I was in Seoul for Christmas. It’s was beautiful, cold and busy. The city is home to 10 million, 25 million if you count the greater Seoul area.
I was amazed by this city. The people are so friendly, friendly even despite my not being able to speak a lick of Korean (ok I can say thank you and sorry but that’s about it). And there is so much food. Food in restaurant after restaurant lining the streets and side streets. Food in tiny tent restaurants and food from street vendors. I liked everything I tried, which truthfully surprised me. I’d previously had so little Korean food I just did not know what to expect but the food here is just delicious.
So far my favorite Korean foods are:
– Korean BBQ: Getting to communally sit around a flaming BBQ in the winter, grilling your own meat and drinking soju. Why the hell is this not a bigger thing in Canada. It was warm and delicious. Each piece of freshly grilled pork you wrap in sesame leaf with an assortment of kimchi and sauces and salts and then stuff in your mouth like a little porky packet. You eat it all in one mouthful. This was amazing. Korean BBQ, especially outdoor Korean BBQ is all the best things about a BBQ with none of the clean up.
– Fire chicken: Aka. Buldak. Aka. Flaming butthole. This chicken is flaming goodness. But if your body is anything Iike mine be sure to be near a washroom. Ok to be fair it isn’t that hot. I’ve had hot wings in Canada much hotter. But eating fire chicken twice in one day might have been the cause. I blame my husband who claims we should only be eating fire chicken on this trip.
-Makgeolli: Not a food but quite a tasty alcoholic beverage. This drink is made from rice and dates back to roughly 37BCE. It is similar in taste to sake but much much lighter and has a lower alcohol content. The taste is slightly sweet but not overly and can have some carbonation. There are apparently flavored versions as well but I’ve only tried the original. One of the things I love about this drink is how it is served, in small aluminum bowls.
– Yakwa: Korean cookies that are made of flour honey and sesame oil and eaten with tea. These are dense and shaped like a flower. We bought ours from a lovely little shop in Insadong where the lady was so friendly and happy, she was just lovely.
I would highly recommend a trip to Seoul. The food was lovely, and the people were very friendly. If you’re looking for a food tour, we took this one by O’ngo food communications. We took both the night dining tour and the lunch street food tour both were great but if you’re pressed for time I’d go with the night food tour.
The hubs and I visited San Francisico this past week and boy did we do a lot of walking and a lot of eating.
We never like to feel like we wasted an opportunity to try the best that a new city has to offer so we did a lot of research to find the best (and reasonably priced haunts of the city). This list is a culmination of some of the spots we saw were repeatedly well ranked on sf.com, thrillist.com and on sites like urban spoon. We tried all these out personally so can vouch for thief tastiness.
1. Z&Y Chinese food. This place was so delicious. It’s small so prepare to wait. We had to share a 4 person table with another lady who was very friendly and shared with us that this was the best spot for authentic Chinese in the city. She said the chef was from China and couldn’t be beat. We had Mau Po tofu, this crazy chicken pepper dish, Eggplant in garlic sauce and Wontons in spicy peanut sauce. We order Mau Po tofu and eggplant in garlic sauce quite frequently at home. The biggest difference we noted with the dishes at Z&Y was the complexity of flavours in each dish. If you love Chinese food, this restaurant is a must for your visit.
2. Tony’s Pizza. I wrote about this restaurant a couple years ago when I visited with my Mom. And it’s just a delicious now as then. When I was scouring the Internet for pizza options I noted that some other newer up and comers in the city have been generating some buzz, but I had to go to Tony’s again. I’m so glad we did. Tony’s is ranked as one of the top pizza restaurants in the US and does not disappoint. We had a New York style pizza called the New Yorker.
3. The Stinking Rose. I love garlic. Thank goodness that my husband does too because otherwise I doubt he could stand being in the same room as me some days. This restaurant is an ode to the delicious bulb. I’m starting to droll just thinking about the garlicky goodness of their roasted garlic served with bread yum yum.
4. Mad Dog in the Fog. A nice neighborhood pub in the Haight area. Not to big. Not too small. Awesome service and great beer recommendations. Rumored to have the best beer selection in the city.
