Jun 142014
 

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 028 bannerLast Saturday(June 7th), I decided to try (for the 3rd time) to visit the Calligraphy Museum in the Seoul Arts Center, in Gangnam.  I dropped Aingeal at the office and took the metro from there, around a half hour plus a 10 minute walk, so not too bad.

Lunch

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 0042014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 010I planned to stop for lunch somewhere near the Arts Center, and ended up at the Flower Annex ( 꽃 별관 ).  The restaurant seemed fairly typical for a relatively nice neighborhood restaurant – tables pushed together so you feel as if you’re sharing a long table.  At my long table was a couple with a very small and for a while loudly unhappy child.  Still, it was clean, and unusually (in my experience) with a fair bit of decoration on the wall…

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 0062014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 001 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 002Fortunately, they had a menu with English translations, although I’m quite happy to order haphazardly if need be, and I ordered pumpkin pancake.  Four side dishes, two of which were in pots on the table for self service, and a bit of soy sauce for dipping the pancake.  Which was bright orange as you’d expect and pretty fair sized – I couldn’t finish it!

Seoul Arts Center

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 012 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 018On to my objective:  the National Calligraphy Museum at the Seoul Arts Center, a block away.  The museum was at the back at the far side, but as always the Center threw up many distractions (why do you think I didn’t make it there twice already?).  Today, there was the Seoul Ceramic Arts Fair, some musicians playing a sort of flute and (rather unfortunately as I had just eaten) a selection of little stalls selling food.

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The Eponymous Gavin

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 015 The musicians were on break when I strolled past at first, and ran into our friend Gavin, of the eponymous Gavin’s Sausages (eponymous is one of my favorite words, and if I could only work it into a legitimate sentence that also has “bifurcate”…).  [BEGIN Shameless Plug for a Product I Like] BTW, Gavin’s Sausages are really good (& are only one of the products he makes).  And they don’t justs sell them… we were at a goodbye party recently, and he & his team were grilling away! [END Shameless Plug]  Anway, we had a good chat, and Gavin said he (and the other little food stalls) are all down there every weekend… so another visit to the SAC is definitely in order before summer’s up!

Seoul Ceramic Arts Fair

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 021But what about the Museum?  Ah, well, it turned out that it was not open.  I have no idea why.  So I headed back into the main part of the SAC, stopping by to let Gavin know that I was now 0 for 3 on this front.  On my way into the Ceramics Fair, they were practicing for Seoul Ballet Week.  I must say, you could go to the Seoul Arts Center every weekend if you wanted to (Gavin said some people do, treating it like their local park!), I’ve never yet had a disappointing visit (even this time). 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 041 cropped

So, the Seoul Ceramics Art Fair… wonderful.  There were a couple of things that I would have bought, one of which I actually tried asked about (linguistic differences arose; I decided not to do that using Google Translate).  Most of the work there was really good and a surprising amount was also to my taste (!) so I spent a lot of time, going all the way through then backwards to the beginning and then through again.  Then, at last, back to the metro and home. Here are some pics from the Ceramics Fair:

 Posted by on 14 Jun 2014
Jun 122014
 

2014-06-12 Queens Bday 09 bannerGreat time at the celebration of the British Queen’s (Official) Birthday!  As always, the Brits were charming hosts.  Bagpipes on the drive in from the gate was a nice touch too!  And I was particularly impressed that the national anthems were played live; it just ain’t the same on tape (though nothing will top the singer who sang both, yes both, national anthems at a different national day “sometime this spring”, I still think a tip o’ the hat is still deserved here!).

A few photos from a nice evening…

 

 Posted by on 12 Jun 2014
Jun 122014
 

2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 05 banner2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 062014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 07Heading down to Seongbuk-ro (or “the big street at the bottom of the hill” as we call it), I happened across Moomyung Restaurant (무명식당), which I’d passed without noticing often before.  When I peered in, a woman eating gave me a thumbs-up and waved for me to go in, so I did.  She spoke English, and quickly told me that the food was very good.  So, Moomyung it was.

