Archive for the 'Korean cuisine' Category



TTMMGH – Korea edition #13

Hmm…look at the picture.  It’s of an ordinary shelf in the grocery store (one near our house).  See anything interesting?

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Well, aside from the Korean writing on the packaging – do you see anything a little peculiar?

  

I did!  Let’s take a close up view of the bottom shelf in particular.

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Yes, my friends – that is butter and margarine – right next to the ketchup and mayo.  Of course!  🙂

The other stores I know of around here (that even sell butter), definitely store it in the refrigerated section.  But not this particular mart. 

It’s not that I think it’s a sort of health threat (I know many people who keep a butter dish on the counter so that it’s soft and spreadable), but let’s keep in mind – the temperatures of late have been in the high 80s to low 90s (that’s Fahrenheit).  It’s freakin’ hot outside and in a lot of places inside like this store (no air conditioning).

Well, next time I bake something and am in need of softened butter – I know just the place to go. 😉

TTMMGH – Korea edition #12

Koreans love their coffee…er…love their very sweet coffee.  There are hundreds of cafe’s all over the place – cute little boutique ones, major chains like Starbucks, even cafe’s where you can pet cats or dogs or sit next to huge oversized stuffed teddy bears.  Access is no problem…unless of course it’s in the morning.

This is the Bau Haus Cafe in Seoul.  Here you can enjoy a ‘ca-pooch-ino’ (I love puns).  I haven’t been here  – Micah won’t go with me!

 

While I don’t drink much coffee, I’d venture to say most Westerners consider coffee to be a necessity for first thing in the morning.  Finding coffee shops open at 6am – no problem.  

In Korea – good luck!  If it’s noon you want, then sure – no problem.  Cafe’s here stay open very late, but early morning is just not their thing. 

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Look at this cute coffee shop – located RIGHT NEXT to a university.  It’s 9:30am on a Sunday.  Perfect coffee drinking, newspaper reading, chatting time.  But no…CLOSED!

And in case you are wondering – it’s not that Koreans don’t drink coffee in the morning.  Many of my teachers come to school and the first thing they do is make some hot water for their instant-coffee. 

   

Check out other Things That Make Me Go Hmm editions:

TTMMGH #11

TTMMGH #10

More Korean cooking

Micah and I really love Korean food.  We already know we are going to miss it SO much when we move back to the States.  Korean food is WAY more than just BBQ meat and kimchi (pretty much the only Korean food I knew before living in Korea). 

So, how do you eat really good Korean food when you aren’t in Korea?  Well, of course you can just eat out.  There are a number of Korean restaurants in the Seattle area – and who knows, now that we know more about the cuisine and can speak a little of the language – maybe they’ll be quite tasty and authentic.  However, I’m certain we’ll suffer a bit of sticker shock.  Eating out in Korea (for Korean food, not Western) is ridiculously cheap.  I already know the prices at Korean restaurants back home, albeit normal for the economy of Seattle, will seem completely unreasonable to us.  Boo!

Where’s my money?!  Oh that’s right, I ate Korean food last night.

So that leaves us with another solution – learn how to cook Korean food!  I was able to take a Korean cooking class last week with Micah’s mom.  I still need to try the recipes out on my own to ensure I know what I’m doing.  But it didn’t seem too difficult and the ingredients weren’t too obscure. 

And a couple weeks before that class, Micah and I had the chance to get some private cooking lessons from a Korean friend (more like a friend of one of Micah’s co-teachers). 

Side note: It was quite random how this meeting came to be.  It’s a Wednesday afternoon at Micah’s school.

Micah’s co-teacher: “Micah, do you and Lisa want to learn how to cook some Korean food?”

Micah: “Sure.”

Co-teacher: “Ok, let me call my friend.” 
(An hour later) – “How about this Saturday?”

Micah: “Uh…sure, ok.”

Since the Korean lady (I’m sorry I don’t remember her name), doesn’t speak that much English – she had her son (who just graduated from a high school in Arkansas via an exchange program and speaks EXCELLENT English) help us with translation. 

They were both so kind and generous.  We met her at the market and she had already purchased 90% of the ingredients we needed.  We only had to buy a chicken.

