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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

most wanted: to live closer to Dotori

SUNDAY night I was subject to a real treat. They're never great (Sunday nights, not treats) and so to receive a belated birthday present of dinner at Dotori in Finsbury Park was a welcome distraction from the Monday morning looming ahead.

For my diner and I it used to be Monday nights that, whenever possible, were our guilty pleasure: splashing our limited student budget on half price sushi at Brighton's Moshi Moshi. It never failed to amaze us how indulgently we could dine on sushi for only £10 a head. 

Now in London though, I think we may have found our substitute. And it is most definitely an upgrade.

Dotori is a Korean/Japanese restaurant, whose one small room I discovered full to the brim  with diners and overflowing with take-away custom too. Considering that it was a Sunday night I took this as a very good sign. Hurrying in to this haven of warmth on a bitterly cold night I was relieved to find that my friend - having been there before - had had the foresight to book. 

The aroma of Asian spices that hit the senses upon entry wrought havoc on my already rumbling stomach. And the steaming earthenware dishes that were being served up all around me were almost too much to handle. 

We opted for a couple of our sushi favourites to begin with. The crunch roll - tempura prawns and avocado - was amazing value for money and delicious too, with an unusual crunchy coating alongside the usual envelopment of sesame seeds. Following this we ordered a spicy seafood broth and kimchi pork stew. 

But it was the crispy salmon skin maki that stole the show. Upon ordering the waiter warned us that this dish may take a short while to arrive; yet another very good sign. And it was worth the wait. For £2.80 - yes, that's all - 8 pieces of the crispiest skin wrapped in rice and seaweed arrived at our table. The value was unbelievable. And the taste divine.

So, the food was a winner. And the price a steal, especially considering we were filled to bursting point with the freshest of dishes. It's not claiming to be a 5 star destination, simply great homemade food in a relaxed environment. And I already know what I will be ordering on my next visit: the couple next to us were served a mouthwatering plate of beef to be eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves, and the sushi platters looked generous to say the least. 

I only wish I lived closer to Dotori. I envy the locals. Though perhaps that would be dangerous as I can see myself thinking of any excuse to pop in, even just for a quick take-away...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

oh my, what a lovely package you have...

TrueCoffee hot dog : design by subconcious co

LOVELY PACKAGE is a site dedicated to showcasing the best that package design has to offer. Recognisable brands sit alongside small businesses and student work. And besides sourcing the examples themselves, you are invited to submit your own. 

My favourite category is Student Work. The ingenuity is fantastic, displaying some of the quirkiest yet functional ideas. Here are a few of my favourites:

jean-maxime landry : tofu

neal fletcher : spaghetti

yeongkeun : disposable butter

Lovely Package's appeal is broad, whether you are doing research for your own design work or on package design in general, you may also choose to browse for gift inspiration or simply for some entertaining pieces that will put a smile on your face. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

on my plate: lentil and pumkin stew-soup

IT'S been a hectic few days so cooking hasn't featured high on the agenda, which means this week's dish was very much a simple one-pot wonder. And, despite the possibly over-zealous addition of vegetables on my part (though even now, after reading the recipe, I have no idea how I managed to make my casserole dish overflow with so few 'bulky' ingredients) it turned out to be a very satisfying stew-soup.

The method was simple. The flavours were rich. And the aromas along the way were tantalising. The addition of fresh rosemary and garlic to the already softened onions stealing the prize of most delectable aroma of the evening.

Ignoring it's sludge-like appearance - I must improve my food presentation / photography skills - this meal was actually delicious. It's a perfect way to use up a pumpkin once it's fleeting moment in Britain's conscious has passed. A hearty autumnal assembly of flavours; none of which over-power, but all of which create a truly satisfying supper.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

fashion space gallery

THE Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion is where I came across the work of Axel Hoedt. In a large, bright and airy room his photographs silently diffuse an oddly ominous tone. Depicting the costumes worn by those celebrating an annual carnival held in Germany called 'fastnacht', their bizarre and often grotesque appearance is designed to chase off the spirits of winter. Hence the images' unsettling energy. Isolated figures are presented on both large and small scales (my favourite being the postcard sized pictures resting in a row along the left hand wall as you enter) and are interspersed with equally bleak landscapes.

