Stripping…

June 21, 2009

… chicken, that is. And what were YOU thinking, my fellow perverts?

Once again, we must wonder why I, Yupgi Girl, pick time-consuming food past-times. This time, it’s not potatoes, but chicken.

I have a favorite chicken shop here in Vienna, and I go there so often that the owners know me and greet me with my favorite chicken. They sell great grilled and fried chicken, which, to me, is an amazing fact in itself. Normally, a place will do delicious fried chicken but mediocre grilled, and vice versa. But this shop’s got the whole nine yards. When one of my favorite foodies came to visit from the States last week, I had to take him to the shop.

As you may or may not know, Vienna is famous for its food called the “Wiener Schnitzel.” Read: Veener, not weener. It’s basically a breaded and fried veal cutlet, similar in looks to the Japanese Donkatsu, but without the panko bread crumbs. This shop turns Wiener Schnitzel into Wonder Schnitzel, stuffing the inside of the breading with chicken instead of veal. I wish I had a picture of said Wonder Schnitzel but I always seem to devour it before I am able to take a picture.

We departed the shop with two Wonder Schnitzels and half a rotisserie chicken for me. After my foodie friend left Vienna, I happily ate the skin bits of the rotisserie chicken but was then left with breast. Lots and lots of breast. Where did the drumsticks go?

I know you’re supposed to put mayonnaise as the creamy condiment that puts the whole shebang together, but I’m not a big fan of mayonnaise. Instead, I had fresh yogurt in the fridge and leftover apricot jam. Pardon my unholy matchmaking but it tasted amazing, not to mention the tiny crunchy fresh apple cubes I put in. Oh, did I mention the spring onions bought for 70 cents at the farmer’s market? *sigh* I will miss Vienna.

Exhibit one: Part of your complete breakfast

Exhibit one: Part of your complete breakfast

Exhibit Two: Close up

Exhibit Two: Close up

Anyhow, shorter post for today, let me know if you need the recipe!

- Yupgi Girl.

Open Sandwiches

Black or white.

Red pill or blue pill.

South Korea versus Japan. (Soccer, yeah yeah, I’m an auspicious World-Cup-timing fan.)

There seem to be a lot of polar oppositions that exist elsewhere in the world, and Vienna is certainly no stranger to “which is best” arguments, especially when it comes to food. Food is a serious business here. Well, not that shop owners are serious it’s… Oy! I’m discovering that my English is rather on the downhill now that I am speaking German more. Point is, people love food here and they’ve got their favorites. There is a toss-up for the famous Sacher torte, a rich moist chocolate cake (who doesn’t like chocolate cake) that is balanced (balanced!) with apricot jam in between layers. Problem is, Hotel Sacher claims the original recipe but Cafe Demel retorts that they’ve retained the original recipe as well. Thus, two Sacher tortes exist in Vienna. I’ve got my favorite, but I’m not telling! (Wouldn’t want to bias your judgment, eh.)

But this entry is not about cake. Let them not eat cake. Let them eat… open sandwiches!

When I first came to Vienna, I noticed almost bruschetta-like creations, like the Italian trattoria sandwiches. A small, rectangular piece of bread with odd sauces and assortments on top of it, even pieces of salmon. One of my friends then introduced me to Trzesniewski, a place with 100-year-old recipes for these Viennese open sandwiches. The pronunciation of the name escapes me, and even the store has a cute little cartoon about how no one can pronounce their name.

Exhibit 1: Trzesniewski Storefront

Exhibit 1: Trzesniewski Storefront

Exhibit 2: Inside Trzesniewski

Exhibit 2: Inside Trzesniewski

Exhibit 3: Sandwich display

Exhibit 3: Sandwich display

Exhibit 4: Close up of three sandwiches

Exhibit 4: Close up of three sandwiches

Exhibit 5: Close up of two sandwiches

Exhibit 5: Close up of two sandwiches

As for the verdict, I wasn’t quite blown away by the taste as much as I was by the history. Perhaps it’s because I’m a tourist, but some of the combinations didn’t sit quite well with  my tastes… but then again, my food philosophy has always been that taste is somewhat universal unless it’s an extreme food (read: squirming cuttlefish legs dipped in gochujang). And then those extreme foods fall under the category of acquired taste, something that requires more than one bite and one chew and one swallow (read: definitely chew more than once on a squirming cuttlefish leg.) But these are open sandwiches, not very extreme to me, and my friend was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t raving as much as she was over these Trzesniewski ones. I’m also a bit suspicious still of chain stores, although this is no McDonalds, and no matter how good the original is… why not make people flock to one store versus the convenience of multiple stores that run into the danger of watered-down taste? Again, my personal food philosophy. :)

Then, after getting rained out at the Easter markets (post to come later), a few other friends and I scuttled for the nearest shelter. That would be Aida, another chain store, but one that I am more partial to. This particular Aida was next to a bustling store with a black camel on the store front, aptly translated “to the black camel” (Zum Schwarzen Kameel). This is also an old restaurant, started up in 1618 and famous for having famous customers such as Beethoven (and hopefully myself?) I’ve been back to this place a countless number of times (literally, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been back), which tells you how much I love it. I haven’t had an open sandwich here that I dislike, although I’m very partial to their mushroom one.