5. Muracci’s Japanese curry. If you haven’t had Japanese curry. Try some. I mean Now! Japanese curry is so delicious. Spicy sweet and full of tangy meaty goodness. We had the extra spicy pork cutlet curry. The curry was so amazing it made me miss Japan a little less.
If you visit San Fran I hope you get a chance to sample some of its culinary delights.
My prince, my knight in a ninja’s suit rode up on an elephant. It wasn’t a traditional wedding, it was our wedding, and it could not have been any more perfect.
I spent the 14th of August getting married to the love of my life, in Koh Samui Thailand. He just happened to roll up on a pachyderm.
Where to start – how do you start the tale of an epic adventure?
Once upon a time a couple wanted to tie the knot. But where do you get married when regardless of the venue many of your family and friends all have to travel to attend? We knew we wanted to have a destination wedding. Travel in Canada is expensive and we wanted our guests to have a vacation. So to help us decide on the destination we put the question to our immediate family. Where would they prefer to go? The Caribbean?, South America? Or Thailand? To our surprise, when asked about their destination of choice, our family chose Thailand. I could not believe that our family and friends were down for this adventure, some of whom have traveled very little.
Thailand holds a special place in our hearts, my husband and I took our very first trip together to Thailand. We explored the amazing country together and learned a lot about ourselves and each other in the process. It meant the world to us that we were able to share this country with nearly 30 of our closest friends and family at our wedding. I still can’t believe how lucky we are to have all these amazing people in our lives. We had people travel from all across the globe, New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Canada.
I’ve tried to write this post dozens of times, wanting my writing to somehow paint the vividness of our experience overseas. No matter how many drafts I make, I just can’t seam to capture the grace of the experience in words, or the intensity of emotion I feel when I remember the days spent leading up to the wedding with our wedding entourage. So instead I’m just going to say Thank you!
Thank you to Faraway weddings
Planning the wedding was a daunting task, I researched for hours upon hours different venues on the Island of Koh Samui. Thankfully, I found Faraway Weddings. Faraway weddings is a wedding venue and organizer, they arrange everything for your wedding day but are not a resort. This worked perfectly for us as we wanted our guests to have the flexibility to choose where they’d like to stay.
Faraway weddings were totally dedicated to making our wedding perfect for us. Our wedding planner Mairead exchanged what felt like a million emails with me. Mairead was incredibly patient with my questions and special requests. I’m not sure how she kept everything straight but she did. If you’re reading this and planning a destination wedding I would highly recommend them.
My makeup was amazing and so was my hair, a big thank you to our hair and makeup artists. Danai,our photographer, was absolutely amazing as well (all the pictures used on this post he took). You can visit Faraway Weddings here.
Thank you to Leela Rose Moda for my amazing dress.
I wanted to wear a traditional Thai dress for my wedding.
After much online searching I found Lela Rose Moda and fell in love with their fishtail dress (a modern take on a traditional Thai dress). After some correspondence with the team, I made an appointment to go to the shop. I arrived in Bangkok on Sunday, and had my appointment on the Monday – and was leaving Bangkok on Friday am. (What a crazy timeline right?!)
Given my size I was lucky enough to be able to buy off the rack (custom versions can take weeks due to the cut and the care and attention the team gives every dress). Leela Rose Moda were able to not only help me find the dress of my dreams but adjusted it perfectly to fit me in an afternoon.
Not only was I outfitted marvelously but the team at Leela Rose Moda were so friendly and helpful. I will never forget how I was carefully shown the proper way to comport myself wearing their bridal masterpiece. Tips for walking and standing rather regally were instructed for my special day. They made me feel utterly beautiful and also helped me procure a set of Thai bridal jewelry for myself and my bridesmaids. If you are planning on getting married in Thailand and you want an amazing creation, visit Leela Rose Moda. You can visit them online here.Thank you to all our guests.
You traveled to take part with us and no matter where we travel in the future this day made an imprint on our hearts and we’re so glad you were there to share it with us. I think of all the small intimate moments of our wedding, moments shared with each of you that I know we will revisit often throughout our married lives. We know that travelling to Thailand was no small trip, thank you for adventuring with us. We’re so lucky to have you all in our lives.
Thank you to our families.
