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#whatinnaeworld?! San Diego Edition

Unfortunately, these posts are coming a bit later in my travels, but you want to hear the words in my head, don’t you? Rather than just the sights I see? DON’T YOU?

 

 

Fine. Just be sure to follow me on Instagram (icon to the left!)

 

Anyway, back to the series.

I have never seen this before. And I am elated.

pill: 50 cents. a night without digestive pain: priceless.

Pill: 50 cents. A night without digestive pain: priceless.

 

Thank you, Lighthouse Ice Cream for blowing my mind (and not my stomach).

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Home: Where the Heart… and Hate is

“So much love and hate.” Words from my father at dinner two nights ago.

 

I couldn’t help but laugh because that’s exactly what I felt I needed to write about next.

 

We all have our issues with our hometowns. Too small, too big, too indifferent, too intimate. And the relationship between Seoul and me is no different.

 

For example, LOVES:

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

The food. All of it. Now. [차이 팥빙수 / Chai Paht-bing-soo]

Transportability

Transportability

ddukboki

More food. [떡복이/ddukboki]

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Cafes: perfect for hours of conversation

Did I mention food?

There are so many reasons why being home = happiness.

 

At the same time, there are moments where being home can bring about a sense of lowness.

 

Here’s where I get real (welcome to the new-and-improved blog?)

 

A few things make S. Korea less palatable. Hard to believe with some of those photos I just showed, I know.

 

1. The land of couples

Don’t believe me? In 10 seconds, I snapped these four photos.

They're everywhere.

They’re everywhere.

 

With the Westernization of its culture, Koreans began to embrace romance wholeheartedly. A little obsessively so. Now, wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by couples, arm-in-arm. For a single lady, it’s a bit trying. I may sound bitter, and you can judge me for that, but I do enjoy being alone right now. That gets shaken when I realize I’m the only solo person on the street.

2. The image paradigm

Even after years of being in a career where one’s physical image is scrutinized, I feel the most insecure when I’m in Seoul. Women here are just naturally tiny, and somehow I didn’t get those genes. I grew up in a city that didn’t carry my size in clothing. I was taller than most. While those two facts are now false with the passage of time, the warped self-image still takes hold: I need to diet. Why am I so large? How do I look like her? I can’t possibly be attractive in this country.

 

While I was reflecting on this, thankfully, another fact came to mind.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

– Psalm 139:13-14

 

This home is not my home forever. I don’t write that because I know I’m returning to the States. I write this knowing that I have faith in a God who gives me a greater purpose than looking like the elevated example of beauty. He sees me as beautiful, born to belong to Him, and better for that.

 

 

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It’s time to enjoy the city and all I love.

 

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Sweet Potato Pie

Thanks to a friend‘s recommendation, this went in my belly today. Feast your eyes on this ‘za from the Korean chain Mr. Pizza, complete with BBQ ribs, sauce, broccoli, small potato wedges, squash and garlic (the garlic is optional, but that question is always answered with a “yes”).

 

Oh, and I forgot.

the Gold 'Oh My Rib' Pizza

the Gold ‘O My Rib’ Pizza

 

There’s sweet potato mousse in the crust.**

 

*drops mic*

 

 

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**Honest assessment: I enjoyed it enough to eat three of the small slices, and the sweet potato in the crust was intriguing, but not desirable enough to order it a second time. Go for the cheese cap (cheese-filled crust).

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P.S. This is not an advertisement.

P.P.S. Thankfully (?) Mr. Pizza has gone global, so K-Towners, feel free to give it a shot.

P.P.P.S. This is a tease to my next blog post! Ta da! Applying journalism skills.

A new day for a night noodle shop

Sometimes I like to call myself a foodie. Then there are times when I spend time with real foodies and I resign myself to being just a good eater. Nonetheless, thanks to some lovely Capital Region bloggers (Saratoga Food Fanatic and Chopsticks Optional), I was invited to check out a Vietnamese food tasting at Good Morning Cafe in Ballston Spa, an American brunch place.

Yes. Vietnamese pho at an American brunch place. You can say that out loud.

Here’s how the two incongruous meals come together:

A NIGHTTIME NOODLE CAFE!

A NIGHTTIME NOODLE CAFE!

You can peruse their Indiegogo campaign site, which has much more information than I will post here, but a quick recap: Good Morning Cafe owner Nancy Holzman and (hopefully) future Good Night Noodle operator Linh Sullins are coming together to transform Good Morning Cafe into a Vietnamese noodle bar. It will be open in the same space for three nights a week. Voila! Good Night Noodle.

With each bowl of pho sold, they will donate the funds to purchase a bag of rice for a family of 4 in Cambodia. You eat. They eat.

(If you don’t know what pho is, you REALLY need to push this campaign forward because you’re missing out. Or just click this useful link)

It’s an incredibly altruistic business model, and Holzman calls it “Direct Impact Giving,” or DIG. However, to get this new business off the ground, they are looking for YOUR help. There will hopefully be more on this on Time Warner Cable News in Albany next week, but until then, go BACK to their site. Wait, finish reading this first.

Back to the tasting!

There are again, other real foodies who will give commentary on the food better than me (check out Burnt My Fingers, featured on FussyLittleBlog, or Chopsticks Optional). My two cents?

