Month: February 2014

Foreign Friday: Let’s Eat!

IMG_0305Korean dramas are super popular right now.  I can’t pinpoint the population with which they are popular… probably people like me that watch foreign language television?  Anyway, I’ve been hearing a lot about Korean shows and the title of this one enticed me to give it a try.  Well, the title and the teaser: what do four foodies and a murder have in common?

Let me just say, I’m absolutely loving Let’s Eat!  I identify with the main character so much.  The constant food imagery, the way they paint the lifestyle of a single woman living alone, and the hints of the murder mystery makes this basically the perfect show for me.

jungyooyeon-singledaysLee Soo Kyung is a 33-year-old divorced woman living alone.  Everyone makes a huge deal about this.  Soo Kyung doesn’t let the pressure to get remarried bother her and manages to live a very pleasant life privately.  She likes to watch “American dramas” like The Walking Dead, and mainly keeps the company of her dog, whose name is Che Guevara (“Bara” for short). What Soo Kyung really loves is eating.  Every episode has a sequence of Soo Kyung eating indulgently, almost orgasmically.  Eating delicious food is truly her passion.

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Soo Kyung is perfectly capable of doing things by herself, but struggles with eating alone.  I feel this struggle.  Restaurants alone are hard, and some portions are simply too much for one person.  Soo Kyung prefers to be alone, but when a dinner offer is made she just can’t resist.  She is obsessed with a food blog and works at a small law firm as the chief secretary.  The series starts with Soo Kyung coming home to learn her next door neighbor, another woman living alone, has died after choking on her dinner.

319653Koo Dae Young, Soo Kyung’s sketchy neighbor is a definite foodie as well.  His apartment is barely furnished and he sleeps on the floor with a blanket and pillow.  Soo Kyung doesn’t trust him and calls him a con artist type.  He knows a lot of information about people, but is generally good-natured.  He is later revealed to be an insurance agent, but there’s still something a little off about him.  I have a hunch that he’s the food blogger Soo Kyung is so into.  When it comes time to eat, Dae Young always instructs on the best way to enjoy what’s about to be consumed.  This usually leads to someone saying something like, “but all pizza is the same!”  Dae Young will then launch into and elegant diatribe about the food at hand.  He is admired by Soo Kyung’s spinster coworker, Attorney Oh, as well as Jin Yi.

Let's_Eat_OST_Part_4Yoon Jin Yi is a young, student-aged girl who moves into the apartment the woman had died in.  Jin Yi comes from a rich family, but is temporarily on her own making ends meet.  Her father has gone to prison (I don’t remember why, but it’s not a violent crime, something white collar) and her mother, in shock, has moved to America with her brother, Jin Yi’s uncle, to get through the difficult time.  Jin Yi is a very optimistic girl who doesn’t feel the gravity of her situation.  She is very naive about finances, having never had to think about supporting herself before.  She befriends Dae Young and Soo Kyung and really brings them together as a group.  She also receives advice from Soo Kyung’s friend Kyung Mi.

327424Kim Hak Moon is the lawyer and owner of the law firm for which Soo Kyung works. It is revealed that they are alumni of the same college.  While Soo Kyung doesn’t remember Hak Moon, he had a huge crush on her because she was beautiful and sought-after.  Lawyer Kim, as he’s called by his staff, on the other hand, was a total nerd in school so Soo Kyung never noticed him.  He hired her and seems to be working on some kind of revenge now that he’s successful and sexy.  (I’m totally into Lawyer Kim.)  He seems to derive genuine enjoyment from watching Soo Kyung eat, and can get a little flustered because of how sexual it can seem.

I’m on my fifth episode and the “foodie club” has just been formed.  Right now, it’s just Soo Kyung, Dae Young, and Jin Yi.  Lawyer Kim has not met Jin Yi, but it seems that he is the fourth member of this group.

In the meantime, the neighborhood in which Soo Kyung, Dae Young, and Jin Yi live is being stalked by a murderer who hits women over the head from behind with a blunt object.  The murders so far are not central to the plot.  Let’s Eat pretty much exemplifies the term “food porn.”

The story really revolves around Soo Kyung and her relationships– especially her relationship with food!  I totally need a foodie club like this.  Who’s in?!

