Category: Travel

Korea Travel Expo 2017

Last weekend was the Korea Travel Expo at COEX mall. The four day event gave visitors the chance to learn everything there is to know about travel within Korea. Each of the 9 provinces, and various travel related organisations hosted booths, so they were able to show off the beauty that the land of the morning calm has to offer.

Like most of the expos held at COEX, the exhibition was gigantic, with several hundred different kiosks offering information and interactive experiences. One of our favourites was this pottery making station from Ulsan. Visitors were welcomed to make their own cups and vases, which they were then able to take home. They brought the wheel to help promote their pottery festival which happens in May.

Another popular booth was the perfume making from Namhae province. For 3,000 won per person you could your own perfume from all the different fragrance notes they had available. I’ve never made my own perfume before so this was lots of fun. and now I have my own fantastic fragrance,

One of the largest sections of the event was the edible one, which is of course where I spent most of my time. Almost every area of the country offered up a chance to buy the traditional dishes they are most famous for.  There was wine from GyeongSang Buk-do, Kimchi from Yeosu, along with dried octopus, cheese, grains, pickled and dried fish, and the famous Jeju chocolate.

I have visited most of the different provinces over my years in korea, but there are always new and exciting places to discover. For such a small country there are so many different things to see and do, and having an event like this was the perfect way to find out more about them.

The event has finished for this year, but if you would like to visit or set up your own booth at the next one you can find more information on the Travel Expo website (Korean only) or visit their facebook page.

Phum Baitang – Cooking Class

Whenever I take a trip to another country, I always make a point of booking myself and TFB in for a cooking class. As well as tasting the national dishes, I also love to see the ingredients and cooking techniques that are used in making them. I always feel that I learn so much from these experience, as well as getting a chance to add a couple of new dishes to my repertoire. In Siem Reap we were lucky enough to be invited to take part in the cooking class operated by the stunningly beautiful Phum Baitang resort. (more…)

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!

Pavillion D’Orient Hotel – Siem Reap

I’m writing to you today, not from the grizzly cold and snowy weather of Seoul, but in the glorious sunshine of Seam Reap, Cambodia. Nice work if you can get it right? I was invited to stay at the beautiful boutique resort of Pavillion D’Orient Hotel. An absolute gem of a place in a tropical paradise of never ending sunshine. I sit writing upon one of their wonderfully comfortable sun loungers gazing across a tranquil blue pool, a cold Angkor beer sitting beside me along side a bowl of deliciously addictive lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf seasoned nuts. Honestly life couldn’t be better right now.

We began our stay by taking the overnight flight operated by Eastar Jet direct from Seoul, Incheon to Siem Reap airport. Due to a slight delay thanks to the snow we arrived late, but as we had booked our visas online we were swiftly through immigration and on to our awaiting driver, who was arranged on a complimentary basis for all guests making the process that much easier.

Knowing that our room was to be comped, we were eager to see our room, and were thrilled to find out that we had been upgraded to a suite which was absolutely fantastic. A huge king sized bed, day bed, seating area, larger balcony and gigantic rain shower. Everything about about the room was fantastic. Including a lovely basket of fresh fruit which was replenished daily, music to my fruit eating ears. The room prices start from $70 per night and include a one way airport transfer.

Our first breakfast we awoke quite early thanks to the 2 hour time difference. Breakfast runs from 6am-12pm, so no need to worry if you are a late riser or getting up bright and early to visit the temples. The breakfast is half buffet and half a la carte. Every morning we were delivered a glass of sweet and delicious tropical smoothie and a pot of homemade yogurt. We then helped ourselves to fruit, pastries, homemade jams and tea and coffee.

Our hot selections were brought to the table, the western breakfast was a particular favourite of ours with fried eggs, bacon, and toast, we were on holiday after all! However the real star of the show for me was the local cuisine, fried rice, and rice soup (bawbaw) which I fell in love with. The only way I could describe it is that it has similar flavours to pho but is also completely different. I had a bowl every day. The best thing about breakfast is that you could have it in bed for only an extra $2 per person! Most hotels charge you through the roof for this service so it was such a pleasant surprise.

The restaurant is open until 10pm each night and also serves lunch, dinner and plenty of cocktails. On our lazy days we took full advantage of it enjoying many a drink by the side of the pool. As with breakfast the food was again fantastic they had a nice mix of local dishes and western favourites with nothing costing more than $6 and all deliverable to your room for no extra charge. We tended to stick with the local cuisine and couldn’t get enough of their cashew chicken and fried noodles. The Pina Coladas weren’t bad either!

