Hope you all are enjoying your vacay as much as I am…
I’m heading out to the Philippines today so for the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing things a bit differently…
I’ll try and post periodically from my travels and will be experimenting with a live tweet of my journey. Check back here and follow me on twitter @thatgr8little for the most up to date scoop!
Happy Holidays and happy New Year to everyone! See ya back here in 2012 :)
December 22: Festival of Light
Celebrate the 3rd night of Chanukah with Matisyahu’s Festival of LIght Tour. Tonight is the the beat-boxing Hasidic reggae artists last night of Jewish holiday music in Williamsburg before heading up the East coast. For tickets and full event info click here. Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North Sixth Street, Brooklyn, 718 486 5400
December 22: Champagne Anyone?
Tonight Maslow 6 will be hosting a free tasting of 14 Grower Champagnes.Their consulting wine director will be on hand to talk vino and answer any questions. RSVP here. Maslow 6 Wine Shop, 211 West Broadway, 6- 8PM
December 23: Chanukah vs Christmas
Burlesque bombshell Miss Astrid hosts a night where the smut knows no religion. On the docket: Prizes, beer, and pictures with dirty Santa. Buy your $8 tickets to the event hosted by Southpaw here. 125 Fifth Ave, Brooklyn, 718 230 0236, doors open at 8PM.
December 24: Matzo Ball
Make your bubbe happy and find that special someone at this Jewish singles event. A holiday in its own right, the 25th Annual Matzo Ball takes place on Saturday, December 24,2011, and promises to deliver a night of high-energy, networking and matchmaking for singles ages 21-49. Capitale, 130 Bowery, 9PM- 2AM, $30 tickets here.
December 24: Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise
Celebrate Christmas Eve on the water this year with close-up views of the City’s skyline, separated only by glass windows and water, and supplemented by an elegant experience of creative plated dining prepared fresh on board with outstanding service, as can only be experienced aboard the all-glass Bateaux New York. There will also be a wide variety of live music for dancing. Board 7:45PM, cruise from 8:30- 11:30PM. For more information, or to book, click here. Pier 61, Chelsea Piers 23rd Street @ Hudson River, 866 817 3463
December 28: I’ll Have Some Beer with that Trivia
If you’re craving a little R&R in the midst of the holiday craziness, head to Craftbar to unwind with some trivia, wine & food. On offer will be wine and beer for $7 and eggnog for $9 as well as a sampling from Chef Lauren Hirschberg’s menu. Admission is $32; to reserve a space, e-mail Natalia Ribbe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Craftbar, 900 Broadway, 7- 9:30PM
In 2007, the summer after graduating from college, I decided to move to Korea. Known for having “ants in my pants” my decision to move to a foreign country did not shock anyone. My decision to move in order to teach English did. I had always felt the urge to explore and a deep desire to see the world. I was lucky that for study abroad I was able to participate in the Semester at Sea program in which I got to travel the globe. While this opportunity was enormous, I still envied my friends that got to live and really get to know one place and one culture. My choice to move to Korea was an easy one. I fell in love with Asia on my SAS journey and knew I wanted to go back. From there, while playing at the beach in Thailand is amazing, living in a rural village was a little more desolate than I had in mind. That left East Asia. China was a little dirty for my liking and Japan a little to expensive. That left the Republic of Korea.
Finding a job teaching in Korea was quite the easy task. All one needed to get a English teaching position was a college degree and that English be your first spoken language. To make the process even easier, numerous recruiting companies help place you according to your preferences while charging you nothing (the schools get charged one month of your salary)*. I enlisted the help of Gone2Korea to guide me through the process. Teachers have the choice of teaching in public or private schools. The former pays more and offers a better vacation plan but generally require a little experience in the teaching arena. Private institutions on the other hand, offer a larger foreign teacher staff (important for meeting people) and require less prior experience from their employees. Clearly, the private school system was for me. After a brief phone interview (schools want to hear your accent to make sure the like it) and submission of picture (again, the Koreans want to be sure of who they are hiring) and the job was mine.
Two weeks later I was on a plane to Seoul, a ticket fully paid for by my new school, ECC Mapo. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the airport and brought to my new apartment- again paid for by ECC. The salary for an English teacher is Korea isn’t to shabby. Depending on their specific qualifications teachers can make anywhere from $1800- 2400 USD per month. Add on top of this a month severance, pension plan and fully paid living expenses many people are able to save quite a bit.
