Stop going to Starbucks and support the local Gwangju coffee shops.
Today's find: Cafe Jeje. Downtown near Hollys Coffee (down from the Burger King, around the corner from the big Starbucks and TomnToms.) See my map of the New-To-Me Gwangju.
Fabulous list of drinks and desserts.
The lavender tea was amazing. A glass pot with tiny 'shot' glasses to sip from. Organic teas are also on offer. The espresso compana was wonderful - light whipped cream and make my hair stand on end espresso. The cherry tea was a hoot. It was as bright red as marachino cherries with some of them floating around in the tea too!
I remember when this place used to be a 'resto-hof'. I went in for an afternoon coffee, shelled out 3,000 won for a watery hazelnut, and then endured the smoking of two ajossi's at another table. I remember thinking - this place is so cool, great place to people watch of the streets below, and it was a smoke-gagging, over-priced waste of money and experience. Now it has been transformed into a hip space with lots of good light, design details, and jigsaw puzzles. J'adore!
After trying two Korean restaurants which wouldn't serve me a single portion of kimchi tchigae, I went to a little place that I have been meaning to try forever. Casa Carino (see map) near Chosun University is a cute place, great exterior facade, trellis of plants, groovy bike with basket parked out front. I've gone in before but they only serve dongkas. I enjoy pork cutlets, but am trying to not eat meat or fried foods. Since I was looking for some pork in my tchigae, I decided to go off the rails and try this little place.
Maybe because it has been so long since I tried dongkas, but this was the most amazing one I have had ever! Their menu also offered salads, rice dishes, desserts (brownies!) and imported canned soft drinks. The interior is simple and kitschy. My meal was a hoot. Two tator tots. I love them but they (meaning all Korean restaurants) only seem to serve 2 or 3. A lovely mini salad of sprouts and greens with a yogurt dressing. Tiny dish of kimchi and another of rice with sesame seeds; udong served in a mug. A triple side dish of fried tofu, scrambled eggs with veggies, and a lovely tofu mixture with spinach and green onions. I generally hate sauce in Korea since everything usually ends up swimming in it. But this sauce was wonderful and the bread crumbs - or more like rice crumbs - it was a very Japanese or twigum like coating, was cooked to perfection. The pork itself was nicely tenderized and not to thick or thin. Just right. I loved the little maruska dolls on my utensils too.
This is a new to me roasting house in the little restaurant village in Jisandong on the way up to Mudeunsan. It's the crazy corner where I always think that I will get killed and now inhabited by a cozy little roasting house. (See map).
I don't usually like cafe mocha, but I wanted something a little sweet and with whipped cream. Wow, did they deliver. It took forever to get my coffee, but I was there to hang out more than just drink my coffee. But what the barista served me was an amazing concoction. The whip cream - chocolate. It was like the perfect mocha taste from Paris Baguette mocha cream stuffed bread dolloped on toppa my mocha.
It was a busy little place, mostly for coffees to go. Slow service, but the barista gets nervous if he can't make a coffee every two minutes, so you are sure to get a great cup for the wait!
The restaurant's name is "I'm Home." Excellent little brunch place like Podong Cafe near Bongseondong Emart. (See map.)
Huge amount of food for the price (11-13,000 won).
Fabulous coffee served with freshly baked mini cinnamon bread. The place smells heavenly. I loved the windows and the ginormous cup and saucer planter.
I had the hashbrowns. My friend had the french toast. The hashbrowns were a bit too gluey for me and had onions in them - yuck. But I was surprise that I liked the sausage (even the mustard on it). Fabulous green salad (with a slice of pineapple!) served with perfectly cooked scrambed eggs and bacon that was adequately cooked! The french toast was the cinnamon bread cut texas-style. But no maple syrup; intead only a clear sugar syrup was served with it.
All of the meals are huge for the price. The table next to us ordered two dishes but it could have served 5 people.