Thank you for supporting us in this crazy adventure. I guess it’s not all that surprising given we were both raised by adventurous souls. We couldn’t ask for a better family, both in the family we were born to and the ones we joined in love. Thank you our parents who made touching speeches and to our amazingly talented MC, my favorite sister, Rena. And a special thank you to our two amazing flower girls, Essa and Rosa.
Thank you to my husbands Groomsmen.
Thank you for being such amazing friends. Thank you for taking care of my man – on his wild bachelor party… which since it happened in Bangkok… could have been the makings of another Hangover movie. And a special thank you to Obie Wan Kenobie of speeches, you know who you are.
Thank you to my Bridesmaids.
My girlie glam squad. You went above and beyond.
Dr. Lindsay travelling solo for coconut ice cream, calmly performing miracles, being friends all these years is such a blessing, it always feels like we just saw each other last week. Our talks always ground and steady me. I have some serious thanks to give your amazing hubby for his contribution to our wedding.
Marina charismatic-ally charming elephants and Aldo sales people, you gave me peace prior to my big day. You have such a big heart, and you share it so openly, spreading happiness. I’m not sure you know how much you give to all those who are fortunate enough to know you. I’m so happy you’re in my life.
Jaenine negotiating every cab, mastering manicures and questionable streetside delights (you put my adventurous spirit to shame with that meal). I’m so glad we met over 5 years ago – I never would have laughed as much without you or tried so many new things. Life is for living and you’ve helped me live mine more fully.
And thank you to all those who sent us your well wishes but were not able to attend. We know you wanted to be there and you were in our thoughts on our special day.
But most of all – Thank you to my husband
Thank you for dealing with my crazy wedding questions and months of planning anxiety. You were my rock. Thank you for making our day so unique and fun. Thank you for picking a wedding song so perfect for us, and for my beautiful wedding day serenade. Our song is so much more to me than just words, its just another example of how big your heart is, and it warms mine every time I hear it. I’m so happy we found each other. Life with you is an adventure I look forward to everyday.
Ok the radio silence is over. I’ve been silent the past couple months planning a wedding. My wedding. In Koh Samui, Thailand.
I’ve so missed blogging. Wooo here’s to adventure.
Friday night in a foreign land – Syracuse, NY.
We craved BBQ. I searched for BBQ in Syracuse and found that DinosaurBBQ had a 91% rating on Urban Spoon. But when out hotel concierge proclaimed that she was “raised on” DinosaurBBQ , a Syracuse institution, our dinner plans were set.
If you are in the Syracuse area I would recommend it. The food was down home BBQ at its best. To start we had the fried green tomatoes. Coated in a spiced corn flour batter then deep fried and served with a jalapeño blue cheese dipping sauce; I’m going to dream about these delicious morsels. I’m so sad I didn’t get a pic of these beauties. We ate them too quickly. We washed our appetizer down with a pitcher of Dinosaur smoked porter.
A moment on the beer. I loved the Dinosaur smoked porter. I don’t normally like darker beers. I usually prefer to stick to lagers and IPAs. But the smoked porter had some depth with a touch of sweetness and no bitter aftertaste.
For our mains we each were compelled to try something different. Our kiwi friend ordered , my future hubs ordered x and I had a 1/4 rack of ribs and 1/4 chick
The food was down home cooking lovingly prepared. Everything was good. But the standout favorite for everyone were the ribs. If I ever go back I’m only going to get the ribs. Not only were they huge! They were just slow roasted perfection. The meat was slightly caramelized by the rub and sauces applied and the large chunks of meat were quick to fall off. The ribs were also less fatty than others I’ve tried.
Now don’t get me wrong. I liked the food. But what would make me go back to DinosaurBBQ over and over again was the atmosphere. Servers were quick to laugh and provide their menu recommendations. Patrons were a complete mix of the population. Hipsters sat next to 50 something music lovers. The music was loud. Around 10:30 a live band complete with trumpet, saxophone, guitar, drums and piano took the stage.
I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon at The Butterfly Wonderland. It was ahhhhmazing. It was like a 10 year old me got to live in a fairy tale. (Yes that’s right butterflies. I am a princess. Decorate me. Weeeeeeeeee).
