2.249 Smoked Salmon with Artichoke Hearts and Capers


11 (Sun) September 2011

Smoked Salmon with Artichoke Hearts and Capers


by me

at The Terrace

(Grand Hyatt Hotel)

-Hannam, Yongsan, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ

Chuseok, Korea’s most venerated national holiday, represents the celebration of the autumn harvest.  Ideally in large gatherings of the extended family (if possible), ideally in the family’s ancestral hometown (if possible), ideally with obscene amounts of traditional food and drink (if possible), it’s celebrated over 3 consecutive red-letter days, the middle day being the main day, allowing a day each for getting ready (food), gluttony (food and drink), and recovery (drink).  During this time, many/most families also engage in elegiac rituals for their ancestors, a somewhat incongruous part of the otherwise life-affirming festivities. 

It’s calculated on the lunar calendar and thus corresponds to different dates on the solar calendar every year (for the gainfully employed, the best-case scenario is to have the 3-day period start on a Monday or a Wednesday and thereby create a 5-day vacation when combined with the weekend on either side); this year, for example, it began on a Sunday (making it a 4-day vacation with Monday and Tuesday being free.

Arguably the grandest and most elegant entrance of any hotel in Korea.

The Hyatt was offering a special holiday package that included an overnight stay + buffet dinner for two + use of the facilities = 150,000 won.

At 150,000 won for a single room facing the rear, it’s a pretty good value insofar as the occupancy of a hotel room can really be worth that much money.
30,000 won cheaper than the frontal rooms that face the Han River, but I found that the view of Namsan and Seoul Tower was pleasant.
The more expensive rooms across the hall came with complimentary oranges, which we discovered when we snuck into one that was being cleaned by housekeeping.

The package came about in connection with our 5th wedding anniversary.  Being a romantic soul, I had initially hoped to have dinner with the wife and kid at the Ritz-Carlton, where the actual event had taken place 5 years ago, and toast the occasion at the stroke of midnight.  But we discovered that the Hyatt was offering a better deal, and had a better view, and a pool, so to hell with romance.

The frontal view, as seen from the room we’d snuck into.
Look at that musculature!
For DJ, the best part of the experience was simply eating ice cream by the pool.

Alas, the quality and creativity and variety of the buffet were all subpar.  Not even a full buffet, just a single circular table with a handful of salad items and appetizers, sushi, carved meats, and hot dishes, none of which was particularly tasty or interesting.  The featured photo shows something that I made, which rated 3.0 only because I was so happy to find artichoke hearts, a rarity in Korea.

In response to the surprised disappointment that I expressed over the food, W declared that the Hyatt buffet had always sucked.  But I could’ve sworn that it had once been one of the better spreads on the scene, back when buffets in general were cool and hotel buffets in particular were primo.  “And when was that?” she asked.  “Around when I was in high school,” I replied.  “That was more than 20 years ago,” she said.  “Fuck,” I said.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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