From what I can tell (because I don’t speak Korean), there are 16 episodes so far of Let’s Eat.  Twelve of them are available on Viki.com and the English translations have been great!  I 100% recommend checking out this show!

PS: I’m also obsessed with Let’s Eat’s perfect theme song.

Stacked: Stephanie Cmar’s Donut Pop-up!

IMG_4952I was on a mission last weekend: a mission for donuts.  If you’ve been reading, you know I love Top Chef.  My favorite cheftestant from last season, fellow Bostonian Stephanie Cmar, recently left No. 9 Park.  I found out thanks to twitter that she would be selling donuts at The Butcher Shop in the south end on Saturday & Sunday 9 am to 11 am for three weekends only.  I planned to get up early on Saturday to try one of her donuts!

Saturday came, and I got up and got going.  I left my house slightly after nine to walk to The Butcher Shop.  I go to restaurants in that area all the time, so I neglected to look up the address and ended up completely overshooting it.  When I got there around 9:40, the 250 donuts she made had already sold out!  I did get the chance to meet and chat with Stephanie, who was so, so sweet!  I got a picture with her (in which I look completely hideous) that you may have caught on my instagram.  I was even more determined to get up on Sunday morning for donuts!

Sunday, I got up even earlier, even before I get up for work.  I left the house at ten past 8, and arrived at The Butcher shop around 8:30.  I was fourth in line!  In front of me was a couple who read about the pop-up on Boston Eater, and a woman who, like me, had missed out on donuts the day before.  She was actually in line when they announced they had run out at 9:20!  They ran out of donuts within 20 minutes on Saturday!  Even if I hadn’t overshot it the previous day, I’d have been out of luck.  Within minutes, the line behind us wound down Tremont Street and we were super happy we were there so early.  Stephanie came out, announced that they had made so many more donuts than yesterday, and told us to come on in!

Last weekend, Stephanie’s flavors were chocolate Bavarian creme and blood orange glazed.  I tried both, and they were both so delicious!

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Stephanie kindly remembered me from the previous day, and let me snap another picture with her looking a little more put together this time!

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So, here’s your mission for this weekend.  Get up super early and get yourself to The Butcher Shop, located at 552 Tremont Street, for Stephanie Cmar’s donuts!  They run $3 a piece and go quickly!  Stephanie’s doing two different flavors each weekend and I am seriously considering going back again and again!

Dinner at Highland Kitchen

This winter has been a rough one.  I hadn’t really seen any of my friends since my birthday last month… we’ve all been hibernating a little.  Last Friday, we finally got out of our apartments for a good meal.  My friend Sarah chose Highland Kitchen in Somerville.  The cuisine, described as “Seasonal American Comfort Food,” was absolutely perfect for the rainy night.

We had a party of four, and we were all starving after our work days.  We heard the wait could be pretty intense, so we got there early, around 6:30.  We got seated immediately!  Within 15 minutes of being seated, the restaurant was packed and we were glad we got there when we did.

Everything that came out of the kitchen looked so, so good.  The cocktail menu was pretty overwhelming.  The winner was the elderflower margarita that Chelsea ordered, which was perfectly sweet and tangy!

We went ahead and ordered the buffalo fried brussel sprouts for an appetizer.  Man, these were delicious!  I’m a big fan of buffalo anything.  I make buffalo cauliflower at home fairly often, and would like to try to replicate a version of this sometime.

I ordered the pan roasted chicken which came with an herb gravy, sweet potato hash, and broccolini.  The chicken was super moist and cut like butter.  The sweet potato hash was the perfect side.

Sarah, the resident vegetarian, ordered a veggie burger and was over the moon about it.  She said it tasted like meat and thought it could be the best veggie burger she’s ever eaten.  Kelsey ordered the gumbo, which I had the opportunity to sample– its spiciness was perfect!

clockwise: ambiance @ Highland Kitchen, elderflower margarita, buffalo brussel sprouts, & my delicious pan roasted chicken!

clockwise: ambiance @ Highland Kitchen, elderflower margarita, buffalo brussel sprouts, & my delicious pan roasted chicken!

Finally, after reading rave reviews about the banana bread pudding, we decided to order it for dessert to share.  I usually only eat chocolate desserts, but I’m a huge fan of bananas foster and that’s exactly what this tasted like!

my favorite part of the meal-- dessert!

my favorite part of the meal– dessert!

