Category Archives: Attractions

Cooking Class in Paris, France

June 3, 2015
French Market Cooking Class – Marché Monge Paris
Location: la cuisine, 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France
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To me France is thee epicenter of learning and applying gourmet and classic culinary technique. Like past adventures to new destinations, we researched and enrolled ourselves in a French cooking course through La Cuisine Paris. I cannot explain to you how excited I was to have the opportunity to take this class in Paris, France!

Once we found the school online, an even harder decision had to be made… What exactly did we want to learn? There was macarons, traditional breakfast pastries, classic French pastries and desserts, French gourmet dinner, a marketplace tour and cooking course, French tartes, French Baguettes and ‘Boulangerie’, Le Soufflé Déjeuner, classic French sauce, and so much more! See what I mean? Decisions, decisions. Staying true to form and our awesome experiences from past classes, we decided on the marketplace tour and cooking course.

We left our hotel and ventured to met up with our group at 9:30 AM just outside of Metro Station ‘Place Monge’ on metro line 7. We slowly started to introduce ourselves to one another; little by little new faces joined us. It was really interesting because we were such a diverse group from all over the world, very different occupations and stages in our lives, but with the same passion and desire to learn and create something new in the kitchen. About that time Chef Diane casually strolled up to our group and we could sense this was going to be an outstanding time. She had such a positive energy, a big smile, and personality that made you feel like you had been friends for years and years. This type of job was her glove and she wore it the best way possible. I think in that very moment I realized I desperately wanted her job too. It’s funny how long it can take a person to realize just how lost they might have become, how much of their creativity and life had become so gray until they get awarded these little opportunity to experience these life changing moments.

Chef Diane’s instructions were clear and she was very accommodating. She asked the group for any allergy or food aversions such as a lactose or gluten intolerance before we jumped into shopping at the Marché Monge Market. She gave plenty of individualized and group attention the entire time we were with her. She was incredibly knowledgeable about her ingredients, the marketplace, and the explaining French cuisine. She provided us with helpful little tips and advice on what to buy, what foods will pair well, as well as things you should avoid when cooking. It was awesome and we were absolutely drinking the culinary Kool-aid.

Together we shopped in the market at the produce, fromage (cheese), and butcher stands. We learned more about Frances organic food movement. In the U.S. the government labels “organic” as USDA Certified Organic, however in Europe the government labels organic products as “AB,” standing for Agricultural Biologique. France also uses labels for local agricultural shown as BioCert. She went on to explain that any thing marked organic will have at least one of these labels and MUST have at a minimum 95% organic ingredients, also no genetic modifications. Seriously?! What and why are we going around and around with food labeling in the U.S.?!

Once we left the market, we visited a nearby bakery, le Boulanger de Monge, where Chef Diane explained how France doesn’t really have a gluten problem. Again seriously?! In fact she explained that Most U.S. wheat flour contains potassium bromate to aid in the rising process. European wheat does not contain this additive. Perhaps this is a link to our gluten problems? She went on explaining that the sign out front of this bakery indicates that bakers are baking the breads daily on site and using only organic flour. This bakery was a heavenly place and of course was well-known through Chef David Lebovitz pastry app.

We departed the bakery and headed for the subway. La Cuisine Paris pre-purchased our group’s metro tickets to get back to the cooking school from the market area. A few short stops away we arrived at the school. We were immediately greeted and welcomed inside by other staff. (One of the staff was Korean and very kind reminiscing about Korean food with us. Hello again!) We were invited to sit, relax, and chat while enjoying tea and French press coffee as they prepped the workspace upstairs.

After we all finished our tea and coffee Chef Diane was ready for us to get to work. She provided us all with some of the recipes we’d be making, as well as some direction as to what each person in the class could start on. Everyone did a different task to prep for one of the three courses we were going to enjoy after we were done.

During the cooking class, our group learned some simple, yet amazingly helpful kitchen techniques, such as the best and easiest way to cut onions, safety with your knife and cutting board (how obvious it is to put a wet paper-towel under it… yet so many of us don’t think to actually do it?)  We were all mesmerizing by her ability to maintain such an acute attention to detail, yet multi-task and guide us all on various cooking parts to our shared meal.

Our favorite dish to prepare and eat was the duck breast. It was just spectacular so mouth-watering and now has us searching how to get duck breast in Korea to recreate. We topped the breast with a nice sweet and tangy soy sauce. Also the toothsome salad was so simple and fresh with the incredibly flavorful French nectarine and two types of goat cheese. And for the desserts, three tiny treats of beguiling and seductiveness. Quite the luscious indulgence to complete our fantastic meal.  Oh, yes you did notice that there is an “s” at the end of that (desserts)… Moelleux au chocolat, Creme Caramel, and Tuile aux Amandes done two ways, pistachio and poppy-seed. I suppose you can say we had a nice little sampler going on. You know me by now, a tad obsessive with sweets, I certainly wasn’t complaining, nor opposing.

