SoKo Coffee Haus

coffee 4

When we were living in Korea, I discovered that the play wasn’t the thing, but coffee; or rather, coffee shops were the thing.

My office was/is situated in a little neighborhood near Gangnam (yes, THAT Gangnam). Surrounding said office, were three Starbucks, two Dunkin Donuts, at least two Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs, as well as the elusive Caribou Coffee.

In addition to those main-stream, corporate coffee houses, there were a plethora (and I do mean this) of smaller places. Places like Ediya, Tom N Tom’s, Coffee Factory, Seven Monkey’s, Coffine Gurunaru, Yellow Tree, and Serendipity (these last two were actually in my neighborhood specifically, while the others could also be found just about anywhere in Seoul) JUST to name a few. There are literally hundreds of these places, many of them in hidden locales, holes in the wall, off the beaten path.

A Google search of coffee houses in Seoul and there are listing of places I’ve never heard of! There is (or was when we were living there) even a bird themed house (in which live birds are free to fly about) and a cat themed house (in which coffee lovers can drink their cuppa in the company of random cats). The logistics of these two are interesting to ponder and should we make it back to Seoul anytime soon, I’ll be dragging my husband and son with me to check them out. And the one my boss would take us out to, without fail, whenever the occasion called for coffee, doubled as a flower shop.

If you find yourself in Seoul, please, please visit the local chains, you will NOT be disappointed.

Coffee

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Java and Joe

Those of you who know me, know that I am in possession of a [somewhat antiquated] wet bar, that I’ve transformed into what I call my coffee station.

I have no need of a wet bar at the moment anyway. I don’t drink wine, or I haven’t since I found out I was pregnant with Tucker over a year ago.

In any case, when we purchased our home, the wet bar was already set to be my coffee station.

hutch

While living in Korea, I found myself a little collectible niche, if you will. That being the collection of coffee mugs. I have hand-crafted mugs from a few shops in Insadong as well as mugs from random Korean coffee chains, even one from the Korean Museum of Art.

Upon our return, I continued my hunt for  unique mugs. My hunt took me to Albuquerque Old Town and an art tour in Abiquiu.

And then I have the Starbuck’s city and state mugs; I’ve got New Mexico, Las Vegas, Seoul, Tokyo, Boston, and Phoenix.

So, when I have my half-caf/half-decaf cuppa, I have a wide assortment of mugs to choose from. Here are just two of my faves.

Java

Joe

Monday Munchies (II)

I apologize. I apologize right now because one of the items I’m going to share with you was so amazing, and you weren’t here to enjoy it. Don’t feel too bad. I’ll include a recipe.

Breakfast was my go-to oatmeal with crunchy PB, chia seeds, and splenda to sweeten. No breakfast is complete without coffee (with FF half-&-half and more splenda). Cuties were on sale this week, and thanks to my friend Debra, I actually knew about it! Can we say “hooray” for baby oranges sans the seeds? HOORAY!

Today’s lunch was sort of put together in a half-assed attempt at watching my points and filling my belly. No pictures present because it was pretty lame and boring. I had two Smart Dog links and a WW string cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. On the side I had left over mashed potatoes. Dessert was WW’s take on a Snicker’s Ice Cream Bar.

Now, for the main event: Dinner

Ever since my aunt sent my first care package to me in Seoul, which included within it a large bag of red chili powder, Jason and I have been making this recipe for Carne Adovada. Living in New Mexico has its perks, and amazing (and HOT) chili is one of them.

Ingredients >> 1-3 lbs beef (we used a flank steak), cubed,  2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced, 3 tbsp cooking oil (we used olive, but canola or vegetable will work as well), 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, 4 tbsp red chili powder, 1 tsp salt, 2-3 cups water <<

Process >> heat meat in a frying pan, just long enough to brown. Put the meat into the crock pot. Mix together the flour, chili powder, and salt in a bowl and set it aside. In a frying pan, heat oil. Add in minced garlic. Mix the garlic until it’s golden (not too dark or it will be very bitter). Add 1-2 tbsp of the dry mixture to the garlic oil and mix. You will need to work fast. As you mix the chili into a paste, add in 1/2 cup water. Alternate between the chili mixture and the water until all the chili is incorporated. **For thicker chili sauce, use 2-2 1/2 cups of water, for thinner chili sauce, use 3 (or more) cups.** Pour the well-mixed chili sauce into the crock pot over the meat. Mix to coat the meat. Set on low for 4+ hours.

When our Carne Adovada was ready, I served myself a bowl. You know you want some. With some low-fat cheese and a whole wheat tortilla… Yum-O.

I paired dinner with a nice California red; a delicious blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, which was refreshing and NOT dry at all, but sweet.

**Question: Are you a wine person or a beer person?**

My Cat Smells Like Coffee

“Mom. Mom. Mom.” Abner peers out the window of our breakfast nook which looks out to the backyard. He looks at me. He looks back out the window. “Mom. Mom. Mom.” He looks back at me.

I’ve just come into the kitchen, bringing in dishes from the night before that Jason and I had left in the office. My steps echo slightly due to the lack of furniture. We’re just starting out, and this place is bigger than we know what to do with yet.

Lilith is running back up the hall; she’s a tad neurotic, did you know? Uptight, and a stickler for schedules. She’s bossy too. But Abner is still at the window. His chocolate fore-paws resting on the low windowsill. It always amuses me how human-like a cat looks when they stand on their hind legs. From behind, they look like a mini-person. Of course the tail just adds to the amusement.

Abner looks out the window. I watch his head go from one image to another in quick, fluid movements. If he could speak, he’d say, “Mom. Mom. Mom.” in detached staccato.