And back at her house, Micah and I did our best to pay attention, take notes, and figure out ingredients/measurements/etc.

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Again, I haven’t had a chance to recreate this awesome dish yet, but I will.  She taught us how to make jimdak.  It’s basically a very spicy chicken dish cooked with a variety of fresh veggies and a Korean dough snack called deokbokki.  It’s soooo good.

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Spicy awesomeness.  You can eat this on its own or as a lettuce wrap. 

    

We also learned how to make buchujeon (boo-chew-juhn).  Some foreigners call it a Korean pancake.  And there are numerous variations…some made with kimchi, or potato, or green onions, or seafood.  We’ve eaten many types of jeon and they are all tasty!

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Buchu is basically like a Chinese chive.  It’s really easy to make this.

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She did most of the cooking – I was more her helper.  And Micah was the notetaker.  We shall see how well his notes are. 🙂

She also made a tasty noodle soup and then we all feasted!  Of course, she brought out lots of little side dishes too.  We ended the meal with a delicious tea and fruit.  We were so stuffed!

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We were really lucky to have this opportunity and will definitely be making this dish back home.  And she was so cute – she really wants us to come back to her house again – so she can teach us more.  I can’t wait!  🙂

A fun-filled week with the one and only Sharon

I’m back with a much anticipated post of Micah’s mom’s week long visit to Korea.  I say “anticipated” more because I’m pretty sure Sharon needs this blog post to remember all the things we did and food we ate. :-) 

This blog post is LONG  But hey – we did a lot!

Monday:  Her late night arrival.  All went smoothly with the flight and four-hour bus ride.

Tuesday: We oriented her quickly with how things work in our apartment (door lock system, water heater system, Micah’s cell phone, etc.) and the different places around our house. 

I left school early that day (ahem…cough cough), and Sharon and I were off to a Korean cooking class.  We, of course, were the only ones who didn’t speak Korean, but it was a really fun class.  We learned how to make two delicious Korean dishes: a spicy chicken and veggie dish (takgalbi) and Korean style fried chicken.

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The chicken dish is on the left (and is a favorite of many foreigners).  And as I’ve mentioned before – Koreans love fried chicken. 

    

We tried our best to follow along with directions and understand the different ingredients.  The teacher was super cute and also tried her best to tell us things in English. 

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We were at a table with two other Korean ladies.  So the four of us shared cooking duties.

I’ll have to share the recipes for another post.  I’m still in the process of decoding some of it – and need to do a solo trial run (to make sure I actually know/remember what I’m doing).

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Really delicious fried chicken – not spicy, but sweet.  We had bought too many chicken wings to the class, so we took some of the leftover ingredients/sauces and whipped up a batch for Micah to eat when he got home from school.  He loved them.

…Later that night:  We went downtown and met up with our friends Gabe/Charissa and Courtney/Sydney – as well as my co-teacher Sun Gyung.  (She’s the one who took us out to dinner in Yeosu a few weeks back).  We ate traditional stonepot bibimbap (rice, veggies, and meat)It’s really delicious.  And afterwards, we headed over to drink makkeolli (a Korean rice drink), play drinking games, and play Cranium.  A good time was had by all – and our friends liked Sharon (and vice-versa).

Wednesday:  Since it was Election Day and we had no school (yippee!) we decided to take a day trip over to the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan).  We took a 90 minute bus to the city of Pohang.  It’s a relatively small city, but is rapidly developing into a major seaport for the country. 

First stop: Bogyeongsa Temple in the northern part of the city.  It’s a very popular Buddhist Temple, nestled at the base of a mountain.  Unfortunately, to get there required a bus ride + undetermined wait time + transfer to another bus.  We killed time by walking around the town where the bus transfer was (there was hardly anything there).  We managed to find a pretty decent Korean BBQ restaurant – so we ate (samgyeopsal aka thick pork slices) for lunch.  And luckily, just barely caught the transfer bus after lunch.

Finally…3 hours later (from when we got to Pohang)– we got to the temple.