We learned the importance of presentation and staging the plate before serving. How do you think we did?

Everything was almost ready, we patiently awaited the last dish to come out of the oven. We then individually plated our masterpieces and sat down at a big table with our group, poured wine and toasted one another, and ate every single tasty morsel! The group was almost silent relishing that meal and that very moment. I yearn to rewind time and taste the food and that moment again.

We cannot recommend the class highly enough! We had the very best time and wished we had more time to take a few more classes. We hope that this post enlightened and informed you and now when you find yourself in France, you will sign up for a class too. (If you do please let us know because we’d love to hear what you thought.)

Backpackbees

La Cuisine Paris

ADDRESS: 80 Quai de l’Hôtel de ville, 75004 Paris, France

WEBSITE: Here

YELP REVIEWS: Here

2015: Memorial Day Weekend

These are two of my favorite photos from this past weekend at the beach. I feel like they just exude summer. The calm, carefree, slow, peaceful, just be in the moment type of days that you only get to really feel during the dog days of summer (no pun intended). These are the days I find myself clutching onto for dear life as an adult.

What a view! We woke up every morning to this view of a Korean seaside village with brightly colored roofs, and the sea water so flat and crystal clear. Every spare moment I could snag I’d hideaway and find myself with the biggest grin on that balcony reading, sunning, watching the dear sweet ajumma’s tending to their flowers and vegetable gardens below, and at night taking in the beach or starry sky.

The days were filled with the perfect amount of sunshine, pillowy clouds, warm sea breeze, freshly brewed coffee, and meeting new friends. Plus I heard that the dive conditions were excellent, once you got past the frigid water temperature. The evenings just as breezy and blissful, filled with the celebratory Memorial Day Patbingsu, and BBQ. Ahhh perfection!

As we wrapped up our last evening with friends I made sure to pause and look towards the twinkly sky and give my heartfelt thanks to the many men and women that lost their lives defending our freedom. Without that selfless sacrifice we wouldn’t get to enjoy these carefree beach weekends year after year.

Backpackbees

Under the sea in Korea

Last weekend officially marked the opening to a new dive season here in Korea. Brrr… yes dry suits were absolutely involved, but they were troopers and still geared up and dove in.

The dive shop that Mr. B frequents has become like a second home to the both of us. We look forward to the ocean breeze on our faces and in our hair. The escape of letting the crowded city and everyday stress behind. Catching up with friends that have become like family to the both of us. It’s deeply cherished and has absolutely become a big part of our lives.

It was a special weekend as we were invited back to the opening of the shop for another year of diving. The shop’s opening ceremony kicked off with paying respects to their ancestors, Korean rice wine flowing, and a big ol’ BBQ with copious amounts of food being served (Thank’s again for grilling Jeff). It was surreal to look around that night under the big tent and realize that we didn’t all speak the same language, we didn’t come from the same countries, but everyone there all held the same passion for diving and that made everyone one in the same in that moment.

Backpackbees

Springtime in Korea

It wasn’t that we had a lot of snow this past winter, it was that winter seemed to last so terribly long. We along with 50 million other Koreans have been patiently awaiting warmer days. The chance for new beginnings, a fresh start, a spring clean!

Springtime in Korea has got to be one of my favorite times of the year! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful! The walking paths and streets are covered in the tiny pink and white petals every time the wind blows. I drive Mr. B crazy insisting that I need to stop and smell or photography almost every flower that we come in contact with. Especially the cherry blossoms and lilac bushes. I can’t help myself. I.am.obsessed.with.flowers. Luckily for the most part he doesn’t mind and even pauses for a moment and points out a flower if he sees something that I will swoon over. That boy of mine, what a catch!

This year we got to experience the cherry blossoms from another view because we moved into a new place at the end of the summer last year. These photos were taken after I had come home from work and the sun was setting with that beautiful warm orange glow. Looking at these photos now, I feel like these photos don’t even do the trees justice. We instantly fell in love with our new place because of the greens and blooming trees just outside of our windows. The daily drive or walk in and out of our little neighborhood just fills my heart and continues to remind me that even in our crazy messy world, there is still so much beauty around us.

Are you seeing buds of greens and new blooms popping up wherever you are located? What is your favorite thing about spring?

