A glass of Champagne



In late summer 2017, I had the honor to attend a friend’s wedding on the west coast of France, an hour away from Bordeaux city and right border the Medoc region. It came as a surprise to many of my friend as that was the first time I visited a vineyard. The time spent with friends, exploring the French culture, cuisine and especially the wine of Bordeaux was merry and certainly fulfilling.

I would share about my wonderful experience in Bordeaux in another more mellow note. Today, as another year draws to a close and comes the moment to raise a glass, waving goodbye to 2018 with cherish and reflection as well as opening the door to welcome 2019 with plans and hopes, I’d like to share my humble encounter in Champagne region this past summer. There are a few things this region is famous of, the most famous of all bears its name – Champagne.

I took the Euro Star train from London to Paris in late June and connected to the city of Reims, the biggest city in the region. The city is a holy place in France, whose cathedral winessed the cororation of many French emperors for over 8 centuries till the collapse of the monarchy. As I have been to many places in Europe and visited many catherals, this is the most beautiful one in my opinion. The cathedral stands high and grandeurin the city centre, drawing attention to its exquisite, expensive and sophisticated architecture and decoration. its bell tower and the long history that connected to the rise and fall of the mornachy. I picked a small airbnb right near one of the city bakery, Andre Boulanger Patisserie, where I bought a baguette and pastries every morning,  as well as Cul de Poule restaurant, where I dined at awe every evening.



Of course I tasted and drank way too much Champagne. The summer was bright, warm and breezy. The time stood still. I was enjoying my time.

My humble knowledge of champagne came mostly from my first cellar visit, the Veuve Cliquot, which I stepped foot in nerely an hour after arriving in Reims. It’s cold and beautiful inside, millions of bottles nesting next to each other, dozen of km of domed cellars all connected, hundred years of history in the making.

Champagne is simply sparkling wine, strictly coming from the Champagne region of France. Unlike other wine which is fermented and ages once in wood barrows, metal tanks or urns (the case of traditional wine from Georgia) before being bottles, Champagne wine goes through 2 fermentations blah blah until it fills our glasses of joy.

To my abundance of neglected memories, I remembered 2 names standing out in the history of champagne. The first is Dom Perignon, considered the inventor. Long before, sparkling wine was said to be “haunted” by evils, due to the fact that during the aging,  sometimes explosion of bottled happened. Dom Perignon lived in the abbey of Hautvillers, who tested out and finessed the technique of champagne making, including the underground aging to sustain the need to humidity and temperature. In the region of Champagne, there are no fewer than 200km of tunnels/cellar protecting millions and millions of bottle of champagne underground. The calcium carbonate rich soil give the ideal humidity for the aging and storage of wine.


Another name that tied to the history of Champagne is madame Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, the extraordinary business woman, a young widow who overcame her grief at the age of 26 and grew her husband family’s small house of Champagne Cliquot-Muiron et fils (“Cliquot-Muiron and sons) into the second largest house of champagne in the world. Veuve means the widow in French and her name is kept in every single bottles of Veuve Cliquot Champagne – VCP. She invented the riddling board and started the export of vast quantity of champagne out of France, including sneaking out boats of champagne to Russia during a shiping blockage under Napoleon (who favoured house of Moet-Chandon). At the defeat of Napoleon, Russia was toasting Veuve Cliquot champagne.

Do you know how rose champagne was made in Champagne? Only here it’s allowed for mix red wine with champagne to create the jolly colour for this marketing hoax. Elsewhere, the colour is made from pressing process.

img_9692Aside from visiting the big houses and venturing into their massive system of cellars and history, I took a half day vineyard visit, tasting remarkable champagne from boutique producers and taking in the beauty of this land. One of the house we visited produced the limited edition champagne for Formula 1 – those big bottles that the F1 racers shook and wasted in their victorious moments. The trip took us, a Vietnamese, an American couple & an Australian couple to  the beginning of it all, Abbey d’Hautvillers where Dom Perignon lived, made wine and rested in peace. The place was so humble as compared to the luxury and cheerful image of the wine, as compared to the long Avenue of Champagne in Epernay, the capital of the regions where house of Moet-Chandon places its headquarter.

