Surprise Easter

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The facts: A month out from the trip, I contacted a friend of a best friend. She was a known foodie, and lover of parties/gatherings/get togethers. She lived in Berkeley or – as she ashamedly pointed out – Albany. She had Sunday and Tuesday free. We settled in on Sunday to host a brunch at her house for about 14 people. We wanted to do a nice three course meal, keep it relatively inexpensive, and keep the brunch drinks flowing. That Thursday before,  the number of people wanting to come dropped from 14 to 11 in basically an instant, and we didn’t quite know why.
The reality: Turns out, none of us had realized it was Easter Sunday.

With that little cognitive mishap out of the way, Unfamiliar Suppers wanted to give them the best meal they could have on Easter. Fresh breads for sure. Jams. Eggs. French toast. Berries. Bloodies. Bloody Marys as much as they could handle. Bloody Marys that demanded us to run out in the middle of service to go grab more supplies. Bloodies.

Keep in mind that this brunch was coming on the heals of the Berkeley 25 person dinner the night before. So as we fell asleep in a room just twenty feet from the kitchen we just prepped and cleaned in, we knew that we would be walking those ten paces in the morning to start beating eggs and kneading dough.

But lo and behold, we woke up with a spring in our step and sunshine on our faces to cook the best Easter Bunny Lovely Lady Brunch they had ever seen.

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Rachel’s house was amazing – beautiful huge windows, open floor plan, massive kitchen, outdoor patio, it was the thing of dreams for a supper / brunch club to come cook in. With most of the meal prepped at Laura’s house just a mile away, we got to out there around noon. By 12:30, ladies were enjoying fresh baked breads and Bloody Marys, sitting around a table illuminated by the sun peaking through heavy rain clouds. When 3:30 rolled around, everyone was happy, full, and tipsy off of Easter.

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The first course we put out was fresh sourdough toast with compound nori butter and maple-rosemary biscuits with rhubarb jam. A nice pastry board that had the savory butter with even a touch of umami from the dried seaweed, and the sweet rhubarb with a touch of tang.

Soon to follow came two gorgeous cast-iron pan cooked caramelized onion, cheddar, and swiss chard frittatas  with sliced avocado served along side a cucumber salad and potatoes roasted two ways: oven roasted potatoes with either rosemary, salt, and pepper or kimchi. Savory or spicy and tangy. The kimchi potatoes flew off people’s plates, even when only half of the massive slice of frittata was devoured.

The grand finale – oven baked bread pudding French toast served with maple roasted bananas, macerated strawberries, and whipped cream. Honestly who could say no other than an adamant gluten intolerant or severe lactose hater?

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What was incredible about this brunch, is that everyone was so happy to see each other, share stories, sit and revel in the fact that nothing had to be done today not only because it was a Sunday but also because it was a Holiday, and everyone was ecstatic about the food – they clapped when we came out. Clapped! it made me blush, no lies. Pictures snapped. Bloodies drank. Smiles shared. Naps planned.

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Happy Easter.

Eight and Three Make Twenty

IMG_3026The past three days have been recuperating days – those that find themselves done by ten pm instead of two am. They have been short, sweet, and relaxing mainly to make up for last weekend’s visits, last minute holiday shopping, and preparations which all culminated in a sixteen to twenty person supper club.

To start off what felt like a marathon sprint, my mom arrived in town last Thursday to celebrate the holidays I didn’t get to have at home this year. That following Friday her partner showed up just in time for margaritas, fish tacos, and guacamole at my local Mexican restaurant.

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Every moment in those two days, sparing work here and there, was jam packed with foods and walking and finding store that may have been just across the street even though we walked five blocks out of the way, and wines and laughter and serious talking about futures and family. Saturday rolled around, heralding in their departure after an introductory Indian food delivery dinner. I can’t hate – the Indian food in my neighborhood is almost required on a weekly basis.

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Around ten pm Saturday night, I started to cook for what would become an eight-course meal. My original menu was four courses with one wine pairing and three other suggestions. After talking with my kitchen partner, it quickly became a conversation as to how many courses we could actually do.

We need cheeses.

Don’t you think we should have some sort of bread course?

What about breaking up the soup and salad?

Isn’t Fairway open?

The short and sweet answer is: no. Fairway, for those unaccustomed with greatness, is the best grocery store in the greater New York area (dispute me, I know there are close seconds). They have three locations that I know of in the city, one being in a huge warehouse down in Red Hook. The location is incredible, overlooking the Statue of Liberty. Why it is the best is because the aisles never stop. There are aisles for days. The produce section is as large as most grocery stores. The organic section? Bigger than two of my childhood homes. I taste tapenade and coffee and bread and cheeses and olives as I shop. Best yet, it is the cheapest I know of.

