The latter part of 2016 was a blur of activity… Apart from the usual holiday rush, there were back-to-back events, several deadlines, and…
Our fifth. <3
Yes folks, Chad and I have been married for five (five!) years as of December 2016.
That said, we decided halfway through the year that we would spend time in our usual haunts (and more) in Europe. We’d visit a friend in the French countryside, do the Autobahn in Germany (and see snow), and celebrate the New Year in Paris.
But, as the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
We had to make a side trip to Seoul for a business meeting before going on our second honeymoon.
To make the best out of the situation, I decided to drink my way through the places we went to and talk about it in the blog.
Seoul is one of the best places to go to for beauty products, stationery, and food. I couldn’t help myself and gorged.
Korean food goes well with several drinks… One of them is soju (which I’ve written about in a previous article); another is good, old-fashioned beer (spicy food and beer go together very well). There are three popular beers, two of which are manufactured by Oriental Beer: OB Golden Lager and Cass, and Hite Beer. I loved how Cass Fresh, a crisp pale-lager, went well with Korean barbecue and spicy kimchi stew (plus the Korean actor du jour tends to grace the label, which is a fun insight to what’s happening in Korea at the time).
I’ve made a couple of beverage-related discoveries in Seoul, however. First, they have a huge coffee culture, complete with cute cafés that serve surprisingly good coffee.
Second, they also have a thriving craft beer culture. I stumbled upon a little restaurant after touring one of the castles (I literally wandered around after the tour, so I apologize for not being able to properly cite the place for this portion) which served interesting craft beer, one of which was called Jirisan Moonbear, a pretty robust IPA.
Then, there’s makgeolli. It’s essentially semi-sweet fermented rice, with a milky-white colour and approximately 6-8% alcohol. One of the reasons I was hesitant to try it was the etymology: “mak” means “carelessly”, and “geolli” is a derivation from a verb that means, “sifted”. I couldn’t find a restaurant that served it, but I managed to find a bottle in a supermarket… It wasn’t bad, but I honestly preferred beer.
There is nothing on earth like a French maman and her cooking.
This was why we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit one of our favourite friends in her family’s home for the holidays.
Apart from the splendid, simple, and wonderful wines (which went superb with the dinner that included mouth-watering charcuterie, salmon, roast duck, some of the freshest vegetables, and macarons), I discovered something: “’Sky” (a slang for whisky that I picked up from our friend’s papa) is also produced in Lorraine and Breton.
I was humbly gifted with one of my new favourite finds: Armorik Single Malt. As our friend, Alex Sawit of Cyrano Wine Selections said, “Brittany (Bretagne) is one of the six Celtic nations (together with Scotland and Ireland), so whisky-making is appropriately made there in that northwestern corner of France.” Amorik is an easy drinking whisky, with gorgeous floral aromas and pronounced honeyed characteristics. I could easily imagine myself having it with, of all things, Christmas cookies.
I loved that the family we stayed with knew how much I loved wine… So much so that they decided to take us to a nice scrumptious dinner in a restaurant in a cave, featuring several wines from Saumur.
When in Munich, beer.
Absolutely, beer. Preferably in Oktoberfest.
And maybe some weiβwurst (white sausage) to go with the weiβbier (white beer), the most popular beer in Munich.
People could get weiβbier (and more) from any of the numerous biergärtens (beer gardens) in the city. Biergärtens usually have an exclusive deal with one of Munich’s six breweries (the only ones allowed to serve beer in Oktoberfest):
- Augustiner-Bräu – This is the oldest (it has been around since 1328) brewery in Munich, and is famous for the Helles (which goes through prolonged secondary fermentation) style.
- Hacker-Pschorr – Once two breweries (Hacker and Pschorr), it’s known for the fact that Joseph Pschorr donated the land on which Oktoberfest is still held today.
- Hofbraü – It is legendary for having one of the biggest biergärtens that eventually turned into a major tourist attraction, the Hofbraühaus. The brewery is owned by the Bavarian government, and still uses recipes handed down by Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria (1548-1626).
- Löwenbräu – Roughly translated to “Lion’s Brew” (hence the distinctive lion in the logo), their claim to fame include the fact that they’re truly Bavarian (thus their tagline “Ein Bier Wie Bayern” which roughly translates to “A Bavarian Beer”), and that they meticulously adhere to the Reinheitsgebot (the Bavarian beer purity regulation established in 1516).
- Paulaner – This is Munich’s number one global selling beer, which enjoys immense global popularity. It was fun to visit their brewery in Munich and to have tried some of their freshest batches straight from the source.
- Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu – They were the first to produce the pils (pilsner) style in Munich.
Also, since Munich has one of the more festive Christmases in Europe, it was imperative that we tried some Glühwein (hot wine). It has some spices to it (like cinnamon), and was perfect for celebrating the season in freezing weather.
At this point, I guess some people are wondering which place I found the best of them all… Honestly, home is the best place to spend the holidays. It doesn’t matter if home is in the person’s actual residence, or on the other side of the globe (although it has to be said that the Philippines has got to be the most festive place on earth during Christmas). Home is absolutely where the heart, and loved ones, is… Most likely enjoying libations. 😉