Seoul Soondae (서울순대)| Annandale, VA, DC

Porkbelly here. Some friends took me to Seoul Soondae in Annandale Virginia. Annandale in Northern Virginia has a good amount of Korean Restaurants, not K-town levels as in LA, but I would consider it some of the best along the East coast, yes that is NYC/NJ included. Seoul Soondae is a restaurant known for their Korean Blood Sausages.

Tucked away in Seoul Plaza is Seoul Soondae

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Their logo is a pig…. It’s seen throughout the restaurant

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The decor of the restaurant reminds me of Gom Tang E in Centreville, perhaps they hired the same designer?

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The Pig logo is everywhere

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It’s a no frills Korean place. The waitresses don’t really speak English that well, but they are friendly and polite. But who cares, it’s all about the food.

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The usual Panchan of Kimchi, Daikon, Beansprouts everything was on point.
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This is what we came here for, the Soondae, It’s a Blood sausage stuff with noodles inside, it’s absolutely delicious. The Sausage just melts in your mouth. It also comes with pork belly, liver, stomach, tongue.

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I noticed a lot of Korean Restaurants have this bean in their rice.
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Dukboki (떡볶이) – Spicy Rice cakes, this was also on point.
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Kimbap – Korean Rice roll with Beef. It tasted like Kimbap…..
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Bibim Gook Soo, Cold Spicy Noodle with Vegetables, kind of like the noodle cousin of the more popular Bi Bim Bap. Bi bim means to mix, so you mix everything up. This dish was refreshing.

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Gam Ja Tang – Spicy Pork Rib Stew with Potato. This is what I got, the soup base is red from the hot red peppers, the black peppers give it a extra kick, the broth is cooked to perfection with the right amount of savoriness, and the Potato really completes the dish. It comes with some pork on the side that is super tender and tears right off the bone.

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The pork…..

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Overall this Seoul Soondae is pretty decent. For the normal fare Korean food, the Dukboki, Kimbap, it’s all pretty standard. I would come here for their Gam Ja Tang and Soon Dae. I think this place would be awesome for a cold winters day.

Seoul Soondae Restaurant
4231 Markham St, Annandale, VA 22003
Seoul Soondae on Urbanspoon

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Costa Rica 2014 Day 2 Part 2 Arenal – Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort | Tips on Shooting Waterfalls

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after all that hiking in Tenorio Volcano National Park and along the Rio Celeste River we were exhausted and def ready for the hot spring at our hotel, Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort. hot spring is a must if you are visiting costa rica.

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the resort is beautifullllll. if you didnt stay at the hotel, a day pass to the hot spring is around $60 per person. it is free for people that do stay at the hotel. i think i only paid $200 a night for the hotel room. it’s a much better deal to stay at the hotel. this is def the best hot spring resort in the area according to my research.
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a quick tip on shooting waterfalls:

take a look of these two pix, which one looks better?

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i hope you think the pic on the right looks better. the water flows a lot more smoothly than the one on the left. to achieve this effect, you need longer shutter speed. i use 11 to 15 shutter speed to shoot waterfalls. its slow enough the capture the water flow, but still fast enough for me to hold still with a tripod so my pictures dont turn out blurry.

some pix i took in water with my gopro.
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eating and drinking in hot spring? life is too good.
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more pix of the rest of the resort

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i highly recommend staying at this hotel is you are visiting Arenal. not only the natural hot spring is one of the best in the world, the staff also was extremely nice and helpful. everything was perfect except for booking tours through the hotel was more expensive than online prices. i’d book ahead of time online to save 10-20 per tour per person.
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13 Km Noreste de Centro de la Fortuna de San Carlos, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica
(877) 277-8291

read about the rest of my trip:

Costa Rica 2014 Day 1 San Jose – Poas Volcano – Arenal – Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

Costa Rica 2014 Day 2 Part 1 Rio Celeste River | Tenorio Volcano National Park

Costa Rica 2014 Day 2 Part 1 Rio Celeste River | Tenorio Volcano National Park

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its day 2 in costa rica. we signed up a tour last night through our hotel to go to rio celeste river. i believe its $20 cheaper if you booked online, but since we booked it last min, i thought it was easier jus to do through hotel.

celeste river is a river in the rainforest of tenorio volcano national park of costa rica. it is known for its distinctive turquoise coloration caused by a chemical reaction between sulfur and calcium carbonate.

