Saturday, March 31, 2007

You offend me, you offend my family

Q&A after the movie, originally uploaded by supafly.

I went to the opening night of the 12th Annual Asian American Showcase yesterday. It was, as always, full of delicious free food (this time, sushi, lumpia, and brownies from Mulan), great art, music, and movies. There was also some celebrity sightings. Namely, Sung Kang and Roger Fan, actors from Better Luck Tomorrow. Justin Lin, the movie's director was there too. His new movie, "Finishing the Game," premiered after the reception. (I scored a free ticket from one of Sharon's friends - woohoo! )
The movie was really entertaining. It's about what the process might have been like when they were casting to find a body double to finish Bruce Lee's last movie, "The Game of Death." The description doesn't do it justice though. It's set in the 70's so there's lots of great outfits and hair. The actors in it just kept me laughing - there's some great appearances by M.C. Hammer and Dustin Nguyen (from 21 Jump Street!) I enjoyed Sung Kang's performance - it was really different from his other roles as a brooding gangster type. (Marshall says Korean men just look like gangsters. Ha! ) Instead, he was funny, goofy, and sweet. I'm bummed I never got to see "Motel." This was another movie he was in where he played a "real" character rather than just an Asian stereotype. I was also really impressed with how clever and intelligent Roger Fan was during the Q&A. I could see him as the next Jim Carrey or Steve Martin.
If you want to check it out, "Finishing the Game" is playing again Wednesday night at the Siskel Film Center. Roger Fan is also in another movie, "The Trouble with Romance," playing next Saturday. Sung Kang is in the closing night movie, "Undoing," on Thursday, April 12th. Support Asian American Films, go see one of the movies playing at the Film Center in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

what egg whites can become

This is a slice of delicious sour cream pound cake that I baked for my Art Club meeting. My sister first made it and it was so good I actually take the time now and again to separate eggs and beat egg whites into stiff white peaks. (That's advanced cooking for me.) I am also a big fan of any baked goods that include sour cream. For example, sugar cookies and cheesecake. Thanks to Andrea for the side of fresh fruit! It added a nice tang and was reminiscent of a wedding cake I once enjoyed.

Art Club: Collage

our finished work!, originally uploaded by supafly.

Yay! We were finally able to get together to do art! I was inspired by the Paper Quilt project, where artists are asked to show a day in their life using packets of paper and a 3 1/2" x 5" canvas. In a way, these collages represent our lives - some more literally than others. Although, I think it is more accurate to say they represent our minds and imaginations. What I thought would be a couple of hours turned into about seven hours of eating, crafting, and catching up and I was thrilled!

Ingredients for a fun-filled art club:
- Friends who like crafting - it also helps if you love their company and haven't seen each other in awhile - catching up over scraps of paper is wonderful!
- Food: kim chi pancakes, meat pie, rice, spring rolls, custard/tapioca dessert, fresh fruit, pound cake, tea - lots of tea
- Paper: pre-made packets of scraps and larger bits, paper brought for sharing - maps and fancy gift wrapping paper are great for collages!
- Tools: YES! paste, scissors, old phone book pages so the table doesn't get sticky, and our wild imaginations - thanks Andrea for being so prepared!

It was great to see all of our collages lined up at the end. They were all beautiful and so unique. We shared stories about what we were thinking when we made them and what they meant after a second round of eating. Thank you to Ha and Andrea for braving my chilly apartment for crafting - our next meeting will be in the summer when my apartment is at its best!

Check out my flickr page for notes on what some of the collages mean.

I still have lots and lots of paper if anyone wants to do some collaging :-)

Friday, March 23, 2007

making time for creative pursuits

tonight's craft, originally uploaded by supafly.

I love reading about crafting, but don't make enough time for it. I have tons of crafting supplies, but don't get around to using them. Now that the apartment has thawed out with the warmer weather and since I am on spring break, I have no more excuses. I bought some packs of venetian glass-like beads recently at Hancock Fabrics. It was a good deal - 75% off. I didn't want to make another piece of jewelry so instead I started stringing it on scrap pieces of wire. When I got to the little pink beads, it looked like a cherry blossoms in bloom so I wound them together to make a group of tree branches and hung it from my mobile. There are still so many more projects to work on! Today I went for a motorcycle ride and stopped at a couple of craft stores. First, Caravan Beads to get a new piece of leather to repair Marshall's necklace. Of course, I forgot to get a clasp so I have to go back again tomorrow. Afterwards, I stopped for a delicious sour cream cake donut at Dinkel's bakery. After that, I found an utterly unique store called Soutache on Damen that sells the most beautiful ribbon, as well as buttons, purse handles, belt buckles, etc... Notions as it were. I bought some ribbon to make headbands - now I just need to do some sewing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Motorcycle Maintenance

