And so the logjam is finally broken: El Bulli has lost the top spot it held in the San Pellegrino world’s 50 best restaurants list for four years, to Noma, Rene Redzepi’s avowedly Nordic restaurant in Copenhagen.
Is that the right result? Allowing for the fact that I think the rankings are far less interesting than the list itself, I would say yes. Redzepi, the 32-year-old chef at Noma, pursues a regional, seasonal agenda that is right on the cutting edge: If it isn’t available in the Nordic region, he won’t cook with it. The result is an idiosyncratic style of food that speaks to concerns about the way a global food culture turns our eating experiences a uniform beige.
But it goes much further than the agenda: Redzepi is a gifted cook with an extraordinary palate who does amazing things with wild herbs and flowers, bitter green leaves and the freshest local seafood.
In some quarters, of course, the decision will be read as a slap in the face for the modernists, especially for El Bulli and the Fat Duck.
Heston Blumenthal, chef and owner of the Fat Duck, responds — quite reasonably, I think — that if his or Ferran Adria’s restaurants had plummeted down the list, then that might well be a viable argument; as it is, what we are really seeing is just a little bit of jostling in the rankings.
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at
Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and