A Belated Back-to-Work Post

October 19, 2014 @ 9:24 am (Permalink)

After my wonderful staycation, I returned to work where my to-do list exploded in my face, and since then I’ve been busy with so many work-related tasks. So much to the point that I’ve been quite drained during the week. That’s what happens when one has to report to work at 5:30am and do a split shift. However, I usually work straight through until 5:00pm, so that makes for a super long day . . . anyway, I still had time to meet friends for dinner and brunch, and here are a couple photos I took of that.

Lambchop and Bobotie from Twiga

Amarula Cheesecake from Twiga

My friend D and I visited Twiga, a South African restaurant that sells the best cheesecake in the world. I’ve been wanting to try their food-dishes, so D and I went there together. D opted to get the lambchop, and I opted to get the bobotie which is a minced meat casserole with an egg-based topping. We both shared this mushroom rice, and then we both had the Amarula cheesecake. The cheesecake was the best part of our meal. The other dishes were just not really to our liking. Plus, it was pretty pricey. We ended up paying $63 USD together. I will go back there for the cheesecake, and maybe for their quiches, but that’s all.

Parfait Pancake from Greenstreet

D and I met again for brunch at Greenstreet in the Dragon Hill Lodge. I got the parfait pancake — pancakes that’s topped with a yoghurt and whipped cream mixture with berries, bananas, and granolas. This was my first time trying the dish, and I actually liked it. I think I much prefer the yoghurt and whipped cream over the usual syrup.

I got some lamb stew from Silence of the Lamb the other day, but I didn’t picture it. It was delicious, very flavourful and spicy! And that’s about it for my food adventure.

Oh, on a side note — I’ve been watching Downton Abbey and been enjoying the show. I’m not big on TV series, but I decided to give Downton a try, and I do not regret it! So good. So much British accents. *swoons*

4 Comments » | Filed Under Food, Korea, Movies/TVs, Work

Staycation Recap: Week Two

September 28, 2014 @ 1:01 am (Permalink)

My staycation is coming to an end. :( I am not looking forward to returning to work. I’ve really had a blast these last two weeks relaxing with my hobbies and going around to various different places. I’ve accomplished a lot of what was on my to-do list, so that’s a good thing! There are several tasks I didn’t get around to do, but I also did a lot of other stuff that wasn’t on my list originally. Anyway, moving on to my recap!

Paper Gundam Model

People Watching Outside of Chansbros

Coconut Milk Chocolate Ice Cream

On Saturday, the 20th, I took the time to dust out Kazama, my wonderful computer. I dreaded tackling this task because I am horrible with computer hardware, but it went a lot smoother than I thought, but that experience still left me feeling stressed out. I unwinded by going to Daehakro after to pick up more of Purie’s jam. In the Hyehwa subway station, I saw this display of paper models, this huge Gundam one being an example. I just cannot believe how big it is! I admired that display and returned back to my neighbourhood — of which I encountered a horrid traffic jam on the bus — and did some people watching outside Chansbros. When I made it home, I decided to try my hand at making ice cream from coconut milk without an ice cream maker. It turned out pretty good, but I sure didn’t enjoy stirring it every half an hour!

Sunday was spent doing errands like applying for jobs and going to the commissary. Very boring, really, but I also took that day to start re-watching The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition films. Of which I spent all of Monday continuing.

Eggplant and Hummus Wrap at Daily Kitchen

Coffee and Dessert at Hell Cafe

Strawberry Smoothie at Good to Go

Tuesday ended up being a bit more exciting. I met up with one of my former professors for lunch. We decided to go to Daily Kitchen, and I had a delicious, but extremely juicy and messy eggplant and hummus wrap. It was very good and filling, but just really messy! After lunch, we hit Hell Cafe to get some coffee and dessert. The dessert was this cheesecake that was very mousse-like with no crust. It was actually very good. After coffee, we walked back to my neighbourhood and we settled for having some smoothie at Good to Go. I got mine as strawberry. Yum! When I got home, I finished up the last of my LotR marathon :)

Wednesday had me . . . walking 5 miles to cancel a service I no longer require and a trip to the bank. My poor feet were not happy, but I didn’t mind the actual walk. ‘Twas another boring day, really XD;;;

Thursday on the other hand had me trying out Il Gattino with the professor friend. Il Gattino is doing a soft opening, so I had to make a reservation and told the manager our preferences and budget, and his chef created a customised menu for us. It was fabulous. Everything there was home-made from their breads and pastas to their sauces to their butter and whipped cream. Everything was divine. And this whole course cost us only 50,000 won total! This is what we had for our course:

Bread Set at Il Gattino

This bread set came with rosemary infused butter, olive spread, and mushroom spread. I loved the olive spread and the butter a lot!

