Sometimes, a hiatus is in order.
Life can be much too hectic at times, even for your average 22-year old, college student who loves to bake, cook, and write. The truth is, everyone needs a break, even when it means peeling yourself away from the things you love to do.
These last few months have been both immensely taxing and astonishing to me. I caught a most severe case of Senioritis leading into my first month of my last semester as an undergrad student. Classes were ditched, assignments missed, and I played hooky left and right to no end (until now, that is). Meanwhile, I found love in an unfamiliarly familiar, irrationally justified, and imperfectly perfect person. And like all other great loves in life, it was completely unexpected. More untimely and unexpected is the fact that I am currently in job-limbo after having made a bold (and admittedly a little impetuous) decision to leave my precious hostessing job at a restaurant that I have come to cherish as my home over the last 3 years. With all that said and done, a hiatus was and still is undoubtedly in order so that I may refresh, venture forth, and excel in the perpetually uncharted future.
And though my future (post-hiatus) may not be as discernible (nor brilliant, dare I say) as that of The Pig and the Lady’s, I still find myself extremely lucky to have experienced this pop-up restaurant phenomenon prior to their break and my own.
Sometimes, a hiatus is in order.
One of the most amazing feelings, for me, is that of achievement. The sheer feeling of accomplishment in and triumph over an endeavor or obstacle is what makes any challenge that much more rewarding. Oddly enough, I have to admit my biggest challenge at the moment is that of grief, or overcoming it. Like this twist on a classic French Beef Burguignon, grief can be complicated and tedious , making anyone reluctant to confront and undertake the matter at hand. Although preparing Short Ribs Burguignon may not be as inevitable as the feelings of grief within a person’s lifetime, if you are like me and constantly seek thrill alongside self-cultivation, you can’t desist committing yourself to making, or attempting to make, the most complicated dishes you know to attain that blissful feeling.
That, or you try to avoid it for as long as possible until it comes back at you, smack-dab in your face. Either way, there comes a time when you need to do something about it, whether it be going out to have someone prepare that intricate and advanced dish that you obsess about and crave for or, making it yourself (for better or worse) and learning from it.
The apartment is still a mess, albeit now deemed “home.”
All I really see are empty cardboard boxes lying around in a not-so-neat pile off to the corner, unopened garbage bags of who-knows-whose kitchenware, and wrinkled articles of clothing strewn over the vast beige carpet floor. It just wouldn’t be appropriate of me to humiliate myself (or my wonderful roommates) by publicly displaying photos of our self-inflicted, at-home chaos. At least, not yet. I do, however, have photos of my first meal cooked within my new kitchen! Despite the literal, physical clutter and mental, emotional disarray, I felt my first surge of untarnished happiness and elation. With the counter top cleaned and most of my ingredients mise en place, I stationed myself in front of the cutting board, knife in hand, to chop my first onion, making my eyes water. Though I don’t normally find onion-chopping nor tear-jerking moments (of any sort) very pleasurable, I embraced it joyfully. In that moment, being blinded by the streaming tears that stung my eyes was the most comfort I felt in days, weeks even. With all the changes any move brings, this one in particular held so many implications for me: a deepened sense of independence that I hold yet consistently yearn for, a reunion of old friends, new friends, and past roommates, and the often times heart-wrenching process of letting go to move on, to grow.
And to think, all this from one onion, eh? Continue reading
There’s something I find intoxicating about tomatoes in the summer. They’re supple, juicy, tender, vibrant, crisp, and everything a tomato should be. I’ve loved tomatoes for as long as I can remember. I adore them in sliced form, sweetly sandwiched between deli meats and cheeses, all bundled together within two layers of fresh bread. I rejoice in finding them within salads, nestled between the smooth and subtle ridges of iceberg lettuce. You’ll never see me resist from having a really hearty tomato soup or sauce. And you can bet that on a cool, but sunny summer day, a wonderfully roasted tomato bruschetta (with all its warm yet refreshing flavors) is something I pine for.
Especially when this summer day involves a whole lot of moving around! My previous roommate and I have decided once again that we belong under the same roof. In fact, we’ve also come to the conclusion that another coworker/friend was destined to live with us, too. So, amidst all the apartment-hunting, box-packing, and furniture-shopping, having a piece of crusty french bread topped with a savory tomato, basil, garlic, and parmesan bruschetta is the perfect breath of fresh air. Not to mention, so is the view from our gorgeous apartment. Pictures coming soon!
I’m not a bad daughter. In fact, I fancy myself as quite the opposite. Despite the distance and years between us, my parents and family in Korea are constantly in my thoughts and everyday actions. I am, for lack of better way to put this, my father’s daughter. As a child, I cringed and pouted when people would tell me I either was or looked exactly like my dad. “I want to be like umma, not appa,” I’d repeatedly whine. With this, my younger sister followed in my footsteps and we’d compete to claim inheritance of mom’s svelte and gorgeous physical features. As we’ve grown older, however, we’ve come to realize that while my sister may look more like my dad than I do, she acts more like my mom. Me? I am exactly like my dad.
