Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow in Seoul!

We woke up the other morning to a dusting of snow. This is the view from our apartment. All of this meant that Kwang had to take the subway to work since the roads would be a mess and the city buses would be delayed. Considering that it is crucial for Kwang to be at work before his boss, checking the weather in the morning is a critical factor these days.

Here's a view of Boramae Park in the winter. It's school vacation time so there were lots of children having snowball fights and building snowmen. 

If you look closely at the little pagoda you'll see a huddle of men still gambling, playing games and probably drinking soju to stay warm.

It may have snowed, but people are still walking the track with vigor. A little snow won't stop these retirees' exercise routine.

The way home to our apartment.

I Ate Blowfish and Survived!

If prepared incorrectly blowfish (or swell fish as it's often referred to) can be deadly. I had mentioned to my friend Younyoung that I was interested in trying some new Korean food since Kwang and I have gotten into a food routine lately. She went to college with a girl whose family owns a blowfish restaurant so she took me there. Blowfish like the ones above, were swimming around in tanks in the restaurant. If they are scared or irritated they puff up very quickly though unfortunately we did not see this transformation during our lunch.

We ate four different blowfish dishes. The first was a salad made with blowfish skin. The skin was really tender and the salad came with a great spicy dressing. The dish above was called blowfish bulgogi. Bulgogi is typically beef sauteed with a sweet, spicy sauce, however in this case blowfish was substituted for the beef. It was really delicious especially when everything cooked for awhile and the sauce began to caramelize. There were lots of wood ear mushrooms that soaked up the flavor of the sauce.

Next came tempura style blowfish. Really you can't go wrong with anything that been tempura-ed. Yes, that's a new word and I was lucky to have some pumpkin slices (my favorite) mixed in with the blowfish.

The last dish was a simple, yet delicious blowfish soup. There were large chunks of the fish along with bean sprouts and green onions. After all of the spiciness and tempura this style of blowfish was cleansing and pure. A large table of business men sat next to us and each ordered this soup. Thank you Younyoung for taking me here!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wade Kids Academy Celebrates Christmas

Friday was a festive Christmas Eve at my school. We wrote Christmas cards for parents, sang Christmas songs,  made Santa candles and ate spaghetti (the true highlight!!). These girls helped celebrate by wearing very popular reindeer horn headbands to school. 

This is our 5 year old class (really they are 4 years old in western terms). Each class had a caroling contest. The best girl and boy each got a special present. Lucky for Chloe she was the only girl that day. 

All of the girls in the 7 year old class looked very festive for Christmas.

My lucky co-worker Michael was chosen as this year's Santa. The children's parents had sent in a present for each them so that Santa could give them something special.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cakes

Christmas cakes seem to be all the rage in Korea at the moment. This was Dunken Donuts' cake display today. There are so many cute cakes. I like the one that looks like a teacup. I really wish they offered a cake made out of donut layers, now that would be delicious.

These were Baskin Robbins' ice cream cakes. They also look cute though it's freezing outside right now and the thought of eating ice cream gives me goose bumps.

Kwang's boss sent him home with this cake. I guess instead of a Christmas ham you get a Christmas chocolate cake here in Korea. The little cookies and figurines are pretty cute. 

Here's the hard working man himself. All cakes in Korea come with candles, little matches and sometimes even party poppers. This one also came with sparkling grape juice that my kids at school referred to as champagne. 
This man has many tricks.

Earlier that day one of my elementary students had bought this cake to celebrate the last day of class before vacation. Needless to say I was a little caked out by the time Kwang came home with his.

Couple Sweatshirts

Matching couple sweatshirts are huge here. So imagine my surprise and joy when I found one in my Christmas stocking from Kwang. 
Why Boston? Or more like why not Boston! Finally I can show my USA pride though it's not exactly hard to hide here since my foreignness is rather apparent. 

Here's a close up which really helps show the other special part about these sweatshirts. Never heard of Massachubatts, eh?? A quick Wikipedia search claims that Boston was established in 1630. Who do you trust Wikipedia or this sweatshirt...that's right Massachubatts doesn't lie.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Confession of a Deliquent Blogger

Before I knew it it's already the 20th and I've only touched my blog once this month, yikes! I blame Christmas shopping and my 4 jobs. However, I couldn't hold back posting this picture. How I love taking ridiculous pictures with anime characters.

Favorite Fruit and Vegetable Stand

 This is one of my favorite fruit and vegetable stands. They sell everything by the plastic basket so it's really easy to tell how much something costs. You can find everything there; peppers, bananas, persimmon, apples, oranges, cucumbers, potatoes...I could go on. 

When you figure out what you want all you have to do is bring your baskets up to this guy. He then puts everything into plastic bags. He also might strike a deal with you. Last time I bought $4 worth of oranges and red peppers and he asked me if I wanted a huge bunch of banana for $1 to make it an even $5 bucks. I was like yes please!

Here are some apples and tomatoes in baskets. It's practically like the farmers market though it's pretty typical to find one of these little stands on most corners in Seoul. 

Juk, Juk and more Juk

Juk is to Korea as chicken noodle soup is to the United States. Juk is the answer to all ailments here in Korea. Have a stuffy nose, eat juk. Feel like you're coming down with the flu, eat juk. Your stomach is upset, eat juk. I admit it is a soothing bowl of goodness, though I stay strong to my sleeve of saltines, 7-Up and buttered toast when really feeling under the weather.

The juk restaurant we went to was called "Juk Story". It's a chain that's pretty easy to find around Seoul. On the wall they had these inspirational words to say about juk. To best describe juk it's a thick rice porridge. It often has different types of seafood in it as well as vegetables, meat and occasionally cheese (Kwang cringed when I ordered juk with cheese). 

Here is Kwang's juk. He ordered the oyster and mushroom juk. Every order comes with little side dishes of regular kimchi, white kimchi, marinated shredded beef, and a red chili paste root vegetable concoction.

Here's a close up of the juk. On top they put ground sesame seeds and finely chopped dried seaweed. You then stir it all together. 

Here's my chicken and cheese juk. I usually don't find juk that flavorful, but this type was incredibly delicious. There were big chucks of broccoli in with the rice and shredded chicken. This is sort of the non-traditional flavor adapted for Korea's changing taste. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lotteria's Lady Burger

The Korean fast food chain Lotteria has a new burger out, the "Lady Burger". That's right it's only for ladies and apparently there are no rules here on discrimination as the ad claims the burger is just for women. What makes it a "lady" burger...well, well, well...the burger actually has pieces of rice cake in it and not the type of rice cakes you get back in the US. Rather these are thick chewy pieces of rice that has been make from mashing regular rice together to make a cylindrical cake. I suppose I need to dare Kwang to go and try and order one.

Here's the commercial to get a better idea.

This company also makes a diet burger that has rice patties instead of a bun. When I visit Lotteria I usually opt for the shrimp burger because it truly is delicious with big chunks of shrimp visible with every bite. It seems I have many other items to add to my list of dinner possibilities.