This current exhibition is only on until the weekend, but even if you can't get to it I would recommend visiting this compact venue at some point as it offers a great little culture fix, allowing for a guilt-free interlude from the shopping frenzy on the streets outside (Oxford Circus is just metres away). I will be keeping an eye out for forthcoming events as the gallery's website is promising me shows of 'innovation and excellence'...  And all for free!

profile: Ryan McGinley

PHOTOGRAPHS. Of pretty young things. Where nudity is the norm: whether in solitude with nature or amongst friends of a similar disposition. Voyeuristic connotations may be provoked. And he has come up against much criticism.  

But there is something strangely compelling about viewing Ryan McGinley's photographs. They offer us a window; through which one gazes, fascinated. Emotions are stirred: admiration, disgust; jealousy, lust. Questions may be asked. Would we do what they have done? What kind of person likes or dislikes these images? 

I for one am in a slight quandary. On the one hand I am drawn in by the world that McGinley presents to me, perhaps due to the fact that (as Caroline Stanley writes) the photographs 'can be nostalgic, innocent, and sexual all at once because it’s not about capturing youth, but some shared fantasy version of it.' I am caught in a reverie of carefree frolicking. 

But on the other hand, these images seem just a little bit too contrived, too 'cool'. The colour saturated yet weathered feel, and flares of light entering the frame from all angles emphasising or obscuring certain aspects, are reminiscent of days before the digital camera. An effect that many today are trying to recreate. 

And at times the apparent spontaneity of an image is doubtful. Though this may be intentional if one is to interpret McGinley's images as simply presenting fanciful notions of what it is to be young, rather than a reality.

Yet he has clearly got something right. McGinley is the youngest artist to have had a solo show at the Whitney Museum in New York. And his black and white photography is not only sensitively shot but shows a true admiration for the human form. 

I think that what I like most about McGinley's work is the juxtapositions it often presents, involving a subject matter that can be both beautiful and awkward. And the nude is not always explicitly present, at times simply alluded to - a reliable presence that can be located if sought (most notably in his Moonmilk series). This is what makes me believe that he is not using the body in a exploitative manner but simply as a tool. I am as yet undecided as for what though. 

Friday, 5 November 2010

most wanted: colour

FOR those of us living in towns and cities a colourful Autumn may not be the first thing that springs to mind. If you're lucky enough to encounter trees then hopefully you have been treated to a marvellous display of fiery reds, burnt ambers, vivid yellows and all that's in between. But if -  especially in the ever fleeting daylight - you are not one of the lucky ones, here are some potential injections of colour to your everday life. 

diem chau - carved craoyola crayons

yunyeen yong - jooze

rainbow lunch

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

on my plate: tomato tarte tatin and hedgehog potatoes

THIS tomato tarte tatin recipe has been sitting in my kitchen for ages, but not sure of what to serve it with other than a salad garnish meant that I hadn't attempted to make it for fear of not providing a 'substantial' dinner for the meat eater of the household. Then I came across a recipe on the Salad Club blog for hedgehog potatoes and my dish was almost complete. To tie it all together I went for a rocket cream.

When it came to the making of the tarte I had a slight glitch. Not enough red onions. And not enough time to buy more. I substituted with white ones and then proceeded to add slightly more sugar at the frying stage than the recipe stated in an attempt to balance the flavour. Mistake number one. Mistake number two was that I hadn't noticed that a caramel needed to be made, and having never done one before I think I may have overcompensated in the sugar department yet again. The result was a tarte tatin that was too sweet for my liking, though one of my diners disagreed. Of course the topping of tangy goats cheese helped to an extent, as did the peppery watercress garnish with added toasted pumkin seeds for a nutty finish.

The hedgehog potatoes were a great novelty, though one of my favourite parts of a roast potato is making a mountain so that I can also munch on them later and these were not so great cold. The rocket cream was a welcome addition, however I don't think I got the balance of flavours quite right.

Overall it was an enjoyable meal. And I was extremely proud when the tarte turned out leaving not a single tomato in the dish. In future though I would definitely use much less sugar and probably add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Or I may even try out this version with anchovies, as I'm a sucker for anything involving salty sweet flavour combinations.