Seoul Was Awesome, Pt. 1 – Food!

I’ve never had bad Korean food. Maybe I’m just lucky in terms of selection or maybe, by some cosmic sleight of hand, one culinary tradition developed into a veritable BASTION OF DELICIOUSNESS and GIFT TO HUMANITY. After eating a ton of Korean food–from home-cooking to fast food to the best hanoo bbq–I think the latter explanation is far more likely.

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That’s why I’m dedicating an entire post to Seoul eats. While this trip was rich in discussions about Korean politics, history, and society, food was a big part of my trip and a great help in relating to Korean culture as a whole. I can’t wait to share these pictures and start talking about Korean food. To start us off on the right foot, I have featured the picture above from this delicious and allegedly famous mandu restaurant we pillaged in Buamdong.

ONWARD TO THE EATS!

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HAYMARKET – PASO ROBLES, CA

I resisted coming back to blogging, I really did, partially on the assumption that anyone googling their attorney might not care to be privy to, for example, said attorney’s rantings and ravings on a certain TUNA SALAD SAMMY from Haymarket in Paso Robles. But that’s what happened. I’m here to rant and rave once more. There’s too much good food in the world and the bar exam is over and done with (for now).

PLUS, I’VE BEEN ON ALL KINDS OF ADVENTURES. Over the summer I’ve been on a cruise with the fambam through Italy, Croatia, and Greece; I made a very special trip to Seoul to see my law school bestie; with a week and a half to go before the real firm job starts, I’ve been “staycationing” and enjoying the bounty of the Central Coast. POSTS ON ALL THAT TO COME.

But for now, Haymarket, a new sandwich, pastry, and foodstuffs market next to the Hotel Cheval in downtown Paso. It’s a complete treasure of a store with sour cream coffee cake, apricot tarts, James Beard award-winning ice cream, and a drool-worthy sandwich menu. They were sampling desserts, and you can bet I plowed through all of them.

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Haymarket is up against some stiff lunchtime competition, but they’re up to the challenge for the casual sando-seeker. You’ve got the flamboyantly innovative food smiths at Artisan and the uber-creative Thomas Hill Organics folks (who do NOT shy away from a pork belly or Asian fusion), for example, right around the corner. Still, Haymarket checks all the boxes WITHOUT putting on airs. Farm to table? A must. Locally sourced ingredients? As much as possible, with nods to Paper Cake macarons and Joebella coffee, to start. Curated specialty ingredients from other places around the US? Yes. Example: Haymarket carries awesome American Spoon, a midwestern preserves company I was fond of when I lived in Ann Arbor.

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I’d compare Haymarket to what might happen if my favorite food bloggers got together to prepare a meal: food that’s fresh, whole, comforting but always with an innovative twist, and PROPERLY PRICED ($11-12 per sammy).

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Haymarket portions of non-dessert food are also *gasp* NORMAL, as in a small to average sized person can leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed. The food is also what I like to call PROPERLY SPICED, aka the ingredients are flavorful/hearty/plentiful without approaching “decadent” which means you can eat Paso’s best without feeling lethargic and guilty later. Because the food is properly priced and spiced, Haymarket can safely become a weekly or tri-weekly habit. It’s elevated real-life food that will delight your palette without killing your waistline or wallet, a balance no other downtown Paso restaurant truly delivers.

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This is the curried tuna salad sammy on whole wheat (SUPER FRESH) bread I bought for $11 along with some tasty coffee. It was so, so perfect with granny smith apples and fat raisins. The people that work there are also really nice. They’re excited about their food and eager to talk about it in-depth.

2014-09-18 11.47.06This is the amaze-balls ice cream I referenced earlier. The saltiest, most delectable salted caramel ice cream I’ve ever tried.

 

That’s all for now! I intend to put up some pictures from Europe and Korea soon. Hope there are still some readers out there!

Liz

TEMPORARY HIATUS ANNOUNCEMENT – WAVING THE PROVERBIAL WHITE FLAG

I’m sure this wasn’t entirely unexpected, but bar prep has proved more than a match for my blog. Accordingly, I’m taking a temporary hiatus from authoring UMAMI LIFE in order to dedicate all my attention to preparing for this exam, which I am terrified I will not pass.