Yeah, I could've taken my spring break to become a motorcycle expert, but it's a bit chilly and I don't have a garage so I decided to get a spring tune up from a mechanic. Chicago Cycle Center has a bit of a monopoly, but I've heard bad things about the service department and that a lot of the people there have recently left or been fired because of the new owner whose focus is on profit. I went online to find somewhere else and happened upon All Brand Motor Works on Addison near California (close to Hot Doug's, so I stopped there on the way for a thuringer dog - aka the Don Rickles). I'd passed it before, but didn't realize that all they did was repair motorcycles. Actually, he - it's one guy in a small shop full of bikes. He gave me an estimate up front, serviced me quickly (he put me ahead of two other bikes that would need more time to finish and finished in 24 hours), and charged me less than I'd been quoted by the Cycle Center. There's my trusty little blue Honda Rebel in the picture - next to a big blue BWM that I wish I could fit on.

The Namesake

I went to see "The Namesake" last night. I'm a huge fan of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing and had read the book so I started crying before it even became sad because I knew what was coming and I kept on crying for most of the movie. There is tragedy, but it is also hopeful. Being a child of immigrants, I know how difficult it is to understand parents that seem so different from the world you grow up in. As their child, you don't usually think about what they must have gone through moving to a new country and being far away from everything that is familiar to them. That struggle often happens when you are too young to remember, or before you were born. In my case, I was still in the Philippines with my grandparents when my parents moved to New York City to intern at hospitals there. I felt a visceral connection to the story Jhumpa Lahiri tells, which is why I was really sobbing as I watched. The same thing happened when I first went to see "The Joy Luck Club." I couldn't help crying because I saw a part of my own experience on screen and it touched me. Thank you Jhumpa Lahiri for writing such a beautiful story and thank you Mira Nair for putting it on screen!

Monday, March 19, 2007

grilled tuna with eel over rice

Grilled tuna with eel over rice made at Marshall's condo. This was a standard dish we used to make together. It was fast, delicious, and nutritious.

spam, portuguese sausage, ham, and eggs over rice

Spam, portuguese sausage, and eggs over rice ($5.00) from L&L Barbeque in Waikiki, HI. Marshall and I ate at L&L several times for breakfast when we were in Hawaii. I love a hearty filipino breakfast - which means rice, eggs, and some kind of meat. Yum!

grilled pork chop with egg over rice

Grilled pork chop with egg over rice ($6.50) from Pho Xe Lua on Argyle, between Sheridan and Broadway. This is my favorite dish to order. My friend Ha suggested I might like it and she was right! The pork chop tastes similar to filipino barbeque. I also like the broken rice it's served with. It's rice kernels that are half the size of normal ones - which gives it a different texture, almost like couscous.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

a short burst of spring

that's a real dog, originally uploaded by supafly.

For a brief moment this week it felt like spring and I tried to take full advantage of it. After the school day ended, I rushed home to go for bicycle rides. On Monday, my sister Sharon and I biked down the lake path to Aloha Grill to split a delicious order of combination seafood and bbq short ribs with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Ah, I love the Hawaiian plate lunch! Since good filipino restaurants serving tapsilog are so hard to find in Chicago, Aloha is a good substitute. After dinner we stopped at the take out window of Baladoché, the fancy Belgian waffle place on Clark. I am ashamed to say that I paid $6 for a tiny reheated waffle sprinkled in cinnamon. (I didn't know until I talked to my friend that you could ask them to make a fresh one!) What was I thinking? I'd much rather pay $1.50 or so for one of the addictive chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting at the Sensational Bites bakery on Southport near the Music Box. I biked there on Tuesday. While I was walking further South, I spied this dog in the window of one of the many overpriced boutiques. Yeah, that's a real dog in the window. It was so adorable I almost went inside, but I always feel so slovenly and poor when I see the well-dressed sales people and the over priced clothes so I decided to keep walking.

Happy Pi Day! (belated)

a rice krispie "pie"
Originally uploaded by supafly.
Pi day was yesterday, 3/14, but I was too stuffed full of pie to write about it. Now that I am partially recovered and wishing every day was Pi(e) day, I want to thank my friend Andrea for her love of pi and pie as it led to this wonderful annual event. I wish I had taken more photos, but I was too busy eating. It started with savory pies. I made an Italian beef pie (more fondly called ghetto pie by Marshall). I first made it when I was in middle school and in 4-H - which is still totally around by the way. Being in the city, people aren't familiar with it, but in rural Ohio it was just like being in girl scouts except you usually raised livestock. I didn't have the space to raise a large animal. Instead I joined their cooking division and stayed in it long enough to learn how to make this tasty meat pie. After stuffing myself on that, I had some delicious sweet zucchini pie that had a custard-like consistency. This was followed by a slice of Andrea's incredible apple pie - it is so amazing that noone else dares to make one. Next came a slice of quiche lorraine, and it goes a bit hazy after that. I got a second wind when I saw this totally unique rice krispie treat that reminded me of a wheel of cheese, especially after I cut the first slice out. After another breather and some mingling, I snagged the second to last piece of creole shrimp pizza from Bricks on Lincoln even though I was stuffed. Everyone said I had to try it, so how could I resist? It didn't end there. I had a slice of a chocolate coconut pie and then took some goodies home. I regret not trying the pecan pie, but I enjoyed a warmed up slice of a late arriving caramel apple pie tonight as I caught up on my tivo. I can't believe it is another year until the next Pi party! Isn't there another day that we could use as an excuse for lots of delicious pie???

