coastal foraging

This is a great video I discovered via bb. Craig Evans from forages along the beaches in Pembrokeshire and he has a whole youtube channel of him finding the freshest seafood then cooking it there and then.

He looks under large rocks and in pools, moving from spot to spot so as not to take from just one spot. He puts back anything that is too small and only grabs what he needs, which is really ethical and sustainable.

coastalforage

What he got that day: edible crabs, velvet swimming crabs, bearded rocklings, winkles and whelks. Cooked simply in water, may be seawater? The water was then flavoured with seaweed he called dulse plus garlic and powdered lobster shells he probably made himself then used to make couscous. A great idea and so easy for outdoor cooking.

In this day and age, living purely on foraging isn’t possible unless in rural or almost uninhabited areas. It seems to be a nice hobby providing not too many people do it, and they all respect the need not to deplete the ecosystem.

lazy day and a still-funny video

It’s Boxing Day and I’m so glad I have no plans. Originally the family was going to do something like an outing but the kids are too tired and they made the decision to take a resting day to shore up energy for the rest of their trip. Very wise. I’m tired and I’m not jetlagged. I spent the day reading, playing candy crush and browsing reddit. Even cooking lunch and dinner were lazy, leftover jobs and I managed to scrounge around and find suitable fresh veg.

This is from 2013, but I was watching it again and it still gave me a big laugh. Background, in May 2013 Microsoft had a one of the worst marketing disasters ever when they launched the Xbox One, which was described by business insider as “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.” The Xbox One was supposed to be the follow up to the hugely successful Xbox 360 but they included features that instantly turned customers away:

  • the console had to be constantly connected to the internet because it needed to be verified every 24hrs and must be online to play
  • all games must be installed to the hard drive, and then the disk will become useless
  • cannot re-use or re-sell the game disks, confusing rules about sharing games with friends
  • $500 price point, $100 more expensive than its rival the PS4

Whoever at Sony came up with the “official playstation used game instructional video” that trolled Microsoft so hard is legendary. 22 seconds of pure genius. It’s almost 5 years old and still funny.

container ship timelapse


And another video. This one by Jeff Tsang has been making the rounds. 10 minutes of unadulterated peacefulness and mesmerising goodness. Worth watching multiple times. He works on a container ship and set up his Nikon D750 and Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 lens facing the bow, then proceeded to collect over 80,000 images or 1.5TB of material which he edited into a timelapse video. 30 days of sailing in 10 minutes from the Red Sea to Sri Lanka to SIngapore to Hong Kong.

The sky and the weather looked so beautiful. I thought he was lucky but I remembered that pollution usually settles in built up areas and in the vast expanse of the oceans it’s really just the elements. And vast and expansive it was. For long periods there was nothing in the horizon but sky and water.

His captions are simple and educational too. In just a few words he described the hard work done by pilots, how long it takes to unload and load a container ship, and how traffic is organised (in lanes going in one direction in the straits around Singapore and no organisation around the South China Sea as fishing vessels are everywhere and crisscross around the ship). He made a decision to leave the camera out to continue recording while there was a storm and paid the price of water in his lens.

timelapse

My favourite bits include the enormous night sky with the Milky Way at around 0:30, lightning at around 3:20, the sky lit up by the full moon at around 6:00. And blue, blue skies.

handmade coconut oil


So much time and effort went into stripping, grating, setting, straining, cooking one hundred coconuts to make coconut oil, all by hand at the village food factory in India. The reward, chicken drumstick grilled over open fire and basted with the coconut oil, looks absolutely scrumptious.

The hilarious thing is, the title of the video is instant coconut oil and there is nothing instant about it. I saw this via boingboing and the comment is:

Arumugam and a friend make quick work of 100 raw coconuts

Quick work. Am I missing something? Must be irony week and nobody told me.

tasting menu at Counter 3.Five.VII

The closest to Austin I have been was to Dallas/Fort Worth, and meeting my friend DS (who lives in the Austin area) at Waco–halfway between DFW and Austin. If I ever visit Austin, I’ll want to give counter 3.five.vii a try. Interesting concept: a 25-seat restaurant where diners sit at a counter whilst the chefs work in front of, and interact with them. The menu consists of three tasting menus of 3, 5 or 7 courses, with or without wine pairings. The eater video shows typical 5- and 7-course progressions. Extremely modern cooking–menu changes weekly, they grow their own microgreens, there are foraged ingredients.