But, enough with the grim mood! There is still plenty of UMAMI about these parts since I have been and will continue to update my Insta feed @umamilife with all my culinary ventures! I update nearly every day, as play time in the kitchen constitutes the chief joy in my life under this study regimen.

People, the insta food will not suck. I plan out all my meals a week in advance and do designated recipe research and prep time; believe me when I say I have some cool dishes in store and they’re all clean eats that will serve your body and mind.

Lastly, I might be plotting a cheat day for next week or maybe even this weekend, if I’m feeling good! I’ve been absolutely monk-like in my dedication to clean eating, working out, and studying, so I’m thinking something extra naughty, like a fancy fancy burger from Thomas Hill or Artisan, or perhaps a big pork sammy from Fundaro’s Foodstream! Suggestions are welcome! 

I’ll still be following other blogs and trying to participate in the community. My return date will likely be in early August, as I will be anxious to get back and I have some awesome pre-work travel plans set for later in the year. I’ll be in Greece and Italy with the fam bam from August 1-7, and in Seoul visiting a dear friend from September 1-10. There will be pics; there will be extreme noms. I can’t wait.

Take care everyone! See you on Insta!

 

[PB/BANANA/HONEY/CINNAMON BENTO] – SPINACH SIDE SALAD W/ APPLES + FETA + BASALMIC

This is a very special bento because it was made for my little cousin Shelby, who is actually not so little anymore and is in fact an ass-kicking, name-taking SDSU student with a bossy PAID INTERNSHIP this summer at a maj company. I’m so proud. We decided to have a picnic to catch up and I said I’d make her a bento tailored to her tastes.

Top shelf (Left) – Peanut butter and banana sammy with honey and cinnamon on Ezekiel Sesame bread + dried apricots.

Bottom shelf (Right) – Spinach salad with feta, sliced apple, carrot, and balsamic glaze. 
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This bento has a bit of a funny story behind it. When Shelby and I were making plans, I asked her to specify food she really liked or disliked, just so I didn’t make anything too out of her range. She said bananas, peanut butter, and feta. Of course, I construed this to be her list of favs. It was actually her list of “that’s gross, don’t put that in my bento” items. I ended up whipping her up another sammy and some scrambled eggs (#savingtheday) and my mom ended up eating the bento for dinner, but does this lack of specificity on my end and confusion bode well for a certain EXAM COMING UP IN JULY?! FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS!

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I packed it up in this awesome Kapibarasan bento that I dug out of the pantry. It was definitely a long lost import from my time spent in Tokyo!

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Last thing: has anyone else been watching that kickass new World Wars series on the History Channel?! Yeah. I am totally addicted. They did a great job, even though they are giving Japan, Tojo, and the Asian side of the conflict way too little coverage. I’d definitely recommend it if you need some late-night, non-literary brain food.

That’s all for today. Hope your weekend is chalk full of brunch plans and exciting eats!

Liz

[WHAT I ATE WEDS] – MATCHA, HELLA NOODLES, AND UNI

It’s getting real around here, folks. I officially have a serial-killer-style wall in my room pasted up with hearsay exceptions, the Constitution, etc. But, all this stress has to go somewhere: I am working out and eating like a total champ. Here’s everything I ate on Monday.

Breakfast: Matcha smoothie and big cup of earl grey tea. That’s right, I need two sources of caffeine after 5:45am spin. I was inspired by this awesome recipe from Just One Cookbook, but my smoothie is a little more burly since I drink it as a full post-workout breakfast:

1 banana

3/4 cup almond milk

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp matcha (I like a ton of it, but you might want to cut back for more subtle flavor!)

2 big handfuls of spinach

1/4 cup oats

avocado honey drizzle

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 Lunch: Vietnamese-style salad with my own nuoc cham. Kate Blanchett is apparently unmoved. I posted about this salad the other day; you’ll probably see it even more often since I literally cannot get enough. It has snap peas and squash steamed then water-fried with soy sauce, garlic, and smoked herring. Other toppings = shredded heirloom carrot, green cabbage, sliced pickled ginger, mint, cilantro, with a lot of chili garlic sauce. Served over glass noodles.