This bread pudding was super light and airy, drenched in warm caramel and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Chelsea confessed she doesn’t even like bananas but loved the dessert.  The wait staff was nice and let us stay and chat without pressuring us to move on.  We all left extremely full and extremely happy!

I’d love to go back to Highland Kitchen– there’s a lot more on the menu I want to try!  I definitely suggest checking this place out!

My friends and I are looking forward to nicer weather so we can get out to more new spots.  We typically need them to be vegetarian-friendly– suggestions always appreciated!

{photos via iphone5 // all opinions are my own}

Amazing Race Recap: Back in the Saddle

Sunday marked the start of a new season of Amazing Race: All Stars!  I actually started watching this show when Youtubers Joey Graceffa and Meghan Camarena announced that they would be on it a couple seasons back.  After watching their season, I got super into this show thanks to Hulu.  This is the 24th season, so you probably know the drill by now, but just in case: teams of two people with some relationship to each other race around the world completing challenges as they go.  There’s a lot of Amazing Race lingo, but host Phil Keough explains it, along with some cultural facts, as we go.  It’s an exhilarating, athletic, international experience.  When Meghan and Joey announced that they would be on this newest all star season, I knew I’d be watching and recapping for you!

The teams: mother-son team Margie & Luke, Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy, cowboys Jet & Cord, newlyweds Brendon & Rachel, twins Natalie & Nadiya, country singers Caroline & Jennifer, father-son team Dave & Conner, engaged couple Jessica & John, Youtubers Joey & Meghan, cousins and “Afghanimals” Leo & Jamal, and best friends from Kentucky Bopper & Mark.

The show starts out with a sad announcement— Bopper has pancreatitis, and is not recommended to race.  It was super emotional to just see his partner’s face at the announcement.  I cried!  Mallory, also representing Kentucky, steps in as Mark’s partner.

The race starts off at UCLA.  Phil announces they are going to Guangzhou, China.  To be on the first flight, they must find the symbol for Guangzhou on the hats of the UCLA marching band members.

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And they’re off!  For those of you who watched Meghan & Joey’s original season: Meghan didn’t fall this time!

The teams on the first flight are Dave & Conner, Leo & Jamal, Nadiya & Natalie, and Jet & Cort.

In Guangzhou China, the teams look for their first clue in the wedding dress district, which I actually think every city should have.

That clue leads the teams to Canton Tower, where the next clue waits in the ferris wheel of rotating bubbles.

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The clue was only in even numbered bubbles, which shook things up even more for the teams.  The even-numbered cars let them know to search the stadium below them.  In the stadium below, it’s time for the Road Block!

This Road Block challenges one teammate to get up on the high wire and do 5 flips.  Once the Road Block is completed, it’s on to the Pit Stop at the Opera House– the end of the first leg of the challenge!  The last team there is eliminated.  Below, you can see the results.

Because each team member is only allowed to do half of the Road Blocks, I always play a little game with myself and chose whether I’d be the one to do each one.  I’d totally do this Road Block!  Sure, heights can be scary, but the ones that don’t require strength are the ones I’d have to do.  Your turn: would you perform stunts on the high wire in China?

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Girls Recap: Incidentals

IMG_0316After the big blowout at the beach house, I was anticipating a little bit of fallout.  But wait, did I miss something?  The girls don’t seem to be mad or bitter.  No lingering hurt feelings have come up.  Yet.

Adam wins a role on Broadway in the revival of Major Barbara.  At the time Hannah gets the good news, she happens to be interviewing Patti Lupone (!!) who sends her words of caution.  She warns that Adam will be living and breathing this play and his fellow cast mates.  Considering this is Hannah, I don’t feel that her reactions were too over the top.  What I do feel is over the top, is Hannah’s paycheck!

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She’s still at GQ doing advertorials, but when she gets her first paycheck, she remarks that it is way more than her rent.  She’d better not mean that one paycheck is way more than her monthly New York rent.  I’m insulted by the prospect of Hannah making more money than I do.  Her next advertorial assignment lands her a room at the Gramercy, where she plans a celebratory get-together on Adam’s behalf.

