Thip Khao — Lunch on 10 June 2017

I’d never tasted Laotian cooking before I went to Thip Khao last week.

The restaurant came with great credentials: It’s on The Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants 2017” list, and The Michelin Guide, which started rating Washington restaurants just last year, included it on the “Bib Gourmand” list of recommended restaurants offering two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. (The “Bib Gourmand” list is sort of Michelin’s version of a JV team—no stars yet, but keep an eye out, because some of them have the potential to go far.)

Siin/Muu Haeng

Siin Haeng

Most of the reviews of Thip Khao recommended starting with what the menu called “Siin/Muu Haeng — crispy sesame jerky, ginger, sriracha.” The “Siin/Muu” in the name indicated that the diner had the option of choosing either beef or pork. I chose beef.

I can’t come up with a better description of Siin Haeng than the one in the Washington Post’s review:  “…sun-dried beef teased with lemon grass and ginger should be what American beef jerky aspires to.”

Knap Paa

This is what my main, Knap Paa, looked like when it was served.

Just for a second, I hesitated. I get a tiny bit nervous whenever I see pod-like vegetation. I think it’s because I was traumatized as a child by watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers on TV late one night….


Whispering to myself, “They’re only banana leaves, They’re only banana leaves,” I eventually opened the packet. Inside was a small serving of monkfish grilled with rice, lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, and dill.

NB You don’t eat the banana leaves.

And this is the plated meal, including the sticky rice that arrived in a little basket, called a “thip khao”, which is where the restaurant got its name.

So, how was it?

Okay, but I wasn’t overwhelmed. Given the choice of another meal at Thip Khao or a return to Nam Viet, I’d take Nam Viet in a second. The Knap Paa was bland, and I could barely taste the monkfish.

Perhaps part of my dissatisfaction is a result of my decision to order from the regular menu, instead of opting for a second, much hotter menu that Thip Khao calls “The Jungle”.

Maybe next time.

Offered at Auction: Warhol — The Album Covers

Oh, this looks like fun! Andy would approve.*

Between 1949 and 1987, Andy Warhol designed the sleeves for 60 LP records. And now you can own the whole set. All you have to do is place the high bid in an auction.

The estimate is €50,000 (about ~US$55,980).

The Complete Warhol LPs, the full set of Andy Warhol record sleeves, will be offered at auction by PIASA in Paris on 22 June 2017. According to the auction notes:

“This unique ensemble, assembled by a passionate music-lover, transports us through 40 years of musical creativity. It has never been offered at auction before.”

The 60 vinyl discs are included in the collection, but the notes say nothing about the vintage or condition of the records.

Warhol’s instantly recognizable jacket for the first Velvet Underground album, featuring a peelable banana, is the most famous item in the collection, and one of the best known record sleeves of all time. Warhol is credited as the “producer” of the album, which was hugely influential, and still shows up on most “Greatest Rock Album Ever” lists, 50 years after its release. The copy offered at auction was signed by Warhol.

Also included is the notorious jacket for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, which featured a very explicit crotch shot of Joe Dallesandro—“…generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century,” according to Wikipedia—in skin-tight jeans. The Smiths later used a photograph of Dallesandro from the Warhol film Flesh as the cover of their 1984 self-titled début album The Smiths.

A related video. (As if I needed an excuse to post it….)


*On second thought, Warhol would probably be irritated that someone else figured out a way to monetize the album jackets before he did.

 

L.A. 2017 — A Forecast about the Then-Distant Future, from 1971

In an age of online streaming and 1000-channel cable packages, even mediocre TV comedies can still attract an audience decades after their original broadcast. As you read this, someone, somewhere, is watching a 1953 episode of I Love Lucy. Probably quite a few people are, in fact. On the other hand, TV dramas more than few years old seem to have a very short shelf-life, unless they were created by someone named Roddenberry, Serling, or Hitchcock.

