Friday, November 13, 2015

On our last day in Jeju, my friends decided they wanted to visit a cafe somewhere in the outskirts of Han Dam Dong. The coffee shop belonged to a member of Big Bang.

We arrived a quarter past seven at Han Dam Dong with no concrete instructions on where to go. The cold wind soaking my clothes while we followed the small dot in the GPS that was pinned in water. After a lot of looking, asking and wondering if we had to walk on water, we found the place.

Unfortunately, the café was already closed, but seeing that we came a long way, they offered that we could look inside. My feet rejoiced at the thought of warm floors and a 화장실(restroom).

Check out our restroom-entrance photos;
Kring  outside the restroom entrance

Regh doing the same thing
Me and AM doing the same thing because of peer pressure. LOL
The interior wasn't completely finished, but most of the furniture has already been arranged. An elegant mix of matte black, white and rustic furniture. The wood and stones gave a classy, contemporary feel. Wooden chairs also meant warm butts--I was so happy.

The bar had an assortment of macarons, carrot cake, coconuts(the ones I've tried in Jeju tastes different, but that's another story), and other non-coffee beverages.

After looking around, the owner said we could take photos and offered us some coffee. My heart fluttered at the thought of coffee. They introduced her. She was GDragon's mom.

We all had americano. Their coffee was surprisingly strong compared to the others I've tasted during my entire stay in Korea (apart from the coffee franchises from overseas that was the same everywhere). It was still quite mild from the usual cup I need to function for work. The acidity was mellow and didn't leave a heavy aftertaste in your mouth. Perfect for a cozy afternoon in the province while relishing a well-deserved vacation.

Now I have the slightest idea who GD is (sorry >__<) but if someone offers you hot coffee on a chilly night where the beach breeze stings your already numb hands while wandering in a poorly lit neighborhood, you'd love her.

So, I promise to look GD up--which I'm sure my friends will be very happy to help. Your mom is a warm cup of coffee for someone experiencing her first autumn. And for her, I'm very thankful.

I'm not sure how bad my palette is shot at this weather, and I'm not too confident about my coffee tasting skills. But isn't food about the people  you share it with and the memories you create? And this one definitely tops my first visit in Korea. 감사합니다, 지용의 엄마.

Café Monsant Aewol is currently on soft opening. There is no definite official opening as of the time of writing. It is located at 2546 Aewol-ri, Aewol-up, Jeju-do, South Korea

Whether you're a fan of kpop or not, this place is a definite must-visit. The view by the beach and the huge glass windows promise a breathtaking afternoon with the sunset and an americano in your hands.

How to get there:

Take the 702 bus from the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal.

Get off at  Han Dam Dong bus stop.

Walk towardsAewol-ro gil, it's the nearest right turn from the bus stop(you're not crossing the road from this route)

When you see the beach, don't panic, you're almost there.

When you reach a fork in the road

and you see this house, turn right

Keep treading that path and take a left, and another left and voila! (It's fairly easy to find the place at this point, I promise)

If all else fails, ask :)

I'm envious of the daytime photos, but the evening view is just as awesome.

Special thanks to Cams Amparo, Regh Dayao, Kring Punzalan, and AM Carreon for the photos and the great company ;) We need to go back here!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Big days call for modest breakfasts.

A friend of mine likes to clean when she's stressed.

I thought long and hard of the things that soothe me when I'm on the edge. Anticlimactic, but yes;

I cook when I'm anxious.

There's something about weilding a sharp object and the hack and slash of slicing that I find meditative.

I colour hair when I'm bored but that's for another day and a different blog.

Perhaps it was my dad rubbing off of me. On big exams, he'd skip the big breakfasts and make me a nice cup of coffee(by nice I mean a HUGE mug).

Today, I'm especially anxious. And without thinking, I was up an about, making a simple breakfast of oats, apples and cinnamon. Tea is today's companion. Didn't want to excite my already excited heart.

1/2 cup whole rolled oats
1/2 apple sliced
Unsalted nuts, about a tbsp
A dash of cinnamon

Cook oats. I have the lazy habit of just adding hot water to oats but I don't like the crushed instant ones. Add the rest of the ingredients. I'd add milk but we're out of stock.