Exhibit 6: Black Camel Sandwiches

Exhibit 6: Black Camel Sandwiches

The mushroom sandwich has tiny bits of mushroom in a creamy base that pulls it off on top of the moist, almost sour-dough-like bread taste. The danger with mushroom is well, that it can get mushy, but these are more like tiny al-dente explosions of mushroom in your mouth.

The next time I went, I ordered something off the menu, and I wasn’t disappointed. I have become an asparagus creamm soup addict, and this was the third place that I had tasted.

Exhibit 7: Asparagus Cream Soup

Exhibit 7: Asparagus Cream Soup

Did I mention, the Black Camel also has desserts? For the life of me, I cannot find photos of the first time I went, I had one of their tiny tiramisu delights, but alas… it is lost somewhere in the hard drive of my computer. However, no worries, as I went back and had dessert again to compensate. :)

Exhibit 8: Yogurt Muesli Dessert

Exhibit 8: Yogurt Muesli Dessert

It was a delightful array of muesli porridge on the bottom, honey-sweetened yogurt in the middle, and fresh fruits on top as well as throughout the rest of the dessert. I tried recreating this at home, to some success but perhaps I need to go back and have an excuse to re-taste it!

*sigh* In no way was I endorsed by Zum Schwarzen Kameel to write this review… I’m just in love with the place!

Trzesniewski

Dorotheergasse 1, A-1010 Wien

Zum Schwarzen Kameel

Bognergasse 5, A-1010 Wien

The websites are in German, but if you can read it,

provide useful information on their histories as well

as menus (Trzesniewski and Zum Schwarzen Kameel).

- Yupgi Girl

Exhibit 1: Then (2006)

Exhibit 1: Then (2006)

2006: Year of graduation, uncertainty, and death. Exactly three months after my grandfather had passed away in Korea, it was time to fly to Vienna for Dad’s business trip. I had longer hair, chubby face, and a still healthy/unhealthy obsession with the color green. Those are the obvious differences.

Walking around Vienna in the relative safety of my parents, I looked down on the sights that I saw. I say relative safety because my parents entrusted me with the map and I had no idea where we were going. I could judge the rest of the world in my naivety, in the certainty that I knew what was right and exactly what was wrong. I was right and you were wrong.

Things became even clearer atop the Gloriette hill at the Schonnbrunn Palace. The uphill climb was difficult, the big stones of white gravel rolled nervously under my feet, the calves in my legs strained to gain an easy balance. We went slowly, Mom the slowest one, and Dad, as usual, up ahead with his hands locked behind his back.

By the time we got up the hill, my legs wanted to totter out beneath me, which is why I am leaning so heavily on the ledge of the pavilion. My tummy pressed flat out against the cool concrete. I looked down at the world I was visiting, the glory of Europe providing a sparkle in the sun.

Everything was worthy of a photograph, there was no discrimination in subject, as we Koreans drew up our peace signs and pretense of luxury. A pretense of happiness. I admire my naivety and the pompousness in this picture. A graduate, without a care in the world.

Exhibit 2: Now (2009)

Exhibit 2: Now (2009)

2009: An escape from reality. I have come back from trips to Italy, Japan, Slovakia. The world does not seem so easy anymore, but my smiles come easier than they used to. And so do my tears. The passing of my maternal grandfather in 2006 was a preceding of my paternal grandfather’s death, my adopted grandfather’s death, my adopted grandmother’s death, an aunt, and a cousin-in-law. A teacher. A friend.

It is clearer, what I want to do in this world, what I want from this world, what needs to be done… but what is less clear is how I will go about doing them. I will attend another graduation next year, but will I look out with the same, shining, hopeful eyes as I did then? Certainly, one member of my family will be missing this time around. There will be no father taking pictures of every moment, starting from when I sit down amongst the other graduates to when I exit the stage, diploma in hand.

And yes, he is still very much a part of the rest of the world. Just not a part of mine anymore. The bankruptcy weighs down heavily in my mind at times, but I’m glad the worry does not show in this picture. The budgeting that I do means that I eat lavishly on some days and survive on cereal another.

