Sunday, September 25, 2011

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

First Itaewon Freedom, now this:

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

Itaewon can be a very odd place at times and today was no exception.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

I'm not quite sure what happened or why, but outside the firestation on the main strip, there was some sort of flashmob/photoshoot/music video/mass hysteria involving a decrepit popstar, three firemen and a group of youngsters dressed like rejects from a Grease audition.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

 I stayed for only a few minutes, but the memory has been seared into my brain and will haunt me for decades to come.

Freaky Firestation Flashmob Filming

And now a glimpse of the dancing, lip syncing, k-pop horror itself...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Greek Tragedy?

Greek Tragedy?
This photo accurately reflects my feelings about this plate of food.

Last night I met up with some old friends for a glass of wine, a bite to eat and a natter about the comings and goings of 2011. We decided that the Santorini's new restaurant on the main street might be a good place to try. I'd been to the Santorini behind the Hamilton hotel a couple of years ago and not had a wonderful experience, but I was willing to give them another go, especially in their new location.

Unfortunately... more of the same.

Our waiter, when asked for salads with no dressing explained that all salads were pre-dressed; and after being informed that I had an egg allergy and couldn't eat mayonaise, she brought me a plate of food with a big dollop of mayonaise rich coleslaw...

I ordered the mixed grill for 25,000 won: A chicken kebab, some lamb gyros, a "meatball" which looked and tasted suspiciously like a burger, fried potatoes and pitta bread. The meats weren't bad, perhaps a little too salty, the fried potatoes were passable, but the pitta bread was so tough that I feared for my teeth.

Then there's the price... A little steep considering that the Turks are selling good quality kebabs and other bits and pieces round the corner for much less. As @mrpfisher said on twitter last night:
"Tried it last weekend. Wasn't massively impressed, certainly at those prices. Hope it's better for you!"

I had kept my hopes up for Santorini, but I fear I won't be darkening their door again. Perhaps not a Greek tragedy, but certainly a disappointment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seoul Is Changing

Red Skies in Seoul

Something strange is happening to this city...

At the start of August I left rain soaked Seoul for ten days in rain soaked Edinburgh and when I came back I found myself in what felt like a different place.

As we flew into Incheon, everything seemed so clear. I could see every boat, every road, every nook and cranny of this crowded and chaotic peninsula, and as we drove into Seoul the skies were blue and I could see for miles and miles.

How odd.

This may not be so noticeable for relative newcomers, but after a decade living under the yellow haze of pollution, looking up at the sky and seeing rather indistinct shadows and a blurred sun, this past month has come as a revelation. We've had our good days and bad days, but late August into mid-September has given us some stunning skies and some gorgeous clouds. I don't remember enjoying the heavens so much in the last eleven years and I'm thankful that I can look out across the Han river every morning on my way to work and enjoy the view.

Maybe it was the ridiculously long and ridiculously heavy monsoon season, maybe Seoul is getting cleaner, maybe the sky gods are smiling down on us... Whatever the cause may be, it makes me happy.

Long may these clear skies reign, before Seoul changes its mind and the smog comes back again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wine Gift Time

One of Korea's big two holidays is coming up this weekend, and with the arrival of Chuseok (the Korean Harvest Festival) comes the arrival of the annual Chuseok gift from my present employer. In previous years I've received frozen fish, frozen steaks, seafood powder, olive oil, and a set of soaps, body-washes and toothpaste that still hasn't been used up entirely...

Chuseok Wine

 This year it was pretty easy to guess what I'd received from the box.

  Chuseok Wine

Sure enough, a quick peek inside revealed two bottles of rioja, plus a fancy schmancy corkscrew and pourer. Often we share gifts with my in-laws, spreading the fishy, beefy, soapy love around, but this year I think we'll be keeping these bottles for ourselves.

A quick search on the internet reveals that these two bottles go for a total of about 70,000 won in Korea... another quick search on the internet reveals that they go for a total of about 20,000 won back in the U.K...

Hopefully one day wine prices in Korea will settle down, so that my need for decent wine can become an affordable habit. Until then I'm still very grateful that my employer wants to send me a bottle or two to celebrate the harvest.

You can catch me wittering on about Chuseok tomorrow morning on TBSeFM during my regular 11.30 Korea Only slot on the 1013 Main Street programme...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My New Favourite Korean TV Programme

We've only recently got a streaming iptv service and as I was flicking through the few free channels we have access to tonight I discovered 한국인의 밥상 on KBS1.

Thursday nights at 7.30, it's every Korean food addicts dream. Half an hour of a rather elderly slightly famous man (I know his face from somewhere) travelling round Korea and finding the best that Korean dinner tables have to offer. Tonight's episode was salt, samphire and seaweed focused, with some beautiful shots of beautiful food.

Plus there's no audience sound track, no dramatic oohing and aahing over everything and they don't show the same shot three times in a row. It's proper adult television meant for those with a serious interest in food. I am in love...

If like me you grew up with a love of serious food programmes for serious foodies, then this may well be the show for you.