Monday, February 28, 2011

falling and laughing at the drinks we spilled

March begins tomorrow.

I've been relatively busy. Finished reading The Beautiful and Damned and The Imperfectionists. I'm leaving for a short trip to Hong Kong on Saturday, starting computer classes after I get back, and getting my braces off (again). In the meantime, I've been eating and eating and eating. Okay, I've been doing other stuff, but this is all I've got in my Lumix.

The P.532 sandwich at P.532 (Garosugil).
Take a left at the Starbuck's and you'll find P.532 on the left.

Really amazing samgyubsal (삼겹살) with lots of veggies.
How to get there: Shin-nonhyeon (신논현역), exit #2. Pass Take Urban on left, take a left at first street. Walk straight for ~3-4 min. and you'll see a ton of ppl lining up on the left. Go through sliding plastic door and take a number.

Tomato and mozzarella sandwich at Picnic.
How to get there: Dangsan Station (당산역), exit #1. Take bus #1, get off at 2nd stop in front of Ehwa Mokdong Hospital (이대목동병원), cross the street. It's next to the Morning Glory.

Fantastic spicy noodle soup in Myeongdong. It's the Chinese restaurant at the end of the street where MMMG Cafe is located.

Curry special at Tea Therapy. See directions here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

i ain't no bohemian

"My art is like milk, and the audience can turn it into yogurt or cheese."
- Hahn-bin

Finally, a classical musician who wears Yohji Yamamoto and Margiela on stage. Chopin and Debussy isn't so boring anymore.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Neighborhood: Garosugil #1

I've been meaning to check out Palette in Garosugil for weeks now but didn't get a chance to until yesterday. Garosugil has become my go-to area lately, which is baffling to me as it's got a lot of characteristics I despise the most in Seoul. It's rather totally charmless with an air of unnecessary pretension. 100% urban planned, it's predictable but easily navigable. It also has some of the best bakeries in Seoul.

Palette is tucked away on a perpendicular street. It's a bit of a hike, and the walk isn't that attractive. Lots of construction is happening around the area, and lots of cars roam around the street with hapless ajummas behind the wheels. That said, the cafe is a great place to take a book or catch up with a friend. Spacious with limited seating means that you're not sharing the table with couple next to you. Although they serve canneles, their main line of business is clearly macarons. Traditional flavors include vanilla, pistachio, and caramel, but they also offer seasonal flavors like cassis, black sesame, and wasabi.

L to R: Passion Choco, Earl Grey, Roseberry, Orange Choco, Cassis, Chocolate.
L to R: Black Sesame, Pistachio, Lemon, Caramel, Roseberry, Cinnamon.

Verdict: the filling in the macarons at Palette had a different texture than the other places, as you can see from the photo. Overall, I found passion choco and lemon the best flavors. The flavors I enjoyed the least were black sesame (though I can see this being popular with Korean taste buds, as the flavor is really similar to the sesame seeds - nutty and creamy) and chocolate (too sweet). The earl grey had too strong hints of chocolate. I also had an issue with the softness of the macarons. A part of me is suspicious that these weren't made the same day, as they felt a little less fresh.

Price: 24,000 for 12 pack (also sold in 6 and 15 packs)

How to get there: take line 3 to Sinsa Station (신사역) and use exit #8. Walk straight until you see the phone shop and turn onto Garosugil (가로수길). Walk straight and take a left at the 2nd Starbucks. Walk straight down this road for approx. 5 minutes. Palette will be on your left. (Next to a 7Eleven, I think.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

show me the side streets in your life

At the art exhibit last Sunday, Sunny and I stumbled upon the work of a fantastic photographer, Won Sung-won (원성원). She created a series based upon an experience she had when she was seven, where her mother left the house. (In Korean, the term is "집을나갔다" which translates directly as "leaving the house" but can be interpreted figuratively to mean leaving the family. We had some dispute over this, as I thought it meant that the mother actually left the family, not just left the house to run errands.)

Using that experience, she created a narrative using a series of photographs that shows a young girl searching for her mother. If you see the details in the photographs, you can see that the tale is really tragic. One of the most haunting image is one of the young girl doing the laundry. Her back is turned, but the loneliness is staggering.

As for the artist's process, she photographs each item individually and then places it on a larger canvas. Click here for a better understanding of the artist's creative process. The detail of her work is so meticulous.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Neighborhood: Cheongdam #1

I scored these free tickets to this extra large art sale at Coex this weekend and got to see the most amazing set of photographs ever (more on this later). As we tramped around the stalls to check out the works, we got really hungry so the trip to Poong-won (풍원) in Cheongdam (청담동), a Japanese izakaya. For some reason, they thought we weren't Korean. Maybe my hat threw them off. Post dinner sweets are now necessary in my life, and my sweet tooth was satisfied with what tasted like homemade ice cream (in blueberry tiramisu, cheesecake, and green tea flavors) at Monday-Tuesday.

Agedashi Tofu Salad

Saturday, February 12, 2011

uptown it's dead now

Photo Diary for the 2nd Week of February
"A classic," suggested Anthony, "is a successful book that has survived the reaction of the next period or generation. Then it's safe, like a style of architecture or furniture. It's acquired a picturesque dignity to take the place of its fashion..."
- from The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the interior of Seoul Museum of Art (서울시립박물관)/the gift shop of the museum/classic road that wraps around Dukseo Palace (덕수궁)/the Canadian embassy/compressed figurines near the palace

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011 Playlist

I don't celebrate holidays. You're lucky if I remember your birthday. (I've known Fifi for 20 years, and I still don't know her birthday. It's one of the following January 14, 15, 18, 24, or 28.) But I've been compiling this list of love songs in my head for some odd reason, and this playlist was born.


