Thursday, 26 November 2009

En francais... Seoul style

There's something to be said about globalization, isn't there? How lucky are we to live in a world where cultures are now so beautifully woven together, that you can indulge your senses to feasts from opposite sides of the planet, with ease?

I've had two experiences this past week, which sent me into sensory overload.

Le Saint-Ex in Itaewon, Seoul

T came to Seoul for a visit over the weekend, and decided to take me to Sunday brunch at her favourite French restaurant in Itaewon (the foreigner hub in Seoul), called Le Saint-Ex. It was a set menu, that came with an appetizer of soup or salad, an entrée, a dessert, and coffee.

The delicious salmon entrée

The meal itself was fabulous. I was craving a good salmon for months, realizing that I'd completely taken for granted the times when mum would bake me a few slices each week. But what was so amazing about that entire experience, was the fact that we were in Seoul... South Korea... eating brunch... at a French restaurant.

Of all the things I imagined doing here, this wasn't one of them. I can't begin to explain to you how it felt sitting in that restaurant early on Sunday afternoon, nibbling on a freshly baked baguette with REAL butter, while listening to smooth French jazz sailing into the air from the speakers. I could have very well been in the south of France, doing just the same... I never would have known the difference, I think. The bursts of reality only came each time our waiter showed up at the table.

A view of the desert table at Le Saint-Ex. There were about five options

Later this week, another friend and I decided to go in search of twinkly lights and Christmas trees, and found ourselves in Itaewon once again. The rest of the gang had headed over to a restaurant to enjoy an American thanksgiving meal, so the two of us (not being American) decided to have a Commonwealth evening.

Cue Tartine - another hidden gem in the back alleys of Itaewon -- a cozy cafe with a few tables, serving some of the best pies and 'drinking chocolate' in.... well, anywhere!

Tartine, in Itaewon, Seoul

B and I stumbled across this place on purpose. She'd read about it somewhere, and since we'd already had dinner at home, it was the perfect way to end our night -- with tarts, pies, and something called 'drinking chocolate' ... too tempting to pass up.

Our drinks arrived with instructions: "You have to keep stirring, otherwise it will clot," said the young Korean man, smartly dressed in a black French beret, clean uniform and white apron. B informed me that he might have also been the chef. For all I knew, I could have been sitting in a quaint French café in Paris, again. The only thing missing were the accents.

The infamous 'Drinking Chocolate'

B and I were in heaven. We each ordered a pie, split a cookie and indulged in our 'drinking chocolates', which, incidentally, tasted like... chocolatey nectar from the Gods. And boy did we ever keep stirring, not letting a drop of it go to waste... just to our waists!

The mixed berry pie and cookie, with beautiful plate decor

You'd think these two experiences would have left me confused about my actual location on this planet. But there's really such beauty in it, isn't there? When, in time gone by, would we have ever been able to say, "I ate Indian food in Toronto, Canada," or "One of my best memories of South Korea was when I indulged in pies at a French patisserie in Seoul"...?

Bizarre saying it, but definitely fortunate to have experienced it.

My Korean coworkers have often said I'm lucky. Not because they think I walk around with a lucky penny, or because they feel I win things wherever I go... neither of which is true.

They say so, because of, as they put it, my 'international background.'

I was born in India, raised in Canada, and now I'm living in Korea, experiencing the wonders of the east and west, in a city that's both traditional, and driving head first into the modern era.

If anyone is out there reading this, please listen... This is a good time to let yourself live. To let yourself feel alive!


Not by a long shot!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...