Thursday, February 11, 2010

Herb Island

Last weekend I went with Unni and her youngest sisters' family to Herb Island, an herb-related park about an hour outside of Seoul. I wasn't sure what to expect but figured it would be a good excuse to get outside. On our way to Herb Island, we stopped at Mushroom Village and bought a variety of fresh mushrooms. I never realized that mushrooms had much of a scent until I was in a room with tens of thousands of them.

Herb Island was a large compound of greenhouses and Bavarian-looking cottages filled with plants, flowers, and all sorts of herb-related products. There was a craft house where you could make candles or soap, and an ice rink around which dedicated dads could push their young ones in clunky wooden sleighs. Also there was an outdoor dance area where people were learning some kind of salsa step.

We spent about 3 hours walking around looking at and sniffing things. In one gift shop, there was a man at the entrance whose job was to rub some cooling peppermint oil on the nape of the neck of each visitor. After it got dark, the whole place was lit up with multi-colored Christmas lights which unni found immensely tacky.

On our way home we stopped for dinner at a rural restaurant specializing in duck ssamgyeopsal. I got a kick out of the duck-roasting devices embedded in each table, which were like meat toasters into which you could insert a skewer, then knobs you could press to eject them when the meat was cooked. The triangular prongs on the end of the meat trays allowed you to easily slide the meat off of the skewers.

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