Robert Smith of The Cure considers "Just Like Heaven" the greatest pop song he's ever written. Bouncy, light, and adorable. Nina Simone, queen of jazz blues, sang this one incredible rendition of "Just In Time," which was so incredible that Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy included it in the film "Before Sunset." Paolo Nutini's got an uber strong sex ballad in "Loving You" (Marvin Gaye, isdatchu?), and there's some cheeky love songs from Kings of Leon that smell of stale cigarettes, cheap beer, and southern summers. Cute throwbacks in Phoenix's "Second to None" and Rilo Kiley's "Silver Lining" for indie queens. Personal favorite has to be John Lennon's acoustic version of "Love," which makes me think of Duckie's solo serenade in Andy's bedroom in "Pretty In Pink." The last two songs I've got to highlight are Common's "The Light" (the ULTIMATE love song) and T.I.'s surprising, frank, and sweet confession to his boo in "Let Me Tell You Something."

Leave me a comment with your email to download via my Dropbox.

1. I'll Be There (To Make You Miserable) - Ari Hest
2. Paris - Friendly Fires
3. Birthday - Kings of Leon
4. Just In Time - Nina Simone
5. What Katy Did Next - Babyshambles
6. Cosmic Love - Florence and the Machine
7. The Light - Common
8. True Love Way - Kings of Leon
9. 1983 - Neon Trees
10. May You Never - John Martyn
11. Silver Lining - Rilo Kiley
12. Far Away - Ingrid Michaelson
13. I Found A Reason - Velvet Underground
14. Let Me Tell You Something - T.I.
15. Just Like Heaven - The Cure
16. (Getting Some) Fun Out of Life - Madeleine Peyroux
17. Loving You - Paolo Nutini
18. Fucking Boyfriend - The Bird and the Bee
19. Islands - The xx
20. You and Me Song - The Wannadies
21. Funny Little Frog - Belle and Sebastian
22. Dakota - Stereophonics
23. Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble
24. Cornerstone - Arctic Monkeys
25. Wild Young Hearts - Noisettes
26. Love (Acoustic Version) - John Lennon
27. Second to None - Phoenix

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Neighborhood: Hongdae #4

I've decided to take on a new project. Since there is a dearth of macarons in Atlanta, I'm going to have my fill while I'm in Seoul by trying them all. By the time I leave, I will have a ranking of the best macarons in Seoul, as well as directions to the cafes and bakeries that sell them. In my research thus far, the macarons seem to be mainly concentrated south of the river, in Sinsadong, mostly. However, there are two places in Hongdae that serve them.

I stopped by Le Petit Four this afternoon on my way home. The space is small with around 8 tables. It also tends to be really crowded in the afternoons. But the macarons and desserts aren't lacking. They had a full case of macarons, and a half filled case of other desserts not photographed because I'm in the market for macarons and macarons only.

The cafe is run by chef Kim Dae Hyun who has an extensive resume that mostly takes place in Europe. After studying at the Paul Bocuse Institute, he's worked in Paris and Vienna before bringing his skills back to Seoul. And these skills are quite refined, indeed. The cafe may lack in the appealing decor that I've come to expect from Seoul cafes, but it definitely does not lack in taste.

First row: Multi-vitamin, orange creme, Boutiy (coconut cream)
Second row: Macaron Melba, pistachio creme, lemon & ginger cream
Third row: Cognac, vanilla creme, chestnut? 

Verdict: The macarons didn't crumble very easily. They were less delicate than I expected and some were a bit chewy. The flavors, however, were absolutely perfect. Not too sweet, not too strong, just light and delightful. Except for the pistachio creme. I thought that was awful, which is unfortunate, because it's the classic macaron flavor. Best flavors for me were the multi-vitamin (raspberry flavors), vanilla creme, and cognac. The cognac macaron blew me away. Alcohol flavored macarons is a well married idea.

Price: 18,100 for a pack of 9.

How to get there: take subway to Hongdae Univ. (홍대입구) on the green line. Take exit #9 (the old exit #5). Go straight for one block. Make a left at the Citi Bank. Go straight, walk up the hill, pass the Starbucks until you get to this two storied building filled with restaurants. Le Petit Four is on the 2nd floor, next to a Japanese ramun shop.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Neighborhood: Hyoja Dong #1

After going to see the Chagall exhibit at the Seoul Museum of Art (서울시립미술관), Sunny and I headed to Hyoja Dong (효자동) to grab lunch at 6.1.4. Located in a tiny residential alley near the Blue House (Korea's version of the White House), the space is small but well constructed using a lot of natural elements and incorporating lots of windows to let in natural light. They serve an interpretation of Italian food, but surprisingly one of the best I've had in Seoul. My only complaint would be the overdemanding ahjummas who were seated near us.

Rucola Pasta - either 18,000 or 21,000. (Can't remember.)
Daily Lunch Special: Cream of mushroom soup, tomato mozzarella panini, salad, plus coffee - 16,000.

How to get there:
Take subway line 3 to Kyeongbok Palace (경복궁) exit #3. Go straight. Take a right at the Paris Baguette. Pass Duomo (두오모) on your left, then take a left at the parking lot to the Blue House. You should see a rectangular sign for 6.1.4 on your left.