Category: Festivals / Special Events

Sool Bar Week

Sorry for my long leave of absence, but I’m currently enjoying myself far too much on my holidays, and have had no time to share about all the lovely things I have been eating and drinking. However I found out about an amazing boozy event happening in Seoul, and I couldn’t resist sharing even though I’m not going to be there to attend it. The event, Sool Bar Week, kicks off tomorrow. There are dozens of different alcohol related events happening between Monday, September 11th & Sunday, September 17th at a whole host of Seoul Bars.

There are so many different talks, guest bartenders, and masterclass events going on it would take me a year to list them all, so please check the website for the full list of events. Sadly I’m still away, but if I was in town I would definitely be at Tequila – Spirit of Mexico at Vatos on Wednesday from 7pm – 10pm. This experience includes an artisanal tequila tasting, with special antojitos (small bites), and a live mariachi band flown in from Mexico. Tickets are still available and cost only 40,000 won, see the facebook page to get yours.

Another foodie event that I’m sad to be missing is the wild dining experience by La Marmite and Dandy Pink. The Dinner will be held at La Marmite Seoul on the 14th, 15th and 16th of September. It’s a four course set dinner with cocktail pairing for 85,000 a person. See the event’s facebook for full menu or to book your spot.

Although none of us don’t need an excuse to have a libation or two, it’s nice to have one. There will be guest bar tending events at some of my favourite bars such as Mix & Malt and Flower Gin, as well as at many other spots throughout the city. See the Sool Bar Week schedule here for more details.

Tongin Market

Street markets can found all over Seoul, but one of my favourites is Tongin Market. The small arcade style market is packed to the rafters with all kinds of wonderful traditional Korean street foods. The market is a short walk away from Gyeongbuk Palace, so its the ideal place to stop for lunch if you have visitors. It is also located in the cutest neighbourhood full of adorable and quirky one off stores, and my favourite British bakery Scoff.

One of the most charming things about this market, is that you can exchange 5,000 won for a collection of old coins and a lunch box. You can then use these coins to buy foods to fill your lunchbox. Most items cost 1-2 coins and there is a huge variety of different foods. Almost all of the different stalls offer this service. I am sure kids in particular would enjoy choosing their own foods in exchange for the coins, although even kidults like myself can enjoy it too.

We went to the market at 11am when it was just opening, so everything was extra fresh and just made, so we were able to get some incredible shots, soon after it opened the place began filling up with lunch box customers. One of the things yo have to try at Tongin market is their special crispy fried ddeokbokki, it comes in two ways, spicy and non spicy. Being a girl who is not into her heat I went for the milder sweet option.

There is also an incredible array of banchan style dishes, they have almost everything you could imagine and more. One of my favourites is the very simple fried egg veggies. There are numerous varieties, and with the coin system you can just pick out your favourites. There is also a lot of fried chicken on the stalls so if you haven’t had chance to try Korean fried chicken yet (the other KFC) then this is a great place to try it. I’m particularly fond of the Nyangnyeom sweet and spicy version.

If you are planning to eat your lunch box at the market, there is a seating area in the middle of the market, just above where you buy the lunchbox. If not just tell one of the stores you want your food to go and they will wrap it up for you, and will even give you chopsticks.

Tongin Market is located at 18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Cheongunhyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Gyeongbukgeong (line 3) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight for about 5 minutes. You will see the entrance to Tongin Market on your left hand side underneath the awning. For more information you can visit the Tongin Market website. The lunchbox coin exchange is open from 11am-4pm.

10 Must Eats in Sabah, Borneo

As you may have seen from my instagram feed, we have been relaxing and enjoying a fabulous vacation on the beautiful island of Borneo. Borneo is famed for its luscious rain-forests, wildlife, and monkeys, but it also has some incredible food. While our time was short and we didn’t get to try as many dishes as we would have liked, we were lucky to have more than enough to make a top ten.

1. Satay – Satay is probably one of Malaysia’s most famous dishes, and for very good reason, it’s bloody delicious! You can find good satay pretty much everywhere but we were lucky enough to have our resort’s head chef prepare some us specially. The delicious little sticks of meat, usually chicken or beef, are cooked with handful of spices and lemongrass and then barbecued to give them their unique flavour. They are then served with a scrummy dipping sauce usually made with coconut and peanuts among other things.

