Trying to live a holistic life in an unholistic world

Archive for the ‘Seoul’ Category

Cafe Able: Serosugil, Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-Gu 서올시 강남구 신사동

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Meandering around Garosugil this week, see post here, I discovered a newish cafe that has become my favourite southside hangout.

Not to sound all wanky and cliched and stuff, (these disclaimers always mean something wanky and cliched will follow) but the universe has a funny ‘ole habit of pulling you in the direction you need to be. Or meeting people who share common interests. Or realising that living life by the magic 8 ball app is probably quite foolish.

Though life may throw some curve balls and some straight out air swings, I’ve found that everything in life, positive or seemingly negative, leads you to where you have to be. I’m always where I need to be.

And on this bright, crisp Autumn arvo, I was led here.

Cafe Able, Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-Gu.
Down the right hand side streets of Garosugil

They are part of the emerging ‘slow food’ movement in Seoul.
Apparently they have their own rooftop farm, however I couldn’t go up to see on this day, or I needed a Korean friend to help me with the language barrier.

They also had a workshop area for cooking classes, craft workshops

They also sell delicious treats, pickled products

Beautiful, eco inspired cafe with good spatial design with different areas.
Communal spaces for bigger groups, workshops, intimate areas for private occassions or a vibrant, social area for a quick bite or long lunch.

Jumping on the oh-so-trendy-but pretty mason jar trend, the menu was a selection of fresh, energising juices and coffee’s; light meals such as beautifully executed salads, sandwiches and soups served on individual wooden bread boards.

Refreshingly tart and delicious.
Green Vitamin; kiwi, orange & celery.

How to get there: Get yourself to Garosugil, Sinsa-Dong. Line 3 (orange) Sinsa – Exit 8.

From exit 8 end, walk all the way down the end, Forever 21 end.

As you see Starbucks on the left, take the the right hand street, before Starbucks. Follow to next intersection and turn left. Cafe Able is on the left hand side, near the corner.

Address: 2F, 547-6 Sinsa-Dong 서올시 강남구 신사동 547-6 2F *Don’t rely on google maps – It will send you to the wrong place.

Phone: 010-6219-7264


Written by ayearinpatissiere

October 5, 2012 at 06:46

Garosugil 가로수길 is so 2010. Serosugil 세로수길 is the new black.

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Today, being the last day of my holiday, I decided to take a stroll around my favourite southside area, Garosugil in Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-Gu. (Dong = micro suburb, Gu = suburb. Southside = anywhere south of the massive Han river.

Garosugil directly translates to “tree-lined street” (Garosu = tree-lined, Gil = street) and is aptly titled, with the whole street decorated with deciduous trees which are in the first stages of shedding their summer skin in exchange for the warmer orangey-brown hues of Autumn. The area is renowned for having a European vibe from the huge varieties of food available to imported brands.

New fashion / cafe collaboration: ‘Around the corner’ fashion and ‘Publique’.
Original bakery in Hongdae.

Publique: Hongdae.
Sadly closed when I visited.
Amazing breads (none of that sweet white shite) and other sweet treats.
The founder was once an architect, with a passion for bread, and an obvious talent!

Last Winter.
The big brands have taken over.

However, as with the gentrification of all suburbs, what was once a little hidden pocket for authentic pop-up shops, emerging designers and small businesses, has become a mecca for the big players, taking advantage of the beautiful location, accessibility and apparent ‘new money’ wealth of the area.

세로수길, or Serosugil, translates to ‘side streets’ and these noticeably quieter, quirky side streets of Sinsa, off the main drag of Garosugil, have been sprouting new small boutiques, cafes and restaurants reminiscent of the area formerly known as.

I was on a mission today to do the unthinkable in Seoul.
Trying to find some place I’d read about somewhere, but couldn’t find the post online again, or any information at all regarding the place. My phone wasn’t loading the Korea Herald website here, which has directions in layman’s terms.

So, Le Pure Pressed Juice, it’s you and me baby another day.

It wasn’t all a futile waste though. There’s always something new to be found in this city. That’s what I love.

