Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hansik: A Korean Pop Up Restaurant Experience with Chef Akira Back at the Summer Fancy Food Show, My Two-Year Blogoversary, & a Giveaway

Above: Me, chilling in the kitchen space of Hansik with Chef Akira Back (far right)and his staff
Below: A Korean treat wonderland in the Korea Pavilion
I am, at long last, back from my self-imposed two week blogging respite/hiatus ... and I come bearing gifts! There, that got your attention. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Now, I certainly wouldn't want to bore you with every last excruciating detail of the past two weeks, so I'll skip to the good stuff: I went as a member of the press (both as a food journalist and as a blogger ... so many personas, so little time) to the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., where I was faced with a dizzying array of foods from 2,400 exhibitors hailing from 80-plus countries. And I had to try to taste it all! The horror.

But you know no matter where I go, your Trix is always thinking of you, right? So, as I tasted my way through the jam-packed convention center, I  made sure to get some extra awesome samples, grease a few palms (just kidding about that one), sniff out the best stuff, and set up some some really cool, unique, tasty, and very Trix giveaways to celebrate my two-year blogoversary and to thank all of you for reading and sticking around this long.

So over the next couple of months, look for some very yummy things coming your way! And the first one? To find that out, you'll have to read this entire post, or at the very least scroll through it and have a look at the photos along the way - I am putting some effort into this, you know!

I know a lot of the trendspotters and food press at the show were obsessed with chocolates and desserts and nibbly things. These have their place to be sure, but I was most excited about the chance to eat a three-course lunch  at Hansik, a Korean pop-up restaurant located in the - where else? - Korea Pavilion. Best of all, the meal would be prepared by Akira Back, the chef at Yellowtail at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and a former competitor on Iron Chef.

But in order to gain a coveted spot at Hansik, conventioneers were asked to meet with at least one Korean exhibitor. No problem! I met with two. First, I had a meeting with Elliot Chung, senior brand manager of CJ Foods, Korea's largest food company and one of the sponsors of the PBS show The Kimchee Chronicles, featuring Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his Korean-born wife. He told me about the new line of Bibigo Korean Pantry products that will be available in mainstream U.S. supermarkets starting in September - so all of you who aren't lucky enough to live near a store like my beloved H-Mart will soon  be able to get gochuchang at your local supermarket:
CJ Foods senior brand manager Elliot Chung
Bibigo BBQ sauce, intended to appeal to Americans who are curious about Korean food but don't know where to start when it comes to cooking it
Next, I met with Jeong Jun-Mo, manager of Anmyundo Agricultural Cooperative, to learn about a new organic Korean sun dried pepper that will be available in the U.S. market early in 2012. I don't have a photo of Mr. Jeong, as this meeting was a bit more formal than my first, but he told me (through a translator) that his favorite way to enjoy the pepper powder is in a fish soup.

And now, meetings complete, it was time to sit back and enjoy a gourmet lunch - in just 30 minutes! Somehow my meal didn't seem at all rushed, and sitting in the elegantly appointed space I felt as if I had entered an oasis of calm in the middle of the convention chaos:

Diners were allowed to choose a cocktail, appetizer, and main course, while the dessert was pre-chosen.

For my cocktail, I chose the Ginger Gorgie, a ginger margarita with Makgeolli, created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten:
Refreshing does not begin to do this drink justice. 

For my first course, I was torn between the bibim tuna with strawberry, rayu and mini corn or the kogi taco with serrano perfume, micro cilantro and smoked tomato salsa. Regular readers will know that I had to go with the taco:
Just look at that - how were they pulling this off every half hour, with so many people?? Amazing.

My main course was prime beef with aged black garlic, potato, quail egg,  and micro carrot. If I had this in a private place, I would have shoved my face down into the plate and licked it until there was not one drop of that sauce left:
For me, desert is never the high point of my meal - this was good, though. Cold raspberries with minty mocha and Korean tea air:
I was really blown away by the level of organization and professionalism that was brought to the pop up restaurant - I have eaten in many more established places that could take lessons from Hansik!

And now, since you have been so patient and indulgent, I will share my first Fancy Foods Show-inspired giveaway: A 350 gram bag of organic, sun-dried Korean pepper powder, unavailable in the U.S. until early 2012:
If you're worried about the spiciness of this pepper, don't be - yes, there is heat, but it's not overly intense. In fact, I recently cooked with this and I found it to have a wonderful smoky flavor that lends a subtle and slow-building subtle heat to your dish. You could definitely use this anywhere you would use paprika. Korean goulash, anyone?

Okay, how to win? Here's what to do:
1. Leave a comment
2. Tweet the giveaway and come back and tell me that you did
3. You get an EXTRA CHANCE if you leave a comment that demonstrates you actually read this post and didn't just skip to the giveaway part.

There - three chances to win. It's open to anyone, anywhere , and I will announce the winner on Sunday, July 24, and use Random.org to choose.

Good luck, and let my second blogoversary festivities commence! (Cue trumpets, or maybe just bugles.)

***Addendum: This giveaway has now ended. *******





36 comments:

  1. wow what a neat experience happy you got to go

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  2. beautiful presentation! looks so delicious. Fresh, fast & fun, a pleasant lunch time experience.

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  3. This just looks like too much fun!! Happy blogoversary!

    I can't believe those chili powder won't be available for another few months, but I can't wait to try it when it comes out. And I've seen H Marts around but I never visited them before. Sounds like I have to now for those pantry items!

