Posts Tagged ‘taco’

No, Kim Jong Il hasn’t recruited me to do any work for the North Koreans — I’m staying as far away from that border as possible. I’m talking TB baby, the one run I could never resist, whether it be early in the morning or late night in Long Beach, zooming through the drive-thru to get my fix.

Oh, Taco Bell.

This pseudo-Mexican eatery was our first stop during our five-day trip to Seoul last week to celebrate Solnal 설날, or the lunar new year. The holiday fell on a Wednesday — Friday this year (woo hoo) so we packed our bags, hopped aboard a bus and spent the better part of a week in the north.

While Koreans around the country dined on tteokguk 떡국 (rice cake soup) and bowed to their eldest family members, Evan and I headed straight for Itaewon (aka foreigner’s heaven) for five days of non-Korean cuisine. Starting with the Mexican fast food joint everyone loves as it’s going down.

You see, T. Bell is right up there with Ice Cream Snickers as a debilitating weakness of mine — I know it’s bad for me, I know its going to beat up my tummy for a few hours, but I just can’t resist the ooey-gooey refried beans, orange cheese and all the fixins’. Disgusting but true.

We arrived in Itaewon around 2:30 PM, just as the lunch rush came through. I was shocked to see how popular the eatery was with not only foreigners, but Koreans as well. The fact that Taco Bell closed their original Korea locations in the early 1990s due to lack of interest, and now they have lunch lines that stretch out the door, really speaks to how the demographic of this peninsula has changed. Not only are there hordes of waygooks from all around the world that call Korea home now, but the locals have embraced culture from the west more wholeheartedly — including the greasy, deliciously fatty food.

The menu had all of the cheapo staples on it (burritos, tacos, nachos, etc.) and the “lite” menu was much more extensive, but I was more fascinated with the items I didn’t recognize. Nacho fries? Oh em gee.

Thank goodness I have spent the better part of my year in Jeonju, where foreign food is relatively hard to find, expensive and the choices are limited. Basically, Korean food is always your best bet here. But despite my Asian-inspired diet, better understanding of reasonable portions and the recent controversy over the legitimacy of T. Bell’s “beef product,” I not only ordered multiple items from the TB menu, but ate them all until I was beyond full — and enjoyed every last calorie-laden, nutritionally-devoid bite. I literally fulfilled dreams I’ve had about Taco Bell in the past few months.

After inhaling my taco supreme, nacho “bell grande” (nacho supreme) and bean burrito, it took approximately 20 minutes for my stomach to begin feeling like a rusty meat grinder, but it was worth it. So worth it. Honestly, I considered ordering more food before Evan gently reminded me that, at times, my eyes can be a tad bigger than my stomach — and by a tad, I mean I order enough food to feed an army.

On our last day in Seoul, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we returned to Taco Bell directly after eating lunch to buy more food for the ride home.

Oh, and I tried to steal a bunch of hot sauce to take back home with me, only to realize that the bins of condiments next to the soda machine were ketchup! Barf. The Koreans must be on to the American way of hording packets from fast food, so we got a designated amount of sauce — from behind the counter — with our meal.

I justified these fatty excursions, along with the rest of my gluttony during Solnal, with the fact that I was on vacation!

Only nine more weeks until I fulfill the rest of my foodie fantasies in America…


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Thanks to the lovely Christmas care packages we received from our siblings, Evan and I had more than enough supplies to plan a stellar Mexican food night, and just in time too because it had been so long…

I started the process by cooking up a few chicken breasts with some diced green chilies from California. Yum!

Next, I warmed up some refried beans — the first I’ve had in eight months. They were perfect, smooth and creamy. The buttery texture paired nicely with the chicken. My happy orange spoon helped keep them from sticking to the sides of the pan :)

For toppings, I kept it simple with sliced pepper jack cheese and diced cherry tomatoes. Ole!

Last, everything was wrapped up in a soft, warm flour tortilla. The final product was truly a taste of home — and comforting after a long day at school and the gym.

Speaking of which, I ran three miles without stopping for the first time this weekend. I brag only because eight months ago, I was terrified of treadmills, and avoided them at all costs. It may have taken twenty-five years, but I’m finally starting to like running! I’ve even started reading fitness/well-being blogs like the (never home)maker for motivation to keep moving in the increasingly cold weather. Who knew I would take such a priceless gift home with me from Korea?