Truth to be told, most of the productions from the big house were exported to the world and people of France, especially people of Champagne, rarely buy those. “Well, why paying 50 euro a bottle while you can get 5 bottles for that much, equally good quality?”. Very true and very fair. I tasted from vintage of the big houses to a random bottle from supermarket and I couldn’t agree more.

Once you get a real Champagne glass, you are ensured the ultimate experience of bubbliness!

Well, let’s raise a glass!

Happy New Year to you all.















When in Rome, eat like the Romans

Let’s talk about how Italian eat.

img_2070As I observed, Italian did not seem to think “Breakfast is the most important meal” of the day. It’s normal to skip breakfast (Colazione)  and only have a quick caffe (simply espresso). Having an espresso at a bar in Italy took less than 5 minutes. Order, coffee out, drink and pay. The coffee is not scorching hot and an Italian would just down a whole espresso right when it touches his/her hands. When they have the chance, it’s still rather a quick affair. Simple caffe or milky drink (cappuccino, latte, macchiato) and some pastries. In my post “Forgetting the checklist in Italy”, I noted my wonderful experience at those little bars, where you could brush shoulder with the locals over a a an espresso, breakfast or had some wine after work. It’s a social place, not a drinking place. In fact I opine it’s all go down to socialization for Italians.

Italian also have meranda (afternoon snack) like kids in all school. They eat meranda similar to breakfast.

Then we have Pranzo (Lunch) and Cena (Dinner), the main meals. First you have il primo (first course), typically involving carb (rice, pasta). Then you have your Il secondi (the main course), with meat or fish and a side dish (“contorno” – typically salad – this can be a a separate dish as well). Then you can choose to have dolce (dessert). Then absolutely an espresso to finish. Wine is optional too. This is a normal meal structure.

In a more formal way, you will have Aperitivo (light appetizer) and Antipasto (heavier appetizer) before Il primo and also Insalata (salad, can be skipped if contorno is a salad) and Fromaggi e Frutta (cheese and fruit – easily skipped) after il secondi and prior to dessert and caffe. . Aperitivo is some simple stuff like olives, sauces, cheese, nuts, tiny little quiche. Antipasto is my favourite – it has antipasti! Prosciutto, salami, ham, charcuterie, cheese, bread-base dish (think Bruscheta – which pronounce brus-ket-ta not brus-Shet-a), vegie, salmon or prawn. I like this so much that so often I fill up myself with this. All these would end with a digestivo (grappa, limoncello, etc) to ease your digestion of  an absolute feast!

Pranzo is seen as the most important meals of the day for Italian. These days, it often comes down to pizza and panini with the young due to the work hours. Talking of pizza, you eat a pizza freshly made at a pizzeria, full stop. Only a few restaurants offer pizzas. A fancy pizzeria in Florence cost you 10-12euro each. A top pizzeria in Salerno cost you 4-5 euro (the southern region of Italy is poorer than the north, hence the price). An average pizza in Capri would cost you 15-20 euro. A slide of pizza can cost as little as 50 cents. If you have the whole pizza, you eat with fork and knife and you can excuse that and use hands with a slide of pizza.

Do you know pizza is NOT originally from Italy? The flat bread was brought first to Napoli (a main port) by Greek merchants. The locals , mostly poor workers, then added tomato sauce on top. Gradually, more delicacies are added and the dishes become popular in all classes!

So that’s how you eat in Italy, in theory. I really don’t understand how Italian and eat all that and still look so doped! during my few weeks in Italy, as i must have dessert (such sweet tooth!), I normally have either il primo or il secondi. When I can resist to order both, I would skip the next meal. In fact, toward the last week in Capri and Salerno, I have dinner every other day!

So how do Italian eat at home? If you have guests, all hells break loose! At my airbnb experience in San Miniato, we started with champagne (to celebrate a newly wed couple), aperitivo, MANY antipasti (a few dishes), pasta, 2 desserts, endless wine and limoncello! In a normal day, as Gabriele showed me, just simple pasta would do for dinner.

And at last, Italian are very proud of their seasons local products. Cinque Terre for the pesto, San Miniato for white truffle, campania for lemons, Tuscany for its wine and wild boar, Napoli for pizza, Ischia for rabbits and biancoella, Bologna for bolognese sauce, Capri for caprese (both salad and pasta!) and the list go on. Everywhere you find incredible olive oil, tomatoes and GELATO!

