Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea" 2017 Korea Tour

As seen in the September 2017 edition of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy Newsletter

Korea Tour 2017
Is it time to eat again !! Part 2
Today we are traveling all the way across Korea to the beautiful city of Gyeongju. It is a five hour drive through rice patties, ginseng farms and fruit orchards. The mountains are glorious, verdant green and covered in mist. This is a hikers paradise. No wonder the rest stops are filled with folks decked out in Patagonia jackets and hiking boots. Rest Stops in Korea are so much fun! You can buy electronics, sun bonnets that cover your head and face entirely, hiking clothes, souvenirs and of course food! Our guide, Mr. Kim let us know we would be making two stops on our journey. On our first stop Rosa Cirillo got a bag of corn on the cob. It was steamed and the kernals were huge compared to the sugar and cream
varieties that we have at home.  It was an excellent snack. Then Bill Cirillo  got back on the bus with a box full of Ho-doo Gwaja!! These are a famous rest stop snack sold all over Korea. They are beautiful walnut shaped doughnuts that are filled with sweet red bean paste. Super yummy. Soon we are back on the road admiring the scenery. Next stop is for lunch. You enter the cafeteria and over the counters are scrolling photos of all your choices with the price. What amazing choices. Jjajangmyeon (noodles with black bean paste), Katsu (pork cutlets), Jjampong ( spicy seafood noodle soup), Sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew), Jangjorim (braised beef) and on and on!! Not only do they prepare the meal to order it comes with silverware, glass plates and bowls and even cute little stainless steel water cups that you fill with ice cold water. No plastic or Styrofoam! No waste. So civilized! I chose the Katsu . The cutlet was the size of Texas and served as it always is with a sweet cabbage slaw, pickles and Korean potatoe salad. You had to keep pinching yourself because you are eating this wonderful meal at a reststop!! Back on the road again and we arrive at  the city of Gyeongju, the museum without walls. Beautiful huge green mounds are everywhere. These are the tombs of the Kings and Queens of the Silla Dynasty. Next stop is Bulguksa Temple, a World Heritage site where after sightseeing in the blazing sun and gift shopping Rosa turns us on to these fabulous plastic squeezy bottles filled with fruit flavored ice.  Back on the bus and off to the Gyeonju Hilton for a much needed shower and brief rest.
Tonight we dine on Beef Bulgogi  with Banchan. This restaurant is memorable not just for the beef but the endless little bowls we all share. Here’s what I remember, Juipo-muchim (seasoned dried File Fish) to die for, Ganjang-eomuk-bokkeum(stir fried fish cake with soy sauce)I love making this at home, Ojingeo-bokkeum(spicy stir fried squid), Gaji-namul(steamed eggplant), Sigeumchi-namul(steamed spinach), Kongnamul-muchim( seasoned and steamed soybean sprouts), sweet and lovely Korean potatoe salad , and of course this apple sweetened cabbage slaw we all fought over. No need to worry here though, the waitress will refill all the Banchan we can eat!!
If my memory serves me well, we headed out after our dinner and took a walk to visit the Cheomseogdae Observatory. This is the oldest existing observatory in Asia. It was built for Queen Seon-deok . She used the observatory to view the stars in order to forcast the weather. Her observations would help the farmers know when the right time to plant was.
We had a beautiful night and headed back to our luxury digs for a good nights rest.
Just a quick comment on the breakfast buffet at the Gyeongju Hilton, superb!! Fresh egg station, breads, Asian station with tofu and miso soup, smoked fish, salads, French toast, fresh fruit and so much more. Today we will go visit the monks at Golguksa Temple and have some of the simplest yet delicious vegetarian fare…
To be continued…
Part three of 2017 Korea Tour.

Haeng bog meogneum

Happy Eating!

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