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Afternoon snack: one Mt. Olive Persimmon & Walnut Nougat. Had to splurge. These are amazing and contain three ingredients. Forgive my unseemly unpainted nails.

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Dinner: Uni, Ikura, and Tamago Brown Rice Bowl at Crazy Sushi Fever. That’s right, I ordered something of my own devising off-menu. The chef seemed happy to comply, even offering to dress it up with some veggies. If you’ve ever been to Crazy Sushi Fever in Atascadero, you’ll know why I had to go this route. They’re a “fusion” restaurant with tons of deep-fried, overly-sauced rolls. I actually heard the server say “we can deep fry any roll on the menu.” Um, NO. Instead of drowning in flavorless grease, I decided to take this opportunity to eat hard-to-access ingredients, namely the ikura and uni. It was a big treat!

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We all went to see the new X-Men movie after, which I thought was a solid 7. I mean, there’s only so wrong you can go with MICHAEL FASSBENDER at the helm, AMIRITE?! I’m so steeped in X-Men lore and fandom that there’s no way I wouldn’t be on board, not to mention it was another opportunity to hang with my awesome cousins and Aunt! I’d spent the day studying for the bar so I was more than willing to fawn over anything remotely science-fiction related.

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That’s all for today! Please tell me about all the good eats in your life. I’d also love to get some suggestions for morning smoothies that have a Japanese edge! Would something with sweet red bean paste not be totally epic?!

Liz

[WEEKEND RECAP] – AND A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Although it may have been peppered with bar study, this weekend was undeniably lovely. Quality time was spent with friends, family, farmer’s markets and a farm, Thomas Hill Organics, as well as an alpaca with a truly appalling underbite.

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But first thing’s first.

Maj life announcement: Last week, I officially accepted an offer from a San Luis Obispo law firm. I’m staying in California and will be starting work in the Fall.  

I can’t wait to join the Central Coast legal community and fully immerse myself in everything this area has to offer. I admit that moving back to a smaller legal market–not to mention the county where I grew up–was not my original plan after law school, but SLO is growing quickly; it’s an exciting time to be a young professional here with so much economic movement and growth. And, these last few weeks especially have given me a real taste of everything I have to look forward to. It’s an amazing opportunity, I’m incredibly lucky to have received this offer, and I’m going to give it my all.

But that’s not the whole story. How could it be, in this historically dismal legal market? This offer did not just fall into my lap. There’s a wider context that desperately needs to be discussed by new law graduates, and that current and prospective law students alike need to hear. The old path of getting hired–get into a great school, work hard, make it through OCI without being too much of a derp–has been bulldozed for many students, as in given the full Fern Gully treatment. There are so few jobs available and so many smart, qualified graduates; to be frank, my top ten law school’s career planning office was not equipped to meet this challenge. I don’t think many  law students are, either. I believe it took a great deal of tenacity and creativity for me to secure my offer, certainly worlds above submitting my resume and sending a few follow-up emails. If anyone out there would like a separate post on my closing thoughts on law school and the current hiring market, please let me know. If you’re a law student and you’re struggling to find a job, please feel free to reach out to me directly at umamilife1@gmail.com I’d be happy to share a few thoughts or answer any questions you might have.

ON TO THE PICTURES!

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[VEG JIAJANGMYUN BENTO] – HIJIKI/ASPARAGUS BROWN RICE, SALTED DUCK EGG, KIMCHI + CABBAGE

Salted duck eggs and jiajangmyun, my most flagrant cross-culture combo that happens to TASTE LIKE THE THIGH OF AN ANGEL. I’ve been kicking it Korean style pretty frequently these days and the payoff has been high. I also didn’t mean for this bento to look like some kind of Frankenstein/Gumby hybrid. Not kawaii…

(1) Brown rice steamed with hijiki and asparagus

(2) Jiajangmyun, veggie style: purple potatoes, green squash, carrot, with some garlic and ginger.

(3) Salted duck egg, unadorned.

(4) Kimchi with sesame seeds, and a little green cabbage to fill space

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