Emma’s Food Diary #1: 🍔👑

food, Travel

Number one fact about me: I am a foodie. I know, I know, the term ‘foodie’ seems to be thrown around a lot these days but honestly I love food. It gives me life, it shows me happiness, it fulfils my existence in a way I never dreamt possible.

Okay… slightly over the top. But the premise is true. I love food.

And there is nothing I love more than a good, old burger, stacked up high with a side of lovely, golden, crispy chips. On a recent ten day trip back to the UK, I made it my mission to grab as many of my old time faves as possible. Needless to say but I succeeded, and then some… this burger queen devoured SEVEN BURGERS in TEN DAYS! Now I doubt I’ve broken a world record but I am super impressed with my statistic there.

Time for a breakdown of the old classics and a couple of newbies for good measure:

CLASSICS:

FIVE GUYS:

Absolutely destroyed two of these bad boys during my stay as a cheeky five guys is without a doubt my favourite ever burger. I always order the bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, gherkins, barbecue sauce and mayo. It is the most glorious combination! The savoury flavour of the patties and bacon combined with the sweet grilled onion and barbecue sauce. Wooooo! I love it 😍

The five guys style chips are an obvious winner too; their salty goodness indulge me so much that I’ve never needed to look the other way and venture to try the Cajun style. Perhaps one day in the future I may divert but for now I’m perfectly happy to cherish salty potato heaven.

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With my one true love!

ALMOST FAMOUS:

Also smashed two beasty burgers from here during my home adventure…

First up: the Awesome HQ at the NQ branch. Let me give you all the deets… double cheeseburger, buttermilk fried chicken, halloumi cheese, coleslaw, peri peri bbq sauce and bacon bacon mayo. Phewwww! Rather a mish mash of ingredients there.

I enjoyed the different challenge the Awesome HQ presented, but as the name implies, two burgers have been combined to make one, meeting together at a plated headquarters, sandwiched between two sides of a bun. I think I would have preferred them separate and perhaps as they should be; a cheeky double cheeseburger with bacon bacon mayo and a fried chicken sandwich with the halloumi, slaw and peri peri bbq sauce.

Next up: the Guy Ritchie at the Great Northern branch. ZERO COMPLAINTS HERE!

The deets again… double cheeseburgecheddar, wonder buttered peppered steak, shoestring onions, pickles, smoky bacon ketchup and chipotle mayo. Gahhhhhh what a combo! Fair few similarities to my regular five guys order so was undoubtedly going to loooove it but that damn peppered steak… ooooft. Took the burger to a whole new level! Took me to a whole new dimension! Loved it!! Will definitely be my Almost Famous go to from now on.

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Almost Famous’s Guy Ritchie!

THYME OUT:

I was introduced to this lovely little place by my mother. She’s a regular and absolutely loves their food and so I joined her on the odd occasion the year before I left for Korea and loved the food too. So a visit there only seemed necessary…

Their menu has changed somewhat since I left. There used to be a burg I’d always go for called the Big Manc, a play on the Maccies Big Mac, but yet so much better! The dearly departed had been replaced with Return of the Manc; another punny name inspired by the absolute 90’s banger by Mark Morrison.

The burger is fairly standard; two cheesy patties, nice thick strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup in a sweet and shiny brioche bun. Not uniquely show stopping but certainly a damn good burger that checks all the boxes you want checking when needing meaty carby goodness.

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Thyme Out’s Return of the Manc!

NEWBIES:

THE IVY:

A new experience here, no prior knowledge nor expectations but sadly my burger (with a totes original name – ‘The Ivy hamburger’) came with a side of disappointment for it arrived ‘deconstructed’. I’ll never understand this phenomenon… just give me my food completed, constructed, ready to be eaten. The meat and cheese were in the bun but the lettuce, tomato and gherkins were off to the side stabbed together with a large toothpick and in my tired, confused state I didn’t realise it was up to the eater to add the salad they desired so I just ate those before tucking in to the patties.

Sore mistake as the burger was slightly too dry without the salad no matter how much mayo and ketchup I slathered over the bun.