Walking around in the glorious Autumn afternoon,weaving in and out of streets, I saw many interesting places, old faithfuls like Le Alaska Boulangerie (Why Alaska?) who imports their wheat flour direct from France and has a beautiful open kitchen where you can watch the bakers at work, dine in and enjoy coffee and croissant or take it to go. I’ve tried the spinach twist (and still dream of it, however now try to refrain from wheat) and can vouch that it is as delicious as it looks.

Help! Get me outta here.

Open prep & baking area

Because the French do it better

Another favourite, the Swedish cafe ‘Fika’ which has recently moved to a bigger location and extended beyond just a cafe to include a 2nd floor ‘smart working library cafe’ where the premise is to ‘work, share, read, write and drink.’  The basement floor is a Scandinavian design lifestyle shop where they sell different kitchen utensils, homewares and soft furnishings. The cafe now also stocks a range of gourmet biscuits, crackers and muesli’s. Not all Swedish, some German, but there was the ‘vellicht Svensk’ (very Swedish) Lingonberry and Gooseberry jam. This can be either spread on bread or crispbread or mixed with water to form a drink.

Having lived in Sweden, I find Fika to be quite authentic with the selection of cakes, buns and savoury items. Generally, Swedes love processed cheese/fish pastes in a tube and it was scarily heart-warming to see these nutritional nightmares there!

‘Fika’ in Swedish means coffee break. And Swedes love to take fika 2 or more times a day. I lived in a small town outside of Gothenburg on the west coast, and it was a tiny, quaint, fairy tale beautiful town with only around 25,000 people, a main street in the city centre that went for 2 blocks, but with a crazy 30+ cafes. At any time of the day, these cafes would be filled with people, man or woman, young or old, all enjoying fika.

The sweet taste of Sweden, Lingonberry.
Enjoyed with everything from pancakes to meatballs.

Bottom Left: Cheese/Fish paste in a tube
Top Right: Semla – a sweet bun usually filled with marzipan. Traditionally only eaten around Easter.

Other places of interest:

Spellbound Fixie Shop
Lots of people riding around, hanging about.
Will go back another day and buy me a bike.

One Chu – Churros Cafe

Cafe No Bear

Fork Fork Diner
Kitsch little cafe serving burgers, salads, pasta

Hello! Diner and Cafe
Menu looked suspiciously asian for a ‘diner’
Noodles, rice dishes……ho hum ho hum

Jane’s Picky Pizza
Good design, both architecturally and graphically
Food looks pretty banging too

It’s not all about food
Serosugil has nice, independent boutiques like this as well as more street fashion orientated stores stocking European brands like Nudie, Cheap Monday, WESC.

Ok, around the corner, back on Garosugil.
Collab between ‘Around the corner’ and ‘Publique’

Delicious bread from Publique.
Vegan chive and ‘cheese’ dip – recipe to follow

How to get there: Sinsa Station exit 8, line 3 (orange) Walk directly out of subway for 2 blocks. Turn left at the Missha into Garosugil.
Walk around, get lost, discover a new favourite, like I have here (post to follow)

Written by ayearinpatissiere

October 3, 2012 at 14:32

카페 수카라 Cafe Suッkara & 파절이 Pajeori

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Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting up with my good friend, S, at Suッkara in Hongdae.

S is an inspiring and amazing lady. Introduced by a mutual friend we share a love of Australia and design, and recently found out that we also share a passion for a holistic way of life centred around organic farming and good, slow food.

She is also involved with 파절이 (Pajeori) which is a non-profit organisation focused on organic farming. Currently Pajeori have a large farm, 3000m2 if I remember correctly, on Yeouido Island, Seoul and are harvesting over 30 different kinds of vegetables and herbs.

It is a small group that is very passionate and proactive in clean, organic produce. Currently they are working with several cafes/restaurants around Seoul, and Suッkara in Hongdae is one of them.

파절이 Pajeori on Yeouido. ‘Up’cycling: reusing old plastic bottles as plant pots.

Suッkara is a beautiful, restaurant with beautiful food and drinks. The dim lighting creates a subdued atmosphere, whilst the open kitchen evokes a homely ambience. We were there at around 6:30pm, and the restaurant was calmly abuzz with people seated all around the low bar encompassing the kitchen and at the well spaced, kitsch tables and chairs.