Apparently butterflies dig bright colors. Who knew. 🙂
Last Saturday I was in Toronto. I love Toronto. I spent my Saturday morning in Toronto catching up with friends and their lovely baby at the Easy Restaurant in Little Italy. It was a delicious breakfast, if you happen to be in Little Italy in Toronto you must stop here. I had the Breakfast burrito. I’m drooling thinking about it.
After breakfast, full of burrito fuel, I headed to the Queen and Spadina area. It was cold outside as I walked. I sought a small reprieve from the cold. Spying a fur in a shop window, I darted into Alex Furs on Spadina. When I stepped inside I was greeted by a friendly “hello”. It was clear this business was a family affair with 3 generations sitting and standing near the cash register. Family spending time together watching rugby between customers. I was welcomed and politely left to peruse the supple furs. I couldn’t help it, I tried on some as well.
Nick, the store’s manager, helped me try on a few furs. Mostly fox fur. I love fox fur. The picture below is one of myself wearing a fox trimmed poncho made of cashmere. So warm and so beautifully made. Nick was quick to point out that they help their clients with custom designs and understand the desire for their clientele to have something unique.
While I was in the store an existing client came in to pick up their jacket (a lady in her 20’s who had taken a vintage find to Alex Furs for cleaning and some gentle repairs). It was clear to me in watching the team at Alex Furs take care of this younger client that their customers are family. The service they provided was warm and friendly, the type of real customer service that you don’t see often anymore. I got the sense that if I bought something from Alex Furs that I would be remembered and that I would actually share in something. Share in a passion for fine clothing, clothing that if taken care of will last a lifetime, garments created with care and purpose.
Once the younger customer left, happily carrying a revived vintage fur, I chatted with Nick about fur and their business. Alex Furs has quite the legacy, manufacturing fur garments and accessories since 1969. Located in the Fur district on Spadina Avenue they specialize in custom design, repairs, recycling cleaning and cold storage of furs. They love their work and it shows. It was hard not to nab a new fox collar for my wool coat. Instead I snagged a black fox tail for my purse.
But… I have plans ohhh yes I have plans for a custom cashmere jacket. Something suitable for a dress in the winter with a fox trimmed hood. Think Little Red Ridding hood with an edge.
It’s a blustery winter in Northern Ontario. Snow banks reach shoulder height.The populace hibernates to keep warm. But everyone comes out of hiberation Saturday afternoons to gather at the Beef n’ Bird Pub for Porketta Bingo.
Porketta. Not Porchetta. Porketta. A Sudbury delight inspired by the traditional italian recipe.
What is Porketta you ask? Get ready to Drool.
Porketta is a pork cut (the cut varies by recipe) which has been stuffed full of a mixture containing dill, fennel, garlic, salt and pepper and then slow roasted on a spit for hours. The result. Pure Pork Paradise. You have to taste it for yourself. The slowroasting of the pork makes the meat tender and juicy, while certain parts have been exposed to the heat and have carmelized the pork juices and fat on the outside for a crisp, meaty bite of heaven.
This Saturday we were lucky enough to be able to attend the winter tradition of Porketta Bingo at the Beef n’ Bird in Sudbury. Locals head to the pub early to get a seat (11am) and wait until 3pm when you can buy a bingo card (composed of three playing cards laminated together) for 12$. Your ticket to future meaty winnings. I bought 2 cards. Next you sit, drink and hope you get a “porketta” (the equivalent of Bingo when all three of your cards are called). DON’T Call out BINGO or expect to be booed – Porketta is the word of the Day and after waiting all day to be fed – this is exclaimed loudly and ravenously by anyone lucky enough to win. Winners are brought a full pound of steaming porketta to enjoy with friends. The pork is served on butchers paper in a wicker plate with one fork and one loaf of bread. It disappears quickly. Almost no one uses the fork offered. Fingers get greasy and bellies full. Everything is washed down is pitchers of beer.
Porketta Bingo is a lively, loud game. Tables are competing to be fed – so expect a lot of light hearted rucous. Lots of Swearing. And Fun. Alot of Fun.
We won 5 times in total and took a lot of meat home – much to the dismay of the tables around us.
Try not to drool too much 🙂