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I have been a terrible blogger — forgive me, blogosphere! Between shouting at the World Cup in bars around Jeonju, and changes at school, I have barely had time to think, much less write.

This past weekend Radio Star — the bar where we have watched the majority of World Cup games — put on an outdoor festival called Riverstock. Since the festivities promised included art, live music and foreign food, Evan and I could not pass up the fun.

After a cab ride and a sweltering walk along the Samcheon River in an area of Jeonju we hadn’t seen, we arrived at the celebration.

We didn’t arrive to the festival until after 3 PM, so naturally we headed straight for the food. They had tacos (YES) so I went straight there, while Ev picked up some lumpia and other Filipino food to share.

Oh. My. Tortilla. The taco was scrumptious, with a fajita-like mixture of peppers, onions and chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese all rolled up in a handmade flour tortilla. It was delicious — chewy and crunchy all at the same time. The tortilla was so good that I am inspired to make my own here in the next coming weeks. I figure, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

After we filled our bellies, we wandered around looking at the different booths. People were selling everything from art and little crafts to clothing and handmade treats. A couple of expats teamed up with some local kids to play a pick-up game of soccer in anticipation for Korea’s big game that night.

Local bands provided great background music for the event. They rocked out on the stage, including one we saw at Radio Star between World Cup matches that favored Jack White songs. This band is pretty bad ass.

After wandering a bit, Smiley introduced me to a local chef from Italy who just happened to make his own ricotta. And sell it at the festival. With foccacia. And a tomato basil mixture. I could have died happy after tasting those three things together. So delicious. I scarfed it down.

As it happened, the crowd was a great mix of foreigners and locals. Aside from bumping into expats I’ve met before, we also were introduced to a lot of cool people we hadn’t met yet. One in particular, an artist named Nate, was a really cool guy. He had artwork on display that caught our attention.

Nate, from London, told us that he got the amazing texture with his art by making his own paper. The pieces on display were amazing — all inspired by Korea and different areas of Asia where he had traveled. We got to talking, and he said that while back at home he’d sell his work for 200 pounds apiece, here he sold them for 200,000 W (roughly $180)! Such a steal for his talent. This picture doesn’t even begin to do the work justice.

Evan and I got his email addy, and we’re going to set up a time to go over to his place and check out more of his Korea-inspired pieces. 200,000 W is a bargain for these pieces, and we’ve been looking for something special to take home and remind us of the time we spent here.e

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Okay, so it doesn’t exactly have the same ring as Taco Tuesday, but it works — it’s not like I can make it to Baja Sonora from Korea anyway!

After Katie’s package full of Mexican goodies came in the mail, I decided I couldn’t wait another day to chow down on some authentic south-of-the-border grub that I hadn’t really had up until this point.

During my break at school, I ran to E-Mart to pick up some beef. Since beef here is ridiculously expensive — the portion you see cost about $10 — we usually stick to chicken as our protein from the store. However, I needed carne asada for my tacos, and Korean beef is of exceptional quality. So I splurged!

After a long day at school and the gym, I diced an onion, and threw it in a pan with the beef.

As the onions and beef cooked slowly together, I took out the central ingredient to our dish — chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, sent all the way from the States.

I LOVE chipotle chiles. I love them. If there is ever a chipotle salsa in my vicinity, it is my first choice. It also is the central ingredient in William-Sonoma’s corn/avocado salsa I made this winter, which is another new favorite of mine. I chopped up a full pepper, seeds and all, and tossed it in with the beef. I added three or four spoonfulls of adobo sauce and little pepper chunks for good measure, along with a heaping pile of minced garlic.

Next, I lightly fried corn tortillas — also courtesy of Katie — in canola oil, and patted them dry. Once the meat was done, we piled the beef into the shells, topped with leftover mozzarella cheese from our dak galbi, threw on some cherry tomatoes and voila! Tacos!

Nom nom. So good! I will definitely appreciate these peppers and these tortillas while we have them, and maybe even get some new recipes under my belt in the process.

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