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Super H Mart

Super H Mart
Originally uploaded by supafly.
If you haven't been to Super H Mart, you have to check it out. I am a big fan of Mitsuwa, the Japanese Marketplace near IKEA and this place is the Korean equivalent, only much larger and with Costco-like free samples being given out all over the store. (The last time we were there, I got to sample kimchi seafood dumplings, fish cakes, and freshly grilled bulgogi.) It has the most massive seafood section I have ever seen, including loads of still squirming sea creatures. This photo shows two men making kimchi. It's the first time I've seen men making it - when we were in Korea we saw a large group of Korean women making it outside in an alley. My boyfriend went over to try it out and was of course disappointed at its too fresh flavor. Like Mitsuwa, Super H Mart not only has a grocery store, but also a food court, a bakery, and cute stores like Morning Glory and a store that sells adorable asian style aprons with adorable animal appliqués. There's also a housewares section where I was tempted by the array of fancy rice cookers and electric floor mats. The store is in Niles just down the street from the Village Creamery, a filipino ice cream shop which is a great place to get delicious and exotic flavors of ice cream like my favorite, macapuno (young coconut).

Monday, March 12, 2007


Since one of my favorite restaurants, Sunshine Cafe, has been closed for several months, I decided to visit Renga-Tei, a restaurant recommended on EatChicago. I compared the entire experience to Sunshine, I couldn't help myself so excuse me now for being biased and sentimental.

- Location: Renga-Tei is not as easily accessible for someone living in Uptown since Sunshine is in Andersonville and Renga-Tei is in Lincolnwood, but there is free parking. The area isn't one where you can take a leisurely walk down the street and peer into all the cool Andersonville boutiques. The noise of cars whizzing down Touhy drowns out conversation too. However, it is close to Long John Silver and Wholly Frijoles if you feel like doing a food crawl. It's also pretty close to the Chicago Cycle Center so I can work up an appetite there and then head over.

- Atmosphere: Renga is much larger and "nicer." That is, there are wooden booths with rice paper dividers and a bar, whereas Sunshine is one small room with tables and chairs. However, I miss the two jolly bear-like guys at Sunshine. It was always the two of them greeting everyone and taking orders. They were quick to make you feel welcome and at home. Renga-Tei is much more formal with several young perfectly nice waiters and waitresses but not much by way of character.

- Food: Renga-Tei serves actual sushi, which isn't really available at Sunshine. We ordered spicy tuna and salmon skin rolls, which were both good - although I would've liked more salmon skin and less rice in the latter maki. For the main course, I ordered my favorite Sunshine dish that I have been missing for months, Saba Shioyaki. Renga's was not as crispy and the delicate fish flavor and overpowered with the strong odor of sauteed vegetables. I much prefer the serving of cucumber salad that comes with the non-soggy mackerel at Sunshine. Marshall ordered the katsu-don, which was better, but floating in too much soup with the rice strangely in its own bowl rather than soaking up the egg and katsu flavor. Sunshine also doesn't usually have dessert, although I know people who have enjoyed free popsicles there. At Renga, we ordered a small serving of red bean ice cream to share, which was a delicious way to end the meal. At Sunshine, I usually strolled down to Taste of Heaven for baked goods instead.

- Price: Renga-Tei was much more expensive than Sunshine, so I will definitely come here less frequently than when I used to go to my old haunt. I hope your phone message is true Sunshine and that you will return from vacation soon!

I could've sworn I took more pictures at Sunshine, but I guess I was usually too busy eating. Here's one from 2005, when I celebrated my 30th birthday there.

The Host

I went to see the Korean movie "The Host" this weekend at the Landmark in Evanston. It's set in Seoul, on the banks of the Han River, and the main character works for his dad at a snack stand by the river. It is the all time top-grossing film in Korea and it was a scary movie that also made me laugh. How often does that happen? Some people have also called it a Korean Little Miss Sunshine. Hmmm...maybe if Little Miss Sunshine included a formaldehyde-mutated monster. It does have a terrific dysfunctional family. I most enjoyed the sister (pictured) who is a champion archer that moves at a snail's pace through life. I'd recommend going to this movie with a cup of spicy ramen or some tasty dried grilled squid because watching them eat in the movie made me miss all the cheap, delicious food in Seoul. If you want more info check out the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, where it got a 94% rating.