I2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 03 ordered the first thing on the menu on the wall, the 무명 밥상 moomyung babsang, which their website describes as “Moomyang main dish of boiled rice”.  Maybe that works in Korean, but in English they really need to work on their descriptions:  it was lovely.

W2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 05hile I was waiting, the same woman (in blue in the photo on the left) showed me a book of Korean bandes desinee, pointing out the story of the restaurant on page 304:  A Korean-American, adopted at age 4, searching for his family, but unable to remember anything except the taste of the rice that his mother made.  Korean meals being served very quickly, I didn’t get to the end.  Now I have to come back to find out how it ends!  (I have a sneaking suspicion that he found them and they opened these restaurants.)

The mai2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 02n part of the dish was of course the rice, very nice rice with some other grains and beans mixed in.  With that, a few side dishes:  raw vegetables with dipping sauce, some meat & mushroom (that was really nice), a couple of hot dishes of (to me) unknown items in chilli sauce; a bit of soy sauce for dipping, and a warm broth with potato bits & bean sprouts (also really nice).

While I was eating, a monk came in, knocking his wooden spoon on his wooden bowl.  Presumably he was looking for a free meal; I need to learn how to invite them politely to join me, lest that happen again.

2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 04The restaurant itself was very small (they also do takeout) but clean & new — a nice atmosphere.

Conclusion:  Should become a regular feature in my neighborhood lunch circuit. Also:  their website shows another branch at the GranSeoul on Jong-ro (between Jongak metro & Sejong-daero), just around the corner from A’s office…

http://www.moomyung.com/

 Posted by on 12 Jun 2014
Jun 082014
 

On Thursday, the Irish Association of Korea presented awards for contributions to the promotion of Irish culture in Korea.

I was sorry to miss it (had some business calls that I really needed to take).  But one of the awardees, Conor O’Reilly, wrote about it on his blog
http://ifihadaminutetospare.com/2014/06/07/in-recognition-for-contributions-to-irish-culture-in-korea/

and included a set of pictures from the event on his Flickr account
https://www.flickr.com/photos/conor_o_reilly/sets/72157645051716824/

Click on the above links to have a look!

 

 Posted by on 08 Jun 2014
Jun 072014
 

2014-06-01 Bon Palate 18 banner
2014-06-01 Bon Palate business cardWe had dinner here last Sunday (so, again, I’m stretching the “Lunch” part of this project), but this was the find of the season.  Bon Palate is a French restaurant that (even with the hill) is so close I would walk there… and having eaten there once, I can safely say that I’ll do exactly that.

2014-06-01 Bon Palate 18

showing the now-interior roofs of the hanok structure

I only noticed it a little while ago, being distracted by the profusion of small (and very nice!) Korean restaurants across the street, a few of which I have tried.  And speaking of Korean, the interior of Bon Palate appears to be that of a traditional hanok (한옥 ) house (well, three sides of one), the interior walls removed and the whole thing roofed over above the original roof top.

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The walls are all decorated with hand-drawn copies of wine labels.

Looked at from the street, the left side of the hanok is basically the entrance & toilets, the back is mostly the kitchen, the right is dining, and the front is modern, slightly raised with a picture window overlooking the street.  I found it hard to get a picture that showed that, but when you’re there it worked very well.  I wonder if it was a hanok or if they built the restaurant this way?

2014-06-01 Bon Palate 09

My dining companions (Aingeal & That Girl), and the waiter

We were three for dinner, and ordered chicken, lamb and steak.  Each was extremely good, but what really made the meal for me was both the ‘extras’ — an amuse-bouche, warm rolls, a salad – and the pacing.  After 5 years in Brussels, where a very long, well paced dinner is the norm, it was lovely to have a meal that didn’t feel like it had been rushed, that instead proceeded from item to item in its own time (but not too much time either).  Needless to say when the pacing has been spot on, the service was excellent.  And, a nice wine selection with both reasonably priced decent wines and (surprise!) a pretty good selection of Spanish wines, which we love.

Conclusion:  My new favorite restaurant in Seoul.

Location:  (link to Google Maps)

 Posted by on 07 Jun 2014