09-01-09 - Hukkle

Hukkle was a pleasant surprise; it's very peaceful and gentle. It of course is in the vein of "Into great silence" and "The tree of wooden clogs" (both superb and much better), being movies with basically zero dialog that try to depict the feeling of life in a certain time and place. It's not actually about a "hiccup that travels through the village" as the jacket description says, that sounds like an awful cheezy gimmick straight out of Amelie or some shit; rather one guy has hiccups and we see the village go past him and mainly the camera just wanders off and watches various different people go about their day. There's not much of a plot to speak of, but it's actually a very easy watch, there's lots going on all the time, he doesn't challenge you with real time pacing.

There are a few really bad tasteless moments, mainly when the director uses modern technology / computer graphics for the growing plants bit, the airplane bit, the skeleton bit, all really tacky and out of place. There are also quite a few cuts and fades that are rather too cute; oh look he panned to a house and then cross-faded to a photo of that same house inside a bar, how fucking not clever and fucking film-school is that bullshit . It would work much better if the camera was just still and quiet and let the scene do the talking. Actually overall the direction/camera choices are really awful, but what the camera is seeing is so touching it works anyway.

I watched the three special episodes of "The Thick of It" that you can get on piratebay (it's sort of the spiritual predecessor to the movie "In the Loop"). I'd love to see the whole series but can't find it. At first I was worried that it would be too fast-talking and weird-British-accenty and impossible to follow, but after about 5 minutes my brain settled into the flow and it was no problem. It's quite excellent. I'm not sure it's a comedy, I don't think I actually laughed at any moment, but it's very engaging.

Someone loaned me this awesome old french cookbook "Bocuse dans votre cuisine". It's quite fascinating because it's so out of touch with what home cooks want to know, it's from an era when proper cooking was still considered to be this incredibly difficult precise thing. The recipes are really interesting to me because in order to simplify them for the home chef, he didn't abandon any technical rigor, instead he just made the dishes very basic. It's the exact opposite of what cookbooks now are like - modern cookbooks will give you lots of fancy ingredients that you mash together, and they will abandon all concern for doing things right. The Bocuse book literally has recipes for things like "haricots verts" with absolutely nothing added, zero embellishments, it's literally fucking "boil your green beans", but it's still a full page of instructions detailing exactly the precise way you should do each step. There are instructions like "wash quickly and gently in cold tap water" for each ingredient different amounts of washing and different care steps. Every other instructions is specified to be done "soigneusement" (eg. with attention, with care).

Inspired by Bocuse I present : How to refresh day old bread :

Step 1 : make sure you bought a proper loaf with a tender gluteny interior and a crusty exterior. If you didn't, then just throw away your piece of shit.

Step 2 : store overnight in a paper bag wrapped in a plastic bag. The plastic bag should be one of those crinkly plastic bags from the grocery store checkout, not a zip-loc or sticky filmy plastic bag. The paper bag should be closed loosely but not sealed. Leave on the counter away from sun and heat and moisture sources.

Step 3 : heat the oven to 400-450.

Step 4 : remove bread from bags and slice in half. Spray the interior with a fine water mist, just one or two squirts depending on the mister. The interior of the bread should be damp to the touch but there should be no visible water drops. Put the halves of bread back together.

Step 5 : (optional) apply a very thin coat of fat to the bread; this will make the crust crispy instead of just hard. If it's an italion loaf, use an olive oil aerosol can. For a baguette, use a very light spread of butter.

Step 6 : place in pre-heated oven. Watch through window for doneness. Desired doneness is to your taste, but generally the crust should just start to pucker and crack but not brown.

Step 7 : Remove from oven and let sit on the counter to cool. Do not separate halves of bread, it should be steaming inside.

Note that most "artisan" (lol) bread you buy in an American grocery store is basically day old already, so this should be done on the first day and then it should be thrown out.

The cupcake place (Cupcake Royale) on Capitol Hill sucks pretty bad. The cake is too dense and bland, and the frostings are too heavy and sugary and excessive. It just is not made soigneusement. And we still have no real bakery on the hill that makes actually tasty things like loaves of bread or croissants.

I have no problem with cupcakes in general as a food form, though we certainly don't need shops that *only* make cupcakes. A cupcake is basically the lowest form of cake. It's just basic standard fucking cake batter and frosting. That's like basic cake 101. If you went to an actual bakery, you would never order the fucking yellow cake with frosting because it's too boring, you could get the fucking almond-flour olive oil cake or the lemon curd meringue cake or something actually fucking interesting.

The recent explosion of cupcake places in Seattle is another real "WTF Seattle" moment for me. Seriously, cupcakes? First of all, all these places suck balls, they focus on the "nostalgia" and cutesiness factor instead of just making things that are actually good. But, more importantly, can you be more fucking Sex in the City ten years ago? Have you heard of the fucking Magnolia Bakery? Have you no shame? This is of course the city that is still in the middle of the tapas craze (I'm sure Arnie Becker from LA Law would be excited about this new fun "tapas thing" that everyone's doing). I'm embarassed for all of us.

" *** There will be a Mariners game tonight at Safeco Field from 7:10 PM to 10:10 PM."

This is the new fucking bane of my existance. If I was rich I would buy up all the Seattle sports teams and just disband them.


brian said...

I'm glad there aren't great bakeries around and the Cupcake Royale cupcakes are so easily resisted because otherwise I'd be fat.

Just like Bluebird ice creams, while delicious, aren't well temperature controlled so they're iced over a bit, usually, or else I'd have a hard time not eating them constantly.

Just like Molly Moon's cycles one flavor per epoch, roughly, or else I'd be more tempted to try their rotating selections.

I say, fewer delicious carbohydrates, more delicious proteins and fats.

Thatcher Ulrich said...

"Arnie Becker", LOL!

old rants