Things are not going well with Marnie.  She runs into a friend who is starting her own art gallery, then off to Ray’s.  I can’t figure out what Marnie wants from this relationship, but Ray wants a real girlfriend.  Marnie is clearly not willing to admit they hang out, let alone get in a relationship with him.  He dumps her.  Marnie pretends she doesn’t care, then cries in the bathroom of the Gramercy.

Things are finally getting interesting with Jessa!  She is bored to tears with her wholesome children’s boutique job.  Jasper from rehab swoops in, having shown up at Jessa’s address first.  (Shosh asked him if he was there to rape her.)  He is a toxic influence on Jessa, who arrives at the Gramercy with him and completely high on coke.  No one makes too much of a fuss about Jessa’s relapse.  Hannah simply states that maybe she wasn’t ready to leave rehab.  Yeah, that’s pretty clear.

Adam has brought his new friend and fellow castmate Desi to his celebrations.  Hannah hates him, but Elijah and Shosh love him, recognizing him from One Tree Hill.  When Hannah comes out of the bathroom with Marnie, post-consoling, Desi is playing Bob Dylan on guitar.  In a moment I’ve wanted to live my whole life, but never could because of my completely lack of ability to sing, Marnie joins in harmonizing.  Hannah hates this too.  Elijah joins in.

There’s an absolutely hilarious moment with Jasper and Shoshanna, buzzing in conversation.  “But you’re clearly on coke,” he says to her.  No, this is just how fast Shosh talks.  Then there’s a noooo moment, when Jessa breaks into her place of employment to steal some money for more coke.

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I’m thinking a few things:

  • last week’s fight will catch up with them eventually
  • Jessa’s headed for big trouble
  • maybe just maybe Hannah and Adam’s relationship will finally hit the rocks

What do you guys think?

Foreign Friday: Ipartment

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Now that Top Chef season 11 is sadly over, I have no more recaps for you.  Instead, today is Foreign Friday!  I love languages, and although I only fully understand English, I’ve never let a little language-barrier stop me from enjoying TV!  Most of the foreign TV I watch is English language, either British, Australian, or Canadian.  I’ve enjoyed many a Japanese show, both live action and anime, so I’m used to hearing that.  I’ve studied French and Italian, so romance languages don’t sound foreign to my ear.  This time, however, I tried something completely different: Chinese.

I stumbled upon Ipartment when searching for Friends— allegations that this Chinese sitcom ripped off Friends and various other American shows are all over the internet.  As an avid Friends fan myself, I was intrigued.  I initially pronounced it “ip-partment” (as in chip, minus the ch), but wikipedia set me straight: it’s eye-partment, the i standing for “ai,” meaning love.  The Chinese name of this show is Ai Qing Gong Yu, which means Love Apartment.

When watching foreign television, you not only have to get used to the language, but also the cultural differences a show may portray.  Admittedly, I don’t know anything about Chinese culture.  I didn’t know what to expect.  As aforementioned, I’m used to Japanese shows so I modeled my expectations on this, assuming that the Asian cultures would share some elements.  Mostly, it felt very much like an American sitcom.  Ipartment is a fast-talking show, packed with comedic moments and pop-culture references that even an American can understand.

Ipartment is about 7 young people, 3 women and 4 men, who all live in the same apartment building in Shanghai.  The first episode features the wedding of a couple who met in the apartment building.  As a wedding gift, the building is renamed Love Apartment at their request.  All couples in love receive free water and electricity, and half off rent.  This of course leads to some deception for a good deal.  Here’s what I was able to understand about the characters:

Zhan Bo

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After studying computer science abroad, Zhan Bo returns to China.  (Wikipedia says he went to MIT— woo Boston!)  His sister, Yi Fei, already lived in Love Apartment and he moves in with her.  He meets Wan Yu on the bus and falls for her.  He’s a little socially awkward.

Wan Yu

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The daughter of a wealthy banker, Wan Yu ran away to avoid an arranged marriage.  She was supposed to go to music school in New York.  She’s pretty happy-go-lucky and that attitude seems to serve her well.  After meeting Zhan Bo on the bus, she moves in with him and his sister at Love Apartment.

Xiao Xian

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One of the only characters who lived in Love Apartment before the start of the show, Xiao Xian is the host of a late night radio show called “Your Moon, My Heart.”  He seems to just pop into the others’ apartments Kramer-style, which leads to many moments of comedy.

