, fresh figs, I think of words like decadent, ancient and fucking delicious. There aren’t fresh figs available in Finland, even when it’s in season like now. So when I spotted some fresh ones being sold in my local supermarket, I got so excited. Of course, they aren’t sweet enough to be devoured just like that, so I chopped them up and chucked them into the freezer to wait for the smoothie treatment with some honey and yogurt. But they are beautiful, aren’t they? ❤
Breakfast is favorite meal, but on weekdays when I got early mornings and morning workouts, breakfast can literally be just a smoothie or a protein bar and I would use more time on weekends. I kinda compensate though, sometimes I would eat breakfast food for dinner. Scrambled eggs and scallions fried in Irish butter, doesn’t need any other seasoning. Then it’s just combining rye bread, smoked salmon and slices of cucumber. I think I might have to eat more breakfast food for dinner, it makes me happy. ^^
Another those evening when I don’t know what to eat and I practically have nothing in the fridge and was too lazy to walk across the street to my grocery store. So I made do with what I had. And what I had was a pack of instant udon noodles, handful of kimchi, handful of bean sprouts and curiously an century egg my mom gave me. I cooked the udon and drowned them in chili sauce. I just put the kimchi on a little plate. I lightly boiled the bean sprouts, so that they were still crunchy, seasoned them with some fish sauce, sesame oil and tabasco. And then came the part I was most excited of, the century egg.
It’s one of those food that tastes like childhood and comfort. I usually eat it pretty much only in congee (rice porridge) which might just be the most popular way to eat this peculiar little egg. There are other ways to eat it, and I just cut the egg open and into tiny pieces, seasoned with some soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and seeds and top it all with some scallions. That’s it. I figure that century eggs look quite peculiar, for some even nasty, with the egg white turned the color of coffee and the egg yolk greenish grey. It’s basically the color of ‘do-not-eat-me’. But in my eyes, it is beautiful. The white transparent and blackish and the yolk looks so creamy and velvety. The texture of the white is like jelly, quite firm and not at all mushy. It doesn’t taste like much. The essence is in the yolk, the texture is as soft and creamy as it looks, but without being dry like the yolk of a cooked egg is. The taste… is very hard to describe. I’ve heard someone say it taste like some very good cheese, but since I don’t eat cheese so I can’t tell. It is strong, and it leaves a peculiar after taste in my mouth that only makes me want more. I find the sauce I mixed for this a perfect companion for the egg. That is like the perfect side dish for noodles and rice. And for dieters, while the century egg packs a little more calories and cholesterol than regular chicken egg, it’s also very rich in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin D.
On the weekend, I went out to eat with friends and we went to my favorite Chinese restaurant in Helsinki, Dong Bei Hu aka China Tiger. They specialized in Sichuan cuisine, with bold and spicy flavours. There are several dishes that we almost always take, the pork, the eggplant, the chicken and the tofu. The chicken is made from a mature specimen, the meat are quite tough but the chicken flavor is very strong. Usually they are boiled in soup for long times and then shredded like pulled pork. In this case it’s mixed with some extra spicy dried chilis, scallions and coriander. It’s a very fresh dish that taste great with rice. The pork is my friend’s favorite, and I have never been in China Tiger without eating the pork. It’s small pork steaks deep-fried in a thin layer of batter and then tossed in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. Then it’s just eggplant fried with peppers in a sweet soy based sauce. I love eggplant, I like it no matter how it’s prepared. But fried eggplant has got to be one of my favorites, especially with high heat like a gas stove. Food cooked in and on open fire can’t be quite matched with anything else. Last but not least comes the tofu. I think it’s funny how tofu is still considered to be meat substitute. I’m an avid meat eater, I love meat, but I also love tofu. And we Chinese are quite good at preparing it. In this case, it was tofu steaks on a hot iron with some onion and hot chilis, simple and quite delicious.