Still the evening wasn’t a complete disappointment… I had some cracking zucchini fries as an entrée along with some super smooth pâté on toast as a starter.

Not to mention being reunited with my family in the flesh for the first time in almost eleven months. That was also rather nice 😜

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The Ivy hamburger!

PECK & YARD:

Last but not least… a finger lickin’ experience in Chorlton. Normally not the one to just go for a chicken burger; I always prefer either a bargain bucket or popcorn chicken on the rare occasion I hit a KFC but this burger spoke to me for a very specific reason.

The burger had all of the expected parts essential to a cracker of a chicken burger however it excelled all others due to it’s Korean elements; a cheeky ‘kimslaw’ (a kimchi coleslaw hybrid) and a ‘hot K-pop mayo’ (literally just mayo mixed with what I assume to be red pepper flakes or 고추가루 to Koreans).

There is no denying Korean fried chicken is currently a worldly favourite; the abundance of crunchiness yet lack of greasiness means you’re on to something special and it has never failed to disappoint me yet. So when I stumbled upon Peck & Yard’s Pow-Pow Stack, with its Korean influences, I had to give it a whirl.

It didn’t disappoint; the chicken was tender on the in, crispy on the out and the slaw and mayo gave the sandwich a lil punch and kick to elevate it on the spice scale.

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Peck & Yard’s Pow-Pow Stack!

AND THERE WE HAVE IT…

Wooooo!! Relieving the memory of those seven beasty boys in eleven days is enough to give me thrills with a side of meat sweats! A lot of people have questioned if that has been enough to finally put me off a cheeky burg and the answer, thankfully, is no. I don’t think anything could ever put me off… I’ve been back in Busan not fourteen days and I’ve already tried and tasted two different, local burger spots! #burgerqueenforlife 🍔👑

Leave a comment if you know of any other meaty treats I MUST try whenever I am next back in Manchester or the UK! Indeed, leave a comment if you know of any beauties in Busan or Korea!! Or just leave a comment if you think I’m bonkers and hopelessly in love with burgers 😅

 

 

 

Plane to Busan!

Film, Travel

It has been a month and a day since I jumped on a plane in Manchester and moved half way across the world to Busan and what a blast I have had so far! After dreaming of living and working in South Korea for more than five years, I am SO happy to say I have not been disappointed once yet! Busan is everything I could have ever dreamt of and more; the sounds blasting around the streets, the sights of mountains in the near distance, the smells of barbecued meat and the narrow side streets that make me feel as though I have just stepped right in to the chase scenes from Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser… and that is just my local area, Seomyeon. Let’s delve in further and I will tell you all about the things I have enjoyed most thus far…

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Views for days!

THE FOOD

The love story between Emma and food is one for the ages and is perhaps greater than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the food in Busan has only made that love blossom and has taken it to a whole new level! Here’s my fave foods so far:

• Korean Fried Chicken is hella good; so far I have had it more times than I care to admit to myself but I’m just gunna say carpe diem and go with it! It has been worth it. It is suuuuuper crispy and so so tender! You can get some in a red sauce that is called Yangnyeom; it is spicy, it is sweet, it is sticky, it is delicious! I’ve had it with friends, a beer and a side of pickled radish and we were all the happiest we have ever been. I’m pretty sure I will be besties with the workers in my local Thunder Chicken in no time and I am more than okay with that!
• Korean BBQ: I left Manchester so certain no BBQ could match that of the one and only Abbers… I hate to say it but the barbecued food I have had out here so far registers at a close second place. Korean BBQ is so different from that which I’m used to. You grill the meat yourself in the centre of your table and it comes with lettuce leaves for you to wrap the juicy meat in with a lil bit of ssamjang! My co-workers recommended a restaurant called Maschandeul to me, the Dongnae branch, telling me they serve the best samgyeopsal (pork neck BBQ) in Busan so I headed there one Friday with my sister and daaaaaamn that place is amazing! I’ll definitely become a regular there enjoying their super succulent pork BBQ. I have also tried eel BBQ which again was so tasty but a little bit freaky considering the eel was extremely fresh and therefore their tails danced around a little when you initially threw them on the grill!
• Bungeoppang, little fish shaped pastries stuffed with red bean paste! I have to admit… I was a little sceptical about these before trying. I mean they are fish shaped and they are stuffed with something I have never tried before… but during my first week at my apartment I ventured over to the Korean grocery store close to my building and there was a little stand selling bungeoppang just opposite so I decided to give them a whirl. 2 lil fishy pastries for 1,000KRW which is hella cheap and my god, they are so damn good! Crunchy pastry, smooth, sweet filling: a warming snack on a chilly evening! Sadly my bungeoppang lady has disappeared off the face of the earth; either she has closed up shop or she has moved to a new location and I am a little devastated!