From our stubby toes and absent-mindedness to our love for foreign languages and moments of silence, we are one and alike. My dad similarly bestowed upon me an appreciation for food in all forms. At the young age of 4 or 5, I had my first taste of gourmet cheese. I will never forget my dad in the kitchen, gingerly cutting the wrapped lump of German Butter cheese (Butterkäse) into generous slivers and placing each over slices of apple with his stumpy, callused hands. The first bite is one I will always remember, soft and buttery flawlessly paired with crisp and subtly-sweet. This flavor was only to be sharply, beautifully contrasted with the various salumi, or cured meats, he then allowed me to try. In addition to the more simplistic joys I grew up eating (instant mac & cheese, spaghetti with meat sauce, or spam, eggs, kimchi, and rice), the more complex and matured flavors of cheese and meats also have the ability to take me back to my not-so-distant, treasured childhood. And though it is always an honor and pleasure cooking for you, appa, if you were here for this upcoming Father’s Day, I wouldn’t think twice about taking you to Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar. For memories sake. Continue reading
Do you have a go-to soup, one that sparks your taste buds and enlivens your mood regardless of the time of hangover day or weather? I do.
I love Korean food, and I’m not just saying it because I’m Korean. There is just a myriad of complementing and contrasting flavors, making it impossible to get sick of or dislike and I have not yet encountered (nor do I have yet to encounter) a single person that does not like love SoonDuBu Chigae (순두부찌개), or soft tofu stew. It’s hearty, spicy, wholesome comfort food at its very finest. Plus, it reminds me of my childhood – like grilled cheese and tobasco-drenched ketchup and whaddayaknow – similarly, everybody loves a good grilled cheese.
Under the never-ending list of Things I Absolutely Have to Make (or have already made) and (need to) Blog About (including my favorite go-to Korean staple, kimchi jjigae/stew, which has been requested by several & is soon to come), there is the kimchi quesadilla, which I have finally gotten around to making. It may sound a little strange initially, but trust me, the pairing of kimchi with cheese is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, growing up in Korea, this was a prevalent and beloved conjunction of contrasting flavors and textures: tart, spicy, briny, and crunchy with buttery, nutty, oozy, and melted; a serious match made in culinary heaven.
However, it wasn’t until last summer when I visited L.A. amidst the Kogi Truck craze, that I had the opportunity to try one of these insanely good, savory treats. I was immediately blown away at first bite. As I’ve experienced re-creating this quesadilla with my own artistic flare, I’ve consistently found myself wondering: why has this concept not been popularized sooner? I mean, everybody loves quick and easy finger-food, especially when it goes hand-in-hand with an ice-cold Corona and lime, right?
One of the greatest perks of a new job, besides having something ‘fresh’ to talk about, is access. If knowledge is power, I think I’ve just scored myself a key. It’s been less than a month and I’ve already accumulated more information and experience than I can even fathom. Recently, the most jolting lesson came from a business “field trip” to Otsuji Farms in Hawaii Kai. With gas and food prices persistently climbing, it is more than about time to start re-evaluating our priorities for a sustainable economy. Particularly for Hawaii, we’re only 15% food secure at best. That obviously isn’t very “secure” given the fact that we live in the middle of an ocean and if our outsourced food supply were to be cut off at any given time, our on-hand supply would deplete in a matter of days. Thus, inevitably leading to a limpid (& highly simplified) conclusion: no food for me, no happiness for you!
The unfortunate aspect of this dilemma is that farmers in Hawaii pay a high price to produce food and do not have economies of scale to equally compete with the nominal prices of imported produce and food. Therefore, in order for these humble farms to remain viable in this noxious economy, there needs to be a change in the seemingly immutable industry in addition to our personal daily lives. Talk about food for thought. Continue reading
During the whole stuck-in-limbo-at-an-airport ordeal, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches seriously ameliorated the unfortunate situation at hand; now, I’m hooked. While I’ve always loved the distinct and contrasting flavors and textures of these sandwiches, they only became a craze when I had the perfect banh mi sandwich – hitherto unrivaled. It was the classic and unmodified version, the image of sandwich perfection. It was love at first bite.
The sandwich is packed with amazing flavors that distinguish it from all other sandwiches. It typically consists of some sort of meat, garlic aioli, cucumbers, pickled daikon and carrot matchsticks, cilantro, and thin slices of jalapenos. It’s spicy, sweet, salty, cool, tangy, soft and crunchy all at once. You get the whole package all between a warm and crusty french baguette. Per history, these Vietnamese sandwiches exemplify French influence with an Asian twist. How can you resist?
Did I ever tell you that I love Fall? The cool, crisp air and the warm, rustling leaves. The gradually grayer skies, suddenly darker evenings, and colorful peacoats and wispy scarves. Did I also ever mention I live in.. Hawaii, where virtually none of this exists except for those who forsake their sanity in order to swagger in sweltering ugg boots? *sigh* Oh, how I miss having a full-fledged four season spectrum.“But, it’s Hawaii!” you exclaim.
Jealous? of me? Really?! I suppose the grass really is always greener on the other side.
At least I make do with what I have. Even though it’s not frightfully cold and I obviously don’t need to wear protective layers upon layers of clothing (since one thin layer seems to do just fine), I still feel the need to make heart-warming comfort foods according to the month or (physically absent) season. Better yet, I get to incorporate seasonal vegetables as well! Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. I just love the sound of that, don’t you? Slightly sweet, savory, lush, cheesey, soft, and crusty all at once. As if I didn’t emphasize how much I love pasta enough.
Ladies, let’s save the diets for post-New Year. Continue reading