2. Butter Tiger Prawns – Tiger prawns are a specialty in Sabah, because they are found locally. They also grow to a humungous size, thanks to the great conditions of the Mengkabong river.  We tried them two ways, wet and dry. While the wet sauce was absolutely divine, it did make them very hard to eat if you didn’t want to spit out the shells. I have no idea what the etiquette of eating them is, but I preferred to get my hands messy and de-shell them before eating them.

3. Sota – At both of our fantastic hotels, they offered Sota for breakfast which was a delicious local noodle dish. A selection of different noodles were available then we added the different vegetables and meats. If you are fan of noodle soups then you are sure to want to give this Indonesian classic one a try.

4. Nasi Goreng- This fried rice dish is again one the most popular dishes to eat and you should come across it in many varieties, usually served with crackers and topped with a fried egg. This can be eaten anywhere from street food stalls to high end restaurants.

5. Tuaran Mee – Tuaran Mee is Sabah’s signature noodle dish, so you can’t leave the area without giving this fried noodle dish a try. We were lucky enough to be able to make them during our cooking class it is made from egg noodles, shrimp or chicken, and stir fried vegetables. Again we found this pretty much everywhere we went and never turned down an opportunity to eat it.

6. Soft Shell Crabs – Soft shell crabs are always one of my favourite things to eat although they aren’t so popular in England where I am from. So when I found out that they are one of the specialties at the Welcome Seafood restaurants in Kota Kinabalu, I was very eager to give them a try. There were delightfully small and I think we all know how I feel about deep fried anything. A huge pile came with a sweet and sour dipping sauce and were the perfect snack while we supped a few afternoon beers.

7. Bajaus Coffee and Teacakes – This is not widely available but if you get the chance to take a tour down the Mengkabong river to visit the Bajaus ‘sea gypsy’ village then you do not want to miss out on trying their delicious sweet rich coffee and little fried pancakes. We also had a sweet young coconut to refresh us. Click here to see a full video of our amazing experience along the river.

8. Tuhau Fried Chicken – If there is one dish that is found in abundance in Borneo, it’s fried chicken. Man I thought South Korea loved its chicken shops but that was before I came to KK, there is one on practically every street corner. There are many different varieties, but we were lucky enough to find a local Tuhau version. Not too dissimilar to the Korean one as the chicken is cut into small pieces, bones included, battered and deep fried. It seemed extra dry and and extra crispy, we ate ours with a side of sambal which was the the perfect spicy dipping sauce.

9. D’Place – If you want to try a whole host of local Sabah food then the buffet at D’Place is not to be missed. They have an incredible range of meat dishes, curries, sides, salads, sauces and desserts all of which make great use of the local produce. Some of the dishes we tried wrapped red barrio rice, wild mango chicken, fried basung fish, sago, and stir fried Borneo fern leaves with garlic. The food was full of flavour and unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. We were even lucky enough to catch the dance show which happens each evening. The menu changes daily, but you wont be disappointed, especially as it only cost around $10 per person.

10. Butod – One of the most famous local specialties are the little wiggly wormy sago grubs. We had heard about these babies throughout our trip and finally got to face our fears when we visited D’Place who actually have a tank filled with them. After seeing them up close and personal I had to wimp out. Sorry guys, but they were still alive and I just couldn’t.  Most people eat them raw but they also offered as a pizza topping, but even that wasn’t enough to persuade me to give them a try.

Seoul’s Best Burger

Move over Fashion week, it is time for Seoul’s most important event, American Burger Week! Well technically it’s burger fortnight. From April 14th –  28th, 13 of Seoul’s burger restaurants will be participating in the special event which is being hosted by the US Beef Council. The restaurants involved are Gony’s, Gilbert’s Burger & Fries, NY B&B, The Melting Pot, Devils door, Rye Post, Meat & Bun, Burger B, Say cheese, Itaewon the Burger, Kinders, Firebell, and Fingertips. I’m told that all the restaurants in question use American beef and will be running promotions and giveaways for the two weeks. Now I  haven’t been to all of the restaurants in question,  but I have been to a fair few, some I was in love with, some not so much. So as it’s burger week and all, I thought I would use this opportunity to list my favourite places in Seoul to get a burger.