Italian Salad at Il Gattino

Next was a salad that came with greens, apples, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and parmigiano cheese with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Puttanesca at Il Gattino

Then came my puttanesca, a pasta dish with olives, capers, and garlic tossed in tomato sauce. The noodles were definitely home-made. I could literally taste the difference between their noodles and the store-bought ones.

Lasagna at Il Gattino

My friend had the lasagna. This thing appeared to be small, but it was packed with five layers of meat, noodle, cheese, and sauce. I tasted a bit, and this is perhaps the best lasagna I’ve ever had.

Latte Macchiato without the Espresso

Then my friend and I had some coffee before our dessert. My friend had this coffee in a shot glass with chocolate in it. I didn’t get the name, and I didn’t take a picture, unfortunately. I decided to have the latte macchiato. The espresso came separate from the milk mixture, and the manager told me that a properly made latte macchiato will take on three layers when the espresso is added . . .

Latte Macchiato with Espresso

. . . and it did give me three layers! Yay!

Chocolate Fondant Pudding

Lastly, we had our dessert, which was chocolate fondant pudding. This chocolate cake with melted chocolate in the centre is truly a decadent treat. Top it off with home-made whipped cream? Even better.

After that wonderful meal, my last major adventure, which is really the highlight of my staycation, occurred on Friday and Saturday. During Friday morning and afternoon, I spent the time playing Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, but that night, I met up with two friends, and we travelled to Donghae in Gangwon Province to spend the night there. Our main goal was to go to Penis Park (NSFW!!!), a pilgrimage of sort. It was in the next province over, in Samcheok, but we found a hotel we liked in Donghae.

Beach in Donghae

Beach in Donghae

Beach in Donghae

On Saturday morning, we decided to visit a beach in Donghae. Since our hotel was only ten minutes away from it, we walked over to the small beach. Nobody else was out there but us, and it was so peaceful and calming. This is the third time I’ve been to a beach or ocean. My first three time occurred in Incheon, and I recall the water there being brown and unappealing. Hence why I wasn’t all that excited about going to the ocean when my friend said she wanted to go, but after seeing the ocean on the east coast, I’ve changed my viewpoint on the ocean. This is the kind of beach I like, where the water is actually BLUE and where there’s not many people disturbing the peace.

Beach in Haesindang Park

Beach in Haesindang Park

Beach in Haesindang Park

Beach in Haesindang Park

Beach in Haesindang Park

Just when I thought Donghae’s beach was nice, along comes the beaches around Haesindang. It. Is. Beautiful. I think I’ve fallen in love with Samcheok area now. The water was so much bluer and clearer, and the rocks on the beaches were amazing. This place has me smittened. In fact, it had all of us smittened, so now we want to go back there in the winter since I’ve never experienced a beach or the ocean in wintertime. I can’t wait!

Annnnd . . . amidst all the beach hopping, we enjoyed our pilgrimage. Here are my NSFW photos of Penis Park. This place is really one of those places you have to visit at least once, and I’m glad I found the right people to go there together! :D

With that typed, my staycation recap has come to an end. Again, I really enjoyed my break. It was much needed on my part. I am not sure when my next big vacation will be, but I hope it will be just as fun as I had these two weeks!

4 Comments » | Filed Under Food, Korea, Materialism, Social Life

Staycation Recap: Week One

September 20, 2014 @ 1:19 pm (Permalink)

It’s already been one week since my staycation has started, and I am having a blast! I was going to meet someone today, but that got cancelled, so I’m going to take the time to do a recap post!

Doll Free Market Display

Magic Knight Rayearth Dolls

Lantis and Eagle Vision Dolls

On Saturday, I met up with Chibi Toaster, and she wanted to go to the Doll Free Market in Setec Convention Centre near Daechi-dong, so I tagged along. She picked up her dolls, and I got to see some amazing sights. It was neat seeing dolls dressed up in contemporary and older clothings (like the dolls wearing hanboks), but the highlight of this trip was seeing the full cast of Magic Knight Rayearth as dolls. They were just beautiful. I took an extra photo of Lantis and Eagle Vision, my two favourite characters and OTP from the series :D

Gel Manicure

Harry Potter Doll

After the Doll Free Market, Chibi Toaster and I went on base to get some lunch at Pizza Hut, get our nails done (I got gel manicure!) at the salon, and then go to the Oktoberfest that was being hosted at the on base hotel. Then we went to Chansbros, my favourite coffee shop to relax, and I got to see her beautify her Harry Potter doll!

Thai Red Curry

On Sunday, I met up with one of my high school friends, Tina, and we had lunch at Trevia Pizza di Roma and cakes at by 92 (no photos, sorry!). After that brief meeting, I came home and read mangas and tried making Thai red curry, which I botched up on by adding onions. Oops!

