Tag Archives: Introvert

Korean Style

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After several events, parties, deadlines, meetings, homework, chores, and appointments, I found myself in a major state of burnout a couple of weeks ago. It was the type of burnout where I seriously shied away from the outside world (more so than usual) and wanted to live like a hermit for a couple of days.

So, like a responsible adult, I fixed my schedule to avoid any and all human contact, and searched for entertainment the best way I knew how: iFlix and Netflix.

After looking around for what seemed like an eternity, I decided to forego the usual western TV series and documentaries and try out a Korean drama.

Yes, my name is Gail, and I watched a Korean drama (with English subtitles, of course).

Backtrack: I never had any interest in Korean culture and entertainment. I think it was because the first Koreans I’ve met in Manila weren’t the nicest people… Those encounters left a bad taste in my mouth.

I only began to give it a chance when my husband started working for a Korean company. I started meeting really nice Koreans who taught me their brand of indulgence: cheap and effective beauty products (I have yet to meet a Korean with bad skin), amazing Korean food (although I have yet to figure out where they put them, they’re so skinny!), and Korean drama.

Korean drama is how Latin Americans treat their telenovelas: Everyone has a favorite, and watching them is almost a religion. In fact, given Korean technology (and their breakneck bandwidth speeds), a lot of these dramas are made available online and accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

Which brings me back to my original story: To chill out, I decided to indulge myself in a nice Kdrama, put on a much-needed facial mask, and, because I’m a beverage geek, drink something totally Korean.

 

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Refreshing Aloe Vera Juice from Landmark Supermarket

 

Aloe Vera Juice

I heard of Aloe Vera for hair, but never as a beverage. The drink tasted like really sweet candy and promised to decrease bloating. Online research produced conflicting studies (some studies say too much of the stuff can pose health risks, others say it’s great for detox), but the cute bottle and refreshing characteristics were enough to make me want more.

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Acaféla Bottled Caramel Macchiato from Landmark Supermarket

Bottled Coffee

Honestly, I got this because of the bottle and the wordplay on acapella. It was a choice between this flavor and a dark coffee, but I was craving for something sweet at the time. This did the trick… The caramel flavors were the roasted, creamy kind (my favorite).

 

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The Korean staple, Soju

Soju

I heard about Soju when Chad was hunting down a store to buy some for his Korean officemates. I heard of it again while I was watching a Kdrama, where I discovered… Man, Koreans love (and get drunk on) Soju. It’s as readily available in South Korea as San Miguel is to us. Essentially, it’s a distilled beverage containing ethanol and water, made from rice, wheat, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca, and is consumed neat. The alcohol percentage varies from 16.5-45% ABV… Which makes it quite potent.

If this isn’t enough, some people turn them into Soju Bombs: Similar to boilermakers, a shot glass of Soju is dropped into a pint of beer and is consumed fast.

 

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Plum Wine, available in Kang’s Salcedo Village

Plum Wine

While shopping around for Soju, I discovered this bottle of plum wine. It’s made out of maesil plums (which are bottled along with the alcohol). It’s popular, cute, and is about 14% ABV. It’s sweet, fragrant, fruity, and packs quite a punch. There’s a premium gold edition, which has a smoother, more elegant texture to it. Personally, I couldn’t drink this on its own, it needs food (preferably Korean, of course!).

 

That being said, excuse me while I return to my self-exile vacation, while I enjoy what’s left of my Soju, Japchae, facial mask, and Kdrama. 😉 Let me know your favorites. Geonbae!

On Leaving Hearts and Holidays

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It takes nothing short of a huge miracle to get a severe introvert like myself out of the house (my friends are amazing for putting up with me… Thanks I and K). Severe introverts take so much comfort in silence and routines that the idea of spending the holidays in a place we’ve never been is petrifying.

This is exactly what I was thinking, as I struggled with a massive panic attack in the last couple of days leading up to our trip in San Francisco.

Normally, Chad and I have a tradition of counting down to Christmas by watching old holiday films (“It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Eloise at Christmastime” are some of our favorites). We would wait for midnight to open presents, eat a snack, drink some wine, and marvel at how I’ve transitioned from horror movies with my brother to proper Christmas flicks (Chad hates horror movies, but my brother and I shared a strange sense of macabre during Christmas).