1. Itaewon the Burger – This baby while still quite new is absolutely top of my list, number one because the burgers are flame grilled hunks of deliciousness but also because it’s in my neigbourhood. There are two burgers that I love here. The Big Double Burger (12,900) which includes two meat patties, bacon and cheese, or the Avocadict burger (13,800), which includes a mountain of avocado, a beef patty, cheese, bacon, pickles, special sauce, lettuce and tomato. The prize for number one probably has to go to the Big Double, as the Avocadict although delicious fails at being a burger slightly by being so impossible to eat.

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2. NY B&B – This place is my Gangnam go to. Again this place is fairly new, but they have really came up with some awesome homemade burgers. The Wasabi Burger (11,500) is probably my favourite. This delight is topped with Pepper Jack cheese, grilled onion, shiitake mushroom, and wasabi mayo. As much as I love wasabi I was first a little skeptical about this meaty treat but it has ended up being my favourite on their menu. The menu is pretty large, so there is something for everyone. Special mentions for the Once in a Bleu Moon and the Bubba Gump which were both pretty good too.

3. Gony’s – Gony’s is a new comer to me and I was kinda torn between this one and Gilbert for third place but I decided to give Gony’s the edge because they also serve a mean chicken burger and that is pretty hard thing to find in Seoul. On the beef front the Bacon Cheeseburger (9,800) is pure perfection and everything you are looking for in a good old fashioned burger.

4. Gilbert’s Burgers & Fries – Gilbert’s always serves a good burger and they have quite a few locations too, making it the most accessible on the list. My favourite burger on their menu is the 5oz Gilbert (10,500). This one is topped with American cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce, bacon, fried egg, and a homemade sauce. As you can see from above the egg yolk oozes out of the side of the burger which really gets my motor running and adds an extra richness to the burger.

5. WinK – Last place on this list goes to WinK who have been making some really solid burgers for the past year. I’m kinda torn when it comes to choosing my favourite though. I adore The Mega Burger (14,000), which has everything but the kitchen sink on it but it really works. Inside the buttered bun is a 150g whole beef patty, pulled pork, several kinds of cheese, egg, avocado, lettuce onions, tomato, and mayo. However I’m also partial to the brand new Mushroom & Emmental burger (11,500), which I tried on my last brunch visit. So I guess it depends on whether you like mushrooms or not.

Do you agree or disagree? Have I missed out your favourite? Please comment below with your thoughts about Seoul’s best burger.  For more details about Korea Burger Week  check out their website. For full reviews and directions of the restaurants please click the links above.

Southside Parlour – Surfside Popup

If you are feeling a bit down in the dumps because your favourite cocktail bar is closed for the next few weeks, then don’t despair because they are going to be going on the road doing a series of pop ups at three of my favourite restaurants. This weekend they will be keeping it local and having an event in Itaewon at Detroit style pizza place Motor City. Next weekend they will be over in Gyodae at WinK, and finally their last pop up will be hosted at The Beastro in Hongdae.

If you are as big a fan of the Southside Parlor cocktails as I am, then you have probably sampled a few to say the least. Above are just a few of the lovely libations I supped upon during my last visit. However this pop up series has a tiki style theme. Owner Bobby told me that “Tiki is a state of mind where people want to have a good time with amazing refreshing drinks. Southside Parlour fits that vibe so the transition to tiki ain’t no thang. We want to introduce modern Texas Tiki to Korea (not that we’re the first tiki bar) and show everyone how we like to party! Tiki cocktails are drinks that we think can easily fit the Korean palate with all the fresh tropical fruits and flavors. We hope that everyone enjoys the event and learns a little about the Texas Tiki Vibe!” Sounds like the perfect thing to get us feeling the Spring vibes we are currently experiencing. 

You probably don’t need much more convincing, it being a Friday and all, but all the cocktails on the tiki menu are just 10,000 won a piece. Plus the different host bars will also be providing tiki themed foods for you to feast upon while you drink, so there’s no need to get sloppy.