Needless to say, this was both of our stores of choice. Strapping my seatbelt on at seven to make the store’s closing at nine, I rushed down there. No matter if I had left at noon or midnight, the store is still in disrepair after Sandy.

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The day after Sandy, I went around Redhook, taking pictures trying to grasp the effects of the disastrous hurricane, but since then, I almost think – in some optimistic corner of my brain – that everything has returned to normal. It hasn’t – there are an insane amount of people still without power and homes. So as a side note, please donate your time or efforts to help them.

With my mind reeling from the hurricane and how I was going to get the ingredients to start to prep for Sunday, I panicked and went to my safe place: Trader Joe’s. You’ll have a hard time beating the prices of that place. The produce might not be the best, but their quesadilla taste tests are so satisfying after waiting in line for five minutes.

Home by eight, the moms gone by nine, I was in the kitchen cooking at ten. Come four in the morning, I finally set my head on my pillow and drifted off for a three hour nap before the next day’s work started to call me awake.

A wonderfully difficult Sunday shift left me tired by four and racing home by six.

I don’t know how we’re going to do this.

I’m so tired.

What did you actually get done?

Do you have a peeler?

What wine did they order?

We need to get baguettes.

My good friend and kitchen guru by my side by six thirty, we started to chop, peel, dice our way to freedom.

What seems insane, is that although I made the cake and soup (what were ostensibly the first and last courses) the prior night, we still had six courses to cook in two hours. People were to show up by eight. They started the flood around quarter after seven.

With our hearts racing, minds reeling, and knives precisely slicing, we had to make a game plan. The risotto was still crunchy. The chicken needed another thirty minutes. The eggplant had come out quicker than we had predicted, so the menu changed again. It broke down from four to six to eight courses and bowls and plates were starting to be wiped and readied.

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With people sitting comfortably in the main room sipping on hot toddies and chilled white wines, I bring out a massive cutting board filled with cheeses and crackers. Followed shortly by a shaved Fennel salad. The night progressed steadily with a break around course five.

After the Brussels course, a good friend and cook at one of the restaurants came strolling into the kitchen bearing a flower.

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I brought a flower, he giggled.

Brian, please, help us with the chicken. You love carving, right?

Yeah, put me in the game.

And that was it, he became our third, throwing in suggestions, helpful tips, and gorgeous meat carving. By the time the olive oil cake came into play, he started in on melting the chocolate without question, asking only how I wanted the dish plated.

Oui Chef, he said, almost as sternly as if we were behind the line six short hours ago.

Three hours came and went and people were sedated, sated, and so very content. Throughout the night we saw twenty people, serving vegetarian options, and by the end, I passed quickly into a dreamy state of exhausted bliss.

No matter how tired I may be, it will always be worth it.

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Eight and Three Menu

Cheese Board of Brie, Smoked Gouda, Chevre, New Zealand Cheddar, Olives, and crackers

Toasted Baguette with Compound Truffle Butter with Fresh Heirloom Bruschetta and Basil

Shaved Fennel Salad on Mixed greens with Sliced Apples, Orange Supremes, and Rice Vinaigrette

Smoked Tomato Soup with Ricotta Salata and Pea Shoots

Roasted Cauliflower on Seared Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon and Roasted Garlic

Pureed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, Bourbon, and Roasted Chicken

Barley Risotto with Roasted Root Vegetables and Compound Herb Butter

Olive Oil Cake on Salted Chocolate with Orange Zest

 

 

Want one? Get at U.S. unfamiliarsuppers@gmail.com

To unfamiliar places, people, and food

How Perfect

It seems ironic — to a large degree — that I would be writing about a near perfect day, seeing as yesterday was anything but perfect. But the good days have to come with the bad, and there are some days that work out perfectly. Or almost perfectly, seeing as perfection is all but attainable.

Start: a wake up call from the rising sun through my window to which I see crisp blue skies and a few birds flying by. Note: yes this day is going to sound over the top with details such as “a few birds flying by” and yes, they are all true. Note: I didn’t prepare for such a perfect day so the pictures are limited. Enjoy the words.

Finding a cup of coffee already made out in my kitchen, I strapped on my running gear and headed out into the beautiful Brooklyn day for a seven mile run around neighborhoods and through Prospect Park, which was comfortably full of runners, joggers, walkers, talkers, bikers, players, loungers, and horses. Pause.