Backpackbees

What Is A Wedding Like In Korea?

Ahhhh weddings….The Beatles said it best “All You Need is Love” and I couldn’t agree more. A few weeks ago we were part of being witness to that kind of love that the beetles sang about, yes, in my book the most wonderful feeling a human can experience, LOVE! It’s just as good sitting in the wedding hall on the sideline in the crowd and getting to take it all in at its most optimistic and perfect form. Swoon!

The day was filled with smiles all around, loving glances shared, and laughter! This was the first time we had been to a Korean wedding and friends told us we were in for a treat. We wanted to share our experiences in the event you too find yourself in Korea invited to a friend’s wedding.

Are you ready? Lets just jump right into it…

There were many differences when comparing a Korean wedding to a western wedding. The first thing that comes to mind is the location. Most Korean wedding and ceremonies are held in a wedding hall where many other couples are also having theirs. This wedding hall was located in downtown Seoul. Let’s just say that there was a close call with a traffic cop so from one friend to another… give yourself ample time to find the location beforehand. The entire day (couple of hours) is every prompt and efficient with everything being timed down to the last second. There are no casual drinks, toast being given by the best man and no reception dance party afterwards. Sorry folks, no getting down with the chicken dance on this side of the world.

Before you enter the area of the hall that your friends will be getting married in, there is typically a table set up where they are taking money. Forget the gift cards, coffee pots, or toaster you might so graciously gift the happy couple, instead you need to take an envelope and give the gift of cash. Guidance given on gifting cash is centered around your closeness to the couple. If you are family or close friends they say 100,000 or more, acquaintance or co-worker 30,000 – 50,000 won is well received. Once you give the money you will be immediately handed tickets. These tickets are your meal card. Basically the money you just gifted purchased your meals for the wedding buffet (spoiler alert more on that in a few). Pretty clever when you think about it.

Next you will quickly notice that guest are dressed in whatever they want. The whole philosophy of being overdressed rather than under dressed absolutely isn’t applying here. The attire ranged from jeans a tee and sneakers to a more formal style of dress pants and tie… I think I might have even seen hiking gear?? The ceremony is very informal when doing the comparison. There were people walking in and out during the service, talking or playing games on their cellphones, chit chatting, laughing, etc. I was stunned coming from a culture where you can probably hear a pin drop during our ceremonies.

Getting to witnessing a wedding in another culture is just so interesting to me! This wedding the bride and groom wore western style wedding attire, both rented. The dress was beautiful and the bride looked stunning! After the ceremony, the couple do a quick ensemble change into a traditional hanbok to show respect to their past generations and go to greet their family and friends at the dinner buffet.

After the ceremony you are ushered into the elevators to head to the hall’s gigantic dining area and large buffet. You will quickly see now that there are a lot more people here and that is because you are now dining with all of the other wedding hall’s guest. Just seek out an empty spot because there are no assigned seats, or table numbers.

Our friend that teaches in Korea told us that the children in her class say that the best thing about Korean weddings are the buffet. Some even just show up to eat and leave. LOL! Honestly, the children had it right! The spread is incredible! Tons of dishes and tons of Korean desserts to choose from …BUT… no sweet icing laced traditional wedding cake to be found. (Hands down my other favorite part of a wedding).

Another feather to add to our culture caps! The day was a lot of fun and we really appreciated the opportunity to be apart of our friends special day and learn more about the Korean culture and also have the opportunity to share it with all of you.
Have you ever attended a wedding within a culture unlike your own? What was it like? We’d love to hear!

Backpackbees

UN DEUX TROIS Brasserie (Itaewon)

Cherry blossoms, or fleurs de cerisiers as they would say in French, have been making their perfect pink appearance the past few days in South Korea. Since living here it has been one of the many beautiful things I eagerly look forward to each spring.

Speaking of all things French…I recently took one of those silly Facebook quizzes (you know the ones that secretly gather all of your personal information) and it indicated Paris was the perfect city for us! HA-HA… ttttthhhhanks Facebook, I could have told you that years and years ago. Ever since I was a little girl I have been enchanted by French culture and cuisine.

If you recall from my prior post, we ended our meatless month of March and wanted to celebrate with a feast, something extra special… French cuisine! I spent the entire month of March lusting after the thought of this dinner and it was finally here! So Saturday evening we joined our good friends at UN DEUX TROIS Brasserie for dinner. It was absolutely delightful! We said cheers to some recent job related news for the two of them, but little did we know that we’d be saying an even bigger cheers by the end of the meal. (More on that later)

The reservations were made for 6PM and due to the heavy Seoul weekend/ holiday traffic, we all were running a tad bit late. Luckily the staff were kind and very understanding and there was no issue made. On that note, we do highly recommend making a reservation because as the sun began to set the crowd grew. When we did eventually arrive, we were instantly greeted by the friendly staff and immediately taken to our table. As we walked through the restaurant, I felt like I was in a daydream being whisked through a genuine French brasserie with the decor of small hexagonal white floor tiles and the glow of the tiny white candles arranged on the sleek black furniture. EEK! I swoon for this black and white Parisian style!