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the tour guy picked us up in the morning. it was just us and a girl from argentina so it felt like a private tour.

volcano arenal was all cloudy the entire time when we stayed there. the local told us only 30% of chance seeing the volcano. mostly cloudy all year round.

rio celeste is about an hour away from our hotel in arenal.
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on the way there we saw a white face monkey and a sloth.

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one of the benefits of having a tour guy is he can spot wild animals so well. i had a hard time find the animal even when he pointed out for me. they are really blended in with nature or maybe im just blind.
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my 1st time seeing a sloth in person. so happy


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we finally arrived to Tenorio Volcano National Park
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there is where two rivers join together becomes one and where the chemical reaction between sulfur and calcium carbonate so the water turn blue.
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it was some intense hiking. the trail was almost nonexistent; you pretty much walking in mud the entire time. i pretty much hike everywhere with flip flops but wouldve not made it with this one. i did in toms tho but only because it didnt rain. i wouldve been fucked if it started raining. hiking shoes are actually necessary if you come on a rainy day.
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ok after the hike, we were so ready for lunch. this soda/restaurant is the only restaurant near the parking lot.
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my friend got a veg plate which was delicious according to her.
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i LOVED my fish filet. it was SUPER tender and flavorful. i wish all fish filet tastes like this.
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i like how their currency has animals on it instead of humans
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we headed back to our hotel after rio celeste. we were pretty tired and so ready for dipping in the hot spring.
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Backyard Farms at NeBo | Boston MA

Hi all,

Porkbelly here. I had the great opportunity to eat at NeBo in Boston to try out the new fall menu featuring the delicious locally grown tomatoes from Backyard Farms. Backyard farms is a year round Tomato producer in Madison Maine, you heard that right, year round in Maine! They produce the freshest Tomatoes and they happen to be right in our Backyard (pun intended). I am excited to announce that Backyard farms is releasing a new beefsteak tomato, the Somerset Pink in the up and coming weeks. They are the very first large tomato producer to bring this beefsteak tomato to the market! The tomato will be available only in Maine, New Hampshire, and on the new NeBo fall menu. The tomato is like nothing I’ve ever had, it has a very rich flavor (and light in color), almost a うま味 (Unami) flavor, like a deep savory taste, it is like nothing I’ve ever had in a tomato before!

Nebo Boston is located off of Atlantic Ave next to the Intercontinental Hotel. I took an extended lunch break today to attend their new fall menu tasting luncheon featuring the tomatoes from Backyard Farms. Nebo was founded by two sisters the Chef/owners Carla Pallotta & Christine Pallotta, utilizing the receipts inherited from their mother, inspired by their travels to Italy and Italian upbringing. Nebo stands for North End Boston, They originally opened in Boston’s North end, they have since moved to a larger location near Boston’s Financial district.

The menu looks very promising!

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First up is the Backyard Farms Somerset Pink Tomato with Burrata, Saba, and EVOO (Extra Vigin Olive Oil). The Burratta complimented the Somerset Pink Tomato very well, the Burratta tasted extremely fresh, and the Somerset Pink tomato gives it further depth.  The olive oil is excellent, I believe it was imported from Italy.

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The Executive Vice President of Sales of Backyard Farms Tim Cunniff passed around some of the cherry tomatoes from Backyard Farms, they are extremely fragrant and taste just a good.
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Speaking of Tim, here is he next to Carla Pallotta Chef/Owner of NeBo.
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The bread is delicious, I like dipping the break into the sauce of the clams (more on that later)
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We received a gift bag from Backyard Farms, we’ll reveal what we received further below!