Outside, a team of workers are efficiently hacking down branches of a tree in our neighbor’s yard. It’s very exciting.

I move to the couch, or rather the love seat. I’m not entirely sure the difference because both have only two cushions on which to sit. I guess the couch is a tad longer.  I take up position on our love seat and had I started counting, I wouldn’t have reached seven before Millie climbs on my lap. Can you say “princess”? Apparently I am Millie’s personal lap. It’s the sole reason for my existence. Just ask her.

Lucky for me, I have already wrapped up in my blanket and have access to the iPhone and remote. We like to watch things like People’s Court and Judge Judy purely for the social commentary. It’s how we roll.

Millie adjusts herself, practically crawling up my chest so her paws can burrow into my long, disheveled hair. All my gatos do this. What’s that about?

The closer she gets, the stronger the scent of coffee floats into my nose. Does my cat smell like coffee? Why does she smell like coffee? Sniff. This elicits another nuzzle of her head. We’re being affectionate. And she smells like coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great smell. But Millie sometimes smells of kitty litter and cat food, so I have to wonder. “Millie, why do you smell?” I ask, half expecting an answer as I always do. Yes, I talk to them all and while they don’t ever answer, I swear they know what I’m talking about and WOULD, in fact, answer me if they had the appropriate larynx or fingers to sign with.

My gaze drifts to our coffee hutch, the selling point of the house for me, quickly checking that the pot hasn’t shattered and coffee isn’t seeping through the counter top or rolling down it to the terracotta floor. Nope. The little green light is on, silently letting me know that should I like another cup, the deep brown coffee is warm and ready. It’s as deep brown as it is because we still don’t have a coffee scoop and use a regular spoon, resulting in a strong, robust flavor. And smell.

Maybe my cat doesn’t smell like coffee, but I do. Perhaps we all do. I wonder if, when we leave to go shopping, people can detect the scent. What a horrifying thought, considering that I used to appall the smell. The smell used to make me nauseous. But, no. My cat smells like coffee. I don’t understand it.

Through it all, Ebeneezer is chill. He makes his way down the hall to the office. Before he goes in, he takes a seat. He is just so ready for his close up.

The Monday Munchies

In light of the fact that my Weight Watchers weigh-in day is Wednesday, and I don’t want to focus too much on food right after I have weighed in, I’ve decided to turn my WIAW into a MM (see above).

So here it is:

Breakfast was a delicious pairing of Folgers Classic Roast with a dash of sugar-free vanilla syrup and milk and a homemade-by-me scone featuring chia. Now, I’ve been making these scones since I was in Korea with a slight modification. Instead of buttermilk, which was hard to come by in Seoul, I combined equal parts milk and yogurt. Depending on what your plan is, you can use plain or flavored yogurt. Of course for those of you who are looking for a healthy alternative, you can use skim milk and fat-free yogurt, which I’ve done on MANY occasions with the same yummy result. You can also mix and knead in fresh fruit, chocolate, or as I did this time, chia, for an added tasty bonus.

Coffee & Scone (8 pps)

Lunch was a little less homemade. Here I have a Smart Dog on a slice of whole wheat bread which was spread with Laughing Cow Swiss and sprinkled with blackening spices. WW Dijon pretzels and a Fig Newton bar finish out the plate. On the side, I have a hearty black bean soup from Amy’s.

Smart Dog & Amy's (13 pps)

And finally, dinner. Jason was craving Chinese, so we hit up a local place called Heaven Dragon. I ordered the chicken teriyaki and Jason got the Hunan style chicken. It would have been great if they had included our hot & sour soup instead of the lo mein we ended up with. Them’s the breaks, kids. All in all the food wasn’t too bad, and they actually deliver–a novelty for anything other than pizza in Albuquerque.

Chicken Teriyaki (10 pps)

And for desert, what Chinese dinner would be complete without a fortune cookie? I think this cookie might be referring to Duke City, how about you?

Fortune Cookie (1 pps)

**Question: What did you munch on today?**

Time for Tea? Maybe.

I’m not sure about the rest of you out there, but I adore coffee. You can find me drinking a cup (at least) most days of the week. Sometimes (usually work days) I will drink two. But, it’s not really the coffee that I love to drink, but rather the stuff I get after adding about a tablespoon of sugar and a quarter cup of milk. This is bad (especially the sugar part) for me, I know this. But, through the years, I’ve acquired a slight dependency. If I go too long (more than a day) without the wonderful java, I am nursing a migraine that lasts ridiculously long. As I write this, I am sipping down a venti caramel macchiato. Don’t worry, it’s low-fat (Starbucks does low-fat, not fat-free, but a lot of chains here in Seoul don’t even offer that option!).

Insadong Starbucks

But, I also realize that I need to make a change, and tea, in all is antioxidant richness, will be that change.

Plus, hello, I am in ASIA, the land of tea! I should adapt, if not here, then it’s NEVER going to happen. I don’t want to give up coffee completely, it’s good for my mornings and I just bought a coffee maker that I love. But, I think a little insertion of tea will do me a world of good. While reading though iVillage’s list of top ten health benefits of tea, I decided to really test my will power. Because, I don’t actually like tea. And I can tell you that it has to do with the fact that my grandmother made great sun tea, and since she’s passed (in 1989) I haven’t wanted tea; but that’s probably crap. She put a TON of sugar in our tea and THAT’S probably the reason I loved it so much… it tasted like kool-aid. And kids love kool-aid.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get healthier. I think this is a good way of going about that.

This week, too, I am giving up bread (sad) for passover. I probably eat way too much bread as it is… but it’s SO good! Damn you Paris Baguette!