There, that’s how Italian eat. Remember when in Rome, act like the Romans.






Georgia – I came for the wine

England, 17 August 2018,

After a month of lugging my suitcase around Italy, Croatia, a bit of Serbia and Georgia, i got back to England. I told my neighbour J that Georgia had great wine and so did Croatia. “Kate, you have gone to Champagne, Croatia, Italy and Georgia this summer…. I see a pattern here”, J joked on my alcoholic behaviour. I do have a sincere love for good wine.

And so below are some of my wine stories in Georgia

– Kate, so what brings you to Georgia?

– I came for the wine.

We were at Divino, into our third glass of wine or so.  The bartender kept pouring one type after another and we wouldn’t care much. We, me and an Italian couple, had been on this physically challenged walking tour of 4 hours around the city, we deserved this. The Italian moaned about the  American girl trying to inflict so much of her daily life into the tour. I moaned about the weirdly long stop at the bakery where I had to get myself a mojito (and who ate cheese bread at 5pm?).

This is the start – my first day in Georgia.

I didn’t even know there was such a country till about 2 years ago when I watched a random documentary on Food Network about the birth of Shiraz. Yes,I like wine so much I watched documentary about it. As it turned out, the wine is one of the oldest and was “invented” on the area of Caucasus mountain, in between Iran and Georgia. Nowadays there is no wine making in Iran for religious reason but Georgian people still ferment and bury their wine in big ceramic churns  Everyday. That afternoon the name Georgia registered in my head. I did some research and figured the country situated at the end of Silk Road, bordering Russia and share Black Sea with Turkey. I wanted to go there to drink wine one day.

End of June, about 3 days before my month-long trip in Europe, I booked my ticket to Georgia, heading east instead of west from Croatia after much of the plans were changed. “I like your style”, bf remarked when that destination came up.

Throughout my stay in Georgia I have tasted so many type of wine and visit the wine region Kakheti. I visited Khareba winery, one of the biggest, where I met Eka, a smart beautiful young Georgian woman who is now my 3rd friend in Georgia!

There are about 500 types of grapes and in Georgia along there is about 250 types. So the wine are of great variety, and lucky me, of great quality. The Georgian way of making wine keep the skin and stem in the juice for the entire period of fermentation, which result in darker color and stronger wine. The thing they use to keep wine is called “Qveri”. The wine is typically quite young but certainly ha reached a good level of complexity. 2 excellent examples are the Amber Wine and Sarapevi.

Amber wine – You don’t see this anywhere- the grape is from Georgia and with the increase skin contact, a luminous color of amber liquid with strong full taste. This is definitely my favourite among all.

Saparevi is deep red grape, which after the prolonged skin contact produced the Black Wine. I personally like full body red (like Burgundy) so this won me completely.

But here is the most exciting part, a definite pleasant surprise to me – sweet wine! Before this trip I hated sweet wine and considered Moscato the most disgusting wine Human beings had ever invented. So sweet my throat hurt. However, I was made to taste Georgian semi-sweet wine. It’s delightful! Light hint of sweetness, smooth, ruby red and light. I never thought of the day I’d buy a bottle of semi-sweet wine. I did! So I recommend you to try the sweet wine in Georgia as It may well be the best you have ever tasted.

With the great wine, Georgian drink and feast a lot. In fact the Guardian of Tbilisi Kartlis Deda holds a glass of wine as a symbol of hospitality. In a Georgian feast, 1 man will be designated “tamada” (literally toast master). He certainly speaks well and initiates a lot of toasts. He would drink from a goat horn which can hold up to 2l of wine. He would drink it in one go before it got filled up again. The use of the horn is because of it shape, it can’t be put down. One told me she knew someone who did 19 toasts and the only way to avoid drinking in Georgia is to have a doctor’s order. Pregnancy does not count!