For most teachers, money is the reason they find themselves in Korea. For me, it was more the experience, but the money certainly did not hurt. Canadians by far made up the large majority of expat teachers, with most of my friends hailing from the jolly green north. While everyone may have varying backgrounds the one common thread was that everyone was their to have the time of their lives. The year I spent in Korea did not disappoint.I had always assumed that the drinking, eating and social aspects of my experiences would be the highlights of my stay. My routine as an English teacher in Korea was easy. I had to be at the school by 10:40 AM, class at 11 and done by about 7PM (after kindergarden I taught a few older classes as well). This late start provided ample fuel for going out all night. Teachers who only taught older students didn’t begin teaching until around 2PM and were generally wrapped up by 9 PM. Dinner and a night out at the clubs were de rigueur- going home before 4 AM was seen as an early exit. The food was good, the friendships strong and the excitement never-ending. Life in Korea was, simply, awesome. My time there and the friends I made have become an important piece of my history. However, to my surprise, it was teaching that changed me forever.
Not such the fan of children before, I had assumed teaching would be my daily dread. I mainly taught kindergarten while I was there and these five-year-olds will forever have a place in my heart. The experience of teaching someone the skill of language is an accomplishment I’m not sure many can surpass. Everyone asks if I speak Korean and the straightforward answer is “no”. Undoubtedly, their next question is how I taught a language without speaking their language. Strangely, it’s pretty simple. If you start speaking to young children, eventually, they just begin to understand. Of course I had lesson plans and audio tapes but the majority of my teaching was simply done through speaking. To this day, I don’t know how these kids did it, but they were able to learn English without my knowing a stitch of Korean. Through speaking I was able to change each child’s life forever- giving them the base knowledge of English that would help them for the rest of their schooling and future careers. Together we laughed, we fought, we grew and became our own little family.
I grew to love each and every one of my students and know they loved me in return. I think about them often, about returning, about teaching. I know I will never be able to recreate my time in Seoul, nor do I want to. But I would give anything to see my students again and see the beautiful and smart young children I have no doubt they have all become. As much as I was able to teach my kiddies, they taught me a whole lot more.
*Regulations for forgeigners wanting to teach English in Korea have changed since I was there. Apostilled criminal background checks and a health statement are now required. Any recruiting company will guide you through the new process.
The tradition of a festive Chinese meal on Christmas has become a genuine Jewish New York tradition (see my post about it here). Below you’ll find your guide for some traditional and not traditional restaurants to enjoy this Christmas holiday. Jewish or not, Chinese on Christmas has become a part of New York’s fiber.
Fatty Crab: both outposts of the popular Pan- Asian eatery will be paying homage to the tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas. Be sure to try their pork steam buns and wonton soup which will be a part of their Christmas menu among other traditional items. 643 Hudson Street, Sat 11- 2 AM, Sun 11- 12 AM 212 352 3592 or 2170 Broadway, Sat 12 PM- 12 AM, Sun 12- 10 PM, 212 496 2722
Mile End: For the second year now, the Quebecois are celebrating the “traditional Jewish Christmas” their way with Montreal-deli-inflected Chinese dishes. They’ll be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, offering a $50 prix fixe that includes Szechuan pickles, beef noodle hot pot, smoked trout Rangoon, smoked meat sesame bun, and Peking duck, among other dishes. If you can’t make it this Christmas, Mile End will be offering the meal once a month for 2012. 97A Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, Fri 7 PM & 9 PM, Saturday 12 PM 2PM 4 PM 6 PM 8 PM, call 646 494 9508 for reservations
Shun Lee West: Visit the Chinese food restaurant superstar on their busiest day of the year to catch a glimpse of original Jewish Christmas tradition. 43 West 65th Street, Saturday 11:30- 12 AM, 212 595 8895
Queens Kickshaw: Head on over to Astoria for the restaurants Woks and Lox celebration. Their Christmas Eve dinner will feature Jewish-Chinese fusion like shiitake-ginger matzo-ball soup, potato and scallion wonton pierogies, and ginger sriracha wok-fried bagel strips; entertainment includes a Chinese auction, Mah Jong, a Bar Mitzvah-esque sign-in board, and liquid courage courtesy of He’Brew and Queens Kickshaw’s bartenders who will be whipping up drinks like the “Double Happy Five Spice Hot Mulled Manischewitz”. Click here to buy your tickets which range in price from $28- 59. 40-17 Broadway, Queens, Fri 5- 9PM, 718 777 0913
Kutsher’s Tribeca: Keeping with the restaurants Jewish-American theme, Kutsher’s will be offering a $39 three course price-fix dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Think matzo ball wonton soup, Szechuan beef, char sui glazed salmon and steamed veggie buns amongst other options. If you’re out of town like I will be but still want to partake in Jewish Chiense Christmas, this feast will be offered every Sunday from here on out. Mazal! 186 Franklin Street, Fri & Sat 5:30 PM- 12 AM, 212 431 0606
Now- December 17: No Time to Shop?