We ordered the following and enjoyed tasting one another’s meals as if we were food critiques. I think we made the chef somewhat nervous as he peered out from the open kitchen, watching us savoring each bite, discussing the flavors, insisting that one another try another bite from this section, now this section of the plate. Our many compliments to the chef and kitchen staff as well.

(MAGRET DE CANARD- roasted organic local duck breast from Yeong-Am, orange brine, potato dauphinois 장시간 조리한 영암산 유기농 오리 가슴살 요리 (한국) )

(POTATO DAUPHINOIS)

( ESCARGOTS DE BOURGOGNE AU BEURRE D’AIL escargot in garlic butter – 갈릭버터가 곁들여진 부르고뉴 스타일 달팽이 요리 (프랑스)

(TRUFFÉ BURGER -foie gras, gruyere cheese, truffle mayonnaise and caramelized onions with french fries 거위간 푸아그라 (프랑스) 그뤼에르 치즈, 송로버섯 마요네즈, 카라멜라이즈드 양파가 어우러진 버거와 프렌치 프라이 (미국)

(LAMB ROASTED WITH VARIOUS HERBS)

(“L’OMELETTE NORVEGIENNE” FLAMBÉE AU GRAND MARNIER -baked alaska with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, genoise sponge cake, covered with meringue, finished with grand marnier liqueur flambé 그랑 마니에르로 플랑베한 “베이크 알라스카” )

(VERRINE DE MASCARPONE ET POMME CARAMEL, FEUILLETINE -apple and mascarpone cream trifle, butterscotch and feuilletine flakes 바삭한 크레페 조각과 버터스카치를 곁들인 사과와 마스카르포네)

(HOUSE SPECIAL ALMOND PIE A LA MODE )

Final verdict on the food is…Everything we ate for the most part was fresh, tasty, rich, sophisticated and complex. When are we going back again?! My vote is sometime in late spring, early summer (got that Mr. B?). I keep picturing us dining on the terrace in the evening, with our glass of wine in hand as we watch the world go by. My expectation for this place far exceeded what I even imagined. Overall a wonderful experience and well worth a dining splurged!

I left you guys sort of on a cliffhanger above, I apologize. I think this will make up for it…

YEP! He liked it so much he put a ring on it! (couldn’t help myself)

Seriously….Just by looking at these two, it’s easy to see they’re nuts over each other, since he can’t seem to a keep that gigantic smile off his face when his eyes are on her. Her eyes always have this twinkle when he pulls her in close; honestly, it’s that romantic movie look you that you rarely see in person. The two of them are perfect together and we are so pleased that they found one another. CHEERS (see I told you more to cheers)! I’m not going to spoil the thunder of the engagement details, you will need to ask the happy couple to be. Congratulations guys!

Backpackbees

Directions:

Address: 123 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/123Brasserie
Website: http://brasserie123.com

Seoul: Enchanted Flower Garden

I recently the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, also called the DDP (see prior post) and sought out the enchanted flower garden exhibit located on the roof of one of the buildings.

I was immediately drawn to the exhibit, because of a photo taken of a woman making her own path through the exhibit of flowers. Don’t ask me why, but I thought to myself,”Surely that isn’t the path you’d take through something like that”. “Why would she do that and go directly through the exhibit like that?” You’d need to see the photo to know exactly what I’m talking about, but humor me and use your imagination here.

When I finally made it to the exhibit I was snapping away, watching various couples and families throw their kimchi fingers in the air, kiss, hug, pose, etc. I saw most of these couples and families stay on the outside border of the exhibit, but noted a few that made their own random path right through the flowers for the perfect photo, like the women in the photo I mentioned.

……But why?

Here is why…. Because we all are on our own paths in life. I’ve learned that to get the most of your own path in life, you need to be happy for others on their own path. Even though we find ourselves comparing sometimes, no single path is right for us all. Think about it…Does it matter that they are going a different direction than you? Does it matter that they are making their own path through the enchanted flower garden of life? No. So when it comes to your own personal path, why let others paths discourage you?

The takeaway is simple, we all need to encourage, celebrate and support our friends, co-workers and families on their own path through the enchanted flower garden we call life.

