Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meals on Wheels: Gwangju, Korea day one

On Monday we took the train from Seoul to Gwangju. It was a good day to travel as it was raining cats and dogs.

But who can fret about the weather when there are snails wishing you a good day at the bus stop?
Gwangju is as easy to get around in as Seoul. I used google maps to help me know which bus to take and on the bus, the stops are actually also announced in English!
I made the best of the rainy day and decided to go to a huge supermarket, one of my favorite things to do in other countries (I never claimed I was normal). On the knowledgable input from my siter, I chose Home plus, which is huge, really really huge. As I already felt weired enough walking through the supermarket as if it was a museum, I was a little too shy to take photos, but at least sneaked two with my phone: one of the aisle of soy and chili sauces and one of the live pets on sale...

The sushi at Home Plus is better than any sushi you can get in Berlin!!! If I lived in Gwangju, I would eat sushi every day! And the best part is: what you see in the photo is only about a third of what my box contained at the beginning. You get to fill that box with whatever you want and in the end, it will cost 4900 Won, which is less than 4,90 Euros!!

When I was done being the weirdo walking around Home Plus like a homeless person, it had stopped to rain and I headed over to art street, a street famous for hand made paper, brushes and ceramics as Gwangju is known as a center of the arts in Korea.

The area behind art street is a typical Korean mix of backstreets with the occassional über-stylich café, and after the Home Plus Sushi, I was ready for some cake.

I chose this mille feuille with strawberries at gateau et café, a place, dear sister, you should definitely check out at one point! It is really weird to have excellent French patisserie in the middle of Gwangju which is in the middle of Korea (sort of). But I can't say anything but that it was as delicious as a piece from Ladurée in Paris. 

I walked the cake off with a little stroll throug the neighborhood where I amongst other things discovered these little turtle shaped holes in a garage which would have certainly pleased my grandmother!

Kimchi pots on a veranda - what would Korea be without them?

Now, I don't know if you knew, but there is this unwritten rule that says "when in Asia, try weird candy". So this box of "Sushi" had to follow home with me from the supermarket.

Inside the box were about 5 little sachets with different powders that you had to mix with water, then use the plastic to mold it in shape, or, as with the "roe", prepare like molecular cuisine. I'd say for a first try, my result looks pretty good! (Though admittedly, I watched a youtube video to  help get the measurements of the water right, since all the instructions were in Japanese and Korean only). And if you are wondering about the taste, well let's put it this way: until a certain meal on Jeju a couple of days later, I thought that this was the culinary low point of my trip...

copyright of all photos j.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Meals on wheels: Seoul day three part two

Yes, Korea, you do have some good ass food! And some of it can be found in Hongdae, where we headed over after strolling around in the Bukchon Hanok Village.

We had lunch at a cafe that also had a dentist's office (or at least they shared the same entrance). Luckily, we didn't need the dentist. We chose a salad with Bulgogi and a Indian inspired rice dish with Shrimp but the real star of the meal was the Yuzu-ade that I chose as a drink. Tart, cold, sprakling, just about the perfect drink in my world!

Here is the Yuzu-Ade, which marked the begining of many more Ades that we ordered!

 Hongdae sports some interesting architecture.

But Hongdae seems to be most famous for its many cafés that cater to the students of a nearby university. Since we just had lunch, we will never know that this café made with the millions of eggs that they stored!

Every café seemed to outdo the café next door, creating picture perfect cakes and tortes!

Sobok finally was the place where I had to give in! Even though I wasn't really hungry, I just had to try their strawberry icecream that came in small balls.

Thanks to the hand model, sporting matching nail polish! The ice cream was good and each ball had a rice cake center which I love love love, but on the whole, it was more about the looks, I guess.

These fish waffels, not from Sobok, were also supposed to be filled with ice cream scoops. 

After Hongdae, we stopped by the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a marvelous piece of megalomaniac modern architecture that one can only find in Asia (and places like Dubai, I would imagine).  The Design Plaza is supposed to market Korean design. I would say it is especially nice to go there around sunset. 