Ansan Station

Nasi Goreng and Sate Kambing

Chinese Mooncakes

Monday came with me going to Chansbros for a bit before taking a 1 hour and 15 minutes subway ride to Ansan. I’d never been in the actual city of Ansan, so it was neat seeing another part of Korea. I met up with my friend Piotr, and we walked around in a loop looking for the multicultural street. When we found it, I felt like I’d went back to my childhood. Walking around that area was like walking around in Itaewon 20 years ago. Except there were like at least thirty noraebangs and 90% of the restaurants were Chinese restaurants (hence the mooncakes!), while the other 10% were Nepali, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, or Russian. Piotr and I both decided to try Indonesian, and we went to a restaurant called something “Bali”. But because the service wasn’t great, and the food was mediocre, I dubbed the place “Podunk Bali”. I did like the nasi goreng, but the service and everything else was just bleh. Afterward that meal, Piotr and I bought some mooncakes, and then I was back on the long subway ride home.

Cheonggyecheon outside Dongmyo Station

Cheonggye Plaza

Tuesday was a super busy day that had me do a lot of walking! I started off by going to the Cheonggyecheon stream outside Dongmyo Station. From there, I walked all the way to where the stream starts — at Cheonggye Plaza — which ended up being about 3.3 kilometres.

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Inside of the Seoul Metropolitan Library

Then I walked to Seoul Metropolitan Library, which was nearby. This building used to be the old City Hall building, but then they made it into the library. Aside from the library (of which they had several different sections), they also had an exhibition of the old mayor’s office, and had displays and information about the building here and there. I actually enjoyed this place, and it was free to go in, so that was a nice bonus!

Shinsegae Department Store

Payard Afternoon Tea Set

After the library, I walked to Shinsegae Department Store. That place made me feel uber poor. O_o; I felt so out of place, so I didn’t browse there very long. I found Payard, this cafe there, and even that place made me feel out of place. However, I did see that they do afternoon tea, and that’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I may return just for that!

Afternoon treats from Bbang and at Chansbros

I ended up adventure by getting some treats (fruit stick and chocolate biscuit) at this bakery called “Bbang”, and then I went to Chansbros to unwind from that long walk.

Interior of Hell Cafe

Hell Cafe Iced Latte

Dear Leader Tongue Scraper at Hell Cafe

Wednesday was less intensive than Tuesday. I decided to go to Hell Cafe in Bogwang-dong, and I liked it! Their coffee is definitely better than some of the other places I’ve tried, and their classical music selection was great. I’d go back there again whenever I’m in the area. On the flipside, that tongue scraper made me go “WTF”. Of all things to find in a coffee shop, this is definitely the last thing I’d consider! Anyway, after Hell Cafe, I went to Jam & Bread to get some bread, and then I stopped by Chansbros. I came home and did a manga marathon with Cardcaptor Sakura.

Cafe Comma Near Sangsu Station

Snoozing Kitty in an Accessory Store

Thursday had me and a co-worker go look for this book cafe called Cafe Comma near Sangsu Station. It took a while because the map confused us and we kept making the wrong turn, but we eventually got there, and I love it! The books are all in Korean, but I love the vibe of the place. Being surrounded by all these books made me happy. We stopped by this accessory store when we left, and there was a snoozing kitty . . . ignore that basket sign LOL. I spent that evening watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Cafe Comma Near Hongdae Station

Ice Mint Chocolate, Notebooks, and Writing Utensils

On Friday, I decided to check out the other branch of Cafe Comma near Hongdae Station. This one was bigger, but I think I prefer the other place better. There, I stayed for a while with some ice mint chocolate and wrote some in my letterbook. Afterwards, I walked around Hongdae and Sangsu area, and then came back to my neighbourhood where I stopped by Chansbros, ate pho for dinner at Le Saigon, and got some fish and chips for my dad. At home, I watched An American Tail.

Annnnnnd that’s it for now. I still have one more week left, and I know I’ll be just as busy, if not more than last week, with all the errands I have to do. Places to go, people to meet . . . Whew!

2 Comments » | Filed Under Books, Food, Korea, Materialism, Social Life

Keurig, Wolfhound, and Cheongju

August 30, 2014 @ 10:53 pm (Permalink)

I survived doing the super early morning split shifts this week! 5:30am is hard on the soul — 4:30am on the other hand . . . I think I visited Hades’ purgatory and back X_X; The only thing that kept me sane was this glorious thing called “three-day weekend”. THANK YOU, LABOUR DAY. During my days of being a zombie, though, I ended up doing a lot of shopping for various things, and I still made time to meet up with a friend, and I even travelled to a new city in Korea!