Georgian has also made many wonderful things out of grape juice:

  • Chacha – it’s similar to Raki/Rakia and lethal! The homemade chacha can be up to 70deg.
  • Bvac – delicious thirst wrenching light flavoured soda without crazy amount of gas. I saw this first sold at the train station and was slight taken a back my this nation’s alcoholism thinking to myself “Man, they drink a pint of wine in the sun!”.
  • Churchella – the wonderful sweet made of string of nuts (typically walnut as this is very popular in Georgia) cover in grapevine paste (grape juice and flour). It can be in sheet type as well.
  • Bread is not from grape juice but is baked in big bell ovens (like Indian making naan) which is fuelled by grapevine and leaves. Smell delicious, taste Devine!

As said, I came to Georgia for the wine, I got that, together with other things came my way unexpectedly!


Visa requirement

This is for people from the like of Vietnam who have much restricted on traveling. Americans, you don’t need visa to enter, please stop asking Google.

Georgia is now petitioning to join the EU (target 2019) and currently  you can enter Georgia with valid multiple entry tourist Schengen (like the Balkan countries), US or British visa. There are 14 countries outside the Schengen Agreement that you can enter with Schengen visa. Please make sure you triple-check before you go as things may change fast and tell airline staffs because they DO NOT know and will take about 20’ trying to agree among themselves before giving you the boarding pass. Been there, done that.

Korean TED!

my fav

It has been a week since my last post and I know that it’s time for the next one. Well, to be honest I’m little disappointed with the interview this morning when people asked me all the same old same old questions that might actually be not so old them coz they just asked me those 2 days ago. C’mon people be creative! Here I am, a lil sad and bored and need someone to talk to and my little particular someone is just accidentally NOT ONLINE. Nice.

And of course I’m not here to tell you about a TED talk in Korea. I’m saying TALK-EAT-DRINK!

In Korea we talked, we listened to people talking, we sang, we had quite a few drinks and well we ate. There’re just way too many things that you can do with your mouth!!!!!!

Firstly, if you want to visit Korea, do it right away. The reason is the Koreans who can speak English, they do it fantastically and yay, there are not so many of them. So here’s the scene- You walk down to the busy street in a lazy afternoon. You stop. You look around. Nothing familiar. Nothing even close to what you are looking for. Gotcha! “hello, can you please show me the way to blah blah blah?” – “난 그게 뭔지 모르겠어요. 저는 Google 번역에서 찾았다!”.  Then you point at your map and show the person the place you want to get to. And right away, you are hand in hand with a Korean stranger who is literally taking you to wherever you want to go. Or if he’s in a hurry, he will speak some cute Korean and get someone who can speak English to help you. How nice! In our first night in Korea, we were struggling following the direction to our hostel while some people just stopped by and helped us without us asking them. All the trying-to-figure-it-out and phone calls they made for us were just like the very first sips of love for the country.

We were such an attraction. Everyone looked at us. Everyone took photos with us. Everyone talked to us, even the guy from Jeju-do we met for about 10 minutes on the metro in Busan, not the mention the whole group of students who just bought us so many soju in Daejeon. That’s crazy.

with cute Korean girls in Gyeongbukgung

And Korean talks well when they are drunk. We kept talking on and on about the lady at the hostel office. In the frustration of finding the hostel, we made it to the office, which was the whole world from the hostel to get a map to get there. Greeting us was a small lady in a black long-sleeve shirt, just short enough for me to notify her black rocky lace skirt. Watch out people, 40 –something lady, with the ignition of some soju *we found out a moment later when we got in*, can definitely turn into a chic. I love her fashion. It’s so WILD! And she not only gave us a map but also a whole story of any single corner that appeared in that map. And Ollie got his first hug in Korea oh so adorable you were Pfleger 😀

It may be a tradition to drink every meal in Korea. Anytime will do. And the guys were just in love. That’s such a relief after the alcohol diet in Singapore. After all the drinks you will be very very exhausted and you just moan the whole way “C’mon soju and beer go so well together. And it’s tender. Then what is this headache?????”. That’s my line!

oh that embarrassing night!

Noraebang is another job for your mouth. It’s nothing new but karaoke. Yet you got free ice-cream and that’s how I love Korea. It’s cold and it’s sweet.  Coldstones and baskin Robins rock!