More interesting concepts: there are no servers and no tipping. So the 5-course, at $80, is really $65 with a 20% tip. Very decent reviews and very much a special occasion restaurant.

chiara di dio musical

pilgrimagesouvenirs2015

Cough is still bad, so stayed in all day. After lunch, mm came over to visit me to exchange souvenirs—from my trip to nola and her pilgrimage trip. She got me a fridge magnet from la verna, a shot glass from sicily and a cute holy family decoration from assisi, in addition to biscotti and my order of parma ham. I’d reminded her of directions to get to the friendly deli we visited in assisi to get the ham. She also brought me a mug from the book fair and a jar of manuka honey from her place. I got her a nola fridge magnet, big bag of popcorn from costco and biscotti from rubino’s. Naturally we will share my whisky and bourbon; total currently is 78 bottles.

We watched a dvd of Chiara di Dio, a musical dedicated to the life of St Clare, filmed at a performance at San Damiano itself. We loved that we were able to identify the location and rooms at San Damiano. A very moving story and fantastic performances from the young cast. It starts with Chiara on her deathbed, asking for a cherry, It’s August and cherries are out of season so how will the sisters get a cherry, unless with a miracle? With flashbacks, we see her story, from her life as a young girl in a rich family to her meeting with St Francis, her escape from her father’s home on the eve of her wedding, her consecration and the spectacular encounter with invading Saracens. In the words of the writer/director Carlos Tedeschi, the musical

brings out the humanity and the modernity of these two young people, Chiara and Francesco, an example for the youth of today despite eight centuries having passed. A model of how to break the mold, with the power and passion of youth without compromising its integrity

She cooked me dinner of pork ribs congee made with oatmeal in place of rice, what a great idea. We watched food and travel programs on tv and had a great time laughing and making fun of the inept presenters. How do these people get presenting gigs? One girl was cooking Indian food and seemed to be reciting a script: “add a little sugar, some flour” with a complete lack of passion for food and cooking. Yes, she was wearing a bright red cocktail dress and was a pretty face. Another one visited a safari park in Japan and her vocabulary seemed to be limited to amazing and interesting. “Oh the giraffe is so tall!” she’s definitely no David Attenborough.

candy floss flower

Came across videos of vendors making pretty candyfloss flowers. Worth watching till the end to see the final product. Enough for at least two people I think.

17circusday

When we think of candyfloss, it’s just a lump of spun sugar served on a stick or in a bag. That someone thought of such a creative way of repackaging a favourite product, it’s great.

welcome (back) fort minor

After almost 9 years away, Mike Shinola and Fort Minor released a new single, Welcome. It’s available as a free download** or a paid mp3 (wonder how many people will go for the paid version vs getting it free). The 360º video is of Mike painting a giant mural made from 1000 blank vinyl jackets, which will be signed and sold as limited edition vinyl records. I’m not a huge FM or Linkin Park fan, but I can imagine there will be lots of interest and demand for the vinyl.

In Mike’s own words:

I didn’t intend to write a new Fort Minor song, it just kinda happened. It’s not part of a new album. It’s a song that I knew I wanted people to hear right now.

His full handwritten words:

fortminorwelcome

I like the song. I think LP is too loud, but I’ve always enjoyed FM’s one and only album. Their big success Where’d You Go was one of my first running playlist songs. I’m adding Welcome to the playlist. I hope there is a new album somewhere down the line. It’s long overdue. Almost 10 years on hiatus, they really do practice what they sing:

Where’d you go
I miss you so
Seems like it’s been forever
That you’ve been gone

**the free download is available on their website, upon submission of a working email address. It’s of course for marketing purposes. I use a disposable email service for stuff like this.

eminem lost yourself in ASL

This one has been doing the rounds lately, it’s Eminem’s Lose Yourself interpreted in sign language. It’s incredibly cute and uplifting. From the comments, it seems that the interpreter doesn’t always sign every single word, but rather signs the meaning and context, which is rather important in rap, where words machine-gun by very fast. The great thing about this video is that the interpreter Shelby adds her own movements and expressions to enhance the experience.

Even more uplifting is to find out that signing at concerts is nothing new. I’m so glad that deaf and hard-of-hearing people can also get to enjoy concerts.

As an aside, Eminem is my secret guilty pleasure. Great running songs.

you raise me up

mm keeps sending me videos with a religious theme, I don’t click on all of them. This one I did. I googled it too, the song You Raise Me Up even though it sounds like a traditional Irish folk song was actually from 2002. The street performer was Martin Hurkens, who won Holland Got Talent in 2010.

hurkens

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

It’s like Katherine Jenkins busking on the tube, even though it looks to be an official music video rather than something spontaneous.

schubert impromptu op 90 no 1

Was at mm’s to look at the travel books she borrowed from the library. She practiced the piano whilst I was reading, it was a nice background. The piece she’s learning now is Schubert’s Impromptu op 90 no 1 (d899). I always think Schubert is difficult and kinda boring, but this wasn’t. I like it. I like the C minor key.

schubert

Looking at the score, it’s difficult. Then again, everything that mm has been playing is difficult for me—she’s past grade 8 and I’m at approx grade 3 level.

