From Seoul to San Francisco
September was a busy month of travel (for work)...and I got to see a new part of the world I'd never been before; that is, Seoul, Korea, and visited a familiar favorite, San Francisco (one of my top two US cites--the other being Savannah). When I visit a city, I am drawn to two things: markets and churches. I didn't have time to visit palaces, churches, or temples in Seoul, but did have an amazing experience at the Nam Dae Mun market (thanks also to my companions Mary Ellen and Don). So then when I went to San Francisco bought a ticket to Sausalito at the Ferry Building, I was pleasantly surprised with the market inside the building. So, I thought, what a contrast of two worlds--the sights, smells, and wares were amazing, and it is especially interesting to look at the differences and some similarities between the two.
The Nam Dae Mun market was an eclectic and endless maze of shops and vendors crammed into narrow "streets" that sold everything from watches to scarves to gift boxes of mushrooms and giant jars of pickled ginseng. There were every day items, tourist items, and locals buying a fish for dinner that evening, leaving with it wrapped in newspaper. There were many food items that we did not know; we saw local people queueing up as steaming hot dumpling-looking items came out of the tiniest storefront.
I thought the cooked (were they smoked?) pork parts in barrels contrasted interestingly yet somehow similarly with the shop Boccalone in the San Francisco Ferry Building, which advertised "Tasty Salted Pig Parts."
At the San Francisco Ferry Building, I thought I died and went to cheese heaven at The Cowgirl Creamery and wished I'd had hours to sample the many wonderful cheeses. I saw the most beautiful collection of heirloom tomatoes I have ever seen. I ate possibly one of the best cookies I have eaten in my life--a macaroon at Miette that was dainty and delicate and so full of flavor.
The similarities lie in the gathering of people, to shop, to buy, and to take home. Local and fresh ingredients were key in both markets, and while they looked vastly different in most cases, fruit, vegetables, and seafood were common to each. And then there's the pork. And some other indescribables.
I can't leave out a super fun night in Seoul at Ireland Yuki, yes--an Irish Korean bar. That night was like having a bird's eye view into young Korean nightlife from an anonymous position (okay, well, on a bar stool), while having no worries of one's own, and a few laughs. Thanks, Oleg, that was a blast.
And in between Seoul and San Francisco was a trip to Toronto. There is one food highlight worth noting from that trip: the Coconut Cream Pie at Harbor 60, a top notch restaurant where all the food was outstanding--a most memorable meal. However, that pie was ethereal. It could possibly qualify as the best pie I have eaten. Ever.
In Sausalito, I was on a mission to find EyeItalia, an Italian home goods store that I'd seen advertised in the back of a magazine. Lovely shopping. This fortuitous stop opened a door to another journey to be taken in 2012: we booked a week at Il Campo Cucina, an Italian cooking school in Radicondoli, in the heart of Tuscany next October, to realize another passion and a dream. Stay tuned for wonderful news and photos for the blog next year! Ciao!