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The temple itself wasn’t all that spectacular – probably because most temples look the same.  But the area surrounding the temple was really serene and peaceful.  Had we the time, we could have taken a variety of scenic hikes – some a few hours long to checkout the waterfalls.

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At the restaurants and markets just outside the temple, we saw these alcoholic drinks for sale.  Look closely at the bottle – how hilarious.  If they weren’t so expensive, we would have bought one for our friend Gabe.  (Not sure why him…but that was our plan at the time). 🙂

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Can’t pass up the opportunity for a pose like this!

…After the temple:  It was already 4:30pm.  To get back to the main city would mean probably another couple of hours travel/wait time.  And then we’d barely have much time to do anything before heading on a bus back to Daegu.  Boo!

But my co-teacher (Minju) and her husband to the rescue!  I knew they were going to be in Pohang at the same time as us, but our plan was to meet them downtown in the late afternoon for dinner.  Hmm…it’s late afternoon already and we have no idea when we are going to make it back downtown.

But when she called me, they just happened to be only 15 minutes away from the temple.  So they just picked the three of us up in their car.  So awesome!  And from there, it was like a personal guided tour. 

They took us to Wolpo Beach – where Minju walked in the somewhat murky and dirty water.  It’s not a beach beach – it was really rocky and dirty.

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My co-teacher Minju – she’s super cute.

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Micah poking at seaweed and starfish with his poking stick.

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And Sharon in her own little world collecting all sorts of shells and rocks. 

They then took us to Chilpo Beach.  This beach was really cool.  It’s more like the type of beach most of us could picture laying out in the sun and playing frisbee on.  The beach stretched out for a long time and since it was getting close to evening – there weren’t many people there.  We walked barefoot in the sand and skipped rocks (or tried to).

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Look in the background – Sharon the shell collector. 

And then the grand finale of our special tourJukdo Fish Market.  We didn’t have time to tour the actual market since it was late, but we dined on a really really delicious meal of sashimi, bamboo crab, soup, and tons and tons of side dishes.  The fish and crab were purchased fresh from the tanks, and then we went upstairs to the actual restaurant.  Our food was brought out to us all cooked/prepared.  It was SOOOOOO good!!!

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Sorry – we ate some of you…and your friends.  But you were so tasty and we really appreciate it!

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We ate some of you too.  Ditto as above. 🙂

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A little soju with our meal.  Sure – why not?!

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We had four HUGE bamboo crabs.  We were so full, but somehow managed to eat them all.

My co-teacher and her husband were so amazing!!  They paid for our dinner (except the crab since we really really wanted that), took us all around Pohang to places we wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see (and saved us TONS of time), and even took us home.  It made for a really awesome day.

Geez…only on Thursday.

Back to school for us.  During that time Sharon went to the Korean spa that’s near our house.  We helped her get to the place, tell the lady what she wanted and then she was on her own.  But she figured it out ok and got a good scrub down and massage for 35,000 won (or about $30).  I had done the similar scrub back in Feb. 

After school, we headed to visit with yet another one of my co-teachers – Hanna.  (She’s pregnant and almost due).  It was SO wonderful to see her and her husband.  We met up with them last minute, but when we arrived at their house, it was like they knew we were coming along.  They had a delicious spread of fruit and juice for us to snack on. 

We had a great time catching up and chatting – and then we went to Subyin Park nearby to catch the nighttime water and light show (think a scaled down version of Bellagio in Vegas).  But pretty impressive for this little park on the outskirts of the city.

We had a late night dinner of Korean BBQ – but this time it was a marinated pork meat.  It came with lots of different sides that Sharon hadn’t tried yet.  And of course, I ordered the lunchbox!

We ended the night with a very popular summertime dessert in Korea called Pot Bing Su (팥빙수)(It’s not even available outside of the summer months).

It’s a really refreshing dessert.  It’s basically a souped up, crunchier ice version of Hawaiian shaved ice. 

Sharon really took a liking to this dessert – and thus we were on a mission each day to find it.    Unfortunately, the best one we had was from a small bakery near our house in Daegu.  The other three we tried were not as good. 