Restart: A nice shower and a clean room at my fingertips, I headed out with my roomie to find my new guilty pleasure at the little local coffee shop on the border of Bedstuy and Clinton Hill: a chai latte with a shot of espresso. Dirty Chai, she called out and I laughed at the name, and ordered one for myself.

The uncapped chai-coffee lasted maybe two blocks on our walk to a mecca of relaxation deep into Bedstuy: a closed spa (50 dollars for an hour long massage ain’t nothing to sneeze at), hair salon, café/brunch spot, and a Candela store. Perfection.

We didn’t tend to our appearances, rather we ate brunch at this café which was named none other than the “Biggie Bedstuy Brunch.” Belgium waffle, turkey bacon, cheesy eggs, maple syrup, two coffees. We listened to good music and talked about new neighborhoods to which to move. I laughed too loud a few times and made the counter person look my way. After a delicious brunch, and buying a piece of their carrot cake (which was about three pounds of cake) for the later times, we headed out and I met up with a dear friend to walk around Park Slope and find a place to sit and talk and catch up and plan and.

We tried a few coffee shops but, anywhere and everywhere in Park Slope is nonstop laptop-ville. Honestly we walked into three places only to find twenty or thirty people with twenty or thirty computers, staring, listening to music, “working.”

On ward ho! We made it to café Grumpy in Park Slope which does a delicious pour over and a wonderful Flat White (like a cappuccino or cortado but less milk and more foam).  Note: carrot cake still in hand.

Two hours later, after telling stories and the like, I had to book it back to Fort Greene to set up a CSA distribution. Carrots and Parsnips and Beets and Celeriac and Rutabaga and Spinach and Onions and Garlic and Potatoes were on the menu this time. So for that, I sat at the bar, drank a glass of red wine and made little recipe cards. Soups! Next time, maybe some coconut milk kale. Note: carrot cake still in hand.

The distribution closed early, so I headed out to meet up with an infant weekly supper club with a friend from years ago. We had the hardest of times trying to figure out a place to go. Our conclusion? The Dutch in Soho. It’s delicious with an amazingly vibrant space.

We didn’t have any reservations, but we charged our way through to the bar and waited for a table. Only four sips into an amazing rum-bitters-orange drink were we being asked to sit in a corner table overlooking the whole bar area. Perfect.

The menu was unreal. Lauren and I tried to narrow it down, but really we could only take like three things off the menu. Instead, we decided to do two fried oyster sliders, one appetizer, two seconds, and…. Two desserts.

Note: Lauren and I aren’t what you would call big eaters at first glance. The waitress didn’t flinch and wished us luck. We drove through every bite.

Three hours after we sat down, and steak tartar with romaine, quail egg, olives, homemade Caesar, and short rib pot roast with golden turnips, stout and caraway and red wine reduction pan sauce, and beautiful halibut with yuzu butter sauce, tobiko, winter garden vegetables, and sour cream apple pie with walnut ice cream, and toffee cake with a grapefruit glaze that I want to recreate later, we reveled in the fact that we didn’t need reservations, and just had a symphony of flavors from drinks to oysters through to dessert to the fact that we had sat there long enough o have digested some of the food and not felt too full.

Hopping on the subway home after making sure that we were going to do that again next Monday, to make the day more perfect, I stumbled on the same car as my roommate. I wore her hat, and we told each other about the day and spoke too loudly and accumulated some stares and didn’t stop talking until we parted ways in our kitchen.

How. Perfect.

 

 

 

Bumping Around

Before we set off on our adventure today, spanning from the early morning  New York City streets to the calm lapping of lake waves against a North Carolinian dock soundtracked by a mandolin in the background, I have to say that one of the most amazing meals I have ever had, was had in SoHo at a family friend’s place: The Dutch,  an American Restaurant, Bar and Oyster Room inspired by local cafés, country inns, corner taverns, neighborhood bistros, seaside shacks, roadside joints, old school dining halls and the same mix of cultural influences that make New York City great. It’s a new place getting rave reviews that can’t seem to serve enough people in a night and for good reason. Delicate, savory, boisterous foods that pack a punch and leave you with taste buds that will always and forever want more. Joined by five others, the table saw little oyster sandwiches, fried green tomatoes with ruby red shrimp, cornbread to kill for, a take on okonomiyaki with tender asparagus, grilled quail with delicate but powerful summer salsa and poblano, scallops over seasonally good sweet corn and chipotle, pot pies, a special with scrumptious oysters, six appetizer cocktails, about every dessert in the world (peach pie, key lime pie with ice cream, chocolate cake, a selection of heart-stoppingly good fresh made ice creams) and two bottles of wine (one white, one rose). It was a two and a half hour experience that, like I said before, left me thinking it was a beautiful symphony of art, rather than simply “substance.”