The thing with Korean cuisine is that if you don’t know it, you’re tricked at the first time because before you even order anything, there have already a lot of something in front of you. Kimchi. More kimchi. And more kimchi. Insects. Sweet potatoes. Peas. Some thin fish cakes. Even pancake. Calm down and wait for the main dish! In my last note I did mention my favourite snack with its lux version in Busan and its amazing seafood bbq, so skip it, I’ll tell you more about my other favourite and some Vietnamese-like food.

side dishes

There are so many Korean BBQ restaurants now in Hanoi and really now I know why people still feel so hot with the fever from the kimchi land. It’s just so good! We got BBQ with lean pork and beef, simple and fulfilled. Grill your meat and some mushroom, place them in a fresh lectuce, add some shredded carrot, some pickle or just kimchi, roll it up, dip in in and go your way. It goes more than just a dish. And when you’re tired with meat, bean sprout or kimchi jigae is served, maybe some rice to balance. All  will be well digested with one or two beer and soju.

Toppoki. How many of you know it? I know it. I have an obsession with that reddish spicy mysterious street food every now and then I see a group of high school girls screaming after their classes when they see the magic stall. My first and my best toppoki was by Sam last semester. My second and my third toppoki came only 30 minutes away from each other, right the first meal in Seoul. It is, basically and wholefully, rice cake cooked in chilli sauce. Serious! What the fuss about it! Yeah it’s chewy and it’s kinda hot but something is just wrong with toppoki love. So I chose not to, even with the cheesy toppoki pizza we had in Daejeon. So chic!


Korean people keep a very nice habit of cooking rice. They add in a lot of little nuts inside and cook together. It’s so tasty and exciting to eat rice because at some point you “wow, they put it in here”.

My all time favourite are bibimbap and kimchi jigae, the latter I will make it together with haemul pajeon and kimchijeon real soon. Bibimbap is mixed rice with vegetable, meat, sesame oil and chilli sauce. We did bibimbap on hot stone in quite a nice restaurant near Gwangnammun station. It was raining and it’s freezingly cold. We was shivering and wet. The bibimbap appeared at the table sounding the most joyful as rice was getting fried in a lil oil and sauce on the hot stone. Next to that was a bowl of smoky bean sprout soup. Imagine how pleased we were in that place. I didn’t need anything else.

Korean eats dog meat. Korean eats insect (the one in the life cycle of a butterfly). Korea eats sundae (Pig intestines stuffed with noodles, livers, lungs, …). Korea drinks soju. Korean drinks maekgolli (the extract liquid from brewed rice which is 80% similar to “ruou nep” of Vietnam). HOW VIETNAMESE KOREANS ARE!

Bottom line for you hungry traveller: Gwang Jang market for Seoul delights!

Busan Delights

Sunrise on Gwangan beach, from Homers Hotel Fomentation Room

When it comes to fashion, I can’t help adoring yet fashion is quite a pricy love.

When it comes to food, especially cheap eat, I can’t resist. And Korea treated me so well with all their top-notch dishes. The place that I enjoyed food the most was Busan, where literally all we did was EAT thank to our lovely awesome host Sooyoung and her cool mum.

Arriving in BUsan quite late in the afternoon, the four of us were just hungry and sort of dizzy in the freezing wind of the coastal city, we led our way straight from the bus terminal to Jagalchi market, the famous fish market where you get served with the freshest seafood. Stalls selling fish, mussels, clams, seashells, octopus, eals, … and hundreds of strange things that we couldn’t name lined up the small sea-smelled street in front of the well-built main market.  Far away was the tremendous stretch of hills with houses climbing up till the top. Busaners saw it a normal daily scene, we saw it amazing and breath-taking.

dried fish in Jagalchi Market

Soon enough, we randomly picked a cozy-looked restaurant *we always opted for coziness and honestlt, the less English the owner spoke, the more likely we were getting in*. The wonderful long-waited dinner was served by two cool ajumani, UNAGI BBQ. I loved it. We all loved it. Yes, what else would you do in Busan when you’re hungry except for some hot spicy kimchi with grilled seafood?

you name it 🙂

After the dinner, Omar said “Kate, I know exactly where we are heading off after this?”. With no doubt, I oohed aahed “Where?”. “Let’s go to Kyungsung University. University! It should be happening there.” Okay, let’s the French pave the way to the joyfulness of Busan. 12000won for 3 liters of beer!!! I was out of the drinking game that night when my back started very annoying with a bunch of rash. I ate too much and I really didn’t know what I got allergic with. So be careful with the shock of spicy food and excessive alcohol ok?