These noodles, homemade chicken sausage, intensely rich broth (with low sodium!)…

Chicken meatball pho

Chicken meatball pho

and premium fish sauce you add in yourself…

Red Boat: high quality

Red Boat: high quality

all make this endeavor worth supporting.

Rooster!

Plus: a rooster!

Not to mention, it led to some great puns in the Twitterverse.

pho-ny ;)

pho-ny 😉

So support Good Night Noodle, especially on Wednesday evenings! What does that mean? Stay tuned.

Trust me, once you taste that broth, you won’t pho-get it.

The First Time I Took Pictures of Food

You know who they are. You may even be one. They’re the person sitting at the table next to you, blinding you with their flash (if they’re fairly new at this) or exclamining, “Don’t take a bite yet! I need a picture!”

I have adamantly refused to be a phood photographer (food fotographer?) despite the many restaurants I’ve patronized. For me, the memory of a meal is powerful enough that I don’t need to hold onto the image. Nor do I ever go back and look at pictures of plates. Food porn? Nope, not aroused.

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This week, I broke my self-promise.

In two days, I had two of the best meals I’ve had in the Capital Region. Each made up of multiple courses. Each with carefully chosen wine pairings (or beer, if your tummy wanted hops). Each wowing me with the rich flavors and the delicate notes.

(Here’s where some of you might get a little too excited, in my humble opinion):

1st course: delightfulness I still dream about

The rest of the 5 farm-to-table courses

Braised short rib atop celery puree. Fried leeks crown the course.

Yes. I took photos. Gahh!

 

The first meal was a collaboration between Creo and All Over Albany. We heard from local farms in my inaugural farm-to-table dinner. I could go on and on about the food, but just check out the menu here.

Hearing from Creo’s owner & chef and local farmers

Then I attended my first ever dinner party at a new friend’s new home. The Culinary Institute of America graduate took my breath away with her elegance, thoughtfulness and creativity in this event. Truly an event.

A gorgeous place setting. Told you it was legit.

Party of Twelve (not Five)

The lovely hostess serving her selected wine

I couldn’t help but be unfaithful to myself during these meals. Somehow – before the first course was even served – my camera was in one hand, my iPhone in the other.

 

But I wasn’t snapping shots because I had never eaten food like this before.

The plates were unique. The bites, blissful. The gastronomic value, sky-high. However, here’s why I adored these two meals so dearly.

New foodie co-adventurer

Fussylittleblog + me + friend Evan

Hostess with the most-est ❤

It’s the people who made these plates worth saving. The love and passion in each dish, the careful planning of all the courses, the fascinating conversation over the cuisine: these are the snapshots of the night that I don’t want to lose.

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Now it’s time to put away my camera.

 

At least, until the next dinner party.

Not celebrating my age just yet.

In less than a week, I will be turning the age of 27.

Doesn’t that sound like a ripe, ripe age to you? Like a juicy peach, with a few brown spots. Overall, sweet, dripping with goodness, but you have to eat around the over-ripened areas.

I wonder what my over-ripened areas are.

27 seems alluring. I feel that it means I am truly an adult (because any 26-year-old is obviously immature). It was the age that many of my childhood friends AND favorite characters in childhood books wanted to be when they got married. I used to say 30, but tastes change as you get older. I used to hate coconut, yet I am currently snacking on enlarged m&ms filled with the stuff. Oh. I digress.

All of this is to say that the age of 27 has always been a signpost for me. As the day approaches, I am strangely self-aware of the date. In fact, I have unexpectedly planned a minor celebration for myself daily this week.

Sunday: free burger from Red Robin.

Monday: for the first time ever, DVR with my cable installation.

Tuesday: plans to get free birthday ice cream from Baskin Robbins.

Wednesday: if I don’t see anything pending, I will open an early birthday gift sent by my dear friend, Annie L.

Thursday: the Park family is together. That joy lasts through the next two days.

Sunday - Friday birthday excitement

Despite these exhilarating and breathless times, I have been fighting myself internally as I get closer to this number. So far, no age has intimidated me. Now, questions like, “Am I ready for this next stage of life?” and “Have I gotten as far as I wanted to be?” pepper my thoughts as I print out another birthday coupon for a free item from a retailer. I think the answers to those questions are one and the same.

I am not who I want to be. Not yet. I’m reminded of that as I groan about little annoyances at work or throw a pity-party for myself when I feel alone.

However, three people have recently served as a thorn in my side – a thorn from a rose, that is – in bringing me back down to earth.

1. Chris Traeger, played by Rob Lowe, on “Parks and Recreation.” He’s the infuriatingly positive auditor for the town of Pawnee. I hated his character at first, mostly because he always gave his serious, math-minded partner the shaft. Similar to the relationship between Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato in the popular Christian children’s animation, Veggie Tales.

Larry always overshadows Bob

But in Chris’ defense, he explains that he’s inexhaustibly chipper because he treasures each and every day he has to live.

And that’s a lesson I can’t be infuriated by.

2. Rachel Beckwith. My summary won’t do her justice, so read this: http://t.co/pR0gcQm

3. Oswald Chambers, for writing “My Utmost for His Highest.” Here’s a snippet of the wisdom from the devotional book.

I don’t think I can embrace you just yet, 27. But I will hold your hand.