Yi Fei

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Zhan Bo’s older sister, Yi Fei is a PhD graduate who works at a university.  She is a very strong personality— forceful, competitive, and bossy.  She seems to be a meddler, thinking she knows the best recourse for many situations.  She’s the other Love Apartment resident who lived there prior to the show.

Zi Qiao

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Wikipedia calls him a “freelancer,” but he’s more of a swindler.  He shows up at the wedding in the first episode trying to sell his health supplement.  When the priest falls ill (he might have actually died?) in the bathroom, Zi Qiao takes over his duties to make a few bucks.  There’s a great moment of him pretending to speak English here.

Mei Jia

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Zi Qiao’s ex-girlfriend, Mei Jia also shows up to the wedding uninvited… looking to gorge on free food.  After hearing about the couple’s discount, she and Zi Qiao pretend to be a couple and move in together, despite their dislike of each other.  Mei Jia is a silly girl, who loves cute things and tends to scream with delight.  She falls for Guan Gu as soon as she sees him.

Guan Gu

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A Japanese man who is tricked by Mei Jia and Zi Qiao into moving in with them to share the burden of the rent, Guan Gu doesn’t show up until the second episode.  The fact that Chinese is not his first language is a source of humor in the show.  He is a manga artist, specifically the artist of Mei Jia’s favorite manga.  I dig Guan Gu, especially for the several Sailor Moon posters he hangs in his room, but his name bugs me— it definitely sounds Chinese and not Japanese.

I was only able to watch two episodes with subtitles, and I really wish I could keep on watching!  I started the third, but the subtitles dropped out after the first 10 minutes.  While you don’t have to understand every single word to enjoy the show, it simply isn’t feasible to keep watching with no idea what they’re saying.  Still, throughout the first two episodes, I laughed many times.  I’ll definitely scour Youtube to see if I can find more subbed episodes.  As for the allegations that Ipartment has ripped off American sitcoms… don’t all sitcoms do similar things?  I think it’s par for the course.

The two episodes I watched are on viki.com— I recommend checking them out!

Do you have any suggestions for my next Foreign Friday?  Let me know!

Camp Takota

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Grace Helbig is my spirit animal. If you’re into Youtubers like I am, you’ve definitely heard by now about the feature film written by Mamrie Hart. These two, along with Hannah Hart, star in Camp Takota. The film became available on Friday, February 14th on camptakota.com. I went ahead and purchased the film and watched it over the weekend, and I’m here to say it’s definitely worth the watch!

Grace Helbig (formerly DailyGrace and currently itsgrace) plays Elise, whose career goes up in flames suddenly and comes home after being fired to find her fiancé cheating on her… two weeks before their wedding. She drunkenly calls up the owner of Camp Takota, who she had run into earlier that day, and volunteers herself as a counselor for the summer. Mamrie Hart of You Deserve a Drink plays enthusiastic camp director-in-training Maxime, who is completely dedicated to Takota. Hannah Hart, hilarious host of My Drunk Kitchen, plays Allison, the cook of the camp’s mess hall and an aspiring chef.

Some thoughts:

  • I was initially disappointed seeing that Grace’s character had a love story and Mamrie’s character had a love story, but not Hannah’s. I worried that was because of Hannah’s character’s sexual orientation. By the end, we do get a glimmer so I was happy about that. And hey, at least we have a lesbian character! Allison does have a nice story line as well with professional aspirations.
  • Having watched Grace’s vlogs of her time on set, it was great to see things actually come together! It really felt like we, as the Youtube audience, were part of the making of this film. That was nice.
  • Penny Fefferman was a-freaking-dorable! I loved her glasses and propensity toward hand-held gaming. Her storyline with Elise actually reminded me of a little girl for whom I was camp counselor. At the end of the summer, her mother thanked me for making her time there so great. I will just never forget that, or that little girl!
  • We’re not used to seeing Grace, Mamrie, and Hannah as other characters, but their personalities seemed well highlighted by their respective characters. That was nice too.
  • I think I want a Camp Takota shirt…

It’s only $9.99 and it’s super easy to stream— head over to camptakota.com now and check it out for yourself!