A Stopover in Seoul Part 2

Thursday happened to be Thanksgiving, and there was so much to be thankful for!

Thankful the opportunity to be back in Korea, and so thankful to be able to share it with Matt.

We decided to do some sightseeing since this would be our only full day in Seoul. Our first stop was Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palace was constructed in the 15th century and was used throughout the Joseon Dynasty. The site was beautiful. Despite the cold, we walked around in awe thinking about what life would have been like within the walls. Admission was 3,000 won (roughly $3), but if you show up in hanbok (traditional Korean dress) you can enter for free.

After, we took a walk towards Insadong, where you can find many traditional arts and crafts. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods; there are so many cute shops and hidden alleyways. We stopped for some odeng (fishcake on a stick served with steaming broth) as well as twigim mandu (fried dumplings with pork and glass noodles). We walked down the main street until we came across Ssamziegil, a collection of shops connected by a spiral walkway. In the basement, there are artist studios where you can make your own crafts and at the very top, you can visit the Sky Garden. Matt and I also took a rest at the Ddong Cafe (Poop Cafe) for some tea. There were handmade pillows shaped like poop and hot lattes and food items were served in toilet shaped cups and bowls.

Then, we took a walk to Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional village with cultural centers, guesthouses, and restaurants. We stopped for some roasted sweet potatoes and more hot broth. So perfect to warm you up on a cold day.

The icing on the cake was our Thanksgiving dinner. I found out that my friend Rachel from college has been studying in Seoul, so we decided to meet up. It was so nice to see a familiar face so far from home. While there wasn’t any turkey and stuffing, we had lots of tasty samgyeupsal (pork belly bbq) since I had been playing it up to Matt for weeks. Everything was delicious! After, we explored Hongdae (the area around Hongik University) and ended up going for a drink at a local bar.

All in all, it was an excellent day.

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? What are some of your favorite traditions?

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A Stopover in Seoul Part 1

After flying for 15 hours from Newark to Hong Kong, enduring an 8 hour layover, and then flying another 3.5 hours, Matt and I finally made it to South Korea! We deplaned, went through customs, and claimed our baggage (which was on a different carousel than the one we were originally told). After taking the AREX to Seoul Station, we went to check into our Airbnb.

While the apartment was very conveniently located, we had a bit of trouble finding it. Additionally, neither of us could connect to WIFI in order to contact our host. After lugging our luggage around in the cold, I finally stopped two college boys in the hopes they could help us – and help us they did. These kids didn’t speak a word of English, but they went above and beyond to make sure we found the apartment. One was on his phone translating back and forth, and the other literally ran up and down the streets searching for the right spot. They stayed with us for close to 25 minutes, until the one kid ran back, gesturing excitedly that he found it. The address we were given was totally different than the one on the building, but we were so relieved to be able to rest.

It was a tiny, modest apartment, but it was impeccably clean and cozy. Our host left a handwritten note and some small sweets. A lovely little touch. After dropping our bags, we took a walk around the neighborhood and ended up getting some convenience store food for dinner. I got a steak burger and Matt got a garlic burger. We also got some soju and beer, of course. It was very nice to get some food in our bellies and climb into bed after 24+ hours of traveling. We played around with the smart TV in the room, and went to sleep.

Do you want to get $40 off your first trip when you sign up with Airnb? Use my link here!

Newark to Hong Kong

Greetings from Hong Kong! Matt and I arrived (slightly delirious) at around 5 AM local time. Our flight from Newark departed at 1 AM EST and lasted for about 15 hours. We flew with Cathay Pacific and, I have to say, it was a very pleasant travel experience.

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Each of the seats had its own giant touch screen with loads of movies and TV shows to watch. Unfortunately, Matt’s screen didn’t work so we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on mine. It was really good and kept us occupied for a while. I ended up sleeping quite a bit – Matt not so much.

For dinner, we had stir fried beef with mushrooms, choy sum, and egg fried rice. The meal also included seafood salad, bread and butter, and Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert. Not bad for airline food! Matt had a glass of red wine with dinner and I had white. For snacks, we got to have steaming hot cup noodles. Then, for breakfast I had the omelette with pork sausage, hash brown, and tomato concasse. Matt had the chicken congee. We also had fresh fruit, strawberry banana yogurt, and a banana muffin.