Next, we moved to Gwangan  beach where we were supposed to stay at the Homers Hotel sauna which had been highly recommended by Sooyoung. It’s a 5 star hotel with the best view of Gwangan Bridge and sunrise. We all trembled at the scale of the premises and wondered ifit would be cheap for the sauna there. Well if you say 12S$ is expensive! The 3-story bath and sauna was just terrific!!! After the best bath ever, we all gathered in the fomentation room, a big common place for people to rest, where we were provided with bed-sheets, pillows, wifi, manga, video games. AS it’s too hot to sleep right away so Ollie and I played Monopoly Deal and did people-watch a.k.a be polite stalkers! I felt like the whole kids of Busan were there for a fun night as they stretched there bodies, did face masks, giggled at girly talks, etc. There is a very funny scene as Ollie spotted two girls lying on the floor in the position that their legs were stretched and leaned all the way up on the wall. How could they do that the whole night? The sauna even has a cold room. I knew it late before we left in the morning as it came to my curiosity as couple by couple of highschool kids walked out of some mysterious room BLUSHED. Wow! My fantasy was to eat boiled eggs and do face masks, just like in drama! The guys hated me anytime I said something like “Oh this is just like in Korean drama blah blah blah..”. I told you I had been watching it since I was 4. I’m obsessed!

Monopoly deal

The next day Sooyoung picked us up real early at the hotel lobby, treat us the hangover soup for breakfast and showed us around Busan the whole morning. Soo got injured in her leg and we just felt so bad that she had to take us the four annoying foreigners all around. You’re cool, right Soo? Now let’s talk a bit about Korean drinking tradition. There are 5 stages of a fun-loving night:

1.-Eat and drink;

2- Dance/sing and drink;

3. Eat more, drink more;

4. Get drunk and sleep; maybe request SNSD in a bar and drop some glasses into the toilet!

5. Eat hangover soup and yes, you can drink again =))

At which stage are you my dear friends?

haejangguk- hangover soup

Soo took us for a long walk for APEC house all around the riff to Haeundae beach, where in every Korean drama, the guy would drive a sleeping girl the whole night from Seoul there to surprise her with breathtaking sunrise and steal her first kiss. And then they’re going to play the game of running on the beach where all the seabirds will fly around them. Then he catches her and they are in each other’s arms forever. Did I miss any detail? Oh yes, Ollie got asked to take photo with a man’s three daughters. We were just super star everywhere.

the four musketeers

In the last note, I said I loved the feeling of being a tourist, especially a foreign tourist. We went to Shinsegae, the world largest department store and got treated with free gift and vouchers. Soo was a bit jealous though.


Back to the basic, we ate. Wandang noodle soup at PIFF square and the famous fried cake with hot melted cinnamon sugar inside that made me once all covered in Myeongdong *I hear Oli, Moon and Silva got it when they got back to Seoul hahaha* . But this time they slightly cut the cake and stuffed it with lots of nuts, namely sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnut, etc.  It’s worth the queue. Oh and we had sweet potato chips as well though later Busan disappointed us as they gave us that thing everywhere we went.

Soo’s mum picked us up and drove everyone to Beomeosa, a very old temple off the main road of Busan. It’s way up to the mountain where you will find yourself lost in the bamboo jungles and many scary firing pines. Soo’s mum knew everything about Buddhism and she was the coolest and funniest mum in the world, well next to my mum though. I think of doing the temple stay there the next time I go back to Busan. Noted.

Statement of the day- “Now I think my mum is cool!” – said Soo.

Dinner in Korea means a normal dinner with drinks and a post dinner with drinks and snack. Dinner menu: seafood pancake, cheese omelette and home-made makgeolli with me and Oli stole a bunch of spoons and chopsticks from the restaurant. Post dinner was such a joyful adventure for all of us as the best drink was brought out: a mixer, kiwi and SOJU. I’m talking about SOJU COCKTAIL.  And the soju glasses were very nice….

wandang noodle

just call it Yummy










We got back to Soo’s flat a it late. It’s Huyndai town with the slogan of “Internet block- Internet Family”. I remembered the most the feeling of standing in between 4 27-story blocks and looking up when I felt like my whole life would only be able to see up to such height. It’s haunted!