The Name of the Game was an innovative television series that ran from 1968-1971. It’s largely forgotten now, which is unfortunate. The show was centered on a Los Angeles magazine company called Howard Publications, and followed three of the people who worked there: Robert Stack, as the editor of Crime Magazine, Tony Franciosa, as the editor of People Magazine, and Gene Barry, who owned the company. The Name of the Game focused on a different lead actor each week, with continuity supplied by Susan St. James, who played an editorial assistant in all three story lines.

L.A. 2017 was a Gene Barry episode. While driving home from an environmental conference, his character is overcome by pollution and faints. When he’s revived, it’s 46 years later, and he’s in a very different Los Angeles.

The young director of this episode, btw, was 24-year-old Steven Spielberg.

Apologies for the video quality, which looks like a seventh generation copy of a videotape.
The Name of the Game has never been released on Blu-ray or DVD.


Spielberg may have gotten one or two minor details wrong, but his geriatric Rock ‘n Rollers are dead-on accurate.

Nam Viet — Lunch on 6 June 2017

There was a long period when I probably averaged about five meals in Vietnamese restaurants for every hamburger I ate. (This was before hamburgers went upscale.)

Nam Viet, in Cleveland Park, was one of my default choices when I wanted an excellent and not-too-expensive meal, but it’s been at least two years since I last visited.

My loss.

I was in the neighbourhood yesterday, dropping off equipment at the Comcast service center—I’ve finally cut the cord on overpriced cable! Nam Viet was right across the street, and it was lunchtime.

Fried Quail

Fried Quail

I started with the fried quail appetizer, and, oh, was it good. I’d never order this unless I was dining alone, because eating quail is even messier than eating lobster. Quail is small and bony—the smaller bones are actually edible—and, really, it’s finger food. Nam Viet serves it with a glazed sweet house fish sauce and caramelized onions, on a bed of lettuce.

Caramelized Chicken

Caramelized Chicken

My main, from the “Chef Specialties” menu, was a huge serving of Caramelized Chicken with fresh ginger and onions. The sautéed, all-white-meat chicken came in a lidded bowl, with a side of steamed rice.

The sauce was nothing less than amazing—sweet and rich and syruppy. I wanted to taste every drop.

All in all, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in months. I’m thinking of making lunch at Nam Viet a once-a-week appointment for June and July.

What Movie Is This From?

Montage created by Roman Holiday, who also collects things like Cinematic Table Flips…

…and scenes shot from Within The Fridge…

…and a host of other things, viewable at the top link.

Roman Holiday seems to have a lot of time on their* hands, and certainly puts it to good use.


*Yeah, I’m surrendering to the singular “their”. Language evolves, and sometimes mutates in ways we’d rather it didn’t, but there comes a time when resistance is futile.

Murder on the Orient Express — First Trailer

The trailer for the new film version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was released yesterday, and it looks awesome!

Kenneth Branagh, who directed, also stars as Hercule Poirot. His revisionist interpretation of the famous Poirot mustache must be seen to be disbelieved.

Others in the (of course) all-star cast include  Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, and Olivia Colman.

I loved the big budget, all-star Christie movies of the 1970s, and was a bit shocked to realize that the Albert Finney version of Murder on the Orient Express was released 43 years ago. There have been at least two television adaptations since then. The David Suchet version, which ITV ran on Christmas Day, 2010, is currently available on  US Netflix, The less said about the 2001 version starring Alfred Molina, the better.

A large part of the probable target audience for Murder on the Orient Express will go into the theatre already knowing whodonit. We see Christie movies for the same reasons we watch new versions of A Christmas Carol or the Sherlock Holmes stories:  Not to see how they end, but to see a new interpretation of an old favourite.

The film will be released on 10 November 2017. If it’s reasonably successful, can Death on the Nile be far behind?


The 1974 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express starred Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, Michael York, and my god, can you believe the talent in that cast?

Here’s the original 1974 trailer:

The first few times I saw this movie, I was uncomfortable with the scene in which Poirot gathers all the suspects together and reveals his solution to the mystery. It felt airless and claustrophobic, and seemed to go on forever.

It was only later that I realized how successful the director had been. He’d made me feel as if I were one of the suspects, itching to get out of there, and hoping it would all end soon.