25 October 2011

Jeonju Bibimbap Festival...

 ... really an excuse to see two of my favorite people...

They really aren't creepy, I promise!
This weekend I went to Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea, ostensibly to eat bibimbap. It was after all the annual festival celebrating this awesome food... and it really is an awesome food - I've yet to have an iteration that I haven't liked, though some do shine brighter than others. And I did eat bibimbap. And it was tasty (the best I've had so far, in fact).

Festival bibimbap
However, I also got a tour of some of L. and B.'s favorite places in their current hometown. First we hit the Hanok village, where the bibimbap festival was being held, and the displays of historical iterations of bibimbap were impressive...

But we were all pretty hungry, so we moved on to the real thing - and as stated above, it was super tasty. After we were all fully satiated, we browsed around the Hanok village a bit more. There were lovely booths with crafts and food. But there was more to be crammed into the 27 1/2 hours I was in Jeonju, so we wandered over to the Gaeksa - a shopping district a short walk away from the Hanok village.

B. perusing the offerings in the Gaeksa
The Gaeksa is a wonderland of retail delight, but I managed to resist temptation until we got to Hot Tracks, a stationary store, where I succumbed to the lure of office supplies and scrapbooking necessities. What can I say, they had my favorite pens in colors I didn't, and a box in a box (which has become my desk organizer), and cool fabric tape that I needed to add to my scrapbook of Korea. The little journal was probably unnecessary, but I have a hard time resisting quad-ruled notebooks.

The night was still young and we were getting hungry again, so after a quick break to let the puppy out at home, we moved on to Chonbuk, which is the district next to Chonbuk National University, where I was introduced B.'s favorite Korean food (maybe favorite food ever?), dak galbi. I took pics of the whole process, but that seems a bit excessive here, so perhaps I'll save that treat for some future post. For now, here is the final product...

Dak galbi, which actually means "chicken ribs".
It is a mixture of marinated chicken, vegetables, noodles, rice cakes, and sweet potatoes. They cook it at the table in front of you, periodically stirring and adding more chili sauce. The white-ish river in the middle of the pan is melty cheese. It's served with  lettuce in which you wrap the yummy goodness. Which we all clearly enjoyed...

The dak galbi break revived us, so we moved on to a tour of the neighborhood. There was a bit of shopping to be done here, as well. In fact, we found a purchase my scarf daemon would not let me pass up. The lovely carriages are now mine!

Carriage scarf!
At this point we were starting to wind down, so we moved on to a lovely little spot called Art & Travel... they have it all...

Art & Travel
They only do tarot in Korean, though. Sad face. So we restrained ourselves to nightcaps and "Words With Friends" on L.'s iPhone. 

The was night finished off sleeping at the jjimjilbang (Korean bathhouse) - it's cheap and not overly uncomfortable, despite the fact that your sleep on the floor in a room full of strangers. That makes it sound much more uncomfortable and awkward than it actually is, but it is also an accurate description of the experience, so I guess this really is a case of 'you had to be there'.

Upon waking... ok, really upon finally getting up and ready... we went off to eat. Again. This time we satisfied my craving for American breakfast... kinda. In Korea, breakfast, even the American one, comes with salad. But hey, hash browns make it all good. Then we walked some more. This time back in the Gaeksa for the things that L. forgot to buy in the excitement of facilitating my Gaeksa initiation the night before. We took a little break at Ann House Cafe Self Bar (or Ann's Self House, according to B.). It's like having tea (and cake!) in a doll house.

Adorable tea!
Revived, we resumed the pursuit of purchasable items, Halloween and pet paraphernalia for B. and L. and irresistible office supplies for me. (No, I don't have a problem. Why do you ask?) 

Shopping made us all hungry again, so they fed me once more before I had to head back to the bus station. My camera was already packed, so I will have to post pictures of shabu shabu next time, because, oh, yes, there will be a next time! Yummy!

So that was my weekend of eating and walking, and eating and walking, and eating and walking.

21 October 2011

Poetry Break...

... 'cause I can't get this one out of my head - thank you very much, Mr. Poe...

A Dream Within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow—
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand—
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep—while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

-Edgar Allen Poe, 1849

I will now return to my regular schedule of sporadic posting...

19 October 2011

List: Korean food I've tried so far...

So, first two apologies... I'm sorry, but I was too busy eating and listening to the Korean speakers around me to take pictures. And also, while I'm sure I'm not the world's worst speller, neither am I the best, or even really good at spelling, so some of these may be a bit off...

  • Kimchi - I haven't tried cucumber kimchi yet, but I think I've tasted most of the other kinds
  • Mandu (and manduguk) - dumplings
  • Toeji galbi - grilled pork ribs
  • Toast (which unlike American toast, is actually an egg sandwich with various other things on it, depending on the kind of toast i.e. ham and cheese toast is egg, ham, and cheese)
  • Toenjang jigae - bean paste soup/stew
  • Kimchi jigae - kimchi soup/stew
  • Seafood pancakes
  • Bibimbap - deliciousness! rice, veggies, chili paste, and an egg (sometimes meat, too)
  • Gimbap - a rice roll similar to sushi hand rolls, but I like it better - this is what I usually have on my supper break
  • Chuseok rice cakes
  • Many banchan (side dishes) for which I don't have names
  • Snacks - the snacks (junk food) here is somewhat different... things I expect to be sweet are sometimes salty, and even when they aren't, they are rarely as sweet as I am used to... and things I think will be salty are almost always sweeter than I expect.
  • Soju (technically a drink, not a food) 

That is all I am remembering, obviously I will post more about food - and I will try to remember to take pictures!

05 October 2011


So, I have a post that is almost ready on some of my Korean adventures, but in the meantime I have been musing on this... as an Aquarian I totally own my eccentricity, but according to this week's horoscope now it's apparently time for everyone else to experience it more fully, as well.

"AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Right now you have license to make pretty much everything bigger and funnier and wickeder. Good fortune is likely to flow your way as you seek out experiences that are extra interesting and colorful and thought-provoking. This is no time for you to be shy about asking for what you want or timid about stirring up adventure. Be louder and prouder than usual. Be bolder and brighter, nosier and cozier, weirder and more whimsical. The world needs your very best idiosyncrasies and eccentricities!"

So, how about it? Which of my eccentricities does the world need to see more of...? My obsession with useless trivia? My fascination with cookbooks and food traditions? My deep enjoyment of romance novels? My tendency to interrupt with whatever bizarre path my brain has taken, regardless of the conversation's current path? My deep and somewhat irritating love for ellipses...?