Soo’s mum greeted us with a green tea, mandarin from Jeju-do, Korean juicy apples, pears, fresh and dried persimmon as well. She decorated the table with flowers and let us use her favourite china collection. “She never did that!”, Soo said. And I got mochi from Shinsegae >:D<.  We ended the night with Soo’s great news. She’s going to England for SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies. God job unni! Soo’s brother was so cute he let me sleep in his room yay. The guys got Soo’s room where Oli had the princess bed hahahha. Though some incident did happen there, the next day Soo’s mum still treat us with a traditional Korean breakfast – seaweed soup, rice, home-made kimchi of all kinds, stir-fried beef, pancake and spicy sour soup with fish, toufu, mussels and something “just chew a bit and swallow it”- Soo’s instruction.

Korean Breakfast by Soo’s mum

The farewell was too much for us when Soo’s mum dropped us at the train station with a lot of hugs, gifts and Jeju-do mandarins.

Thanks again for your wonderful host Soo and all the best with your last semester and UK. Hugs.




P.S: I know it’s a long long note but when it comes to emotion, I can’t help. Takeaway words for Busan- EAT and SAUNA and BEACH in summer!


The pastry chapter … Chicken pie


Chicken pie, from book to reality

–      Hey, will you be a chef again?

–       Naah, I don’t think so.

–       Why not?

–       It’s really hot to be in the kitchen the whole day you know. And I like my design thing now.

–       Well, fair enough.

I asked my friend, who used to be a chef for a couple of years, that question and I thought back to my case. Well, he was not the first one to mention that issue about the chef or baker job. People may see all the fancy things about being a chef or a baker magically creating all those yummy marvels, yet they rarely think about the reality of the job. And so did I. Now that I really look into it, I feel reluctance to do one of what I think I want to do. Life has all its extremes co-exist and I think I just need to find the way to balance some of them then I can be considered a successful person. Is it true?

Last night I opened my pastry bible and determined that it’s just the right time to write about my pastry attempt 2 months ago. And moreover, I do need something posh and strange to start my pastry chapter. So here you, chicken pie!

I love pie. The very first I tried and then made was apple pie and till now it’s still among my favourites. The tender sliced baked apples soaked in cinnamon and limejuice, the hot soft crust, the lovely covering net and a little whipped cream topping. Let’s have a cup of tea!

To name the pies I have made myself, there’re only some, most of them filled with fruits, cheese and cream. Yet thanks to my time in Europe last year, I now know a lot more about savoury pastry and that there are many ways to make crust and thousand types of filling. British steak pie, Irish Guinness pie  (minced meat, gravy and Guinness beer), steak and ale pie, pork pie are some of those from Britain. Tourtiere is a French Canadian pork pie from Quebec. The excellent beef pastry I tried at Flashback in Bali is iconic in Australia according to Mike. And there are still a lot more versions of meat pie everywhere.

When I opened my book the first time, I knew what I wanted to see, something for my dear friend Anne and her everlasting craving for chicken. “Chicken pie for you missie muah hahaha” I thought. Her love for my chicken pie seems quite honest despite the fact that I have rejected making her the second pie for quite some times. I’m not that kind of petty but seriously till I made it did I know It would take ages to make a pie and the biggest happiness in the world is to be assigned Apple pie. Believe me or not, your frustration will be of the highest level when you finish reading this entry and so will your craving for it *smile*. Give it a try and then you can ban it from you kitchen forever!!!!

There are some types of pastry as I said, such as shortcrust pastries, sweet pastries, brioche dough, pizza dough, filo pastry, etc. Meat pies in general and chicken pies in particular use puff pastries that require a lot of rolling and folding and rolling to create the airy and fluffy quality of the pastries. It’s the king of pastries, raising impressively in the oven, shining brilliantly with eggwash and still retaining its fashionable stature and lightness as it cools. So I will share more about making puff pastries so that the next time I make one, you all know how to deal with the tough part. I made the classic puff pastry. It’s harder than rough puff pastry yet it will rise more.