The pop ups dates are as follows:

Motor City – Itaewon – Friday March 24th & Saturday March 25th

WinK – Kyodae – Friday March 31st, Saturday April 1st, & Sunday April 2nd

The Beastro – Hongdae – Friday April 7th, Saturday April 8th, & Sunday April 9th

For addresses and directions to the venues please click the links above. For more information on the events please see the Southside Parlor’s facebook page.

Romantic Restaurants

Love is in the air, everywhere I look around. Actually cold is in the air and I’m freezing to death, but love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is on the way. And if you are in a relationship you are pretty much obligated to take your significant other out for a romantic dinner. I know some of you will be rolling your eyes so far back in your head that you’ll be needing medical assistance to get them back in front again but it’s not just V Day, this post applies for anytime you may want to have a nice night out with your someone special. the list is split into budgets so there should be something for everyone. The prices are a just a rough estimate and priced per couple not per person, based on a main course each and a shared starter and dessert. I haven’t included booze in the costings because booze is pricey here in Korea, and most of us are raging alcoholics which seriously inflates the price of dinner. So if you are on a budget I suggest you get wasted at home first, Personally I’m a big fan of Costco’s 8,000 sparking wine especially when served in a 3,000 won Daiso champagne glass. Who knew being so classy could cost so little? (more…)

Korea Travel Expo 2017

For the past few weeks I have been off on my holidays globe trotting around the majestic lands of Cambodia, but now I’m back and it’s time to get excited about all things Korean again. This month sees the hosting of the 2017 Korea Travel Expo, which showcases everything related to tourism within Korea. This exhilarating expo is free to those who pre-register, and takes place at COEX in Samseongdong, Seoul from February 16th (Thur) to February 19th (Sun). Some of the hosts this year include the  Ministry of Magic Culture, Sports, and Tourism, as well as the Korea Tourism Association. At this year’s event there will be over 650 booths hosted by a mix of local governments and nationwide organizations, making this the largest tourism exhibition in Korea.

So what can one expect to see at such an event? The main theme of the Korea Travel Expo is New Discovery about My Country. As it’s name implies, little-known great restaurants, beautiful spots, and streets will be introduced with a concept of “taste the beauty of ROK.” This is the perfect chance to find out about Korea’s hidden gems. Visitors will also be treated to cultural experiences from throughout the nation as well as being able to purchase locally produced food items not currently available in Seoul. Plus all kinds of travel information will be provided by tourist service businesses such as hotels, travel agencies, resorts, theme parks and transportation companies.

There will also be lectures by popular travel writers as well as the opportunity to buy souvenirs from all over Korea. Storytellers, culture, and tour guides from the regions of Korea will be waiting for guests at booths which will be spread throughout the hall allowing visitors to get firsthand information to help them plan their next Korean getaway. The “experience zone” will introduce various performances and cultural insight giving not only pleasure but also valuable experience to guests. So if you are at a loose end this February why not sign up and visit this exciting expo, there will a be a whole host of things to see and do, plus its free and not outside.

The Korea Travel Expo is being held at COEX exhibition center from February 16th (Thur) to February 19th (Sun). You can can preregister for FREE tickets here! For more information you can visit the Travel Expo website (Korean only) or visit their facebook page.

10 must eats in Siem Reap

If you have been following my Instagram account then you will know that for the past week or so I’ve been living in up in Cambodia. I have have spent the past week and half eating everything in site while sunning myself in the gorgeous Pavillion D’Orient Hotel in Siem Reap. If you’ve never visited the home of Angkor Wat before, then you should know that this place is filled to the brim with all kinds of delicious treats and that Khmer cuisine has been seriously over looked in favour of its neighbours’. The best part about Cambodian food is that it is insanely affordable, everything is at most a third of the price that it is in Seoul, if not cheaper. So for that alone it makes the perfect holiday destination.

1 – Fire Ants – When researching what to eat in Siem Reap, I came across many recommendations for Marum Restaurant which is a profit free place dedicated to helping the local community by training their staff how to cook. One of their most famous dishes is the Spicy Beef with Fire Ants ($6.60), a delicious stir fried beef dish which is strewn with crispy ants. This dish was scrumptious and I wasn’t at all creeped out eating ants, you can have it by itself or add a side of rice to make it a meal. They also have a fab happy hour from 4pm-7pm which we took full advantage of while enjoying their lovely garden setting.

