Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday wishes

Even in Korea, dentists never forget my birthday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sokcho trip

This past weekend we took a trip out east to Sokcho, a seaside city close to the DMZ. We visited the city once before in the winter and loved the small town atmosphere and fresh seafood and vegetables served there.

On our first day we visited Seoraksan mountain, the third highest mountain in Korea. We were feeling kind of tired, so we decided to take the cable car up to Gwangeumseong peak. It was foggy, but when the breeze cleared the sky, we were able to see all the way out to the sea. When we visited the mountain in the winter, the park was nearly empty and very peaceful. This time it was pretty crowded and the park was filled with tourists more interested in checking their cell phones than looking at the scenery. We even saw some people doing video chat on the mountain peak ... pretty weird, but that's 2011 Korea for you, I guess.

On the second day we hung out at the beach and went swimming in the ocean. The waves were much stronger than in Busan, but the water was the perfect temperature. It was so nice to get away from polluted Seoul for a few days and take in the seaside air.

We ate a lot of great food on the trip including North Korean-style naengmyun (or cold noodles in broth), ojingosundae (squid sausage), grilled fish (including melt in your mouth, freshly caught Chilean sea bass), wild greens bibimbap (vegetables and rice), and Sokcho-style sundubu (soft tofu stew). We also tried a corn-based liquor that was like makgeolli. It was incredible how fresh all the food tasted ... and how reasonably priced it was. Sokcho is only a 3-hour drive from Seoul, but somehow the produce and meat in Seoul is twice as expensive and less flavorful.

A few funny notes from the weekend. On our second day in Sokcho, we randomly chose a grilled fish place to eat at for dinner. It turned out that some acquaintances from Seoul were eating there too, though they were almost finished with their dinner. The incident reminded us of just how small this country is. It seems that we're constantly running into other expats that we've met during our two years here, even when we're not in Seoul.

Secondly, there were some funny stores in the downtown area of Sokcho. The first is "Bar Dumb," which is pretty self explanatory. The second was "Parma" -- a hair salon that copied the Puma logo. Parma means "perm" in Korean, so we thought that was a pretty clever rip-off.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

French pastry class II

Chocolate mousse with almond slices.

Yesterday Mike and I took our second French pastry class, this time making chocolate mousse and creme broulee. Mike had a lot of fun with the blow torch on the creme broulee; I think he would buy one just for fun if weren't moving. While I always thought those pastry blowtorches were expensive, it turns out you can get one for less than $10 here -- though most people use it to unfreeze their pipes in winter and not to make french pastries.

The chocolate mousse was super rich and good, better than what they serve at D & J Bistro's I think. It's amazing that all three recipes we've made so far are basically made form the same three ingredients: eggs, sugar, and vanilla. No wonder they're so good!

Creme broulee, freshly fired.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

French pastry class

The meringue "islands" of ile flottante.

On Friday, Mike and I took a French pastry class at the Seoul Global Center in our neighborhood. For just 5,000 won ($4.60), we learned how to make the meringue and creme anglaise dessert ile flottante, or floating island.

French food is impossible to come by in Korea and even the most expensive "French bakeries" have more things in common with Dominick's than Paris. So it was nice to have some handmade and very good pastries for once. Next week, we'll take another French pastry class, so expect more photos then!

Freshly made creme anglaise: milk, sugar, egg yolks and fresh vanilla, straight from the bean pods.

The finished product, with freshly made caramel on top.

Wrapping up the pastries to take home.