Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sindorim 연탄 Museum or something

I met The Stumbler for lunch today at Sindorim. Sindorim, for the uninitiated, is the location of one of Seoul's busiest subway stations, on one end of which is TechnoMart, a ten story mall, largely dedicated to electronic goods, and on the other end of which is D-cube City, an enormous "lifestyle" mall, which also contains offices and a tony Sheraton Hotel.

It is also, as The Stubler pointed out, the location of a small, but interesting, outdoor "museum" or display relating to the production of yeontan, 연탄, which are the "Korean Kingsford", charcoal briquets, commonly found in Korean barbeque restaurants (the computer has tried to correct my spelling of both briquet and barbeque, but frankly I don't believe it).

Tucked away in a little corner of the D-cube City side's park, it actually has good English-language signage (above) explaining that the briquets, or 연탄, were first manufactured by Daesung Corporation as a result of the government's desire to slow the decimation of the country's forests for firewood in the middle of the twentieth century. Nowadays most home heating is done by gas. Daesung had a manufacturing plant in Sindorim--the "rim" part means "forest", but I don't know what the Sindo means.

First, coal is brought in and pulverized in the hammer mill:

Then it's sorted:

And then formed by pressing:

Here's the final product.

Interesting ten minutes.

Interesting Seoul Patch fact: The Sindorim Technomart post linked to at top is the seventh most visited page on this blog.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

13th Yeouido Spring Blossom Festival

There are only so many good photo ops at the Cherry Blossom Festival, so I have used this one virtually every year--it has cherry blossoms, the Han River and the Seoul skyline. Of course, the flowers are the star of the show:

There are also street performers:

...a "powder room" (new this year):

...and an old-timey coffee shop (new last year):

There are also some other good photo ops:

...participation opportunities:

...and other sorts of flowers besides ornamental cherries:

The dates for this year's festival are April 1 to April 10, so you have one more chance!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring is just around the corner

Tomorrow is Korean baseball's Opening Day, so today is a good time to post some flower photos. Every year I've been here, this has been an obligatory post in late March, starting with 2009. (This post is worth reading for the interesting information it contains.)

The first flower to boom here is kenari, the Asiatic dogwood.

Next comes the maehwa, the Chinese apricot.

A bit early this year, the Korean magnolia, mokryeon, first in front of my school, the second in front of my local E-mart--the same one that used to be local between 2008 and 2012, and is again.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Laos, 2017: Food

The Mekong River originates in China, runs through the middle of Laos, then along the border of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, through the middle of Cambodia, and finally enters the South China Sea in southern Vietnam. My first day in Luang Prabang, I sat for a few hours at a lovely, quiet, authentic waterfront restaurant enjoying a couple of drinks and a delicious Lao beef and bamboo shoot soup. Honestly, among the best things I've ever eaten!

Speaking of authentic--I'm not sure, since the menu included English, but I saw loads of locals in this place, across the street from my hotel in Vientiane: Lao chicken rice soup.

Many places in the world have their specialties--Beijing Duck springs to mind, or Georgia barbeque, or Kobe beef ... Lauang Prabang has a particular variety of sausage. Hell, I hear you say, sausage goes back to the freaking Romans, big effing deal! Yeah, you are correct as far as you go, but I bet you've never had Luang Prabang sausage, have you?

You have to trust me on this. Luang Prabang style sausage is the best you'll ever have. The eating street is where you'll find the real deal. There it is in the middle of the table.

You point out what you want, pay your money, and sit down at the nearest table. The side dish that comes with the sausage is Hmong-style pickled vegetables. It's basically Lao kimchi. Be careful! Hidden within my particular serving was a whitish pepper that is the hottest thing I've ever eaten my life. Still, it's absolutely brilliant! I had this dish also in Vientiane at the fine place near the Lamphu fountain I mentioned before, Khop Chai Deu:

No hot-as-fuck pepper hidden in their Hmong veggies. Another delicious meal I had there was Lao beef along with fried green beans. Laos is the only place I've been in Asia which offers string or green beans, like you might get back home. Though they're always stir fried. Which is not a bad thing.

The typical LP eating street experience is to either pick what you want and pay accordingly, or to get the "buffet", one plate, one serving, one price:

As a young youth in Thailand, I remember well street food super-thin pancakes made in woks, filled with Carnation sweetened condensed milk, folded over into cones. Not so much woks anymore, just flat griddles. Mangoes, bananas, Nutella, etc:

And here is coconut "pancake", lovely:

Some snacks:


And as I crack a Korean maekchu, I end my blogging about my trip to Laos! Thanks for visiting my patch, Dear Reader, and Happy Travels!