2. Cultural Crusade – American Horror Story and lots of movies
Ah, American Horror Story. Season 6 premiered just last week and this is the first season that they kinda kept the theme under cover. Let’s go through the themes of the past seasons briefly. Season one was Murder House, and it is by far my favorite. It was edgy, eerie, extremely creepy and it resurrected the hardcore horror genre on TV. Hell, AHS had bigger balls to showcase controversial horror than many horror movies with bigger budgets. And I love the idea of them having different themes with every season, recurring actors but completely different story with small smart over-lapses. It introduced new talents to us, it re-introduced some old talents that we had forgotten. New faces like Evan Peters, you might know him as Quicksilver in the X-Men franchise. And then a reminder of talents like the spectacular Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. AHS also helped less known actors to become household names, like Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe. Season two has the asylum theme, and look out for Lily Rabe as the young and devilish nun. Season three was my second favorite, tapping into the craze with witches, it was themed ‘coven’ where young witches get into deadly cat-fights. Angela Bassett was spectacular in it. Themed ‘freak show’, season four was all about circus life. And that was when it became a little struggle for me to watch the whole season. I took a break and binge-watched the whole thing. I was kinda hoping that season five, themed ‘hotel’, would get me back on board, but I watched only couple of episodes and although Lady Gaga was quite awesome in it, I didn’t finish the season. Maybe some day. Okay, back to the present, season six! The theme stayed a mystery until the season premiere and it was ‘Roanoke’. Yeah, I have no idea what it means. Judging from the first episode, it has something to do with sacrifices and curses. Maybe. But the first episode was really really good. It was mysterious, eerie and I was eager for more. I was hoping this will be the season that got me back on board with AHS because there really is nothing like it on TV or the big screen. Such a treat for horror fans like me.
Onto the movies. First, Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), based on a true story, is about a rich heiress from New York who dreams of being an opera singer and uses her assets to realize her dream. One tiny problem though, she can’t sing. At all. But she happened to have a really indulgent husband to keep her thinking that she’s great. It’s really quite an unbelievable story that was made heartwarming by the spectacular performances by the cast. Amazing as always, Meryl Streep plays Florence with such grace and spot-on comedic timing that she had me laughing like a little piggy whenever she sings. I know Meryl is actually a great singer, pretending to be a bad singer is actually really really hard. I’ve never been a big fan of Hugh Grant, but this time, him playing the indulgent husband with such warmth that even with all the lies and betrayal couldn’t take away the fact that he really really cared about Florence. And then there is Simon Helberg, best known for the role of Howard from Big Bang Theory, he plays a soft-spoken pianist Cosmé McMoon (awesome name btw) and I like him right away. It’s a tragic story but it was told with such compassion and warmth that I didn’t feel sad after the movie. Florence’s legacy is one of love and courage, at least that is how her story is told. My IMDb rating: 8 stars out of 10
Then comes one of those ridiculous comedies, that is either your thing or not. I happened to love Andy Samberg. I love all the funny music videos and songs by the Lonely Island, so Popstar – Never stop never stopping (2016) sounded and looked just like the comedy that I would like. It’s made as a mockumentary, poking fun at the boy bands and bad behaving young artists like Justin Bieber, but it was done with such love that I can’t imagine anyone getting angry. It’s a movie almost solely resting on Andy’s lovable charm, it worked, at least on me. And the songs, they are actually pretty good with ridiculous lyrics, but are they that far from the pop songs nowadays? 😀 A great movie for lazy Sunday afternoons. My IMDb rating: 7 stars out of 10
