Tuesday, 9 November 2010
The reception was held on Monday 6 September at the Korean Cultural Centre near Trafalgar Square. Unlike what I expected there were not many people at the reception and I think the 24-hour tube strike which started that evening was somewhat accountable for the low turnout.
The Korean Cultural Centre was displaying some pictures and information about the director and his films. There were a couple of TV screens showing scenes from his films. Most impressively, there was a wall dedicated to his works in the basement where the centre’s library is situated. The wall was covered with his film posters along with the depiction of a pig’s bottom – a very cute reference to his debut work and the director’s autograph.
The reception itself seemed rather uneventful in general. There was someone from Independent Cinema Office who spoke a little bit about Hong Sangsoo and his first UK retrospective. When introduced, our man Hong Sangsoo himself only spoke briefly to thank everyone for the invitation and welcome.
Most of the time the director spent his time outside smoking and speaking on the phone. I felt rather sorry for him as it looked like he wasn’t comfortable being there. I thought the evening was going to end like this. We were having drinks and food while he was spending time away from us. However, we were encouraged to ask him any questions we would like to ask. When he came back in, he happened to come and sit next to us. To my surprise, he remembered seeing us at the BFI Southbank even mentioning my little brother. So we chatted for a little while, I mean mainly Rob with him.
During our private conversation, Mr. Hong said that Rob reminded him of a famous American actor. Even before he said the name of the actor, we knew it was Paul Newman. Believe it or not, quite a number of people (most of them happened to be Koreans) have already said the very same thing to him. Looking at the picture below, you may not agree with them, but it’s 100% true and it became one of our little jokes. Now that a prominent film director had approved it, we felt quite safe to talk about it. It certainly was the highlight of our evening, which made my lovely husband a very happy man and Mr. Hong Sangsoo his favourite Korean film director.
Friday, 8 October 2010
Going back to the story, I was very excited to learn that there would be the first UK retrospective of Hong Sangsoo’s complete films at BFI Southbank (here for more detailed information). This was definitely an opportunity not to miss. However, mainly because of my husband’s work commitment, I could only book a couple of films. The first one we went to see was the preview of Hahaha, Hong’s recent film (not the latest though, that being Oki’s Movie showing at BFI London Film Festival). There was also a session called ‘An Evening with Hong Sangsoo’ after the film, but we thought it might be too late for us. Still quite unexpectedly, but very appropriately, the director was briefly introduced to the audience at the start of the film. In short, the film was brilliant - very funny and wonderfully acted. I liked the fact that the present narrative scenes were in black & white as if they were the still shots of the past whereas the past stories were presented as if happening at the present. To my relief, my husband also enjoyed the film immensely. Without doubt, I think the endless drinking scenes by both men and women amused him the most.
When we were having a quick drink at the bar as you do here at BFI Southbank, I spotted our respected director walking past. Encouraged by Rob, I managed to walk up to him to say hi. He seemed a very quiet and pleasant man in person. I also thanked him for the enjoyment we had from the film. Not knowing what else to say, I mumbled something quite silly. Yes, I then told him that my little brother was doing his Master’s in film studies in Paris and I wished he would make as good films as his in the future. I know I felt like a winner of the most embarrassing old sister of the year but never mind. It was such a brief encounter that he wouldn’t remember much about me (or so I thought).
Anyway, I am very happy to report that this whole retrospective thing initiated me to become a member of BFI and now I’m going back to BFI Southbank quite regularly.
Monday, 13 September 2010
We saw the famous Chelsea pensioners, the residents of Royal Hospital Chelsea, as well as many star cars from Le Mans, classic cars and supercars.
There were a couple of car transporters – one of which was from the Scottish racing team called Ecurie Ecosse. Apparently Rob used to see the racing car being loaded onto this transporter in Edinburgh when he was young.
A cardboard cut-out of supposedly Steve McQueen and his car, Gulf Porsche 917 which featured in the famous racing film called Le Mans.
Bristol Fighter, one of Rob’s dream cars.
This FIAT 500 is more like my style.
And foodwise, we had a crappy burger for lunch after queuing for ages as you do at this of events.
But we had some wonderful cocktails at Harvey Nichols 5th Floor.