 

 

 

 

Trucking our full and happy butts up and out of the restaurant, we ventured into The Brooklyn Brew Pub to enjoy a Sixpoint Sweet Action and discuss future plans and my flight that following day.

New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina on a small plane, bumping gently and enjoyably the whole way – I was about to be carless, homeless, and friend-full for the next ten days.

What brought me down to the Piedmont was a gathering of college friends that I hadn’t seen in about a year at maybe the perfect location: a lake house equipped with a great kitchen, porch, dock, and water Carolina waters. We danced and chatted and caught each other up rocking in chairs back and forth. During the day, we ran and drank coffee and water-skied and prepared delicious midday meals. Massages for everyone and really, just a house full of warmth and support. I couldn’t have come into a more comfy-cozy return.

Once day, Galen, LZ and I turned down the early morning water skiing offer for a grocery store run instead. We planned on picking up the rest of the ingredients for lunch and dinner for the next two nights. The only problem was that none of us had specific meals in mind and all of us are indecisive.

Strolling aimlessly in the Piggly Wiggly for a few, we decided on burritos for dinner, and hummus-based sandwiches for lunch.  The burritos were something I became really excited about: I hadn’t had any Mexican food in Seoul (save the free chips and salsa I pounded one night), and I was craving that spicy sting and hearty bean flavor. Bumping around the store, we found the tomatoes, onions, peppers, cheese, black beans, red beans, rice, lettuce, limes, chives, and mint we were looking for. We also snagged a few peaches for the salsa and a few sweet potatoes to roast and throw in too. If we were doing burritos, we were doing real hearty, I-don’t-think-I-can-move-now burritos. And a side of watermelon. I mean it’s summer, after all.

 

 

Chopping away at the chives and onions, we put some music on, danced around the kitchen happily, and found hot sauce in the cabinet. When the rest came in from the day on the water, we were ready to sit down, and feast with ten good friends, and great relaxing stories.

The burritos themselves turned out great – deep flavors stemming from the sweet potatoes and beans, met with vibrant sweet touches from the peach salsa, combining with the crispy crunch of the green peppers, onions, and lettuce, all topped off with your choice of smooth cheese and potent spice. Couple this with a nice beer, gin and tonic, or margarita and you are in the market for a wonderfully content-laden evening to watch sunsets fall over lapping lakes. I highly recommend it.

A Tired Glow

This weekend, the past weekend, and what will most likely all the days from now until touch-down in the US, was, is, and will be jam-packed. And jam-packed in the best of ways.

Last week I realized that I only have about two months left in Korea, and for some of those days, I actually will be playing host for my Southern Sister, or driving around on mopeds and running up mountains on Korea’s vacation island – Jeju. So what does that leave me, but a limited time to see, do, smell, hear, taste, and write about everything. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired, or sleepy, or groggy, you had better believe that these last two months I have a fire under me pushing me forward to just keep experiencing.

Also, news flash: it is summer. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s sunny. It’s full of watermelon and pineapple and ice cream and potbingsu and naengmyeon and lunch dates and backyard barbeques and sweaty runs by the river. It’s nothing but inviting and enlivening and adventure ridden.

With those two influences surrounding me almost at all times, I’m going to wear my tiredness with pride. As Emily says, they’ll just think you have a tired glow about you.

To get to the specifics, this past weekend may have been one of the best I’ve had in Seoul. Saturday morning, which bled into Saturday afternoon, which blurred into Saturday evening and then full on night, all started with the Fermentation Celebration. A gathering of what seemed to be the entire hippie ex-pat community in Seoul in one location sharing their knowledge and fermented goods with other like-minded, kind and generous people. Lining the streets like a block party, vendors stood behind make-shift tables talking to patrons about Kombucha mothers, whey, hops, and blue cheeses.