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Another busy day at NeBo
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This bread is called Mama, it is a potato based bread, the potato is cooked, broken down and incorporated into the dough. The starter for this bread is over 100 years old, the reason why it is called Mama is because when they would feed the dough, they would sing the song Italian song Mama, it is a starchy potato based bread that goes very well with the tomato jam. When the owners moved restaurants they had a 5 month period between locations, they had to keep the dough alive, originally they didn’t know how they would keep it alive, they researched and researched, and through perseverance the dough is here with us now. Once the bread hit the table, I could tell it was something special, the aroma of the bread is intoxicating.

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Backyard Farms Vine Ripe Tomato Jam….

The Bread matched very well with the sweetness of the tomato jam. It is quite addictive. I think I helped myself to 4th or 5ths.

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Salumi Misti – Prosciutto Di Parma, Mortadella, Finocchiona Salami, Coppa, Speck, and Asiago cheese. Standard Italian fare, very delicious, everything went will with each other. The bread, jam, salumi, and cheese it was like they were made for each other.
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The restaurant was packed during lunch

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As I said, the jam is very addicting…… the Backyard farms tomatoes were very fresh.

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Handmade Pasta – Spaghettini, Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomato, Capers, Olives, and EVOO. The pasta was delicious, at BunnyandPorkBelly, we love hand made noodles. Nothing can compete with that Chewy texture. Everything paired well together, the tomatoes are sweet and flavorful without being mushy, and the capers are delicious, I believe they are imported from Italy. The pasta was perfect, I don’t believe I’ve have had handmade pasta in Boston before…..

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Veraci In Brodo – Baby clams, Finicchiona Salami, Ceci, Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomato + Bruschetta with spicy Aioli…. The clams were like nothing I’ve had here, they were imported from Italy, they have a nice sweet succulent flavor. The Finicchiona Salami is a nice addition, the bread is great for dipping into the sauce, and of course the Tomato gives it a nice sweet hint. An overall well executed dish with the best ingredients.
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Finally we get to the Pizza Blanco – Backyard Farms Beefsteak Tomato, Prosciutto Cotto, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Arugula, Parmigiano.

I love Ricotta on a Pizza, it adds a unique texture and taste. All of the ingredients tasted extremely fresh, especially the Somerset Pink Tomato, which added to the savory pallet of the pizza. The Arugula gave it a nice balance.

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Finally, we can find out what was in the gift bag…..

Some delicious Tomatoes, Somerset Pink and Cocktail, a cutting board, Knife, and a USB stick. Thank you Backyard Farms, I can’t wait to enjoy this.

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Money shot of the Cocktail Tomatoes
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Thank you Nebo for inviting us, and Thank You Backyard Farms for supplying the delicious Tomatoes! If you have a chance, try the new Fall Menu with the Tomatoes! Overall everything extremely fresh, NeBo uses the highest quality ingredients, most of it imported from Italy. The Tomatoes taste spectacular, I can’t believe it in grown year-round in a greenhouse in Maine. Everyone has to try this!

520 Atlantic Ave
Boston, MA 02210
Nebo on Urbanspoon

Backyard Farms
131 River Road
Madison, ME 04950
tel: 207-696-5300

Costa Rica 2014 Day 1 San Jose – Poas Volcano – Arenal – Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

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i went to costa rica back in august. i accidentally wiped my memory card and didnt realize it til it was too late to recover. i lost a lot of pictures i took in manuel antonio. i was so heart broken so i wasnt in the mood to write these posts til now. i still cant believe this happened, but oh well shit happens.

costa rica is rated #1 happiest country as well as the greenest country in the world. its one of a few sovereign nations without a standing army.

our itinerary for the six days in costa rica looked like this:
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normally i’d rent a car and drive myself, but costa rica is notorious for terrible road conditions. since we are only two girls traveling by ourselves, i didnt want to risk it. we mainly depended on private shuttles and tours. the roads were indeed terrible; i wouldve not been able to make it if i drove myself.

day 1. we arrived to san jose around 11:00 am. i booked a private driver to drive from the airport to our first hotel Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort in arenal. shared shuttles to arenal wouldve been cheaper, but i wanted to visit poas volcano on the way to the arenal so we had to hire a private driver to drive us. the driver warned us that the best time to see the volcano is very early in the morning, we only had 40% chance of seeing the volcano at noon due to the clouds. i still insisted on going because we wouldnt have another time to go.