Keurig and Yakisoba

Daddy’s birthday was coming up, so I went to the PX with a co-worker. We ended up going to the PX twice this week. The first was to buy this Keurig K-Cup brewer. I really had no idea what else to get my dad, so I went for this because A) he doesn’t have one and B) if he didn’t like it, I could still use it. I don’t think my parents are too crazy about it, but I’m loving it! Oh, and I also ordered these Myojo Ippeichan Yakisoba from Amazon. Best instant yakisobas ever. :D

Skechers GoWalk

The second time I went to the PX, I saw these shoes. These are great! I love how they are so comfortable and are meant for long walks! I do not love the price, though. $45 is a bit steep, but I was super shocked to see them being $62 on the Skechers websites. Eek!

Wolfhound Almond Choco & Hot Butter Nut Choco

On Friday, after work, I met up with Piokon, and we decided to go eat at Wolfhound Pub in Itaewon. We got the Wolfhound Almond Choco and the Hot Butter Nut Choco. I didn’t care for the latter, but the former is so flipping good! Amaretto with hazelnut syrup, cocoa, and whipped cream is a thing made in heaven.

Corn Soup and Fish and Chips

For food, Piokon and I both ordered the Fish and Chips set that came with the corn soup. I ended up liking the soup more than the fish and chips. I’d so get this soup again! The fish and chips wasn’t bad, but the soup ended up being that yummy for me!

Tandoori Chicken

Butter Chicken and Naan

On Saturday, I went down to Cheongju to visit Chibi Toaster. I’m glad I did. I got to see a part of Korea I’ve never been to, and city there isn’t as crowded as Seoul, so the change of pace was nice. On my way there, I saw four wrecked buses on the expressway, and that made me a bit uneasy since I was on a bus, too. Thankfully nothing happened, and I made it to Cheongju safely. There, Chibi Toaster and I walked or rode a cab to various parts of the city. We were hungry, so we decided to go to an Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal in the Cheongdae area. We got the Agra set that comes with tandoori chicken, butter chicken, salad, naan, and rice. Yum!

Pedal Organ

After our late lunch, we headed over to downtown area of Cheongju, and I saw this pedal organ being used as a decoration. I was thoroughly amused by it :D We shopped around and bought little knick-knacks here and there, and then we chilled out at two coffee shops. One of the coffee shops we went to was a knock-off of Standing Coffee, which amused me greatly, and the other one was very comfortable and cosy. I noticed that Cheongju’s coffee shops are so much cheaper than Seoul’s, and they don’t charge extra for ice. *raises fists* Darn you, Seoul?! Why must ice be charged extra?! That must be a sign telling me to move down to Cheongju or something, haha!

As for Sunday and Monday . . . I’ve got no plans to go anywhere. I have to do a couple of work-related tasks, but otherwise I’ve got nothing else planned. I look forward to the two days of rest! Whoo hoo!

3 Comments » | Filed Under Food, Korea, Materialism, Social Life

Almond Flour Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

August 28, 2014 @ 6:52 pm (Permalink)

Last week was Bunny-unnie’s birthday, and I wanted to get her something special. I got the idea to make her some Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles, so I came home after a super long day of work to bake them. I gathered all my ingredients, but come to find out, I had no flour — Mummy dearest had used it all in her Korean pancakes. That’s when I eyed the almond flour I had and decided to try it with that.

The original recipe called for 1 and 2/3rd cups of flour, and I added the same amount of almond flour. Upon mixing everything, I discovered that the dough was sort of runny. They were still able to keep its scooped-out shape, so I still popped them in the oven. Well, they spread. A lot. And they were super flat, all stuck to each other. And they were chewy, and just . . . not very cookie-like.

Failed Cookies

I persevered, though. After that horrible attempt, and after pouting about it for a while, I decided to try again, by adding more almond flour instead of sticking to the 1:1 ratio.

Better Cookies

Now these turned out way better. These spread, too, but they still maintained a round shape! And yes, they were thin, but they were still good.

Stack of cookies

Despite its thinness, these were pretty chewy as well, and it does have a gritty texture, but I liked them. I like how it still tasted chocolate-y with a hint of cayenne pepper flavouring. I took some of these to my co-workers, and they all liked them. Bunny-unnie liked them, too! My parents, on the other hands, weren’t too enamoured by them. Can’t win it all!

Cookies Gift

All in all, if you want to make a gluten-free (and vegan, if you use non-dairy milk!) version of the Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles, then these will work. I think next time I’ll try cutting down the wet ingredients and hope that makes them a bit more firmer.

Almond Flour Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
Dry ingredients
2 1/2 cup of almond meal/flour (added more towards the end to stiffen up the dough. I liberally sprinkled over the mixture twice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk (regular, soy, or almond)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl.
4. Add dry mixture to wet mixture slowly.
5. Use a small cookie scoop to transfer the dough to the baking pan lined with parchment paper. Each scoop should be 2 inches apart since they spread and flatten.
6. Bake 12-14 minutes.

2 Comments » | Filed Under Food