All in all I think it was a nice Sunday out.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
The honour of the first entry of the second category goes to Ayoush, a North African restaurant/bar in Mayfair, London. Wait. Before I begin, I must admit that I'm not overly familiar with North African cuisine myself. Well, that would be an understatement. I just know some elements of it like... couscous, which I have loved so much ever since I first tried it in my salad in the UK. Yes, I have never heard of couscous in Korea. I don't know if I'm right in thinking North Africans eat lots of lamb like the people in Middle Eastern countries. I hope they do as I am also a big fan of lamb dishes even though we don't normally get lamb in Korea. You see, the thing I like about living here in the UK is that I get more chances of trying different food from all over the world. The more I try them, I'll get to know more about them, I hope.
Anyway, I think I've been to a Moroccan restaurant only once if I remember it correctly. It was again in Paris with my husband and my brother's family. Looking back we were very lucky to find this child-friendly restaurant by chance. That's right, we didn't have Moroccan food in mind when we set off. Unfortunately the Indian restaurant my lovely sister-in-law wanted to try was closed on that particular day and with a very little boy to feed, we had to find an alternative rather quick among those restaurants available on the same street. I don't remember what the others had but both my husband and I had a lamb tagine with couscous and it was one of the most delicious meals ever. Even for the greedy people like us, the portion size was really generous and the lamb shank was so juicy and tender. The food was inexpensive and the staff was also very friendly. So all in all it was a rather nice experience.
It was with this expectation when we chose to dine at Ayoush. I liked the look of the restaurant from the outside and the interior wasn't bad either. We shared one starter dish (Foul Akhdar: green broad beans cooked in garlic, cumin, fresh coriander and a touch of tomato sauce and olive oil, £4.25) and some bread, which wasn't too bad but not exceptional.
As we both like lamb and couscous, my husband ordered Lamb Couscous (£14.50), which is served with Moroccan special flavoured sauce and I chose Lamb Tagine (£13.50) for our mains. We both found the portion size rather small and the food not so tasty - couscous just bland and lamb not juicy or tender enough. It seriously lacked the warmth and flavour of North Africa. Honestly it didn't taste much better than the ready-made food you would get from the supermarkets. Oh, maybe a bit better, but definitely not much.
Being conveniently located, not far from Oxford Street, it is possibly just one of those tourist traps in central London. Or maybe it might be okay for a short stop for a drink or two with friends and work colleagues. However, if you are looking for a Moroccan restaurant which serves decent food, personally I wouldn't recommend this place to you.
Ayoush London, 58 James St, London, W1U 1HG Tel: 020 7935 9839
Monday, 23 August 2010
Afterwards I was happy to find out that they had stores in the UK too. I have been to the one at St. Pancras International several times while waiting for the Eurostar trains. But I had never been to the other stores until a couple of weeks back when I visited the Marylebone store. We were with our old friend for lunch. We all had different dishes - my friend and I opted for the salad and my husband the quiche. To our disappointment, none of dishes we ordered looked or tasted exceptional. My roasted vegetable salad was served cold unlike what I expected and they tasted rather like they were straight from the jars. The only thing I still enjoyed was their bread.
I know the company is originally from Belgium, not France, and has over 100 stores in many countries including USA and Japan. I really want to like this place as I like their philosophy and concept as well as their bread. However, it seems a bit overrated here in London and rather pricey in terms of food. I'd love to see its food being more personal and homely.
Friday, 20 August 2010
Well... I have my excuses of course. Maybe I shouldn't have chosen to write my blog in English in the first place. English being my second language, I never feel quite comfortable using it even though I've been living in the UK for a number of years (and yes, being shy doesn't help when it comes to the language skills). In any case, I've never been any good at writing in general whether it is in English or in Korean. And I probably shouldn't been too ambitious (even though I said I wasn't) about this blogging business. I didn't know what I really wanted to do with the blog! I still don't have any clear ideas.
It's hard to admit but I've come to the conclusion: maybe I'm not up for it and I should just leave it behind. But then again, people say that you can get third time lucky, right? After all, isn't it simply too sad to leave this wonderful world of blogging like this? Well, I think so. And I've decided for the third time (and possibly the last), I'll give it another chance. This time I'm going to drop all my expectations and just to try to be myself. That's right. I'm not a chef nor a writer, so don't expect anything grand coming out of me. Just try to make it something personal. There are no rules and therefore, it could be about anything I like. Hope it works this time and if not, I promise I will go away quietly and gracefully (or rather dragged off kicking and screaming!!!).