Previously I mentioned AMURT for donations for immediate relief assistance, May Center's Filipino food fundraiser (plus I found out that Dr Yun of May Center is going a contingent of other Korean doctors who are going this weekend to help with Doctors Without Borders), a couple who is fundraising, and the Gwangju Filipino community who has streamlined donations from Gwangju to get to the Filipino embassy who will send things over for relief.
Now the expat community in Gwangju has started two more fundraisers.
1. The GFOG (Global Families of Gwangju) have Christmas party (Dec 8) at First Alleyway. At the event they will also be raising money for the Philippines.
2. A benefit dinner and performance (Nov 22) will also be held at Song's German Bar. Here are the details from their Facebook event:
Over 30 performers from Philippines, New Zealand, Soweto, Australia, USA, Korea and elsewhere. Over a dozen cooks making Filipino food, and International cooks from all over. 20,000 Won suggested donation, on a sliding scale. Traditional, Modern, and Belly Dancing, live Bands and Singers. If you can't come, stay tuned for a receiving bank account for donations. Help Save a life. Open your Heart and Open your wallet. Be an agent of hope, bring friends and co-workers.
Donations will benefit those in outlying areas, away from the bulk of support that's already in Tacloban. At least five people who live here have family or friends that are, as of now, missing. Members of the organizing committee have surviving family members who will distribute the food directly.
Thanks to Mr. Song for making his venue available for this important event.
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN GENEROUSLY UNDERWRITTEN BY THE GWANGJU INTERNATIONAL CENTER, SO COME ON GIC FOLKS, LET'S MAKE IT BIG.
Clear your Chakras. Explore your connection to the Universe. Be vibrationally excellent.
Sound funky and weird? Too new-agey for you? Well, I suppose for some it is. But I find chakra focus and practice to be something that helps me balance in my 빠리 빠리 (bali-bali or fast) life in Gwangju.
Over the summer I will lead meditation sessions that focus on the seven main chakras. Check out the 7 Chakras for Beginners)
Here's a taste of the session's pace.
And the letter he never heard.
Dear Mayor Kang:
Please give GIC a home. I have benefited so much from GIC in the past 10 years that I have been in Gwangju and hope that others can also benefit from GIC in the future. To see it close or be further marginalized than it already is, is a sad and depressing thought. GIC helps in so many ways that are unrecognized by its statistics.
Numbers don’t show how important GIC is to the Gwangju community. GIC is the glue that keeps all foreigners and Koreans working together towards a common goal of building a strong community. GIC is doing the real work of international diplomacy at a grassroots level.
A hagwon boss doesn’t pay someone, the police need help with translation (even your office has requested translation services), a foreigner wants to share their hobby or interest through a dance class or chess club. Where would these people go? Church? Facebook? A translation company operating out of Seoul?
GIC helps those that others can’t, won’t or don’t help. GIC helps all the foreigners that don’t fit into an easily defined group. If I am married to a Korean, there is a group to join which the government will recognize with support and money. If I am from a specific Asian country, like China, I can be recognized in a group by the government. If I am a single woman of 46 years of age who happens to be American and teaches in English but doesn't teach English, where is my group? How does the government recognize me and other misfits like me? Gwangju city government recognizes me and other misfits by supporting GIC. Thank you. Please continue your support by paying for GIC’s move and rent.
We have done so much with so little for so long. We have been so grateful for even the less than optimal situation in Jeonil Building. We have suffered through flooding, poor heating and ventilation, even canceling and moving Korean language classes because the building was not a safe environment for learning. We have not just made due with Jeonil Building, but let our community soar with the shared determination to offer more, better, kinder opportunities for exchange within the Gwangju community despite the difficulties of the building. While the rent was low and the government kindly covered it for us, the space that we currently utilize is still too small for the demands of the community and the possibility of growth of the international community as we go forward into the completion of the Asia Culture Complex and the 2015 Universiade Games.
Please, we need Gwangju City Hall’s financial support. And we need you to be our advocate for our move and rent in a new location.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to present GIC’s difficult circumstances. I hope that you will see the importance of underwriting our rent and move.
GIC Member (10 years)
GIC Board Member (7 years)
Chosun University Public Administration & Social Welfare Visiting Professor (2012 – present)