There were plenty of homebrew beers to satisfy the taste buds of those who miss a good IPA – see: Korea loves weak lagers. Sauerkraut was a big hit that played the lead role to the sourdough’s supporting flavors. Fermented salsas sat on top of boiled potatoes, or nacho chips, and cheeses – ricotta, cheddar, gouda – all hung around to help you enjoy a Korean taco or four. If you wanted a sweet conclusion, there was always the yogurt-banana smoothie, banana bread, or green energy smoothie to keep you in check. Vegan Kimchi? Check. Russian hard apple cider to cool you down on your trek up a hill? But of course, my dear. Korean Taco Trucks that are actually in Korea? This is the real deal, folks.

The event lasted a solid four hours and spanned about a kilometer of side streets. It was not only filled with amazing and fermented foods, but also with some of the kindest people I’ve met here. One of my fermented trail mates adamantly stated several times throughout the journey “People who ferment things are just nicer. You have to have a community of people to do this, so you have to get along with others.” I agree – completely.

My favorite of the whole thing wasn’t what you might expect. Yes, it was only the second time I’d had Kombucha in the past eleven months – once in Thailand, once this weekend – but I have to say that the Kombucha wasn’t nearly vinegar-y enough, nor carbonated enough for my tiny tastebuds. I need that astringent punch behind every sip. In its stead, I would have to say that one of the many fermented salsas was my favorite. Fresh, bright, juicy, with a kick of vinegar. Spicy, alive, refreshing. Simply delicious poured over a heap of new potatoes freshly boiled. It was early on in the trail, and I wish I had been able to go back for more.

The journey died down around 5pm, but that’s nowhere near where the weekend ended. Four of us retired to a rooftop bar to enjoy a sunset and a refreshing beverage and planned for the next day, when we’d potluck and grill in fashion and celebration of a good friend’s birthday. O! Summer – keep us flying

Surf And Turf: Rise Up (Part 2)

 

Awoken by the lighthouse blasting unanswered calls into the misty haze that sat above the Eastern Coast, Molly and I were ready to leave our hotel – Hotel Memories – and take to the craggy rock faces that make up iconoclastic peaks of Seoraksan. Equipped with only shorts, a t-shirt, and a backpack, the two of us set out into the 50 degree weather in search of coffee, a quick breakfast, and a bus up into the mountains.

Getting there in the late morning, we were joined by a host of other hikers eagerly packing up on water, corn on a stick, dried octopus, kimbab, and alcohol. We skipped over the drinks, and packed kimbab and corn for our hike.

Reading the map was easy, since we decided to hike up the three-hour course, and not the ultimate peak. One of the specialties of our choice was that it was supposed to play host to over eight hundred steps to the peak.

In Korea, much like China from what I’ve heard from LZ, the hikes are hilly, aggressive, and full of stairs. Not stairs like you’d find in a stadium, but rickety old stairs that may or may not be attached properly to the side of a mountain. This is true for most of the hikes I’ve been on so far, and I can make an educated guess that most of the hikes I will go on will involve some stairs.  Much different from the Appalachian Trail that I am so accustomed to.

Along the way, we wound up beautiful paths by temples, one of the largest Buddha statues I’ve ever seen in Korea, rivers, through magical little mountain huts offering relief from the sun and refreshments for the weary. All throughout the hike, Molly and I were both struck by how green everything was. It was as if Summer had forced every tree to show its true green colors, just for us on that weekend.

The whole trip made me realize how much I missed nature. Hiking, boating, just being outside and away from white noise seemed peaceful and refreshing. It was also nice to be sweating based on my own volition, and not because the AC wasn’t working in my office again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city, but sometimes nature just calms me from within.

As we neared the final ascent, the stairs turned from gradual and intermittent, to straight up stairs to the top. The stairs were rust-red, and unclear as to where they attached to the rock – which ran straight up the side of the mountain. The whole thing might have been scary if we were the only ones there, but to our benefit, we had a nine-year-old guide with us, counting every one of the eight hundred stairs. “Mom, we’re at number 100!” He would call out. “231!” He squealed. “358” as he took a brief rest.  I believe he stopped around 400 due to the fact that the stairs became unclear in nature, and rather just rocks to step on.

At the top, we were enshrouded in clouds. There was no view to be had, nor a sense of height, but it’s the journey, not the destination – right? The old men who were on their third or fourth bottle of local liquor certainly didn’t care that they couldn’t see for miles.

Either way, we looked forward to stopping at one of the magical mountain huts at the bottom to feast on  local foods like mountain vegetable bibimbap, or acorn jelly.