Side note: I JUST learned that the “pot” means red beans and the “bing su” means shaved ice.  The best kind is when you can get fresh fruit, cereal flakes, and mochi balls – so yummy!  You can even get it with ice cream or frozen yogurt on top – the combinations are endless.

Friday:  We went to school and Sharon toured more around our neighborhood.  A visit to the Daegu Arboretum, lots of open markets, and shopping at the big grocery store/marts. 

After school, we packed our bags and took the high speed train to Seoul.  We even ordered – FOR DELIVERY TO OUR HOUSE – the spicy as hell, but so freakin’ awesome Kyochon Chicken (to eat on the train ride).  It was hilarious watching each other eat.  Our mouths were on FIRE, but we kept going in for more.

GOAL ALERT: This successfully meets one of our goals of living in Korea: order food for delivery (speaking only Korean) to our house.  Woo hoo!  Nevermind you that the only thing we can order is Kyochon Chicken. 

We got to Seoul at nighttime and found our way to the hotel.  We checked-in and spent an hour wandering the streets near us.  Since we were near a University – there were a lot of restaurants and hofs (bars) around us.  The atmosphere was really fun.  And of course, we ended the night with Pot Bing Su #2 (the worst of the four).

Saturday:  It was all about sightseeing, shopping and eating!  This was actually my 5th time being in Seoul (Micah’s 6th) – so, we were pretty knowledgeable about the subway and the different areas to see.  (That saves a ton of time and energy alone). 

Side note: Many of our Korean teachers/friends in Daegu haven’t been to Seoul five times in their entire life.  To us foreigners it’s a fast (2 hour) and cheap ($35 one way) trip to one of the biggest capital cities in the world – but it’s not so easy and cheap for many Koreans.  Needless to say, we feel really fortunate for so many opportunities to see Seoul.

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Good thing Sharon is in good shape.  We did a TON of walking – which in Korea means, climbing up and down flights and flights of stairs…everywhere you go.

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At Deoksugung Palace (very famous and near city hall), we watched some of the ceremony there and…got to wear some Korean gear aka ‘Hanbok.’

We ate some kickass Japanese/Korean style ramen for lunch.  I found it off the website: www.seouleats.com

Actually, we ate at three places that came off this specific list of food recommendations.  Although FYI: the directions to get to some of the restaurants are a bit hard to follow or a little mixed up.

…Back to the ramen:  It was sooooo good.  Easily the best ramen we’ve had in Korea.  It wasn’t the super spicy, packaged ramen variety, but instead had a rich pork broth with slices of fatty roasted pork in it (that just melted in your mouth). 

There’s only two types of ramen you can order here at Hakatabunkko Ramen.  We ordered the most popular type (which I have no idea what it’s called). 

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When you get your bowl, you immediately take one clove of garlic (yes, a whole clove each) and use the garlic press to mix it with the broth.  That part is soo awesome – and makes for an awesome taste (I’m going to start trying this with regular ramen at home).  Sprinkle some sesame seeds and you are in ramen heaven!!

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Ramen heaven!

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All gone.  Back to the real world.

So the rest of the afternoon we wandered around to different markets.  The free market (think major arts/crafts booths) in the Hongdae University area (where I picked up a really cool painting), and the crazy hectic Namdaemun Market.

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Sharon wasn’t a huge fan of this market.  It’s extremely crowded and chaotic, but a sight to see nonetheless.

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Namdaemun Market gave us a chance for Pot Bing Su #3.  Again, not as good as the first one – but refreshing enough.

After some refresh and nap time at the hotel, we headed back out on the town.  This time to the famous artsy area of Insadong.  Most foreigners like this part of town because it’s more chill and laidback.  Also, most of the shopkeepers speak a pretty decent level of English, and there are SO many different things to buy (from the cheap socks and cell phone charms all the way to really nice jewelry, paintings, and ceramics).  Sharon LOVED this market the most.

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Lots of things to keep Sharon busy and straying away from us in Insadong :-)  Common phrase heard: “Where’d she go?"

And no trip to Insadong is complete without stopping by the honey candy vendors – where you can watch how they make the delicious candy and listen to their cute song that goes with it.  It really is quite entertaining – but this was my third time seeing/hearing it.