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we stopped by a ‘soda’, small diner, for some lunch.
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they serve casado which is a typical costa rican meal using rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and a portion of protein such as chicken and fish. pretty delicious
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we parked our car and walking to poas volcano
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we got to the top of poas volcano but it was cloudy so we couldnt see anything. although we couldnt see it, the smell of the sulfur was pretty strong.
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it supposed to look like this when its not cloudy oh well

we left poas volcano with disappointment. we stopped by la paz rio waterfall on the way down.
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arenal volcano from far away
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we also stopped by las iguanas restaurante. there were a lot lizards on the trees next to the restaurant thats why its called the lizards restaurant in english.
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we finally arrived to tabacon grand spa thermal resort

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the resort was beautiful. i will show more of the hotel pix in day 2.
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we went to the hot spring of our hotel. more photos to come in day 2.
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hot spring pool bar?! i could stay here forever
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The Taste of WGBH Food & Wine Festival 2014 Chef’s Gala Reception

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early sept i attended this year’s The Taste of WGBH Food & Wine Festival 2014 Chef’s Gala Reception. the reception featured 25 of the best chefs in boston. all the dishes were paired with selected wines and craft beers.

four seasons bristol lounge | brooke vosika | crab gougeres with chives, golden tomatoes and lobster coral
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catalyst | william kovel | spice crusted tuna, cucumber radish salad, lemon syrup, sesame tuile
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red lion inn | brian alberg | summer ratatouille w/tomato vinaigrette & mill river micro greens
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zapoteca/mixteca | shannon bard | lobster bisque
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ribelle | tim maslow | cherry tomatoes and kimi figs with gremolata, pangrattato, and dehydr8 riseling vinegar
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prohibition pig | michael werneke | corn muffins with cultured farmstead butter, smoked pork rillettes on crouton with pickle, and bailey hazen blue cheese tartlet with black walnuts and maple
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Bondir | jason bond | salmon
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brasserie 28 | matt morello | charcuterie
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tremont 647 | andy husbands | bbq brisket, kimchee sauce, yuzu apple slaw
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il casale cucina italianna/il casale cucina campana | dante de magistris | panzarotti: smoked scamorza stuffed potato croquette, roasted pepper sauce
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state room | david blessing | lobster banh mi sandwich, cilantro citrus marinated lobster, pickled fennel, chili aioli
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tao yuan | cara stadler | grandma tang’s roast pork buns
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mc spiedo | mark gaier & clark frasier | spit roasted suckling pig, macaroni, root vegatables, farm egg
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tallulah on thames | jake rojas | sweet berry farm peaches, curried yougurt, anise, hyssop, tarragon, pickled onion
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chef jake saw i was taking pictures, he plated one for me just to take pictures.
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Boston chops | chris coombs | steak tartare
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tavern road | louis dibicari | smoked bluefish pate with fennel pollen and orange mostarda
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puritan & co. | will gilson | heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil and marinated scallops
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80 thoreau | carolyn johnson | lamb dumplings with smoky eggplant and peppers
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millwright’s | tyler anderson | onions, chicken vin, fried chicken skin with pickled golden raisins
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zebra’s bistro | brandan pelley | cold smoked hanger steak tartare with cured egg yolk & bacon fat powder
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alden & harlow | michael scelfo | oil cured tuna, grilled potato, piccalilli, sweet corn aioli
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deuxave | jaime davis | milk chocolate cremeux, compressed apple cider, olive oil cake
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tres gatos | nevin taylor | lamb kofta and mixed vegetables with green goddess dressing
this tasted as bad as its presentation
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oleana | maura kilpatrick | figs chocolate cake
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live music by perry rossi band. they are pretty awesome
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this wine from france was super super good. please let me know if you know where i can find some!
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i had a blast at the taste of wgbh food and wine festival chef’s gala reception. the food and wine were great and it was nice to be able to talk to some of my fave chefs in boston. great live music as well. i hope i will have a chance to come again next year.
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