For dinner, we had Kalguksu (soup) and Mandu (Korean style Jiaozi) at Myeongdong Kyoja restaurant where those were the only dishes on the menu (plus cold buckwheat noodles drenched in "red" aka, the stuff that numbs your mouth for hours but is devoured by Koreans). The restaurant is famous for its noodles and the place is always packed. It's not a restaurant to go to if you want an elaborate three course dinner. On the contrary, it's more like fast food, but mighty good fast food. The noodles and Mandu were delicious and the savory broth really really good!

copyright of all photos j.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Meals on wheels: Seoul day three

The third day in Seoul was a beautiful summer day! We started the day heading out to the Bukchon Hanok Village, a district located between the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. 

It's one of the few places in Seoul where one can still wander around in small lanes, doting the old, traditional Korean houses. It used to be the place where the civil servants lived, always ready to be called to the nearby palaces. And yes, today it is a place enjoyed mostly by tourists, but if you head there early (and by early, I mean 10 o'clock), it is a lot of fun!

Like dumb and ignorant European tourists, we had breakfast at a European style café that we stumbled across called Wood and Brick. While it is surprisingly easy to get European style products not just in Seoul but just about anywhere in Korea (chains like Paris Baguette and Tous les jours are virtually everywhere), the bakes at wood and Brick were extremely good! Of course we sat outside on their elevated outdoor seating and observed what was going on down below in the street.
I don't know if you have noticed by now, but I really liked Korea! Seoul is probably the safest city I have ever been to. You do not have to constantly worry about pickpockets to the point where my sister said that she was afraid of losing her natural watch-out-for-pickpockets-instinct! However, dear Korea, we have to talk about the amount of plastic and disposable tableware! The waste produced in a single day is massive!!! You can do better than that!

Before we headed over to Hongdae, I just had to take a photo of the most beautiful mailbox ever!

copyright of all photos j.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Meals on wheels, Seoul day 2

Seoul is an incredibly easy 20 million inhabitant city to get around in. My hotel was within walking distance of many of the major sights, and so on my full real day in Seoul, I strolled down to Gyeongbok Palace.


My timing could not have been better as the cherry trees were still in full bloom which enabled me to take about one million kitschy I-am-in-Asia-and-it's-cherry-blossom-season-photos!

I recommed a palace visit to everyone. Do take the complimentary guided tour in English as it will give you a great introduction into Korean history. 

The polyester version of the traditional Korean wardrobe is on loan around the palace and you can see both Koreans as well as Western tourists visiting the palace in the garments. 

In the afternoon, I headed across Han river to Yeongdeungpo Yeouido which is a park area on the border of the Han river know for its beautiful lines of cherry trees.

Lots of food stalls offered all kinds of snacks, but I opted for one of my favorite treats I knew from Africa: roasted sweet potato. The kind you get in Europe just never tastes quite right. This one was sold at a seven eleven.

Colorfull cotton candy seemed to be a popular treat.

For dessert after my "sweet" potato, I bought some peanut shaped soft cookies that were baked like miniature waffles at one of the food stalls.

Seoul being the capital, you are also confronted with the current politics in Korea. On my way back to the hotel, I passed this commemoration of the Sewol tragedy, a ship wreck caused amongst other things by corruption in which over 300 highschool students lost their lives.

The flowers were not really dangerous, the just needed protection from a big manifestation that was taking place in front of the city hall that day.

This guy obviously is wearing the vest that should be mine!! (wait for the posts about Jeju, where I drove a car and got into my first police control every!)

In the late afternoon, I met with my sister and together we waited around 1 hour in line for the cable car to take us up to the TV tower in Namsan park. The lights of the city really stretch beyond the horizon!

And finally, we went to a Korean barbeque restaurant where the meat is grilled right at your table and cut into pieces with scissors!

First, the Kimchi is grilled, then the garlic and the meat.

Leaving the restaurant, all your clothes will smell like greasy barbeque. Some restaurants offer febreeze bottles to their guests, but to be honest, I'd much rather smell barbeque than febreeze.

copyright of all photos j.