Christmas ads

I just spent an hour or so voluntarily making myself cry (or weep silently) over a few ads. Of course they are heart-wrenching, they are the British Christmas ads, which are like the superbowl equivalent.

Top of the class is, as always, John Lewis. This year’s Monty the Penguin. John Lewis never, ever fails the GBP (great british public), they are as dependable as, well, John Lewis. Three tissues. (John Lewis is a well-respected, well-loved employee-owned department store. If I need something for the kitchen, or linens, or electronics, I will go to John Lewis first.)

Second is the gingerbread stall, a story of overcoming shyness, from Waitrose. One tissue, I think. BTW, Waitrose is a part of the John Lewis Group.

The Tesco, Boots and Mulberry ones are good too. I tried to like the Sainsbury’s one about the famous WW1 football match, but felt my emotions were too manipulated. Check out the rest at mashable.

Well, Happy Christmas anyway. I always say Happy Christmas rather tha Happy Holidays / Hannukah / Solstice / [other festive occasion in December]. Christmas is Christmas. It’s a time for families, food, presents, reflection and rest. The guardian had an article about new arrivals’ first Christmas in the UK and one of the interviewees, an Indonesian, said,

although I am a Muslim, I celebrate Christmas because it’s an important part of British culture and I feel it is respectful

Embrace the occasion. Forget unnecessary political correctness.  

houshi ryokan — family owned for 1300 years

Houshi Ryokan in Awazu Onsen is the oldest family-owned hotel in the world and second oldest owned hotel. Beautiful ryokan, beautiful onsen, beautifully shot video. Sad too. The ryoden passes down through the eldest son and the current owner, Zengoro Hoshi, is the 46th generation. His son died suddenly, and the film also focuses on Hoshi-san’s daughter, and her struggle to take responsiblity for the business, responsibility and pressure she hadn’t thought was hers.
 

steve jobs tribute 05-october

I cleaned out some old folders recently and found this video I took of the Chicago Apple Store in 2011; Steve Jobs died three years ago today.

It’s also really nice of Tim Cook to email apple staff with a tribute.

It just occured to me, how similar the tributes around Apple Stores around the world 3 years ago are to the message walls scattered all around #occupycentral protest sites this week.

SteveJobs8 oclp073msgwall
flickr / image on left via user morgan schmorgan, image on right is mine

Simple, elegant, heart-felt. That’s the power of a small post-it note and a pen. 

laphroaig new releases, opinions welcome

I’m a FoL, aka a Friend of Laphroaig. Each bottle of Laphroaig includes a code that entitles the holder to a small 1 square foot plot of land in and around the distillery. I think I have 3 or 4 plots in my account. Anyway, Laphroaig is definitely a unique, acquired taste and I love it especially since I had a great time when I visited the distillery.

I’m still working through my bottle of PX cask, and now they have a few new releases. The Select is a NAS aged in a combination of Oloroso sherry butts, American white oak, hogsheads seasoned with Pedro Ximenez, quarter casks and first fill bourbon casks. Very reasonable at £35. Then there is the 2014 cask strength, batch 006 coming in at 58% and the 2014 Cairdeas currently available exclusively to FoL.

They also embarked on a global marketing campaign, asking the question:

how would you describe Laphroaig to someone who hasn’t tried it before?

They filmed people (actors? real people, I’m skeptical) tasting a brown liquid poured from an unlabelled green bottle. Comments like spicy, fishy, seagull’s armpits and “I think they smoked it too long” actually describe Laphroaig pretty accurately. The fun part is to see people trying to pronounce Laphroaig, snerk.

johnny cash out among the stars

I didn’t grow up listening to country & western music, I’m simply not knowledgeable nor had sufficient exposure to appreciate it fully. It’s not the first genre I’d pick (not second, or third either, and I don’t apologise for it) but when I do hear a c&w song, I may stop and listen to it, and I may even like it.

That said, here via slate is a short film of three different musicians / groups covering Johnny Cash’s album out among the stars. This album was recorded in the 1980s, but for whatever reason it was never released. His son discovered it in the archives after his death and it has just been released posthumously to great reviews all around.

Okay, I confess, it wasn’t Johnny Cash that caught my eye, but the mention of Brandon Flowers in the headline. The Killers, well, they will be near #1 on my list of music to listen to, and I won’t apologise for this either. I can listen to him all day, and his rendition of “I Came to Believe” was interesting — not a Killers sound, but even to my uneducated ear, quite Johnny Cash-like. I also really enjoyed the other artists on the film, Father John Misty and Local Natives, even though I’d never heard of them before. The video is 16mins long, it’s a good way to spend 16mins.

why are these alcohol ads so good

Prompted by this bell’s whisky ad spotted at gizmodo, I’ve been coming across great drinks ads lately.