We also got friendly with our seat mate, a man from East Brunswick who said he was a principal in New York City. He was traveling to Hong Kong to visit his long distance partner. We talked about living and working abroad and, ultimately, food.

I feel like most of the conversations we have end up like that…

Anyway, Matt and I are currently sitting in purgatory waiting for our gate to be announced. We still have about 7 hours before our flight to Seoul. There’s a 7/11, a duty free shop, and not much else. So, here we sit until we can move on to the next location.

Please feel free to leave us any questions or comments about our adventure!

 

A Day in New Hope, PA

Hi everyone! We are long overdue for a post – four months overdue, in fact.

Matt and I have been extremely busy with life lately, but we haven’t forgotten about our blog.

Aside from work, we’ve been enjoying fall in New Jersey (even though the weather hasn’t been particularly autumnal).

A few weeks ago, we took a day trip out to New Hope, PA and Peddler’s Village. They had there annual Scarecrow Competition and Display set up with likenesses from Game of Thrones and Disney movies, among others. We walked around and popped into the many different shops in the area. For lunch, we went to Hart’s Tavern which was super cozy (and the food was great). We shared the roast turkey sandwich with sage stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy, and the grilled vegetable wrap.

After, we drove into downtown New Hope and took a walk across the bridge to Lambertville. The entire area is filled with eclectic shops and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Have you ever been to New Hope? What are some of your favorite things to do there?

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Bacon Donuts and Boardwalk Adventures

Yesterday, Matt and I weren’t sure how we should spend the day, so we took a little drive until we ended up in Point Pleasant. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we headed down to the boardwalk. After we parked, I noticed the sign for Top That Donuts. We just had to go in!

It was a funky little joint, with bright orange chairs and retro accents. The was only one girl in line ahead of us, and we looked at the menu while she ordered. Matt and I settled on the hangover (maple glaze with bacon crumble) and the lemon drop (lemon glaze with graham cracker dusting and Boston cream).

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All the donuts are made to order, so we watched while the girl behind the counter did her thing. It was really interesting to see the machine plop out the dough into the fryer. When our donuts were ready, she called us over to pick them up. They were piping hot and the glaze looked so glossy.

I liked the hangover the best. The glaze was quite thick and the bacon crumbles were ample. That combination of sweet and salty always gets me. The lemon drop, while it was still very good, lacked something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe I thought it would be more lemony? Even so, I think we would still go back for more.

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After the donuts, Matt and I took a nice little walk up and down the boardwalk. We even went onto the beach and stuck our toes in the water. Too cold, but still refreshing. We also popped into some of the arcades here and there. I can’t believe summer is almost here!

How are you getting ready for summer? What are some things you like to do during the season?

Grounds for Sculpture and Downtown Princeton

I know this blog is usually for sharing our foodie adventures, but Matt and I decided we had to write about the day we spent at Grounds for Sculpture and exploring downtown Princeton.

For those of you who don’t know, Grounds for Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton, NJ. They have life-size replicas of famous paintings as well as an expansive permanent collection of contemporary works.

There are so many different styles of art located throughout the gardens as well as many hidden surprises to discover along the way. At times, it was difficult to determine what was a sculpture and what was real life; it was so fun and surreal! I lost track of how many times Matt and I would come across something and I was completely in awe.

One of the best parts of visiting Grounds for Sculpture is how interactive it is. You can actually touch and climb on many of the pieces (unless otherwise stated). There are many opportunities for unique photos – something I always enjoy.

While there is a lot of ground to cover, there are plenty of places to sit and relax as well as a full service restaurant, two cafes, and a snack gazebo. The Van Gogh Cafe was decorated like Starry Night (Matt and I took a break there to enjoy some cold drinks and an almond croissant).

In my opinion, some of the best replicas were that of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, Manet’s Olympia, Munch’s The Scream, and Wood’s American Gothic.

After spending over two hours walking around, Matt and I took a drive to Princeton. We stopped in at Princeton Record Exchange (excellent selection if you’re a music collector) before soaking in the beauty of the University campus. We also stopped at The Princeton University Art Museum, which has a very impressive collection. Some of the galleries included European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Art of the Ancient Americas.

Now, we’re completely exhausted and ready to have some dinner while doing nothing for the rest of the night.

What are some of your favorite local museums and gardens to visit?

 

Date Day in Asbury Park

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Matt and I have both been very busy with work and haven’t had many days off to spend together. However, we were finally off on Wednesday and decided to spend it in Asbury Park doing what we do best: eating.

