Alas, we have finally started our 'ghetto gourmet' dinners in Seoul! A collective of crazy food lovers, chefs, and critics got together a few weeks ago to have another excuse to feast, get drizunk, and show off our skillz! For this series, we will be taking turns with writing an entry for each dinner...first up-Andy Joseph, good friend, one of the wittiest Brits I know, writer for TBS, and always knows how to just 'make you feel better'. Yup, that's our Andy! Seoul in the City is honored to have this first blog entry about our 'ghetto gourmet' dinner series spoken in his words...
A couple of weeks ago (Friday, the 22nd July) saw the inauguration of ‘Ghetto Gourmet’. Ten relatively normal, yet quite attractive, people getting together a few times a month and eating homemade food from fresh ingredients based around a theme. Our first theme…Mediterranean.
The host of the party (let’s call him Mr. Lee), and 3 or 4 other willing volunteers took up the mantle as ‘chefs’ for the evening. I would take up a more observational role where I would quietly sip wine in the corner watching others do the work. 'Too many cooks spoil the broth' is a saying I take VERY seriously. Plus, Mr. Lee has these fantastic sofas! They’re kind of brown corduroy that is sturdy enough to support you but also soft enough to fall into. I knew that even if the food sucked, the sofa would save the evening.
As the guests started to arrive and the kitchen was in full swing, the first dish was served. A beautifully presented bowl of hummus (I think it was a bowl. Not sure what the difference between a bowl and a curved plate is). Now, this wasn’t just any old bowl of crushed chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin and sundried tomatoes. No, no, no. This bowl of hummus had 6 different toppings – olives, jalapeno, chilies and some other olives….you get the picture. In fact, you can just look at the picture!
the hummus, olive, cheese, spread by the host himself: john lee
After scooping the curved plate/bowl clean of its contents using flat bread pitas, it was time for the mains. Wait, no. It was time for the second bottle of wine…or third. The wine was white…that I do remember. THEN it was time for the mains.
First off the block was spicy seafood pasta in a white wine broth. This wasn’t wine we’d drunkenly spilt on our pasta…it was part of the original recipe, I swear! And it was superb, and that’s coming from a guy who doesn’t eat seafood. Admittedly, I did avoid the flesh as it’s not my cup of tea. But the spaghetti and the broth were top notch, and from where I was the sitting (the brown corduroy sofa), all the guests seemed pretty enamored with it.
It’s that spice, you know…the one where it’s hot enough to make you sweat (sweat till you can’t sweat no more – Inner Circle lyrics from the song Sweat), but not too hot to take away the flavor. Good start to the mains.
After another wine break, the lamb made its long awaited appearance. Some of it done in the oven, some of it done in the pan, and the middle not done at all. The ex sheep-to-be was succulent, tender and quite simply delightful. The rareness of the meat may not have been to some people’s liking, but the fact that I wasn’t able to snag a second piece relays how good it really was.
Obviously we didn’t just thunder down chunks of lamb off our plates with our bare hands. That’s savage (yet so efficient). The lamb was accompanied by roasted broccoli covered in garlic chips with a squeeze of lemon juice and some pre-prepared peppers, which I have no clue how they were made but they had pine nuts in= good. That’s math they won’t teach you in the classroom. Pine nuts + peppers = good.
As the evening pattered on, I could sense something was changing in the room. The pace of the evening had slowed, people had retreated to the sofa (my territory), and everyone’s stomach had a little tiny bump. I drew upon all the intellect I could muster and came to two conclusions. Either everyone was getting full, or we were all slightly pregnant. Some may have been both. Either way, a late but cheerful arrival came through the door with a THIRD main course! And like the soldiers of fortune cookies we are, we got back to table and were treated to Turkish meatballs and couscous. You could tell the meatballs were Turkish as they all had a tiny red Fez on (best Turkish hat related meat joke I could come up with while avoiding being racist).
The task of eating this seemed initially daunting as the couscous was piled up into a pyramid about a foot high. But in fairness, it was light, fluffy and flavorful. The bits of Turkish meatball ground into it proved a great touch. I think some people may have found eating just a meatball at that stage of the evening too heavy. But like pet owners sneaking medicine into their dog’s food, we had been subtly nourished (could call it food rape…but I won’t)
And that ladies and gentlemen were the crux of what turned out to be a good night had by all…except one last detail of which I will not forget for a while.
sue, keeyeon, june, andy
keeyeon trying to get in on the action with sarah and sue...
sarah posing with 2 crazy boys...
at this point your wondering why keeyeon is in every freakin photo...
will this make youngwan jealous? hahaha
Ignorance should not be tolerated by society, unless it’s as funny as what I’m about to tell you. One of the guests brought a box of Turkish Delight to the dinner party. His first mistake was thinking that Turkish Delight belongs in the freezer! That made for an interesting dessert! But his biggest mistake of the evening was revealing that he thought Turkish Delight was a mythical food invented in the C.S Lewis Narnia series, more specifically The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. Moreover, when he saw the sweets, he still wasn’t sure if the food was based on the book or the other way around!!
All in all, food, drink, fun, friends, the Turkish Delight guy and a very comfortable sofa. Can’t wait to do it again.
As they say in Turkey…Goodbye?!
andy, sue, bobby, linus, sarah, john, keeyeon (not in the photos: june, youngwan)
ghetto gourmet: dining in the rough (part 1) menu:
hummus: john lee
roasted peppers, roasted broccoli, seafood pasta: sue park
lamb tenderloin with mint & basil pesto: sarah lee
couscous and turkish meatballs: june chang
dessert: bobby choy
and of course the most important...the booze: linus kim, keeyeon warren, youngwan ko, john lee, andy joseph