The climb up. The same white gravel, rising dust, unbalanced feeling. At the top of the hill, I barely notice any muscle strain, due to my frenzied half-marathon training last year. Why was it so difficult, the last time around? There was no need to lean on the concrete, my white loafers were enough of a foundation on the steps.

It was time to take pictures. This time around, I would carefully piece together the parts of the city that I had grown to love in the last three months. I will be sad to leave. But this time around, I think I know what lessons to take and what mistakes to leave behind.

Exhibit 3: Panorama view from Gloriette Pavilion

Exhibit 3: Panoramic view from Gloriette Pavilion

- Yupgi Girl.

I confess, I’m a foodie but I’m also a relatively new foodie, in terms of international cuisine.

I’m pretty well-versed in Thai, real Chinese, Haitian/Caribbean, and other such foods but when it comes to Middle Eastern food, I’m at a complete loss. I don’t even know the time of day there! Well, time to change all that while I’m in Vienna. Vienna has a high Turkish population from what it seems like; there are a lot of street stands that sell kebabs and durums and even a predominantly Turkish market, called the Brunnen Markt. The only Middle Eastern I’d had before this trip was kebab so the first week I was here, I tried a durum from a street stand.

. . .

Exhibit 1: Durum

Exhibit 1: Durum

. . .

It’s kebab meat (something that one of my friends here is very suspicious of, “who knows HOW long that kebab meat has been there!” but I seem to have an iron stomach *knock on wood* so I don’t quite care) inside of a wrap, with fresh lettuce and a white sauce that seems suspiciously yogurt-based. But what do I know about it? Sadly, durum then became limited to drunk night binges when it was the only thing available on the streets. I figured, it was time to hit up authenticity.

One of my friends from school is from Turkey and he’s also on our program here. A few weeks ago, he took me to this place called Maschu Maschu for my first falafel experience.

. . .

Exhibit 2: My First Falafel (Teller)

Exhibit 2: My First Falafel (Teller)

. . .

I ordered something called a falafel teller. I still have no idea exactly what this is, but it seemed like a lot of delicious kebab meat, falafel, a tangy-vinegar red cabbage salad, yogurt-based sauce, and another type of salad. However, a quick search on Google reveals that I am completely wrong on the yogurt-based count, and it turns out that it is, in fact, a Tahini-based sauce. In Layman’s terms, Tahini is a sesame seed paste. I now am confused how this relates to hummus (which I’ve had before) but that’s a story for another day.

. . .

Exhibit 3: Falafel and Tahini Close-up

Exhibit 3: Falafel and Tahini Close-up

. . .

The prices were reasonable, although… I don’t pay as much attention to how much I actually pay for food as I should. But this meal was roughly around 7 Euros, which should be about 10 U.S. dollars, and that was including a large drink.

All in all, not bad for my first falafel experience. I can’t say how authentic it is, besides the fact that a Turkish friend took me, and he approved of it. To me, it was extremely delicious. The falafel was crispy on the outside, and the chickpeas (which is what is  inside a falafel, according to Wikipedia) were distinct enough that they weren’t just a mush. I do love red cabbage, and the vinegar that had brined it complemented its natural crunchyness and taste. It came with a flattened bread (no idea of the name or origins). I’ve also had enough kebab meat to know that if it’s done the wrong way, the ends can be dried out and the inside more like jerky than anything that resembles meat. But the kebab meat in this dish was done in a succulent way, so much so that I wanted more. And, now that I’ve written this entry, I want to go back already!

Maschu Maschulocated in the 1st district of Vienna

Address: Rabensteig 8, 1010 Wien

Open: Sunday – Wednesday, 11.30 am – Midnight;

Thursday – Saturday, 11.30 am – 4 am

Have you had Middle Eastern food (specifically, falafel) before? What has your experience been like?

- Yupgi Girl.

Exhibit 1: Cubed Potatoes

Exhibit 1: Cubed Potatoes

In the beginning of my semester here in Vienna, I thought I could budget well.

After trips to Italy and Okinawa (to visit the Boyfriend) and other such exotic places, I realize that I really must stop spending on food and actually do stuff with my money. So every time I go grocery shopping, I try to make the most Euro for the buck.

Last week, as I was at my bank, er grocery, I saw a display for a bag of potatoes on sale for 2 Euros, which is the equivalent of 3 U.S. dollars. I dragged it back to my apartment, where it proudly sat, all 5 kilos in the corner. Until I realized that I had no potato peeler. And that I was too miserly to go buy a potato peeler.

So I sat there. Peeled roughly 20 – 30 the first day. The easiest thing I could do is make mashed potatoes, which I did.