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And then fourth time, when Sharon stopped by another vendor doing the same thing just a few minutes later.  We did manage to buy a box from each vendor 🙂

It’s called kkultarae – and it’s made from fermented honey that’s stretched out into little strings and then filled with a nut mixture.  It’s really delish, but best eaten the day of.

 

…One more thing that night – dinner!  We went back to the Hongdae area to try and find this Korean ribs restaurant (again a top recommendation from SeoulEats).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it and by the time it dawned on us to call them – well, they were closed.  Insert: Micah NOT happy!! 😦  But instead, we ate some really delicious pork and beef galbi at a BBQ restaurant in that area. 

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Chef Sharon trying to set the place on fire.  (I asked her to pretend to be cooking…but she didn’t – and spilled some garlic oil onto the coals.  WHOOSH!).  :-) 

SAM_2062 A little char for your garlic and galbi? 

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We ate at the very popular (usually long waiting lines) galbi restaurant, Hongik Sootbul Galbi.

 

And finally – Sunday:

We did some shopping at the nearby Emart so Sharon could pick up some more packaged ramen and other Korean goodies.  She loves the Korean ramen! 

We checked-out and stored our bags – and off we went for our last remaining hours in Korea. 

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We decided to use the SeoulEats restaurant recommendations again.  It took us to the Myeongdong area (where TONS of retail shopping stores are located).  We ate at Myeongdong Gyoja and ate their delicious knife cut noodle soup (Cal-guk-su), dumplings, and a chilled soy milk soup (Kong-guk-su).  I thought the Calguksu was the best one.

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Look at all the food!  This place is fast-paced.  Get in, order before you even sit down, pay upfront, eat, and get out!

 

And of course, we couldn’t let Sharon leave Korea without one final attempt for a really good Pot Bing Su.  We were told to go to the Coin Cafe (a very cute, quaint, laid-back place where we just relaxed for an hour or so).

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Pot Bing Su #4 – A huge bowl this time, topped with ice cream and nuts.  Still, no fresh fruit, but it was the second best of the four we had eaten.

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Fruit or no fruit – there was no stopping her. 

Farewell:  We got her onto the airport “limousine” (really just a big bus) and away she went.  Micah and I then headed to the train station to get back to Daegu. 

It was a really fun and jam-packed week.  Sharon told us that she loved everything and we were great hosts/tour guides/translators/lost and found/etc.  🙂 She actually preferred the slower pace of Daegu more than Seoul – but overall had a fantastic time.  She loved every thing we ate…including the things I didn’t mention: Korean ice cream, mandu, kimbab, pajeon, soups, jimdukk, Korean melon….you get the idea :-) 

  

Of course, a week like that doesn’t come without its consequences.  Operation: HARDCORE WORKOUTS are currently in progress for everyday this week :-) 

Getting down with Yeosu

Last weekend, we took a trip down south to the city of Yeosu (pronounced “Yo-soo”) with our friends.  It was Buddha’s Birthday – which meant that we all got Friday off from school.  Woo hoo! 

Thursday:

As soon as school got out, the six of us met up at the bus station and we were off. 

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Our friends Charissa, Gabe, Sydney, and Courtney.  And a Korean woman who probably wished she didn’t get stuck next to a bunch of foreigners for a 4-hour trip.

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Apparently, they still sell tickets for the bus, even if there are no seats left.  This guy stood for most of the trip.

We got into Yeosu around 9:30pm, took a quick taxi to our hotel, checked-in – and then had some drinks.  The city is nice and clean and actually has parks with grass.  A rarity in Korea.

Friday:

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day!  The highlights:

  • Odongdo Island

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  • Manseongri Beach (aka Korea’s only black sand beach)

Ha!  We got out of the taxi, looked at the beach, and went “huh?”  There isn’t anything black about this beach – unless the somewhat darker area of sand is considered black.  In person, it just looks dirty.  My co-teacher even warned us not to go there.