Well now you do. Welcome the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Through Saturday, shop your night away with over 100 indie crafters, chefs, designers and musicians that will be selling their wares until 1 AM. Now you have no excuse not to pick up a little something for the loved ones in your life. 149 Kent Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 5PM- 1AM
December 17: Oh Hannukah Oh Hannukah, Let’s Light the Menora
Now – December 18: for the man in your life
The smart, men’s e-tailer, Park & Bond opens a Meatpacking pop-up with the equally smart men’s magazine GQ. The store will stock pieces from the magazine’s annual “Best Stuff of the Year” package, plus shoes, watches, grooming products and more. Park & Bond, 414 West 14th Street
December 16: pop-ups here, pop-ups there, pop-ups everywhere
The family behind Marlow & Sons, Diner and Roman’s want to get everyone into the Christmas spirit this weekend. They will be hosting a holiday bazaar at their gallery space located on 81 Broadway. In addition to their infamous food there will be jewelery, reaths, clothing, natural skin care, moccasins and more to peruse and purchase. Marlow & Sons, 81 Broadway, Williamsburg Brooklyn
December 17: MLD: Major League Dreidel
Join the competition for the world’s heavy weight spinoff this Saturday at Brooklyn’s the Knitting Factory. Tickets range from $10-15 and are well worth it for a chance to witness the greatest Dreidel fuel in history. Click here for tickets and full event information. The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg, 6:30 PM
December 18: the stuff dreams are made of
Chefs Bernard Guillas, Fanny Gerson and others will be at Sueños this Sunday for a book signing party complete with five course dinner. Call 212 243 1333 to secure your $75 reservation. Sueños, 311 West 17th Street
December 20: a pop-up to take advantage of
On December 20, Chef Michael Colletti, of Le Cirque and Mai House, is hosting a one-night pop-up at Dozzinos, focusing on local, rustic Italian food all coming from the restaurant’s fired oven. Reservations can be made directly through the chef at email@example.com. The dinner runs $40 per person; red and white wine and seasonal Bellinis are included. Dozzinos, 534 Adams Street, Hoboken, New Jersey
Many tourists don’t travel to Korea and many of those that do, go for the food. The perfect culinary destination, the dishes offered throughout the country are authentic, unique consistent throughout. Often served hot- both temperature and spice wise, Korean food is healthy and will awaken ones taste buds. One of those dishes, and probably my favorite, is jjimdak: braised chicken, vegetables and noodles served in a spicy soy based sauce.
Unlike most restaurants in the states, those in Korea specialize. Traditional eateries only serve their specialties- one or two dishes they make best. When going out in a group for dinner, what you’ll eat must be decided on before. To say the least, it makes ordering once your there pretty quick and easy. Jjimdak restaurants are easy to find in Seoul but finding your favorite can be a much harder task. Though most jjimdak served is fairly similar, the slight variances down to which vegetables or size of noodles a restaurant uses can really make the personal difference. Luckily for me, my favorite was right around the corner from my apartment. Unluckily for you, as far as I could tell, my jjimdak joint had no name. From my old apartment I could direct you there but for those reading this, that is of no help. Instead, you’ll have to go out and find your own jjimdak and sample a few places til you’ve picked your favorite.