We slept in before Matt made a little light breakfast of fresh Italian bread, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic. It was just enough to get us going. Although the air was a little brisk, the sun was shining. We hopped in the car and made a shopping pit stop before continuing to Asbury.

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When we got there, it was pretty foggy, but we decided to take a stroll to the boardwalk anyway. There wasn’t much open. Even so, we walked all the down to the Convention Hall to check out the shops. Asbury Park Roastery’s Boardwalk Cafe was open and we got two big cups of cold brew. It was excellent coffee.

After we walked back to Cookman Avenue, Matt and I were a bit peckish, so we stopped in at Brickwall. We ordered the deviled eggs and six middleneck clams (they were only $1 each). I loved how briny the clams were, and adding a little lemon juice made them even better.

Once we were finished, our next stop was Taka, where Matt recently started working as a sushi chef. They have happy hour from 3 to 6. We each got a Sapporo draught for $3 and Matt got a large hot sake for $6 (but I really don’t like sake). For food, we ordered the kara-age (Japanese fried chicken). It was served on a bed of cabbage and the sauce was sweet and spicy. We also decided to get an order of house made chips and guacamole as well as beef negimaki (thinly sliced beef with scallions and teriyaki sauce). Everything was so delicious!

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We walked around town some more, even though it was getting colder out. Matt and I weren’t starving, but we still wanted to have some food at Pascal and Sabine: a European-style brasserie which a few of Matt’s coworkers had recommended. The interior was beautifully decorated – sleek and dark with moody lighting. Our server, Jeff, was knowledgeable and attentive making our dining experience absolutely impeccable.

For cocktails, I had Sabine’s Mimosa and Matt had the Spiced Paloma. We shared some charcuterie: pork pâté en croute and Sainte-Maure goat cheese. It was presented beautifully with honey, jam, candied pecans, apples, tomatoes, cornichons, and pickled mustard seeds. For a small plate, we ordered the pan-seared sea bream with creamed wild mushrooms. The fish was prepared perfectly and the sauce was rich and full of flavor.

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We left feeling incredibly satisfied. What a wonderful day!

What are some of your favorite local restaurants? What do you like to order when you go there?

A Korean Food Oasis in Edison

Today, Matt and I decided to have a little adventure and visit the H-Mart in Edison, NJ. For those of you don’t know, H-Mart is a supermarket chain that specializes in Asian groceries (predominantly Korean). It wasn’t too far from Ocean County and as we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that there were several Korean restaurants, a jjimjilbang, a Daiso (which is a popular discount store in Japan and Korea), and a Paris Baguette (one of my favorite Korean cafes) in the same shopping center.

There was a large food court and a beautiful display of Japanese and Korean snacks as soon as we walked in. The produce department had a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Near the back of the store, the seafood department boasted tanks and tanks of live fish. Many of the containers were even self-serve. It was really nice to see products I hadn’t seen since leaving Korea. Matt and I loved looking at the snacks, ramyeun, and cookware. There were cosmetics, clothing, and accessory shops. We also might have bought a super spicy ramyeun bowl to try.

After making our way through H-Mart, we were getting hungry for lunch. We looked in the window at a Korean BBQ buffet, but it was a little more than we were looking to spend this afternoon. Matt and I ultimately settled on So Kong Dong Tofu House. He had really wanted to get the naengmyeon (cold noodle soup), but we were told it was a summer specialty. Instead, Matt got the “very spicy” seafood tofu soup and I got the hot stone bibimbap. Our meal was served with cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, marinated fish cakes, bean sprouts, and a lettuce salad.

Everything was delicious. My bibimbap was piping hot, and I let it sit before mixing everything together so the rice could get a little crispy on the bottom (that’s totally the best part). Matt’s soup came with lots of shrimp, clams, and silken tofu. Out of all the banchan, my favorite was definitely the cucumber kimchi. Matt’s was the fish cakes.

When we finished lunch, we went to another Asian grocery called 99 Ranch Market. It wasn’t as big as H-Mart, but it also had a pretty big selection of products. Inside, there was a CoCo Bubble Tea. I got the winter melon and Matt got traditional bubble tea. Mine was sweet and unexpectedly cinnamon-y, but I like it.

Do you like Korean food? What are some of your favorite dishes?