I don’t drink bell’s but this ad, for the south africa tv market, really tugs at the heart’s strings. Now this is what a whisky is for, to celebrate something wonderful.

Another one spotted is for tullamore dew irish whiskey — created by new york agency opperman weiss, via fastcompany — from the weather to the music to the graveyard to the hat worn in the film, so quintessentially irish. I had tullamore dew in dublin, although I prefer redbreast, it was a nice dram

Here are a couple of guinness ads by agency AMV BBDO, more tears. First, the famous basketball one:

And last but not least, this fantastic, dapper one with sapeurs, the society of elegant persons of the congo:

Where the narrator says at the end,

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul

Truer words have never been spoken.

lunch buffet video

We had a curry buffet lunch at dickens bar, one of the old school pubs at the basement of a hotel. Not a fancy hotel buffet with lobster and movenpick ice cream, this one is solid with salads, 3 different kinds of curry, turkey (thanksgiving?), pasta, fruit, cakes and a too-dry chocolate pudding. Had a 25% discount with one of our credit cards.

I was there early so I was able to survey what was available before everyone rushed to the buffet counters. Perfect opportunity to instagram!! Tried out the video function for the first time, to test against vine.

Vine came out in the beginning of the year (I think) and was hailed as the instagram of video; no surprise that instagram itself added video around June. Both are dead easy to use and, by the large number of videos already posted on both services, will only grow and grow and grow. Lots of informative comparisons abound, and techcrunch kindly gave us a nice table:

instagramvine

What I like about these apps is the ease of use, and because of the short duration, it’s almost essential to pause then move onto the next frame. Pausing on video function of a camera means a second file and you need to use something like iMovie to edit sequences together. Although I ended up editing 3 instagram videos together, it’s not the usual thing to do, just like it’s not usual or necesssary to photoshop instagram photos.

At first glance, there are no fundamental differences between the 2 services, however, because of the way they evolved historically, the user base seem to be slightly different. Techcrunch again,

Where Instagram’s user base is mostly made up of people documenting their feet, coffees, and pets, Vine has attracted a group of users who are pleased by the challenges set forth in the app

Interesting observation. I must admit most of my instagrams are of food, so I sort of fall into that stereotype. Contrast to my first vine of engrish subtitles on a korean drama dvd, which falls into one of those “so bad it’s good” categories. This spontaneonity is what I like about vine, but I’ll probably end up using instagram more — I’m already ingrained into its ecosystem, and its ability to edit, add filters and delete frames is useful; plus I’m not into the instant sharing culture of vine and twitter. Definitely don’t like the gif-like constant looping of vine videos, videos that autoplay are a pet peeve of mine.

I’m quite pleased with this first effort on instagram. The filter, graininess and choppiness give it a vintage feel, almost like watching an old 8mm reel.

kids and food (on 3 continents)

I was watching 2 different Jamie Oliver programs. The first was his food revolution program where he was in an American elementary school and kids couldn’t even recognise a fresh potato, or tomato, or eggplant, or any fresh vegetable. They could all recognise french fries and fried chicken though. The second was an old Naked Chef program where he visited his old school in Essex. He brought out some buffalo mozzarella and asked the class if they recognised it, and most of the class said yes.

The point? It is a sad state of affairs in the US, where kids have never seen nor come into contact with fresh food. Is it typical? I’m no expert, but anecdotally, I can say that America is where I have found the greasiest, most processed, hugest portions of food as well as the least adventurous eaters. I must say, I’m not immune to a big steak or good pizza myself, but there has to be a balance between fast food and fresh, home-cooked food. And NO EXCUSE for parents for bringing up kids who can’t even recognise a potato.

It’s slightly better in the UK, though it seems that the trend is alarming skewing towards obesity caused by fast and processed food. At least people in the UK are more accepting of non-British food. Chicken tikka masala is the national dish, after all (and I say this with sarcasm because it’s certainly not a true Indian dish.) McDonald’s in France feels less like fast food than in America, it’s still McDonald’s.

Which brings me to another part of the world, where palates are developed early in life and food is for enjoyment, not just sustenance. On buzzfeed recently there was an article about a Japanese toddler called Rino who loves trying new food. The youtube channel is called Rino which eats world various dishes and ignoring the slight Engrishness of the descriptions, every single video on there is worth watching. Repeatedly. The construct is simple,

a few shots of food prep — pad thai in one video, a Spanish tortilla in another — then many many shots of Rino shoveling the food in her mouth, usually with total delight

There is no need to understand Japanese, the delight is easy to see. Watch this one where she tries pho. At 2:10 when she picks up a tail-on shrimp and takes out the tail. Then at 3:40 when she claims her meal as her own. And good manners too, at 5:58 when she says thank you. She’s 3 years old and other videos in the channel show her trying bibimbap, tiramisu and tortilla. Very cute.