Suッkara was established around 4-5 years ago, and with a focus on high quality, homemade, organic food, it’s no wonder why. The drinks list is extensive with teas, sodas, wines and cocktails to a variety of appetisers, meals and desserts.

Caught up in conversation, I must admit that although I read the menu (in English too) thoroughly, details are escaping me now. Vegetarian and vegan friendly, there were options for each meal to omit or substitute dairy or meat. Options ranged from curries, salads and were well priced, with our meals at ₩10,000 – ₩12,000 each. Sizes were very generous and accompanied with interesting pickled side dishes and soups.

I had a delicious japanese plum and ombashi soda, which was lightly carbonated and very refreshing. It was clean and tart and only mildly sweet.

I ordered the special menu item, which was absolutely amazing. A whole baby eggplant had been steamed and then roasted and topped with a marinara sauce and a sprinkling of feta cheese. I can’t for the life of me figure out what was in the marinara, it almost had a meat-like texture and the flavour was rich and deep. It was coupled with a bean and gingery rice, which complemented the sweeter and softer texture of the eggplant. It also came with a refreshing, cold pumpkin soup, which wasn’t sweet like some can be. It became the perfect extinguisher when I stupidly decided to eat half of the small, fire roasted green chili.

Special menu order: Eggplant and ginger rice

S ordered the vegan platter which was as amazingly delicious as it was beautifully presented. On the wooden platter was a selection of thinly sliced cranberry and nut sourdough bread, cashew cream cheese, chickpeas, salad and a velvet-like shiitake mushroom and vegetable soup. I could taste a strong, earthy tofu flavour which matched the rustic bread perfectly.

Vegan Platter

S’s boyfriend ordered the cheese omelette which came with purple rice and salad. Never, ever in my life have I been floored by an omelette. Australia is boss for brunch so I’ve had my fair share of omelette’s. But this was out. of. this. world. So smooth, so light, so fluffy. The omelette glistened with a shininess that had me worried it would be too oily, but any oily-ness dissipated into deliciousness. Totally delectable, I can see why it is one of S’s menu favourites.

Cheese omelette

Whether alone, with friends or for a place to impress a date, Suッkara is the destination! I will be back for sure. The only problem will be deciding what to eat next!

Suッkara also runs workshops. The next one will be Monday 8th October at 7ish where you can learn how to make their beautiful pickled vegetables.

How to get there: Hongik University Subway Stop: Line 2. Go out exit 8. Immediately take first street right and walk two blocks until the road ends. Turn left at the intersection and take first right down the long main road. Walk the length of the road (around 6 blocks) and turn left. Suッkara is on the left. If you come to another road on your left, you have gone too far.

Address: 서울시 마포구 서교동 327-9, 산울림소극장 1층

Phone: 02-334-5919.

Opening hours: 11:00~24:00(Last order 23:00)

Written by ayearinpatissiere

October 2, 2012 at 15:44

To market, to market……

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So, I finally took the leap of faith and quite impulsively decided to get things cracking and make some stuff. Call me crackers……hahaha

I’ve always had grandiose ideas of one day opening my own cafe, having a range of my own nutritious, daringly different and holistic products, but I always made up some other excuse as to why I couldn’t / shouldn’t do it.

There is an abundance, a complete market saturation of ‘health food’ products in Australia. So much so, just like violence or sex in movies, (why is it though that when you’re visiting your family for Christmas and watching a movie and everything will be PG rated until your mum/dad/grandma walks by or sits down and suddenly there is a full-on porno sex scene or a colourfully explicit rant – I’m thinking Billy Bob in ‘Bad Santa’.) that we have become desensitised to all things organic, holistic, vegan, gluten-free, nutritious what have you…..

However, here in Korea, health foods are quite different. There is an obsession with well-being food, and a focus on the medicinal properties of food. I have learnt to appreciate food differently since living here and also focus on seasonal foods, a practice more strictly adhered to here (for instance, samgyetang 삼계탕 is a temperature hot chicken soup that is traditionally eaten in the hottest part of the stifling hot and humid Korean summer – fight fire with fire mentality I guess, fighting! 화이팅!) as it is brutally expensive for out of season, imported produce.

