My grandmother has never traveled on an airplane and doesn’t intend to change her ways at age 80, but she likes to travel through food. A few years ago I took her for bibimbap. This past year I ordered a bowl of Hawaiian poke when we were out one night. My grandfather winced and pushed it away (he likes his food meaty or sweet, and both if possible). My grandmother gobbled it up.
So last week when I drove to the valley to visit them, I thought long and hard and decided to take them for Korean BBQ. I reasoned that my grandfather surely wouldn’t complain about eating a bunch of meat and my grandmother would probably get a kick out of all the kimchi and pickled vegetables. I googled “Korean BBQ” in the valley and ended up with a couple options. We went to the one closest to their house.
Before heading over, I called Shik Do Rak. After all, it was a Sunday afternoon. It might be busy. “Can I reserve a table?” I asked.
“How many?” asked the hostess.
“Welcome,” she said, and promptly hung up.
My grandfather look surprised. “She didn’t ask your name?”
“Nope. I guess she probably just wrote down ‘white girl.'”
Sure enough, in the several hours we spent at Shik Do Rak, we retained the status of the only white people. We lived up to our reputation. I didn’t understand the menu, but my grandmother became inpatient to get what she wanted and I didn’t feel like arguing, so I ended up ordering double the amount of food for the three of us. They had only beer and sake (my grandmother drinks wine and spirits). My grandfather ordered beer and I convinced my grandmother to try a sake. I promised her something sweet. “Do you have any nigori?” I asked.
Our server came out with heaps of meat – including beef, which my grandmother does not eat.
“What’s this?” my grandmother panicked.
It turns out you get the beef with the basic menu, like it or not.
The server came out with the sake and bowl to drink it in.
“Can we have forks?” my grandmother asked. “And can I have a glass?”
The server kept a smile on her face. Even when I started putting the meat on the grill myself. I knew I should wait for them to do this, but my grandmother was inpatient to eat and the beef was taking too long. The server looked at me. She rolled with it.
I guided my grandparents through the meal – this is cabbage pickled with ginger and chilies. This is marinated pork. These are rice wrappers. This is how you make your own dipping sauce.
They jumped right in. They ate almost everything – except those boring, barely marinated rice squares. My grandfather, who can be reticent about new experiences, especially food-related ones, left a big tip. “That was really good,” he said as we walked to the car.
Before I left their house, my grandmother asked me if I wanted any limes. She took me out to her tree. We picked 5-10 pounds and still there were plenty more fruit on the tree.
I took them home and made:
Falernum. (This is a good introduction if you don’t know what it is.) (The Uber Chef suggested Falernum would be a fun thing to make and take with me to the boat in December.)
Lime and ginger cookies
Lime and ginger syrup
When I went ice skating yesterday, I made my own sport drink. The Uber Chef joked and called it “Cole-Aid” – it contained lime juice, water, sugar and salt. When I got home, I made a Caipirinha.
Tonight the Uber Chef has invited me upstairs for enchiladas. This is the salad I brought:
Shaved Fennel & Apple Salad
1 fennel bulb, shaved (save the stalks)
1 Gala apple, shaved
1/4 c. lime juice
T. olive oil
A lot of cumin (1-2 t.?)
Cayenne pepper, several shakes
Honey, 1-3 t., adding to taste
I stirred it all up, added cracked black pepper. Topped it with a handful of walnuts that I toasted, cooled, then shaved on the mandolin.
The kicker? I still have limes left. To be clear, I’ve used at least 35. Any suggestions?