This is followed by yet another countdown for the New Year in front of our window. Our high-rise faces the fancy subdivisions a few blocks away (they try to outdo one another with fancy fireworks on new year’s eve). We would toast at midnight, eat 12 grapes (a tradition from Chad’s family), laugh at the thought of people inhaling firework residue in some crowded place (we’re quite antisocial that way), then brave the streets (which by 1 am would resemble a warzone) to meet up with friends in Chihuahua Makati Avenue (now Woody’s).

I was comfortable with the routine. I loved it.

Fast forward to Christmas of 2015. I was mentally kicking and screaming in NAIA as I waited to board the plane (then again, maybe the fact that NAIA is consistently one of the worst airports on the planet had something to do with my anxieties). I proceeded to do what any wino would do: knock myself out with the free wine on board Philippine Airlines (not the best stuff, but it had to do) and hoped my apprehensions would not transform into some form of rebellious angst.

Luckily, things totally turned around when we touched down in chilly San Francisco.

Maybe the efficient airport did it? The lack of traffic or pollution? The fact that my in laws were feeling the festivities and the massive post-holiday sales? Whatever it was, the festive mood was both intoxicating and infectious, like a delicious virus spread through lethal cocktails (I had to relate it to something intoxicating and infectious, so humor me).

When we got to my in laws’ house, we were greeted by some of the best things in the planet: a wonderful cold that a person who grew up in the tropics (me!!!) needed to get accustomed to (yay for fashionable layering!), an 80-something pound Golden Retriever (who needed to reconcile his actual size with how small he thought he was), and… Wine.

Our (adoptive) BFAM (Brother From Another Mother) gifted us with two bottles of wine: a Duckhorn Chardonnay from Napa and a Decoy Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Equally sublime, the wines represented some of the best in California winemaking… I particularly adored the Pinot Noir for its elegance and complexity.

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Beautiful Wine on a Beautiful Christmas Morning

From this point, we basically ate, drank, and shopped our way through San Francisco.

 

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Best Non-Alcoholic Drink Finds Near The Wharf!

Must Drink: Hot Chocolate from Ghirardelli (richest, creamiest, thickest hot chocolate ever!), and Irish Coffee from Buena Vista (where the first Irish Coffee in America was made… Guests can buy ingredients from their gift shop, too). There’s a Peet’s Coffee wherever we looked… It’s heavenly (especially during chilly days), and my brother in law swears it’s best when it’s freshly ground (totally agree).

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Fancy Ambiance for an Equally Fancy Brunch!

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Ferry Building Food and Beverage Finds

Foodie/Wino Restaurants to Visit: Have brunch in Fairmont and The Palace Hotel (brunch is apparently a big deal in San Francisco… Expect free flowing Champagne or Mimosas!), then have a gastronomic feast in Michael Mina (seems pricey, but the food is absolutely worth it and the wine pairings were on point… Look for Claude for the most concise food and wine pairing explanation). Go to The Slanted Door for a delicious modern take on Vietnamese food, then go around the Ferry Building for foodie finds (Blue Bottle Coffee is a must try!).

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What A Haul!*

Must Buy: Chic insulated wine shoulder bag from Bed Bath & Beyond (for your fasyon BYOB needs), huge frou-frou coffee cups (Anthropologie), manual ceramic coffee drip (Sur la Table), spices (I loved the Pumpkin Pie Spice from Trader Joe’s, which is now a necessary addition to my morning coffee), and metal ice that wouldn’t water down a glass of whiskey (Brookstone). Look for funky-girly bar stuff (from sparkling wine inspired wallets to cute mugs) in Kate Spade.

Since San Francisco is a hop skip and a jump away from Napa, our BFAM one-upped his presents by taking us to Napa for a wine tour…

…which I will save for another article. 😉

So. Did I leave my heart in San Francisco? Surprisingly, I did.

Being the introvert that I am, however, I need to recharge (and get over my jetlag) for a week.

Coming up: Adventures in Napa.

Cheers!

Special shoutout to our family in San Francisco, thank you so much for having us in your home and showing us around your side of the world. You are infinitely amazing. Thank you to our BFAM for everything. To the P family, you were so wonderful to host us for a dinner; You are also welcome in our home whenever you’re in town. My home office smells divine, thanks to your Christmas present. 🙂

*Thanks S for the Kate Spade Stuff! You’re right, it’s totally us! Missing you from across the ocean!