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  • Raw seafood dinner with my co-teacher

My new co-teacher, Sun Gyung is from the city of Yeosu. And she just happened to be visiting Yeosu as well the same weekend.  So we decided to meet up for dinner and drinks.  She took us to a raw seafood restaurant – Yeosu’s specialty. 

Unfortunately, our friend Courtney does not do raw very well.  But she was quite the trooper and at least tried many of the dishes.

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Am I really supposed to put this in my mouth?

Micah was in seafood heaven – eating everything put in front of him.  It was quite the experience.  The food just kept coming and coming.  It was definitely a meal we could never have eaten if my co-teacher wasn’t there with us.  I can’t say I loved everything, but it was still an amazing meal.

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Afterwards, we went out for drinks and taught Sun Gyung many American drinking games.  It was hilarious.  She ended up having to drink a lot that night.  :-)  We don’t go easy on the newbies. 🙂

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Saturday and Sunday:

The rest of the weekend was well…wet.  It went from awesome 80 degree weather on Friday, to non-stop rain all Saturday and Sunday.  And since the rain wasn’t letting up, it limited our options for where to go.  We couldn’t take the ferrys down to the islands and being outside was not all that enjoyable.

We did manage to visit one other beach and check out a pretty cool aquarium.

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Oh look, there’s the beach.  Quick take a picture and let’s get inside!

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Check out this sting ray.  His (or her) face is hilarious!

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These poor fish were being tormented by the Korean kids.  Catch them with a strainer, shake em’ around a little and release.  Repeat.

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Micah dug around in this mud for at least 5 minutes trying to find whatever it was that was supposed to be in there.  Then, some Korean person told us (or rather we figured out) that the posted signs were telling visitors that there was nothing in the mud at that time. 

We wandered around a bit more in the rain, ate some Korean BBQ and headed back to the hotel to dry off.  That night we were fairly low key too.  We played some pool, ate some actual normal American pizza, and stayed up hanging out in our hotel rooms playing a few more “games.”  🙂

Had the weather been nicer, we might have actually gotten a tan chance to see some of the beautiful little islands.  But it rained all the way home to Daegu and for the next couple of days too.  😦

TTMMGH – Korea edition # 10

All I can say is…sushi + processed cheese. 

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Koreans feel Japanese food is bland.  Where’s the salt?  The spiciness? The processed cheese?

        

Click to read TTMMGH #9.

Who needs grapes when you have persimmons?

Last weekend, a big group of us foreigner teacher friends headed to a city south of Daegu called Cheongdo  (about 30 minutes by train).  All we knew prior to leaving was that they had a wine tunnel.  Hmm…ok.  Why not?

cheongdo map

We got off at the Cheongdo train station and then took a 10 minute taxi ride to the actual tunnel.  And we soon found out that it really is a wine tunnel.  It’s an old (108 years old) converted train tunnel that now stores countless barrels of wine, has a small wine shop, and lots of seating for visitors to sit down and drink some wine and eat some cheese. 

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It was a beautiful and hot day – a perfect day to go into a dark, musty tunnel and sample some wine. :-)  

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When we got inside, we found out that this wine tunnel only sells three types of wine – and they are all wines made from persimmons (aka gam in Korea).  Apparently this place sells the “only persimmon wine in the world!!!!” And we were only able to sample two of the three wines.  Bummer.  But I’ve never had persimmon wine before and it was pretty tasty.  It was light and sweet, but surprisingly not too sweet. 

No grapes?  Just use persimmons!

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The two wines we tasted: Gam Regular and Gam Special.  We preferred the Regular over the Special.  They also had an ice wine, but it’s very expensive and limited – so they don’t let customers sample that for free.

     We walked to the other end of the tunnel, but it was gated (where they store the barrels).  But they did have some fancy dancy light sculptures.  SAM_1553 Micah wants this for our wedding.  🙂

And lots of nice seating areas.  If it wasn’t so dark, musty, and dripping water randomly on our heads from above – it would be a great place for a party!

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It wasn’t quite the “winery” experience we envisioned and/or are used to, but we made the most of it.  We bought ourselves some wine and some cheese – and had a great time chatting it up.  About two glasses of persimmon wine was my limit – it started getting really sicky sweet tasting after that. 

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