If you do not live in Korea, that will be the hard part. I have been back from Korea for almost four years and in that time have been unable for find any restaurant that serves my beloved dish. Every time I meet a Korean food insider I ask, but to no avail I am still unsuccessful in my journey. At this point I’m considering flying back to the jjimdak homeland just to have a bite. If someone can tell me where to find some jjimdak in the tri-state, a dinner there for the two of us is on me.
I have a sneaking suspicion my mission may not be completed so easily. In that case I guess I’ll have to attempt to make mine own. If you want to give it a whirl, here’s how:
1 medium size chicken cut up (about 2 pounds of cut pieces)
2 medium potatoes
1 medium carrot
1/2 large onion
3 -4 mushroom caps (shittake, white, or baby bella)
3 – 4 dried whole red chili peppers (optional)
1 – 2 green chili peppers or jalapenos (optional)
3 ounces starch noodles
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce (preferably dark) – use more if using light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (if not available – use a little more soy sauce )
2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Soak the starch noodles in warm water while preparing the other ingredients for at least 20 minutes. Drain before using.
Clean the chicken and cut into small pieces (2 to 3-inch sizes). Trim off fat. Cut the vegetables into large chunks. Mix all the sauce ingredients up to the water. The last three ingredients are to be added at the end of the cooking process. Set aside.
In a large pot, place the chicken pieces in a single layer. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Add dried whole red chili peppers if using. Cover, bring to a boil, and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and onion. Continue to boil over high heat, covered, for an additional 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced to about 1/3. This seems like a lot, but the potato and starch noodles will soak up a lot of the liquid. Stir in the corn syrup, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Gently mix in the green chili peppers (or jalapenos), scallions and starch noodles and continue to cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes.
Missed LivingSocial’s great deal for Mount Snow? No worries, I’ve got another one for you courtesy of Killington. Run to Costco and grab a pack of 5 five day passes for a paltry $290. The tickets which usually run $86 each are good any day, including holiday weekends. Not a member? Even after the $55 you’ll spend to become one, this deal is still a steal (the superstore will also fully refund your membership at any point if you are not happy with it, fyi).
For those of you who haven’t heard, Killington is a world class resort located just five hours outside of NYC in Killington, VT. The resort houses six mountains, 140 trails and over 70 miles of terrain. With an extensive lift network featuring two high-speed gondolas that service everything from groomed cruisers to classic New England tree runs to parks, pipes, bumps and steeps there is something for every level skier or boarder to enjoy. After a day on the slopes, hit the town of Killington and enjoy the numerous restaurants and bars. For a truly unique dining experience make a reservation of the Ledgewood Yort. The five course price-fix dining adventure there will introduce you to a bevy of local ingredients hand picked daily by the restaurants executive chef. For something a little more low key, make your way to the Wobbly Barn, a perennial mountain favorite. Night owls should be sure to check out the Pickle Barrel for nightly live shows or the Nightspot if you want to dance the night away.
If you get your hands on some passes and make it out to the mountain, let me know. I’ll be there MLK weekend thanks to this deal. Ride on.
Ledgewood Yort, call 802 422 6998 for reservations and operating dates. 21+
Wobbly Barn Steakhouse, 2229 Killington Road, Killington, VT 802 422 6171
Pickle Barrel, 1741 Killington Road, Killington, VT 802 422 3035
Nightspot, 2841 Killington Road, Killington VT 802 422 9885
Photography to say the least, is a passion of mine. I travel, I eat and I photograph and that’s about it. The images that grace the pages of National Geographic are some of my all time favorites. The photographs capture a moment and a life bringing to the viewer a glimpse of another world. Aware of my love of National Geographic photography and coffee table books my dad bought me Work: The World in Photographs, a National Geographic collection of images.
As I was flipping through the pages, much to my surprise, I found an image of a man I myself had taken an almost identical image of. The photograph by Anne Keiser predated mine by almost 20 years. Though the surrounding market had developed, the bagel seller of Suq ez Zeit in the Arab Quarter of Old Jerusalem had not changed much. Nothing more than a few cosmetic changes here and there but the man was essentially the same- down to the pen in his left chest pocket.
Many people give the credit of a photograph to the photographer themselves; most assume that it is the photographer that successfully captures the moment. Maybe instead, credit should be given to the substance of the shot. For it is the subject itself that somehow embodies the moment and life we strive to immortalize and urges others to capture it.