2 – Noodle Soup – I adore a big bowl of noodle soup which regular readers will know about from my tonkotsu ramen obsession. The Khmer noodle soup is slightly different from its other Asian counterparts but no less delicious.  A huge bowl of tasty broth is filled with thick handmade noodles and garnished with fresh herbs, chillies and lime. This particular bowl was served as  part of the breakfast at the  60s inspired Viroth Hotel. The meatballs inside were a bit on the strange side, but he noodles were incredible and I happily scarfed down a bowl each morning.

3 – Lok Lak– Beef Lok lak is one of Cambodias most famous dishes,  and you will see it on virtually every menu in the city. The beef dish comes served with salad for you to eat alongside the meat. The meal is then either rounded our with rice or with french fries. This dish is from Our favourite cheap eatery The Red Angkor. A brother and sister team own the place and always give a warm welcome while serving incredibly tasty food at rock bottom prices. Nothing on the menu costs over $4 and this Lok Lak was a mere $2.50 they also offer 50 cent beers which pretty much guaranteed that we visited the place frequently throughout our trip.

4 – BBQ Skewers – Another dish that you must try in Cambodia is their BBQ. Not that different to the style we have here in Korea, but the meat selection is usually a wee bit more adventerous. We unfortunately didn’t have time to to make it a meal and have the full shebang but we did enjoy these fantastic Beef Skewers ($3) at the Khmer Grill. Yes, that’s right, they were a dollar a piece. The chunks of beef were sandwiched between slices of carrot, onion and paprika, cooked on the outdoor bbq and served with a lime and pepper dip. Suffice to say, it was three dollars very well spent!

5 – Amok Curry – The amok curry is probably the other most famed Cambodian dish. We tried a couple of varieties during the course of our trip, including one served in a coconut. The curry itself is very mild, and those who enjoy Thai curries may want to amp up the flavour a little. This is a version that we made in our cooking class at Phum Baitang which was filled with the snake fish we had bought at the local market. Again this is a dish you can expect to see on menus everywhere, there are also versions with chicken and pork if you don’t like fish.

6 – Fresh Juice & Smoothies – Cambodia is filled to the brim with delicious fresh fruits and veggies, you only need to take a look around the local markets to see the bounty of fresh produce available and many of the newer western restaurants are taking advantage of this to make refreshing fruit juices and smoothies. We came across several Balinese-type, healthy places which along with drinks had a variety of dishes catering to vegans, vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. The juices at ARTillery Cafe were some of our favourites, and it was conveniently located right next to our hotel. Pictured is the Ginger Aid and Mango Madness ( both $3).

7 – Chicken cashew – We enjoyed this dish in virtually every restaurant we went to, as it is a pretty much a favourite of mine and TFBs in South East Asia. The cream of the crop of these cashew chicken dishes  was at the New Leaf Eatery for $6. Other than the Red Angkor this was probably our favourite place to eat. It’s another non profit restaurant and the food was just incredible. It was one of the few places we ate western food too, their steak baguette was knock out and well worth a try if you are in the mood for a sandwich.

8 – Frog – Kermit and his loved ones are a pretty popular dish on the menus of Khmer cuisine, and find them cooked in a variety of different ways. We tried this spicy stir fried version at the Khmer Grill ($3), but you can also get them deep fried. This was my first time eating frog, and I have to say it’s just a lot like a tiny chicken wing. If you really want to go crazy, some of the street stalls serve tarantula, cockroach, lizard, and snakes for 50 cents a piece. I couldn’t bring myself to try them though, it made be shudder every time I gazed upon those deep fried cockroaches. I know that’s lame as hell for a food blogger but I just didn’t have the stomach for it.

9 – Rice Soup (Bawbaw) –  Of all the new dishes that I tried the Bawbaw was probably top of my list. Similar to the Khmer noodles, the broth is full of rice, rice noodles, meal and veggies. It is a little similar to Vietnamese pho, but in a totally different way. The broth is so simple and clean, yet studded with flavour. If I was feeling sick this would be my absolute go to soup. At our beautiful hotel Pavillion D’Orient they served this bowl of magical goodness for breakfast though they also had it on their restaurant menu for ($5) and it is an absolute must try.