Whilst I absolutely love the high protein korean drinking snacks, dried anchovies, squid, cuttlefish 오징어, which are a welcome change from the high fat, high salt chips, cheese, cured meats and crackers Australian drinking snacks (although a double edged sword – it’s what I’m craving as well, oh Prosciutto, Parmigiano, Emmental, lavosh crackers – although my almond and black sesame crackers are a dead ringer for said crackers – how I miss thee….) I noticed a distinct lack of actual healthy/energy type bars or convenience foods.

cuttlefish 오징어

Due to my working hours, I usually have a smoothie for breakfast around 11am and then won’t eat my next meal until I finish work at 9:30pm. I have some fruit during the day, not wanting a full-on meal like a sandwich or Korean set to fill me up and make me too tired to teach. However some days, I want something more.

Something like a muesli bar or a biscuit that won’t make me feel like shit or guilty, because even though I like to think I don’t succumb to unrealistic ideals or notions of beauty, essentially I’m a woman living in a highly developed, highly materialistic city that places an obscene focus on the superficial, equating beauty with how good/decent a person you are (an ‘ugly’ person is generally less respected/trusted than a supposed ‘beautiful’ and thin person here in K-town) Unfortunately, women, and some men, feel guilty for any food we eat thanks to the mass media and ideals of beauty so deeply ingrained into our psyches from a very young age.

Also, I live in Gangnam. Gangnam style. Gangnam face.

I’ve tried a multitude of bars here, post to come soon. I’ve painstakingly translated every ingredient only to become horrified at the amount of sugar, corn syrups or artificial ingredients to walk away disgruntled, empty handed and hungry.

So I noticed a massive niche for the types of simple, nutritious ‘fast’ slow food that I was used to preparing/buying back home in Australia.

Artificial flavours, preservative, chemical, refined sugar free products.

Food that not only energises and nourishes you, but tastes bloody good aswell!

I’ve launched a small range of products. I must admit that these weren’t the right markets to try and sell this type of western style holistic, health food to. Disheartingly, the first thing I sold out of were the ‘locked and loaded’ cookies (a mix of almond and hazelnut flour, coconut, coconut oil, goji berries, gluten-free oats, choc chips and cacao butter) as the crowd was really just looking for traditional bakery items like cookies, cupcakes and brownies. Although, did get to chat to the mayor of Seoul and also get interviewed on KTV!

The flavours and ideas (crackers and dip is a new concept to Koreans, let alone flavours like korma hummus, cookie dough, blackbean and hazelnut and chili choc dips. Most were not wanting to dip the sample cracker, however were more than happy milling about munching on the ‘free’ samples) would be more appreciated at a food market targeted to people interested in more organic, alternative varieties of food, like the Seoul Marche festival coming up in mid-October which, if all goes well, I will be having a stall there too!

There are also some other possible collaborations with cafes around the place in the works, however until then, if you want to get your hands on anything, email me at wholeistic@mail.com and I’d be more than happy to send anything out.

Seriously considering getting an online shop up and running, but a few creases to iron out first, and still at 29, I do not own an iron. I still use my GHD to not only straighten my hair, but straighten my clothes too….sometimes whilst I’m actually wearing them…..old habits die hard yeah.

The market stall

L-R: Crackers: Almond, fig + rosemary (my favourite!), whole*istic crackers (quinoa, brown rice, polenta, mixed seeds and spices), brown rice, quinoa + olive. Other flavours were almond + black sesame seed and almond, maple + cinnamon.

L-R: whole*istic balls: Peanut cookie, date, cashew + goji, Apricot, almond + coconut, carrot cake, hazelnut chocolate.

a new sensation: dip and crackers

Cookie Dough dip.

Korma Hummus

Blackbean + hazelnut dip.

Almost raw (roasted almonds and hazelnuts) vegan and gluten free tangy blueberry cheesecake.
Dang it’s good!

Vegan, gluten, flour, egg, dairy free ‘locked and loaded’ cookies.

Chili Chocolate, goji and walnut cookies.

Sweet sesame bars.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 24, 2012 at 18:47

mo money, mo problems

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Notorious B.I.G. was onto something.
“I don’t know what, they want from me
It’s like the more money we come across
The more problems we see”

fast cars.
fast money.
fast food.
fast death.