Wish me luck, dear reader. Not sure how you got here, I hope you have a good day.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Today is Cheat Day!
It took me days to to figure out how to make the comment box re-appear (Yes, a non-coder's problem). To celebrate that victory, dinner was in Top Dish!

A friend introduced me to this restaurant a few months back. I've returned a couple of times and each time it was heaven :3

Top Dish or 그때 그집 (geudde geujip) is a small restaurant located in Durban street, near Makati Avenue. I love how the place feels homey and relaxed. You will usually find the owner sitting at the counter watching Korean news or k-dramas. Upon entering the place, you'll pass by the kitchen where the crew will greet you.

I am a Banchan enthusiast (if there is such a thing). Banchan (반찬) are side dishes served in a Korean meal
We had our usual favorites; bibimbap, tteokbokki, and kimbap.

Rice topped with egg, ground meat and vegetables. I am always envious of how they cook their rice - always light and fluffy.

Rice cake in a sweet chili sauce. The perfect companion on a cold, rainy evening 

Steamed bap (rice) with assorted vegetables rolled in gim (seaweed laver) 

Fermented napa cabbage. Did I mention it goes well with beer?

Top Dish is located at
4940 P. Burgos St. Poblacion, Makati
(02) 758-1122
Open from 4:00 PM until 3:00AM daily

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last year, my world was rocked in epic proportions when they announced that I was part of that year's World Korea Bloggers.

After 3 hours of screaming in celebration, I realized,

""WTF am I going to write? I'm a noob at this"

YouTube videos were helpful but could only do so much. If anything, it was daunting to watch the intricate art of Hansik. All the time and effort it required made me question if I was up for this when I couldn't even get my julienne right.

don't judge my uneven matchsticks! :((( 

So, what do we do? We experiment, make the mistakes, and if we're lucky, get something edible.

With the help of some willing victims friends, we orchestrated our very first Kimjang!

I bought a pack of instant ramyun in case everything goes wrong :p

We made baeju kimchi(napa cabbage), kkakdugi(radish), oi sobagi (cucumber kimchi), and some kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice) using some of the kimchi that Dye and I made a few days ago.

that's me pretending to work hard in the background 

Here's the recipe we used based from Maangchi's awesome work.


Napa Cabbage Kimchi

3 1/2 kilos napa cabbage
1½ cup of kosher salt

1 cup light fish sauce 
1 medium sized onion, minced
1 cup of minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
7 stalks of green onions, chopped diagonally
1 cup of chopped buchu or green onions
2 cups of julienned radish

For the porridge 

½ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, water

2 cups of hot pepper flakes (less if you don't want it too spicy)

Radish Kimchi

2 kilos daikon or korean radish
1/4 cup salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned radish
2 tbsp fish sauce

Cucumber Kimchi
1 kilo cucumber (about 4 pieces) 
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup julienned radish
1 tbsp fish sauce

Ready for some pickling action!

When choosing napa cabbage look for shiny stalks and leaves with no holes

Traditional baeju kimchi is usually made with long pieces of the cabbage still intact, but we didn't have enough space in our containers and it ferments faster that way

Mix, Mix, Mix!  wouldn't recommend using your bare hands as it can get quite hot. 

Put in clean plastic containers or earthenware and allow it to ferment in room temperature for at least 24 hours. Refrigerate after and enjoy!

roasted sesame seeds optional

So far, t

they're all still alive. I love you guys. And it did somewhat taste like the Kimchi we buy from the store.

I can't wait to go to Korea and experience the real thing. 아자!

Kimchi fried rice! 

How do you like your kimchi? spicy? a little salty? Would love to hear some tips on how to make it better.

After that we had some serious bonding time. Super serious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When somebody says "hey let's make fried Oreos", You need to say yes. It's the law.

I've never made fried Oreos. I've tasted it before, so I thought maybe that, some help from Google, and a little bit of imagination would be enough. 

See that giant a** Nutella? That's a jar of pure magic.

