Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tomato and Bacon Salad
A few of these first few posts will be about food that I don't typically seek out in Korea, but I had the opportunity to stay at a hotel for a week and figured I may as well write about my experiments with the room service there:
I tend to think of salads as the perfunctory opening act for the meal's main event, so the few salads I've had in my lifetime that have overcome that bias stick out in my mind. The first was from Father's Office in Los Angeles and bursting with fresh, seasonal mushrooms. The second one came from Tavern on the Green in New York and featured spinach tossed with lightly toasted hazelnuts, thin parmesan shavings, and a fragrant, light lemon dressing. The picture above is of the third, which comes from the hotel where I work (I won't reveal the name, but send me a message if you're in Seoul and want a treat). For the first time in my life, I enjoyed stewed tomatoes. I also thought about this salad for most of the remainder of the day and ordered it the next. In fact, I may need to order it tomorrow. Sure, it contains the Korean version of bacon (softer than the American kind), which some may contend is cheating, but I have had plenty of salads with meat in my lifetime, and none of them were in the same league as this one. Each piece of lettuce was coated with the perfect amount of vinegary dressing, which was infused with the taste of the tomatoes and bacon. The earthy parmesan shavings were the perfect complement.
After the salad I had a red Thai curry that was something of a disappointment in comparison. It wasn't spicy enough for my liking, and tasted like a curry I could get from a Thai place on any corner in L.A. The one element that elevated this curry above the rest was the texture of the vegetables. The asparagus, for example, was firm and springy on the outside, but each bite gave way to a divine, soft center that melted on my tongue without being mushy. I dug out all of the equally well-cooked vegetables and left much of the actual curry in the bowl, although that was mostly because I was still full from devouring the salad.