 

Acorn Jelly is a specialty of this neck of the woods, and it’s delicious. The texture is really what you go for – a simple and rich jello-like substance with almost no real flavor. But to make this dish delicious, restaurants will top it with salty-sweet red-pepper paste, green onions, and green shreds. Served with raddish, kimchi, miso soup, and unfiltered mild and sweet rice liquor, it was a pleasant and well rounded way to celebrate the mysterious mountains, green foliage, and a weekend well spent – from the sea to the peaks. Thanks Sokcho.

Reminders of Home: Vegan Narratives

By day eight, we were exhausted, both from traveling and the fact that the last night bus was a whirlwind of uncomfortable movement. Before we even hopped on the double-decker bus to make the six (or eight) hour trip back to the capital city, we ate the spiciest sam tam we had had, thus far. It was fever inducing and tongue burning. So how did we cool our flaming mouths? With cheap rum, but of course. Couple pseudo-psychedelic salad with bad rum and throw that into a two-storied bus, air-conditioned to the point where we had to wrap a complimentary blanket around our bodies and see how well we could nap. Not sleep. It wasn’t good times, folks. But somehow, so 20something.

As we rolled into Bangkok by sunrise, we had our doubts as to what the day was going to pan out to be. We had three things on our list: get to the hostel, buy some things to take home, go out to dinner. As you’ve read, we definitely went out to dinner (in style, I might add). We also made it to our hostel (forty minutes early, so we lied on their porch, drifting in and out of sleep), and right now I’m sipping on some Thai tea that I freshly pressed, so we accomplished our very basics.

We also ended up running around the whole of Bangkok. We can both thank, to a large extent, coffee. Thai coffee, Starbucks coffee (only on trips, is my rule with that beast), quick espressos, and convenience store coffee. It was not great for our hearts, what with the caffeine and all, but well worth it. And, again, somehow very 20something.

After cups of coffee one, two, or three, we went a-touristing. Boat-Buses up the river? Check. Wat Arun and the Grand Palace? Why would you even ask? Former hippy hang out Khoa San Road? Been there, ate a smoothie, took anthropological notes as to how non-hippy and more western it was, and peaced out. Shopping malls and markets? It’s like you don’t even trust us as travelers.

During the middle of the day, there was not only a hiccup in the flow of narrative, but also a volta: a change from old to new. Conveniently it happened over lunch, when the day normally breaks.

While strolling around what used to be a place that one used to only find by insider tips, but now is overflowing with foreigners shopping and bargaining, we found a street littered with Vegetarian Restaurants. One thing you must know about LZ and I is: we like to try to eat as healthy as possible. This doesn’t always happen (see: fried chicken, street food, coffee sweetened with condensed milk… the list goes on), but when we find a good salad, or smoothie, or raw food restaurant, we hop all over it.

Settling into one of the veggie places, we realized we could do better – “What about that place?” “Want to check it out?” “Why not?”

And it was one of the best decisions we made on that sleep-stupor day. Taking our shoes off at the restaurant’s entrance, seeing people in dreadlocks, and flipping through the extensive vegan menu, we were in heaven.

Especially me, since the salads had homemade hummus (one of three foods I’ve been missing) and in the back of the menu, where the drinks are (always?), there was (the second of the foods I’ve been missing) Kombucha. For those who don’t know about this magical drink of the gods, I’ll explain in another post (it requires full attention). For those who do know, you can just imagine my surprise and my elation. Brewed in-house, I ordered the largest glass.

What this meal did for me was beyond tactile and sensory description. It brought me home. It put me on my College’s lawn, eating lunch with good friends, laughing, and feeling the sun’s rays scoot their last interactions with my bare arms for a while as I got ready to walk into a computer lab for hours on end. It put me in the park next to the farmer’s market in some of the best company in the world, realizing how much we had just run and how we should probably get another kombucha for good measure because later that day was hot yoga. It put me in a land of endless culinary choices where restriction isn’t in the lexicon, gastronomically.

So I made a resolution: no more homogeneity. I’ve been all about Korean food for a while, but these next couple of months are going to be explorative in the kitchen. What can I do here in Korea that I didn’t think was possible? What food is out there?

I’ve chosen to do a lot of vegetarian cuisine simply because it makes you think a little outside of the box. No Meat and three.  Sometimes, I’m going to try some vegan things. But fear not, fish and meat will make cameo appearances here and there.

So if you have a glass, raise it and toast the Vegan Restaurant in Bangkok that broke me out of the Korean homogeneous cuisine. Here’s to mixing it up. Italian. Korean. Vegan. Soul Food. Get ready and (sorry Nike) just dive in. Here’s a taste of what’s to come.