To make 1.2kg of pastries (I made 400g only for a 15cm pie), you’ll need: 500g plain flour, a pinch of salt, 25ml white wine vinegar (I used Japanese vinegar instead), 200ml ice-cold water, 50g melted butter and 400g very cold butter. Try to used good butter as it would make rolling the pastry easier and the smell is just irresistible.

First, put the flour on a cool work space (ideally marble yet I used a thin and big plastic chopping board to work the dough) and make a well in the middle. Then add salt, vinegar, water and melted butter into the well. Mix the ingredient with your fingertips and work it to dough. Use your palm to push the dough so that it becomes smooth and homogeneous. Wrap with a cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this stage, I suggested you not to add all the water in one shot. Let’s start with 2/3 of the water first, after roughly mixed the ingredient with your fingertips, you add water little by little till using up.

Now the tough part begins. Taking the dough out of the fridge, roll out the ball of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Bash the cold butter with the rolling pin to make it pliable and place in the centre of the pastry. Fold the pastry to enclose it. After flouring the surface again, you can start the joy and sorrow of making pastry by rolling the pastry into a rectangular about 40x70cm then fold the ends over the middle to make 3 layers. Each time doing this we call it a turn.  Make a second turn and refrigerate the pastry for an hour to firm up. After that, make 2 turns and return the pastry to the fridge. After that is the last 2 turns and an hour chilling and your pastry is ready to use. If you freeze pastry, as I did, just do 4 turns and then serve the last 2 after taking it out about 1 hour before using.

step by step from my bible

Work it out!

Yes it sounds easy right? What I faced when I rolled the dough is that at first the butter is a little hard so it’s very difficult to roll out without tearing the dough. And then when it seems just nice, the butter keeps sneak out of the cover. You will find it very messy and irritating at this stage but look, the worst is overrrrrr!

Roll 2/3 of the pastry out and transfer to your baking pan. Use your fingertips to press the pastry gently so that it takes over the pan. Put in the fridge J

Now is the filling: chicken breast, cubed, pork belly, cubed or cut into thin long strips, zucchini, carrot, onion, broccoli, mushroom, diced and deseeded tomato, chicken broth, white wine (opt yet it did make the gravy better than ever), pepper, flour and butter.

Cook the chicken, onion and tomato for a few minutes, pour in wine and simmer gently. After about 15 minutes, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour and add chicken broth and bring to boil. Stirring and cooked for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the carrot and broccoli in salted water, drain well.

Fry the pork belly with butter, add mushroom and zucchini.

Mix all the savoury together, season with salt and pepper and fill the pie dish. Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and cover up. Remember to carefully and firmly press to seal the lid and use a chopstick to make a small hole in the middle so that the air can be released :D. Brushthe top of the pie with eggwash.

Chicken, pork and vege in gravy, ready to fill up 🙂

Bake at 180*C for 30 minutes.

Enjoy your pie.


cheesy jackets

PA252805I’m in England. And since 6 weeks ago when I stepped on the foggy kindom, I haven’t bought me a pair of chopsticks. exactly i couldn’t find them here, how hard it is to eat rice and asian dishes without chopsticks T_T. That’s why I find myself make a lot of non-asian dishes and seriously most of them I dont know where they from as I just picked them up from my cooking book.

This recipe is from my cooking book *101 cheap eats* too with some alteration I did make. Hop these jacket are warm enough for these gloomy England days.

You need

baking potatoes – 1/person

butter – 40mg/potato

cheddar cheese or you can use morazella – 30-50 per potato

dry basil or I used the mixture of basil, chili, cheese and other herbs *bought in Rome, love it*

Topping: tomatoes cubed, cheese, tuna, stirred minces beef or any meat you like

You’ll have a nice jactket by:

– wash the potatoes, dry them and bake at 200*C, central rack for 1-1.5 hrs till the flesh is soft

– half your baked potatoes and use a spoon to scoop all the flesh out to a bowl, as much as you can but careful so you don’t ruin the skin.

– mix butter and cheese with the potato flesh, seasoning as you want. After that fil them back to the skin.

– top with tuna, meat, tomato, then cheese and basil

– bake for another 10 minutes

I served them with salad.

I simply love this meal as it’s simple and delicious and I don’t have to stay in my kitchen all the time 😀