10 – Angkor Beer & Nuts – You cant leave Cambodia without trying the local beer and there are two varieties, Angkor beer and Cambodia beer, TFB preferred the Angkor and I tend to agree with him. The beers can be purchased for as little as 50 cents on draft and about 60 cents a can in the supermarket. When buying a beer in a bar you’ll also be given a bowl full of nuts that are seasoned with chili, lime leaves and garlic. Those babies are insanely addictive and I even took to buying extra beers just so I could eat the nuts. I am going to have to have a go at recreating these myself because I have already eaten my way through the humble supply I bought before I left. If anyone is in Cambodia right now, I’ll love you forever if you bring me back a bag or two!

Sponsored Post – Golden Cheese Tarts

‘Tis the season of giving and eating too much, so today’s dessert giveaway is the perfect culmination of Christmas spirit. If you like to keep your finger on the pulse of Korea’s dessert trends you may have noticed that one of most popular desserts right now is the humble cheese tart. While it bears a remarkable resemblance to the Portuguese egg tart, its taste is deliciously different. Golden Cheese Tart is the original Korean brand and its popularity has since spawned several copycat varieties, even Paris Baguette has got in on the action. (more…)

Christmas Calendar

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Thanksgiving is over and there is less than a month before it’s Christmas so I’m putting together a list of everything you can do that is Christmassy. Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, I just adore getting gussied up, filling my belly with seasonal treats and drinking far too many champagne cocktails. Once January comes around Seoul gets insanely cold and personally I try to leave the house as little as possible. This list is in no means complete so stay tuned because I will be adding and deleting events as the days roll by, but this should be enough to get you started.

 

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Four Seasons – December 1st-31st 

Nothing says Christmas like a fully cooked turkey dinner, and if you live life without an oven  the Four Seasons Hotel has you covered. Throughout the month of December they will be providing fully cooked turkey dinners packaged and ready to go. So if you are having friends over or just eat the whole thing yourself (no judgement here) you can pre-order one through their website. If you would rather eat inside the hotel they are holding a seasonal brunch at the Market Kitchen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and NYE , and an all you can drink Champagne one at Boccalino (130,000). See their holiday events calendar for more details.

 

Dominic – December 24th – 31st

Dominic in Itaewon will be enjoying a whole host of festivities this New Years EVE. The NY style bar and restaurant will be having a delicious champagne brunch and steak dinner in the evening. For the main countdown the bar will be open and they are giving away a welcome drink to all guests along with a fried cheese and olive platter. They also have champagne packages available from 180,000-350,000. See their facebook page for more details and to make a reservation.

 

WinK Christmas Dinner – December 30th & 31st

WinK Kitchen will be ringing in 2017 with a special dinner – soup, steak, cheesecake and a glass of wine for 29,000. As with all their dinners there is an all you can drink option too. See the event page on facebook to reserve a seat or to find out more.

Hidden Cellar NYE Party – December 31st

The Hidden Cellar in HBC will be hosting a party to see in the new year. Free entry, free drinks, and plenty of giveaways will be happenging throughout the evening. There will also be live Acoustic Musi, The Talented TRAVIS, THe Magnificent Maggie Crossett, and The One The Only POUNAMU. See the event page on facebook for more details.

 

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New Years Ballroom Party – December 31st

Kick off the 2017 with a party in the ballroom of the Imperial Palace in Gangnam. The event is being run by Global Seoul Mates, and will take place in a luxury 5 star ballroom which will be filled with 800 people dressed to the nines. The tickets start at 45,000 which is incredibly reasonable since the it includes all you can drink wine and cocktail happy hour. There will also be DJ’s, live performances and more importantly a proper countdown. Click here for more details or to book your ticket.

High Street Market – Turkey Delivery – December 1st – 31st

For those of you who like to enjoy your turkey in the comfort of your own home you can get one delivered right  to your doorstep from  High Street Market. The turkey dinner includes a juicy 12-14 pound turkey, 2kg of mashed potato, 8 cups of brown gravy, 1kg of green bean almondine, turkey stuffing, cranberry sauce and stollen. The dinners serve between 10-12 people and cost 229,000. There are also are options available with roast beef, lamb, pork, and ham. Dinners must be ordered in advance. See their website for more details.