There are two pools in the hotel, so you should have no problems finding a shady sun lounger if you are looking to get out of the sun. There are also several large day beds and a communal seating area in which to enjoy a few drinks with the other guests if you want to socialize. There is also an in-house spa, the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing massage after trekking around the temples of Angkor Wat, and trust me you are going to need one.

The town center is just a short tuk tuk ride away, and drivers are always on stand by or can be booked and take you in for a mere $2. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of the popular nightlife area and being slightly further out made sure our sleep was never interrupted. The hotel also provided us with a tuk tuk driver for the whole day to take us out to the temples for $18. He was very knowledgeable about all the best sots to hit and which order to best avoid the crowds. I don’t think we could have managed without him.

Honestly I could recommend this hotel enough, the staff and the food and the luxurious garden surroundings were fantastic. We have stayed in many luxurious resorts over the years but this one was hard to beat as it had such a personal touch. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again upon my return to Siem Reap, nothing was too much trouble for the staff and we were always greeted with a smile. If you are looking for 5 star service on a 3 star budget then this is the place to stay.

Pavillion D’Orient is located at Road no 60 (rd to Angkor), after Psah Leu market, Siem Reap, Kingdom Cambodia. Room rates start from $70 and include daily breakfast for 2 people, and a one way airport transfer when booked directly with the hotel. For more information please visit their website.

 

 

Cut at 45 Park Lane

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As you may well know I just got back from a trip home, and on that visit I spent a few days in my old stomping ground, London. Not only was I desperate to catch up with old friends, I also had a very important lunch engagement at Cut at 45 Park Lane. Now as much as I enjoy the good life, I’m not on Park Lane as often as I would like, so I was thrilled when the restaurant part of the Dorchester Collection invited me to try Wolfgang Puck’s award winning steakhouse, Cut. I’ve been dying to try one of Wolfy’s steaks for forever, in fact it was on my list of must eats when I visited NYC last year, but alas it was a little out of my price range. (more…)

Dublin’s Best Eats!

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This trip has certainly seen a lot of stops, and one of our favourites has been the Emerald Isle where my beloved TFB hails from. The land of leprechauns, pots of gold, U2, and drunkards has won my girlish heart thanks to the friendly people and fabulous food and drink. Dublin is a city that I have truly fallen for and I can’t wait for our next trip so we can explore the culinary landscape further. Now this is in no way a definitive list, feel free to comment below to let me know what I missed. But if you are heading to the fair city be sure to try a few of these. (more…)

Cornwall’s best Eats!

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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know how fond I am of travelling. I have written and shared articles about almost all of my travels over the years, but I have yet to write anything about Cornwall. Although I didn’t grow up there, that acolade belongs to Somerset, I have spent years going there ever since my parents moved there in my late teens. After London, Cornwall is one of the best locations in the country for foodies. Not only is it filled with beautiful beaches and country side it’s got dozens of fantastic restaurants and world renowned chefs. In most south west corner of the UK there are hundreds of delicous things to eat but these are the five that I believe shouldn’t be missed. (more…)

Amsterdam – Foodhallen

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I’m off, off on my travels, if you hadn’t noticed that I am instagramming from a different place every day, you should be paying more attention. Our first stop on the road to nowhere was the land of windmills and wooden clogs, otherwise known as Amsterdam. This stop was exceedingly short, in fact we only had one night before we jetted off to the cosmopolitan mecca that is Dublin, but it was long enough to eat the equivalent of about 3 meals. (more…)

Trilogy – Dream Phuket Hotel

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Hey everyone I’m back in Korea, and sadly I’ve left the beautiful sunny beaches of Phuket and come back to the rainy and windy streets of Seoul, lets hope it doesn’t last too long because I need to top up my tan. On our last evening in Phuket we wanted to enjoy a special meal together so chose to eat at Trilogy which was at the beautiful Dream Hotel and Spa where we were staying. (more…)

Phuket – Where to eat

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If you have been reading my posts regularly then you will know that I was in Phuket staying at the beautiful Dream Phuket Hotel and Spa. The hotel is located just a short 30 minutes away from the busy and bustling resort town of Patong. For me this was perfect, I got to relax in a quieter location while still being able to enjoy the party side of Patong when I needed it. (more…)