Kimchi fried rice topped with egg and a simple, comforting soup. I love breakfasts like this, nothing too fancy, something that doesn't break the routine of the people you're staying with, something that gives.. the illusion of home. That you're one of them.
So despite the fact that it was a Sunday, I nonchalantly planned a vague itinerary for the day, expecting nothing unusual.. the perfect description of an event that precedes a tragedy. So the bomb that was dropped was all the more devastating. The people I stayed with, informed me that it was going to be -10degrees . Celsius for clarity. I'm not ashamed to admit I gaped like a fish in utter disbelief. 10 degrees below the zero... wah? I live in Sydney where 10 above the zero is considered freezing.. so what..? I was fully convinced that the weather app on my phone was broken. So I gulped, scrapped away any activity that involved a lot of walking between destinations and wholeheartedly decided on spending my days in cafes, buying lattes to idly sip away as I pretend that it couldn't be that cold. They reassured me that such places would be open, when do people in Asian countries take breaks? And braved the cold with false high spirits, a heat pack and a pathetic unadapted for cold weather Sydney coat.
I had a few places in mind. First on the list was Sinsa, well known to be the place where ladies can gather in between shopping to recuperate with doses of sugar. I was looking for Desertree, a dessert cafe, only to be informed that it wasn't open! And even ten minutes in such dastardly cold does things to you, my hands had turned red from the cold and looked capable of snapping at an unexpected time. I would've enjoyed the sights of Sinsa more had I not thought I was going to have frostbite.
Jiyugaoka has cakes that are baked on site but its qurirky exterior is definitely a showstopper.
Bloom and goute cafe, very aptly known for its flowers and desserts. However, the price of the brunch menu which averaged around 15,000won a dish, made the tear tracks on my face freeze into ice so I continued to brave the cold.
bloom and goute
545-24 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(35-1 Apgujeong-ro 10-gil)
Finally succumbing to the bone numbing cold, I acquiesced and stumbled into Deux Amis Patisserie. Sighing in delight at the heaters, I abled over to the cake display.
Another selfish reason why I wanted a friend. Divide and conquer. I had the hardest time deciding on which to devour.
In the end, the Strawberry Tiramisu Tart and the Caramel Cake won out.
Only abetted by its tiny macaron companion. Despite intimidatingly bearing the title of caramel, it isn't all too rich, and I preferred it over the Strawberry Tiramisu Tart.
Bearing the title of tiramisu, I expected the taste of coffee as an unusual complement to the strawberry. I was solely disappointed. It tastes good, of course, but nothing revolutionary.
Surrounded by friendships relishing in each other's company away from the cold .. (honestly, why are there people out??), a lump formed in my throat and I knew I had to move on.
Deux Amis Patisserie
535-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
... to Itaewon. It's no surprise that this place that boasts the most diverse of eating options also tempts with must visit cafes. But the one that easily, hands down, resulted in this day being a 'failed cafe hopping trip', a title that I bestow most gleefully is that it blows its competition directly out of the water. I intended on hitting at least 5 cafes proclaimed to be the best by the internet, only to concede that Passion 5 soundly trumps all, and I am not leaving this place thank you very much. You only have one cafe, and two hours, ignore everywhere else and goddamit, get your ass to Passion 5.
Looks like your typical corporate building.
Oh hey little birdy, I see you.
I feel obliged to warn you before you dive right in and sue me for malicious cause of cardiac arrest. Not only is Passion 5 seriously chic, under one roof, it provides 5 different categories of gastronomy. Gelato, bakery take out, patisserie, cafe and chocolatier.. oh and a restaurant on the upper level.Yes, it is every bit as magical as it sounds. This, was the heaven, my reward, for daring to leave the apartment on the day that Hell froze over.
Our first passion, or sin, is the cafe. A bit pricey as you can tell, oh but we are quite literally at the tip of the iceberg.
So you pick up a tray .. and try not to drop it.
Strawberry cream boats.
A CHEESE SECTION. CHEESE. CHEESE, A tad pricey but it exists!
Beautiful, beautiful apple tarts.
Macarons and prettily packaged biscuits!
Pecans, almond pralines.. ??? I'm sorry, I'd like to trade in all my organs in return for simply a large stomach thank you.
Delicious, delicious foccacias.
This is simply put.. carb heaven.. forget your healthy lifestyles! Fling aside your morals and plunge headfirst into the floury goodness.
And even more mesmerising cake display. It's official, when I die, I want this as my casket. And for such beautiful cakes, they aren't too expensive!
Just look at that painstaking detail! I definitely chose the best out of the litter. Another thing that warmed my heart was that everything seemed to be made on site as well! Excellent! It has a tiny chocolate tube to mimic a stem.. what is life anymore?
I certainly did not expect the interior of the cake of the cake to be anything elaborate, but I was pleasantly surprised. A cream sponge with an apple pie like filling.. bury me with this.
Very pretty, but next to Snow White's poisonous apple, it pales in comparison. But still delicious!
Using kakao talk (Am I Korean yet? Ahaha), my friend informed me that he was planning to join me... a full hour later. Err. So in order to stay, I nursed a hot chocolate (because I can't stand coffee) for a better part of 40 minutes.
Another pleasant surprise, made with melted dark chocolate, the perfect sweetness.
So after the friend arrived, it was time for unrestrained eating. Hey, I offered to halve, slightly begrudgingly, I'm not ashamed to admit. But he denied it and probably gazed in awe at my gluttony.
Squid ink foccacia with tomatoes and feta! Uh huh, yeah, I'm a sucker. I knew that squid ink has a notoriously mild flavour but I had to! It was alright, a nice savoury change however. The strawberry cream boat was pretty good, strawberries in Korea and Japan are magical! But the real showstopper was the berry custard tart in its rightful place, in front and on top! Oh my god. This is what I'm definitely recreating.
My own glut can astound me sometimes. So after asking if I should have gelato and insistently prompted, yes I had the gelato. Yes, when it was -10 degrees outside I realise that. But don't forget, on the coldest night I had a 32cm soft serve ice cream cone.
Sure salted caramel sounded fantastic.. If I wanted to accelerate the effect of Snow White's apple. So I opted for a rarely seen flavour, green grape. Refreshing and it came with a tuille! How fancy! Probably swayed by my shameless stomach, my friend cave and snatched up coconut. And now with nightfall baring its fangs and the cold becoming more and more undesirable, we headed back.
This place is a bit pricey, but if a place like this had opened in Sydney, it would easily be double this price.
272, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (literally a 3 min walk from Hangangjin station)
Putting Seoul's home delivery to the test. A dinner of fried chicken. Dry but joyfully crispy. And I settled down, swathed in blankets, cradling a stomach that had suspiciously tripled in size.