Enjoy the views and don’t get discouraged on your path!

Backpackbees

Information:
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza- D section design lab, take stairs to top
Cost: Free, reportedly there only until November
Subway stop/ exit: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1

Seoul: Dongdaemun Design Plaza

When in Seoul, take metro line 4 and exit at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station exit 1. As soon as you exit, you will find yourself standing inside a futuristic looking space, but don’t worry your subway ride didn’t send your straight into a sci-fi movie. No, you’re in Dongdaemun Design Plaza, also referred to as the DDP.

At first you might feel like you are going to get lost within the structures. You just might, but I encourage you to do it! Get lost and discover the plaza from all the interesting and unique angles! After you get completely lost and find your way back to my blog, message me and let me know what you thought.

Backpackbees

Chuncheon, South Korea

Recently I joined my good friend SP on a mini road trip northeast of Dongducheon to the city of Chuncheon. The city is known for its stunning views of Lake Soyang and Lake Uiam, and the filming location of a popular Korean drama.

Mr. B and I took my best friend Rebecca to the area when she came to visit us in Korea, but it’s been a year or so since I had been back. This time It was awesome to have someone along that could tell me a bit of history and facts about the area. Thanks SP for letting me play a million and one questions with you!

After traveling quite a ways, we arrived at our destination where SP shared an old traditional Korean restaurant with me that she and her family have frequented for years. SP described the food as always being very fresh, delicious and known as being healthy and healing for your body. EEK! I was sold at the words “traditional korean restaurant”! I’m always eager to indulge in the Korean culture and to have this little gem of a place shared with me was quite special indeed.

I felt that most foreigners might be taken back by the look of the restaurant, but to me it was just rustic charm and immediately took my mind to my days of accompanying my husband and friends in the coal region near our hometown for screamers or dead burgers at Tony’s Lunch. (Tony’s Lunch: A very simple, been there for years, wallpaper and tables haven’t changed, diner located in Central Pennsylvania). Ahhhhhh such delicious memories.

We feasted on the local specialty, Makguksu. Makguksu is a dish of buckwheat noodles served in a chilled or hot broth. Once served, SP prepared the dish at the table for me by taking the various condiments on the table of sugar, mustard, sesame oil or vinegar. I know it sounds strange reading those ingredients off together but it was out of this world delicious!

Just like typical korean style, we were served what seemed like endless banchan (side dishes). There was boiled pork, gamjajeon (potato pancakes), and memil jeonbyeong (stuffed buckwheat crepes), and hot buckwheat tea.

We left with our bellies almost filled to full capacity, almost being the key word, but we switched over to dessert stomach. We started to head back towards home and drove up through the mountains and stopped off at a newer coffee cafe, Cupola.

Cupola had a great atmosphere, served a decent latte and gave us the most incredible views of the lake with the sun setting off in the distance. As I sat there talking with SP I watched some of the couples take in the views and sip on their coffee too. I’d absolutely go back again, just look for yourself…

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before or not, but because we live outside of Seoul we are lucky enough to have easy access to the local farmers that are selling their produce at roadside stands. We live near a very famous mountain that sells grapes. We stopped off and grabbed a few boxes from a popular organic farm. Twenty thousand won, roughly twenty dollars, for a nice big box of fresh organic grapes.

Whew! What an incredible day!

Backpackbees

Labor Day Delay

Whoa! It’s not hard to see that I am running a week behind…again… EEK! I feel like we just try to squeeze every drop out of what is left of summer! It doesn’t stick around to long here so I feel uber guilty if we don’t get out in the evenings after work, and that is preciously what we have been doing.

Anywho, without delay I’ll get to it with the Labor Day fun!

I joined Mr. B on the east coast of Korea where he and a group of friends planned a weekend of diving. I have decided and told Mr. B that when we retire we will live on the beach or at most a block away from the beach. I couldn’t ignore my huge heart singing out relocation, to the ocean, the sand, the sounds… it just calms and soothes whatever your current mood or state of mind is and seriously, if the weather wasn’t being the biggest show off too! Not so hot with a slight autumn chill in the air. It was the most welcomed break and I took advantage of every minute it had to offer by catching up on my Kinfolk Magazine, sunning my pale leggies, strolling leisurely along the beach line. AH! Oh and then the drive home up, over and through the lush green mountains. I never imagined Korea to have the mountains that it has.

Here’s a tip…If you ever make a trip to Korea, do yourself a favor and get outside of Seoul, or whatever touristy city you choose to see the countryside and mountains too. You won’t regret it.

Backpackbees