Please Sign the Guest Book. There’s Complimentary Cake.

Yes, I had a great and wonderful and absolutely amazing time with my mom and Emily.  Then, one day after their departure, another friend from home, who has been passing the last year in France, came to visit the illustrious city of Seoul. During her stay, yet another friend – this time from College – came from Beijing to visit. So for the past 22 days, my apartment usually fully of smells and dirty dishes and new experiments sitting on plates waiting to be photographed was, instead, full of people.

I’ve learned a few things from this month of playing the host.

One, it really is true about what they say, or what I’ve heard: You start to appreciate your city when you show it around. As I showed Mom, Emily, Laurel, and Drew around the palaces, temples, markets, restaurants, and late night venues, I started to realize, yet again, how amazing this city is. Ever feel like you’re stuck in your own town? Try showing someone around it – you’ll get strangely proud of the place.

Two, cooking at home connects me to my food, and makes me enjoy it that much more. In my hosting-days, I only cooked two nights – all of those other nights were spent running around the city trying to find the best restaurant to show off one kind of cuisine or another. Barbeque, bibimbap, kimchi jjigae, vegan, burgers, buffet, street food – I’ve had it all in the past month. Now, it’s back to the kitchen.

Three, the air mattress I borrowed was actually… a pool float. How did I exactly determine this? See the following:

This is not a life saving device. Always provide the supervision necessary for the continued safety of your child. Never allow diving into this product… There are risks using this product as a water craft.

For that, I apologize to all of my visitors. Similarly, you now have a great story to tell: “When I was in Seoul, the only thing I could find to sleep on was a floaty…”

Four, I have plenty to catch up on with this blog. The last thing I cooked, to usher in a good visit for my mom and Emily was a green tea cake.

I have to admit that this cake actually wasn’t for them. Rather, it was for one of my coworkers that wrote on a little sticky note “Green Tea Cake for Anne… Soon.” Many of my coworkers found out that I have a knack for baking, and appreciate any and every time I wander into the office with a full plate of cookies, breads, or cakes. On the day of my first visitor’s arrival, I was a flutter with excitement and unusable energy. I wanted to go for three runs and do yoga for four hours, but I had to keep myself calm so that I could meet them with all the energy in the world. So, productivity be dammed, I baked.

Green Tea cake is actually very easy, considering you have the special ingredient: Macha. Macha is green tea powder (Garu-Nokcha in Korean), that they say Monks use to concentrate during long meditation session. Or I just made that up, it’s hard to say with blogs, eh?

This cake was also the first time I used yogurt in a cake. It turned out to be ingenious given that the extra moisture in the cake was due to the yogurt.

All in all, after the green monster of a batter, and the anxious minutes in the oven, out cake beautifully toasted green cakes that were both spongey and fluffy. Sweet but mellowed out by the strong green tea flavor. Dessert like, but also a nice accompaniment to morning coffee.

Although my mom and Emily were appreciative of the baked goods upon their arrival, it was my coworker, Anne, who got the biggest kick out of the green tea cake. Placing a full cupcake on her desk, she squealed with excitement and told me that she had to save it so that her husband could try it too.

The next day, before her compulsory anyeonghasaeyo, she told me “My husband thought it was the best he’d ever had.”

That’s a compliment, if I’ve ever had one.

In the next week, expect more stories from hosting, some from work and even more from explorations as of late.

Also, if you’re a Simon and Garfunkel fan, check out this mix tape. It’s on repeat right now as I whip through batters and stir-frys and roasted vegetables.

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6 thoughts on “Please Sign the Guest Book. There’s Complimentary Cake.

  1. loved the green tea cake and the visit and the food (I got both of the home cooking meals?)! Such a fun time…..I miss the air mattress/floating device 🙂

  2. Green with envy, but no green cake. Looking forward to one when you get back to the States. Missed your blogs, but know you used your time in one great way.

  3. Hi Josh,
    I find your writings totally enjoyable, except I get frustrated because I want a recipe for everything you cook! Green tea cake?? I’ve never heard of it before but I would really love to try/make it.

    I fed a large portion of the neighborhood last Sat. evening. One of the guests made mohitos until the fixings ran out. They were good, but not as tasty as the ones you made at Nancy’s retirement party. You do have a knack for making things taste memorable.

    Gail Shaw

    • Gail! I’m so sorry that I didn’t include a recipe on this one! I’ll throw it in there today! Check back!

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