Exhibit 2: Mashed Potatoes

Exhibit 2: Mashed Potatoes

Yupgi Girl’s Easy Mashed Potatoes

  • 20 – 30 small potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 tsp salt, add more for taste
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Wash potatoes under water, you do not need to peel them yet.* Start by boiling the potatoes in a big pot on medium-high heat. Depending on your stovetop, the water may start to visibily boil after 10 – 15 minutes. If you want your mashed potatoes fluffy, start checking your potatoes 10 minutes after the water starts to boil. Take a fork and stick it in one of the biggest potatoes in the pot, if the fork goes in smoothly but encounters resistance near the middle, then you will get fluffier mashed potatoes. If you like starchier mashed potatoes, then continue boiling until the fork goes in all the way through the potato, without any resistance.
  2. Once the potatoes are done boiling, drain water and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds. I have a pretty high tolerance to heat on my hands, so I start peeling the potatoes after this point, but if you have sensitive hands, put on rubber gloves and peel away with a knife.
  3. In a separate bowl, put in the butter at the bottom of the bowl. Load all your potatoes in and sprinkle salt evenly over the potatoes. Mash with a fork or, if you have a super KitchenAid mixer (that I am definitely jealous 0f), mash with said mixer. Once your potatoes are all mashed, or when they start looking dry, then you can add in the milk, it should make the potatoes fluffier and creamier. The end!

*If you have a potato peeler, definitely peel them before you put them in, and reduce boiling time by 5 minutes.

After 3 days of consuming mashed potatoes with spaghetti, I decided it was time for something new.

Again, it would have been wonderful if I had the appropriate kitchen tools on hand, but being in Vienna, I am away from my regular kitchen (uh, like I even use it a lot when I’m home, usually Mom’s the cooker). This julienning of potatoes would have been much easier, if I had this handy dandy plastic Korean serrator thing that you use to slide the potatoes against, and you have instant, even, julienned potatoes. Alas. Yupgi Girl brushed up on her knife skills, instead.

Exhibit 3: Julienned Potatoes

Exhibit 3: Julienned Potatoes

A handy potato tip: Since potatoes easily discolor if left raw in the air for too long, for quick storage nearby, submerge in water and the potatoes will not discolor, as long as they are submerged. But be careful not to let them stay in for too long, as they will absorb more water than needed and change cooking times.

Julienning with a dull knife definitely took the wind out of cheap-potato-excitement. I decided to do a bigger cut. Thus, the cubed breakfast potatoes were born.

Exhibit 4: Breakfast Potatoes

Exhibit 4: Breakfast Potatoes

Then I looked at the bag. There was over 2/3 of it left. That calculates into roughly 40 – 50 more potatoes to peel without an actual potato peeler.

Exhibit 5: Many Peeled Potatoes

Exhibit 5: Many Peeled Potatoes

What else was there to do except Skype all the people I know (basically Mom and the Boyfriend) , all the while looking sad and miserable because I sat in front of the screen, peeling potatoes with a dull knife. I’d had enough of buttery-type recipes, so I went back to the roots and made a Korean banchan, or side dish, called Gamja Joreem (감자 조림). Gamja means potato and joreem means stewed. The recipe was adapted from Maangchi, one of my favorite internet sources for authentic Korean cooking. I left out onions, corn syrup, and garlic in mine and added 2 big tablespoons of gochujang (고추장), Korean pepper paste, to make it spicier.

Exhibit 6: Gamja Joreem (감자 조림)

Exhibit 6: Gamja Joreem (감자 조림)

I still have the second (! yes, I made a second) batch of mashed potatoes and the gamja joreem in my fridge.

Moral of the story?

Never ever buy a five kilogram bag of potatoes… unless you have a potato peeler!
- Yupgi Girl.

Welcome to RiceDiaries

May 24, 2009

Hi all!

I’ve been putting the first post off because I somehow wanted to break into it with some meaningful, attention-capture-ful, enrapturing post.

Sadly, that just means this brand spanking new thang has been sitting here for a week, without a single post.

Anyhow, I know there’s an about me section but here’s a more lengthy intro.

I’m a college student, currently studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. I don’t speak much of the language, but despite that, random strangers come up to me for directions. A lot of things await me when I get back to the States, namely, the more serious things in life. My family’s going through a tough bankruptcy, so I gotta face the music when I go home. And this is partly why I’m starting up a blog on WordPress: as a way to Cheerio from the rest of life.

What’s going to be in the blog, you ask?

Well, photos, writings, musings, drama, and last, but not least, hopefully some cooking will be in here! I’m Korean but I also love all sorts of other world foods so I try to eat my way through culture.

Exhibit 1: Preview of future posts to come

Exhibit 1: 'Pasta ai frutti di mare' preview of future posts to come

Exhibit 2: Udon preview of future posts

Exhibit 2: 'Udon' preview of future posts

Keep checking back for posts, a new one will be up soon!
- Yupgi Girl.

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