I’ve mentioned before, it’s a crazy world we live in. “The irony of the food production system is that millions of wealthy consumers in developed countries are dying from diseases of affluence….” It really is a case of mo money, mo problems.

Anyone can make delicious food with sugar, fats and flours. It’s a foolproof combination.

Let’s take it back to basics. Cut the crap. Simple flavours. Real ingredients. Satisfying and delicious.

Too many health foods claim to be nutritious by replacing fats, sugars and flours with artificial flavours and sweeteners, chemical additives like xantham gum and guar powder or just other starchy flours.

Support the slow food movement. Its easier than you think. Start with buying organic. If it’s too expensive, buy less. You’re more than likely eating more than what you should anyway. Focus on quality, not quantity. Make one flavour the stellar, stand-out star of your meal.

I recently attended the Slow Food Festival in Paldang, South Korea (post to follow) and became aware of the slow food.com website and Terra Madre network. Yet to fully research it and its authenticity however it seems legit so far and an organisation I think I want to be a part of and support. It is an international, member supported non-profit organisation with a very low membership fee (90AUD/50EUR/35EUR in Asia – these prices are halved if under 30 years old) that supports small-scale, sustainable, local economies worldwide. They show their support by promoting taste education and backing educational projects in schools, hospitals and prisons and defending biodiversity with a sustainable model of agriculture, cultural identity and animal welfare and supporting any local community’s right to decide what it produces and eats. To date, there are 85,000 members in 132 countries from Mexican campesinos, French bakers, Mongol herdsmen, Vietnamese fisherfolk, Italian wine producers and South Korean organic farmers. Make up your own mind at www. slowfood.com.

Grow your own anything. Basil, coriander, chives, spring onion, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, weed if you can get away with it. Just sayin’! Here in Korea I would get deported for even the suspicion that I may have smoked it. Not worth it, and half the reason I’m staying here – self imposed rehab.

Eat less meat. I’m not suggesting here you have to become vegetarian or vegan. I have dabbled in the past, but I personally cannot give meat up completely. I only eat it about once a week, and eat fish/seafood 3 times a week, but I believe it constitutes a healthy diet in smaller quantities. Most Korean dishes actually serve meat as a side dish, for example Jangjorim.

Also, make sure you know where your meat is coming from. I cannot understand how some people will make the effort to source the most fresh and organic produce, yet due to the high price of grass fed, organic and farm raised free wheelin’ and dealin’ animals, supposedly ‘save’ money on meat. This was once a living, breathing, blood pumping animal. We eat its flesh, yet you really think it’s ok to eat an animal that has been subjected to conditions we do not even force our most terrible humans to endure in jail, like being pumped full of hormones and growth steroids to mature 4 times more quickly than normal, to grow a body so large our legs collapse under the sheer pressure, to be forced to live in perpetual darkness or subject to artifical lighting systems and living knee deep in our own shit, or fed GMO grain that is actually a by product of previous animals.

Either buy the good stuff or go without. Seriously, you don’t have to be a hippy-dippy or burn your bra and chain yourself to a tree. It’s just about educating yourself, having heart and understanding that this inhumane treatment of animals is unethical, it is doing damage to your body and that the government and regulating food bodies are more interested in making a profit, than your health and the flavour of the food. There’s many documentaries to educate you, but Earthlings, (A difficult watch) Food Matters  or Forks over Knives is a pretty good starting point.

But this isn’t meant to be a rant on animal liberation. Just to make you more conscious of what you put in your pie hole. Maybe more pie. Maybe less pie. Either way make that pie delicious and enjoy and appreciate every last bite.

whole food.
whole taste.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 18, 2012 at 03:31

So. You wanna move to Seoul?

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Well, good for you. Welcome.

So, here’s a few things I had been told, heard about or read up late on some blog somewhere and immediately dispersed, only to find myself months later stuck in the throes of brutal culture shock desperately wishing I had paid attention the internet wisdomry.