The ingredients are quite simple. Pancake mix, eggs, milk, Oreos, and oil for deep frying. Make sure your oil has a high smoking point like canola or vegetable oil.

1 250gram pancake mix
1 pack of Oreo
2 eggs

I added two eggs to the pancake mix and added some milk until I got the consistency that I wanted. You want your batter a little thicker than usual. This way, you'll have a thicker and fluffier coating. Mix until your batter is lump free. 

Dip Oreo in the batter and drop it in hot oil. If it doesn't go crazy with sizzling bubbles, your oil isn't hot enough. If the temperature is right, it takes a couple  of seconds for your fried oreo to float. Flip it, and take it out once both sides are golden brown. 

THAT is not hot enough. Dammit
They look like marbled potatoes. Now I want potaotes too.

It's already heavenly at this point, but I was feeling a little creative, and still had a bit of Nutella left so I made a drizzle by whisking in some milk with a tablespoon of the sexy chocolate hazelnut spread.

To break off some of the richness, I added some potato chips flavored with nori flakes and wasabi powder.  

And yes, my plating skills need work. A LOT of work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

There's a bit of panic in the air at the wake of deaths involving milk tea. A few days later, the trail has gone cold.

Some said they would refrain from consuming milk tea for the time being, and some have rallied to the beloved drink's defense.

What frustrates me the most is that the lack of information fuels hearsay and tends to drown real information.

While it is perfectly alright to speculate and have your own theories, it's best to demand the truth. Ask for more information, more tests. 

Like how the blog name implies, I'm no expert, but I did have a HACCP training in my heyday. Yes, it feels THAT long ago, which is why I encourage you, my dear reader, to take it with a grain of salt---the same way you shouldn't believe everything you read online without further research.

Wikipedia defines Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point as

"a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc."

(My journalism prof would be cringing now. Hi!:D )

In a nutshell, it means taking certain approaches to minimize the risk of food poisoning and prolonging your food's tummy-friendly status.

So whether you cook or eat, these tips might help in avoiding food poisoning.

Do not cross-contaminate.

Do you know how to get salmonella in fresh vegetables? Use the same knife you used for your raw chicken.
Invest in separate chopping boards for fresh meat, vegetables, and dry ingredients. But let's be real, sometimes, we just don't have that luxury. When having more than one board is not possible, chop your dry items first, and your meat last.

Extreme temperatures are not bacteria-friendly.

Here, have a snowman because it's too f-in hot outside.

High heat kills most bacteria, and cold temp prevents bacteria growth. The temperature in between is called the Danger Zone (Yay! more Wiki!), where bacteria populate like crazy.

Boil your tap water more than two minutes, and cook your meat thoroughly.
You CAN put hot food in the fridge, BUT This lowers the overall temperature of your fridge, exposing the rest of the items in there to the danger zone. The key to quickly cooling large batches of food is segregating them into small portions. That way you won't also need to thaw everything when you're ready to eat.

The best time to eat street food is when it is freshly made

I can't always afford expensive food, it isn't healthy to eat fast food frequently, and I don't always have the luxury of preparing homemade meals. That and I love street food, 'nuff excuses. So to minimize the risk, it's best to look for just-cooked items, avoid food carts that do not cover their goods, and are placed in highly polluted areas. *sigh* 

Also, the best time to eat out is in the morning - mid afternoon, when the ingredients are still fresh, in the evenings, all you'll get are leftovers that have been sitting there all day. The same applies to some restaurants.

Use your senses

Sight, smell, and touch are only secondary means of identifying food that has gone to the dark side but are still fairly reliable.

When in doubt, throw it.

Yes, we have a lot of wasted food. Trying to consume sketchy food isn't going to help it. What will is not buying more than what you need. TL;DR Don't horde (perishable) food.

Even with all those precautions in place, food poisoning can still happen, but having certain precautions in place ensures you are not dining on a petri dish.

Real good chefs out there follow rigid rules just to make sure your food arrives delicious while allowing you to tell the tale. Cheers to you!

So I ask you, my dear reader, before you campaign for or against milk tea, let's get our facts together. Ask for answers. It pays to be vigilant.