My day of real work starts Monday as I will need to prep myself so as to brief the 7 chef finalists to the Global Chefs Challenge on the wines they will need to pair with their 4 dishes. Will chat about my involvement and role in regards to the challenge tomorrow.
So Sunday, I was able to take it with ease first having a liesurely breakfast of asian(steamed fish cakes, various dim sum dishes), smoked salmon and only a small slice of sausage (David would be proud). Then I spent quite a bit of time composing my first WACS blog which appeared yesterday.
I then needed to go out and sightsee. Yesterday I mentioned that I would adventure in Daejeon without any Korean vocabulary and see how I could fend for myself. Well first the hotel did not have any English maps and second, any street maps were all in Korean. So not to my surprise, I managed to get lost a number of times. Well the third time turned out very well, as I landed in the Open Market where thousands of street vendors were displaying their wares for all to buy. And as in every market around the world, the noise was loud, filled with cries from spice merchants to fish criers; from butchers to gardeners.It was wonderful. But the sad thing was that I did not understand a single word. And what they are selling was astonishing; from fish most of which I had no idea of identification (but I did recognize that skate and octopus), to vegetables and roots that remained a mystery to me. And the other things, I could not even guess.
However what was most astonishing was that while there were thousands of people bartering, people continously stared at me not becasuse I was taking pictures but because I was the only westerner in the entire market area. I certainly felt conspicuous. And after spending a full two hours roaming up and down small alleys to see what I could see, it happened again. I managed to get lost! Try asking directions to a 100 year old vendor who is looking at you as if you just arrived from another planet!
But I finally managed to find my hotel and I was thrilled about my afternoon escapade.
So by 4pm and exhausted, I thought, what about a little snooze? I really try to understand when people tell me about a power nap. But come on, POWER NAP! For me a snooze is at least 2 hours long so 2.6 hours later and feeling refreshed, I headed down to the bar for a before dinner drink. A glass of wine I ask? Wine? Glass? The look of bewilderment across my server’s face told me everything I need to know. NO WINE! Well beer it was. Korean beer is mainly done in the lager style so I was recommended a Cafri, one well known Korean beer. As we have fun at Vines asking about what other names Tempranillo grape may have, this Cafri is actual another name for Corona-like beer. As light and tasteless. I felt like telling them that they should offer a slice of lime with their beer. But yes, David, it quenched the thirst.
Then headed off to their dinning room, which is really a all-day restuarant “The View”. There I met Rick Stephen(whom I mentioned sharing a limo with on the way from Seoul to Daejeon), his wife and serveral chefs also from Singapore but all of them Aussie lads.
The dinner to say the least was acceptable but certainly not memorable. My butternutsquash soup was perhaps the best thing there while my beef tenderloin was to say quite average. I was amazed to see Australian beef written on the menu, but I was quickly told to stay away from Korean beef. The chefs just shook their heads and let’s leave it at that. But the fun thing was when Rick asked me to choose the wine. When Mouton Cadet is their best French red at $60.00 per bottle and Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz at $80.00/bottle, I knew I was in trouble. I decided to pick the 2010 Santa Carolina Reserve Merlot as our wine for the evening. A Chilean red, a rather safe bet. But at $60.00/bottle, wine and liquor markups are extravagant. And then came the service to open the wine. As everyone at Vines know, I carry a corkscrew everywhere I go. Sibeal, my wife, insisted I bring 2 and luckily for me I did bring it to the restuarant. My assistance brought a smile to the server, bowing and thanking me. Whatever one can say about Koreans, they are polite.
We finally finsihed the evening back at the bar for a night cap. A cognac or a single malt scotch? Their bar list was impressive but what was even more astonishing is that while they offer their cheapest spirits by the glass, their better brands are only sold BY THE BOTTLE! So how about a 500ml bottle of Macallan 18 for $150.00 or a Hennessy XO for $240.00? I guess it’s beer for me please!
Tommorrow will be the start of my work week, so stay tuned for more!