  • Seoul is massive. Really massive. Not only in landmass, but there are 20 million people in this crowded city!
  • The society is the most homogenous I have encountered.
    I’m going to make up a statistic based on my observations, but maybe around 98% Korean. With the other 1.95% Chinese and 0.05% foreign English teacher / American soldier.
    Sometimes I get the urge to say “hi!” to a random foreigner, but realise I look pretty much like the other 98% to them. And if I did say hi, I would look 100% bloody insane.
  • Plastic surgery is out of control. Seriously. There are people I think I keep seeing over and over again (in a city this dense?) but then I realise it’s just the ‘Gangnam face’
  • Learn Hangul (Korean lettering system) before you arrive! Then you will be able to understand signs etc so you can landmark yourself and not get completely lost (like me)
    I’d like to say because then you will be able to read, but, well Korean’s a double-kick-to-the-guts language to learn. You have to learn to read Hangul first, then work on the Korean to English translation.
    Although, there’s a few Konglish words out there. I can’t describe the elation I feel when I’m reading Hangul and realise it’s actually an English word. (this link actually says ‘se-tar-eh buk-seh ko-pee) I feel like I deserve a gold star.
  • Learn a few basic phrases, as you should when you visit any foreign speaking country. The older generation struggle to communicate in English full stop making it difficult to get a cab, ask for directions and buy things (and get ‘waygookin’ {Korean word for ‘foreigner’} tax). Most young people can speak and understand English but are much too afraid of making a mistake to speak with you, erupting into a fit of giggles or be very kind and helpful but begin to sweat and become flushed in the face, leading to a very uncomfortable situation for everyone concerned.
  • Always take a business card or write down the address of your accommodation in Hangul because at some point you will get lost and need to ask for directions or catch a cab. Even if you think you can say where you want to go, as soon as the cab driver hears a non-korean accent they immediately turn into an uncooperative twat who cannot be the least bit helpful in assisting you.
    Me: Ga-ro-soo-gil ja-sey-oh (Garosugil {place} please)
    Cab: Eh?
    Me: Ga—ro—soo—gil ja-sey-oh
    Cab: Aigo……bla bla bla….miguk gyopo…..bla bla bla…hanguksaram…..anio anio……bla bla
    Me: Sinsa……GA-ro-soo-gil, Ga-RO-soo-gil, Ga-ro-SOOOOOOOOOOO-gil!
    Cab: Oooooooooh…ohhhhhhhh, Ga-ro-soo-GIL!……okayeeee okayeee okayeeeee.”
    Me: Oh, fucking Ga-ro-soo-GIL. That’s what I said dickhead. Now step on it. I’m late. Balee-Balee, Chop-Chop”
  • Um, there’s no street names….They are all numbers, which no-one really takes note of. Just look out for big landmarks, like a Paris Baguette, Tous Les Jours, A Twosome Place and you’re bound to get lost (These places are everywhere)
  • The entire city is in a rush. For what, I’m still not sure. Pushing, shoving, pushing in – the older generation are the worst and due to the idol-god-like status bestowed to these dear elderly folk, they think nothing to jab, curse or poke you to get to the front of the queue moving nowhere fast.
  • Sales assistants at any shop will tailgate you no matter how many stink-eye’s you give them or tell them you are ok.
  • You can get food items from home, pasta, bread, cheese (Don’t get me started, 10 – 15AUD), wine (Yellowtail 15AUD), good chocolate (Green + Blacks (7AUD) including Tim-Tams (6AUD) but you will pay through the roof for it….
  • They drive the opposite side of the car and road to Australia, left side drive on the right hand side of the road. I feel like those sideshow alley clowns when I jaywalk (which also no-one does here, probably due to the crazy-ass drivers that will attempt to mow you down even on a pedestrian crossing – still haven’t figured out what they’re actually for seeing as drivers do not slow down/stop) as I never know which way to look for oncoming traffic.
    There doesn’t really appear to be any speed limits.
    They also walk to the right hand side of a path and escalator etiquette is to stand on the right, pass on the left. And they really get narky if you don’t abide by this, especially at the subway.
    Do NOT stand on the left hand side watching the world go by at peak hour.
    You have been warned.
  • They are a city of hard workers who also like to party hard when they have the time, however there are different standards for men and women. This is quite a complex topic, which I will write more about. But generally, there is a lot of public drunkeness,  displayed by men, on any night of the week, which here, is socially acceptable.
    I, as a woman, have two shots of soju and am still standing and am therefore classified a champion drinker, but probably thought of as a harlot of the night.

Written by ayearinpatissiere

September 9, 2012 at 17:35