If you’re reading this message, that means that It’s time to nail down your eating/viewing agenda for the weekend. There really are no wrong answers to the question of “How should I relax between now and Monday morning.” But here are a few suggestions that might help you optimize your downtime this weekend, plus a roundup of the week’s entertainment news.
Ainsley’s on the hunt for maximum deliciousness
Every good travel show needs a great host. And Ainsley Eats the Streets, a Channel 4 show that’s streaming on Netflix, works so well because it does, in fact, have a fantastic host in pop musician turned-chef-turned British TV fixture Ainsley Harriott. He’s gregarious, charming, and, unlike some American travel show hosts, not afraid to tell the viewers at home when he doesn’t like something, albeit in the kindest way possible (“It’s almost like my taste buds are rejecting it,” he says after one particularly unsavory bite in the pilot).
As Ainsley explains at the beginning of each episode, he’s spent a lot of time working in kitchens, but he never learned much about street food. And so, in an effort to fill in the gaps of his culinary knowledge, Harriott wanders through the world’s great open-air markets and no-frills restaurant districts conversing with vendors and diners, while taking bites of whatever catches his fancy. The first season of the show features Ainsley eating his way through 10 bustling culinary destinations, including Madrid, Barbados, Istanbul, and Penang.
A few times in each episode, Harriott enters the kitchens of his new favorite restaurants to cook riffs on their specialties. This could easily be the set-up for a condescending game of culinary showmanship, but Ainsley clearly has no intention of one-upping his colleagues; he merely wants to play around with these new flavors and techniques that he’s learning about. Most of the time, his fellow chefs end up patting him on the back after sampling his creations, but sometimes, they also throw him a bit of playful side-eye.
Unlike culinary shows like Parts Unknown or even Ugly Delicious, Ainsley’s program doesn’t really delve into the politics or history of these great culinary hubs — it’s really just a celebration of cooking and eating comfort food around the world. And like its UK TV counterparts The Great British Bake-Off fand The Big Family Cooking Showdown, Ainsley Eats the Streets is mellow enough to help you unwind, but engaging enough to keep you watching for hours at a time.
If you’re just looking for one episode to watch as a test-run, skip ahead to the Osaka trip, which features a dazzling array of skewers, pancakes, and crispy treats.
Streaming selections du jour
At Home With Amy Sedaris, “Out of This World”
The gist: If you want a shot of culinary irreverence this weekend, check out this space-themed episode of Amy Sedaris’s cooking-and-crafting show, which is really just a platform for some hilarious sketch comedy. In this installment, Amy talks with an aloof astronaut (played by Justin Theroux) about his lackluster space missions, and then she makes a “moon cheese” appetizer and “meteorite cake” dessert. The episode ends with a galactic picnic that turns into a space joust with an alien queen (played by Aidy Bryant). The production design on this show is really something to behold.
Barbecue With Franklin, “Poultry & Sauce”
Watch it on: Amazon Prime Video
The gist: Aaron Franklin has such a chill demeanor that he makes the act of slow-smoking meat look easy — even though it’s clearly not, especially if you want to make anything approaching the stuff served at his restaurant, Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. But if you want to get in the mood to fire up the grill this summer, check out the poultry episode of Franklin’s 2015 PBS series, where the pitmaster visits Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ to learn her chicken secrets.
In “Poultry & Sauce “ Franklin also shows off his smoked turkey technique — which takes much less time to cook than the chef’s famed brisket — and he offers his recipe for basic barbecue sauce. To cap things off, playwright/barbecue aficionado John Markus gives a crash course on the different sauces found throughout barbecue restaurants in the South and the Southeast.
All 10 episodes of Barbecue With Franklin are free to watch with an Amazon Prime membership.
In other entertainment news:
- At Code Conference this week, David Chang acknowledged the criticism lodged at his Netflix series Ugly Delicious over the show’s noticeable lack of women and African Americans. “Hopefully there’s a second season, and we’ll be able to do it better,” he remarked. The Momofuku empire builder also said that he’s got “a very solid relationship with Netflix” and his team is “working on some stuff.”
- FX’s hit show The Americans ended its run with a visit to McDonald’s and a bunch of tense scenes involving beef stew.
- The premiere episode of Netflix’s weekly series The Break With Michelle Wolf features a bit where the comedian cracks jokes about photos of disgraced celebrity chef Mario Batali. And speaking of Batali, as the NYPD investigates two sexual assault accusations against the chef, seven women also allege that he groped them while taking fan photos.
- Netflix hit Queer Eye is coming back for its second season on June 15, while new episode of delightful baking show Nailed It will be available on June 29. A new culinary documentary about cannabis cuisine called Cooking on High will also premiere on Netflix on June 20.
- If you want to turn any old dinner into a trip to Flavortown, consider bumping the “Country Cookout With Guy Fieri” playlist on Spotify.
- This weekend’s episode of Parts Unknown will focus on Hong Kong. Filmmaker/actress/#MeToo leader Asia Argento is directing, and arthouse cinema legend Christopher Doyle is in charge of the cinematography.
- And finally, Keanu Reeves and Daniel Dae Kim just joined the cast of Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe, which is about a San Francisco celebrity chef (played by Ali Wong) who reignites a romance with an old flame (portrayed by Randall Park).
Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for something refreshing to make and eat, consider whipping up this recipe for no-churn cherry ice cream.