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  4. Its always a pleasure to visit your blog, always a new adventure to learn about foods. Happy Blogoversary looking forward to the many more posts in the future that inspire everyone to blog, post what they truly feel and experience new and wonderful treats!

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  5. So that's where you've been... lucky! :) Happy Blogoversary... here's to many many more! I looooove your blog - writing, recipes, photography - everything is superb! xoxo

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  6. Welcome back! Nothing like a little break from blogging to refresh the foodie in all of us. I have yet to have authentic gochuchang, so hopefully it'll spread up here to Canada (although I don't expect it to make an appearance on my tiny island for awhile)...Theresa

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  7. This looks like the most fun convention in the WORLD! I was JUST in DC!!!! I wish I would have known about it. And that hot pepper is dying to live in my kitchen. DYING, I tell you! :D

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  8. Happy Blogoversary! I can't wait until I reach my one year mark. It looks like you got to experience so many new flavors and learn about Korean cooking. All of the photos are crave worthy. Happy to have found your blog through Foodbuzz and looking forward to more yummies from your kitchen.

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  9. Happy blogaversary! Hope you've come back refreshed and full of great new ideas. I don't know nearly enough about Korean cooking - I need to brush up on some basics soon!

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  10. I have tweeted about your giveaway!

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  11. golly, so sorry for you to have that horrid job, having to go to these types of shows and experience such - glad you made the best of it... wish I could have tagged along, very nice post, can't wait for the others...

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  12. Happy Anniversary to you and your blog :)
    Wow, this is what you did on your self imposed break? Looks like a wonderful whirlwind of food and discoveries :)

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  13. This is much more exciting than another cantaloupe soup post! How lucky are you! Congrats on the fun culinary experience AND on your two year blog anniversary~

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  14. I tweeted your give away :)

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  15. Happy Blogoversary!! We are the same age. If that is what you call a hiatus then if puts my previous hiatus to shame. The convention sounds like so much fun. I can't believe you were served that 5 star food and only had 30 minutes to eat, how they do that? It's always so great speaking to people behind a product.

    (BTW I may be extending my deadline as I'm running behind too. So you can still enter my giveaway:) )

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  16. Happy 2nd blogaversary! Seams like you celebrated your first not long ago, time flies. So fun to go to these events.

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  17. Demonstrating that I read it all: I would pay 5$ to see a pic of you liking that plate!

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  18. tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/cethniceatz/status/92688976212787200

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  19. Happy blogaversary! What a way to celebrate! Beautiful photos! Beautiful food! I want the minty mocha and korean air tea. It looks so interesting!

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  20. Happy 2nd blogaversary! That is a big one, congrats!

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  21. A ginger Margarita with Makgeolli sound great - I am not sure what Makgeolli is, but ginger in a margarita sounds wonderful!

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  22. That is just way too cool. I have a mental image of you running off with a plate behind and exhibition booth and licking every last drop from it!
    Happy two-year.

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  23. Happy Blogoversary! What an opportunity that pop-up restaurant gave you - not just the gourmet fare, but the impetus to interview folks and try new things.

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  24. Happy Blogoversary! The Fancy Food Show sounds awesome- I'm sure it was a tough job trying to taste everything, but somebody had to do it! :) The sauce with your main course DOES look good! Yum!

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  25. Wow. Such a great post. A pop up restaurant, your blogoversary AND a giveaway? You are too generous! And no, I did read the whole thing and not just the headline! I did skip over most of the proper nouns though. :)

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  26. Happy Blogoversary! That lunch sounds like it was the perfect foodie celebration of this important milestone!

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  27. Okay, totally jealous of your blogging 'hiatus.' When I take a trip...its never to awesome fun food heaven like this! Happy blogoversary!

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  28. Trix
    I sure hope you are going to tell us mere mortals about the other 2399 exhibitors at this show! I am not an expert on Korean food but I too admire the way they organized this make-shift fancy eatery in the midst of an exhibit hall: Wow!! Never heard of black aged garlic, so many intriguing ingredients ao artfully presented. Now to the pepper, I will tweet about it and let you know in the hope of winning this little thing (curiosity is eating at me).

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  29. Read the whole post? Hell, I was licking the sceen!

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  30. Oh, the ginger margarita looked so good I am drooling for one!

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  31. Trix, I would impose a hiatus on my blogging too if I could go off and experience something like this! What a lucky girl you are... I'm intrigued by your gourmet lunch at the Korean pavilion, especially the red seaweed-looking thing. What IS that? Loved that you tried to marry your love of Korean and Austrian food...yes, I would totally try that Korean goulash if you made some!

    Happy 2nd Anniversary, my friend! Thanks for letting us in on the celebrations ;-).

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  32. That Korean tea looks dleicious. looks like you had a wonderful meal. love anything with spicy. My Korean food knowledge is only fired noodles, by the ways awesome giveaway.

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  33. Hi Trix - first of all congrats on year number 2! And best wishes for continued success with your awesome blog.

    After being a blogger judge for Top Chef Korean Food Challenge, I "heart" hansik. http://www.tastewiththeeyes.com/2011/02/please-join-me-in-judging-top-chef-korean-food-challenge/ Every bit of it, can't get enough, my latest kitchen additions have all been Korean, from spoon & chopstick sets to a tukbaege. I would have loved to attend that luncheon with you. The new pepper powder sounds interesting.

    See you at the Farmers' Market?
    LL

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  34. Trix..that was a good korean meal you had at Hansik :) great photography and happy 2nd blogoversary to you :)

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