I really like campy horror B-flicks. Evil Dead (the original one) is my fave. You know, movies with simple stories, exaggerated cheap effects but are so much fun to watch that you just gotta love them. After the 80’s, there was a really long quiet time for genuine B-flick that aren’t trying to be too cool like the Grindhouse, that was more of a salute to B-flicks than a genuine one. Freaks of Nature (2015) gave it a good go. It got all the elements, nerdy unlikely hero, the hot slutty chick and so much gore and blood provided by nonetheless than zombies, vampires and aliens. The sex, that is practically a must for campy horror flicks is pretty tame here. Also our lead simply lacked charisma, even the nerdy kind. The biggest problem with otherwise uber fun film, Freaks of Nature thought a little too much about itself, it wasn’t as smart and witty as it apparently thinks it is. Which is a pity cos they did give this awesome horror sub-genre a go. But if you are looking for a modern genuine little gem of a campy horror flick, I recommend the excellent Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010). As for the rest of the B-flick wannabes, keep trying. 🙂 My IMDb rating: 6 stars out of 10
Apart from Tarantino, there aren’t many directors who are consistent with their work, I used to think the Coen brothers were two of them. I mean movies like ‘No Country for Old Men’, ‘A Serious Man’ and ‘True Grit’ were excellent, and then there were titles like ‘The Ladykillers’ and ‘Burn after reading’ to showcase their unique humor. I was very excited about Hail, Caesar! (2016), the trailer promised another great comedy and a fascinating mystery. And talk about an all-star assemble. But then I watched the film, and I was confused… what the hell did I just watch?? Seemed like a huge misfire from the Coens. It was supposed to be a comedy but it didn’t make me laugh, not once. It was supposed to be a mystery, I was more bored than intrigued. There were comments like ‘you have to understand the cinematic history to understand this film’ blah blah blah. ‘Trumbo’ was about the same period of time and about the same topic even, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Hail Caesar was simply a freaking bore. It definitely wasn’t my thing and I expected way more from the Coen brothers. My IMDb rating: 5 stars out of 10
I’m not quite sure since when Zac Efron started to make a lots of comedies, but I seemed to enjoy them all. To clarify, I’m not a Zac Efron fan, but I do like good-looking guys who don’t mind to make a fool of themselves. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) is one of those comedies, nothing ground-breaking, just your average fun. And I don’t usually require much from comedies other than make me laugh and not being too cheesy. Plus that they don’t have actors that I don’t like. I happened to not like many comedy actors, such as Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller and Russell Brand. I can’t stand them. This little comedy happens to not include anyone that I dislike, on the contrary, I like Adam Devine and Anna Kendrick quite a bit. Aubrey Plaza always inspires mix feelings in me, I don’t particularly like her style but she never fails to make me laugh. All in all, a comedy with somewhat predictable plot but still quite a lot of fun. My IMDb rating: 6 stars out of 10
3. Happy Hubbub – Mid-Autumn Festival
Last week was Mid-Autumn Festival in my homeland. It’s the time of the year to get together with your loved ones and eat mooncakes. I like mooncakes a lot, but only once a year. Cos they are super sweet. And in Finland, super expensive too. But luckily, my parents own a restaurant and many business partners of them would gift them few boxes of mooncakes and I asked for one. I like the most traditional kind, a baked mooncake with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolks as filling. I was gonna bring the one mooncake with me to share with Sir Atticus because I happen to have a date with Him on mid-autumn. But then I forgot the whole cake in my fridge, and it might be a good thing after all cos turned out that Sir didn’t like mooncakes. I still think that He just hasn’t try any good ones, but then I went and got us some donuts, cos it’s a tradition to eat something round on mid-autumn (round like the moon). Funny thing is, I ended up getting heart shaped donuts cos they were the best and I realized later while eating the whole mooncake all by myself that even mooncakes aren’t round… I feel I’ve been lied to… XD
4. Pouty Phenomenon – 50 Shades
Last week was altogether a really good week. The only thing that kinda make me not that happy was the new trailer to the latest 50 shades movie. I already post a rant about it, so I’m not talking anymore about it.
5. Sexy Stir – 6 months
Last week on the day of mid-autumn festival also marked the day of Sir Atticus and I meeting exactly six months ago. It’s kinda weird to think about it, because it seemed like ages ago and that time had past so fast, both at the same time. I feel like I know Him really well, but at the same time not at all, cos how can you in merely six months? Anyway, here’s to another six months. ❤