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Samgyeopsal heaven!

NORAEBANG

Or just Korean karaoke rooms…

Usually back home a chilled night out means either grabbing food at a local restaurant or enjoying a few cocktails in a NQ bar but a chilled night here in Busan equates to one thing: singing your heart out to Aerosmith in a room with mates and a few glasses of somaek (a mixture of beer and soju)! I cannot speak for those who have had to suffer my seriously awful singing voice but I have certainly enjoyed the times I have spent screaming “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” in to a microphone. Also “Mmmbop”, “YMCA” and “5,6,7,8” by Steps (which by the way should totally come with a warning stating you must be able to sing extremely fast before attempting this song – I was losing my breath). Noraebang is such a laugh! It brings me right back to childhood, the days I spent in my room with a karaoke machine singing “Barbie Girl” or something equally lame. I am 100% sure it will become the thing I do when I want to do something fun but not splurge a whole load of money on a crazy night out!

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With Leenz singing a song for our Patty Jo! ❤

VR GAMES

Or virtual reality games for those not yet in touch with the modern world…

My co-workers invited me out with them one evening to just chill and spend time together away from work. We went for some food first and then headed in to the heart of Seomyeon for some fun. We started off with some shooting practice: a toy gun you aim and fire at targets to earn points, and if you reach a certain amount of points, you get to choose a little cuddly keyring. I slayed the game and bagged myself a smiley poo emoji keyring! Side note: anyone who says the smiley poo isn’t the best emoji around is either lying to themselves or has some serious issues! After the shooting practice, we headed to VR Playce: an awesome little second floor centre with different rooms where you enter your virtual reality! We got more shooting in during the first game, killing goblins before they attack a fortress with a bow and arrow. We played this for about 45 minutes, killing three quarters of the time we had paid for before deciding to switch it up and go for something different. The next game we played involved an elevator taking you up to the top of a building where a plank awaits you with a cake at the end! This game is certainly not the one for those who have a fear of heights! Luckily I’m good in that department and I managed to tip-toe my way towards the cake, picking it up in one piece, staggering back a little before plummeting to the ground below! Super crazy game but a lot of fun! We finished off our time at VR Playce with a bit of skiing: I have never taken on some slopes in real life but I was a pretty good skier in my virtual reality!

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Nice lil pic of smiley bae as unfortunately I have none of my VR experience!

So as you can tell my first 29 days in Busan have been food and fun filled! I cannot wait to spend another year or so here getting to know the ins and outs of Korean life, food, modern culture, history and everything else! I’ll keep you all posted!

Have you ever been to Busan? Is there anything you have done or tried in South Korea that you can recommend? Let me know in the comments! 😊

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The heart of Seomyeon!

Manchester: the ultimate busy bee!

Uncategorized

Manchester: a city that stands united.

Sadly the above sentence was borne out of a tragic event; the suicide bombing that occurred ten months ago at the Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert. Manchester was thrown on to the world’s stage as a place shrouded in grief; it’s citizens were locked in a state of utter turmoil and despair following the wake of the atrocity and Mancunians (myself included) could just not understand how or why something so awful could happen to their beloved city and why so many innocent people had to lose their lives due to one person’s senseless, selfish actions.

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The abundance of flowers in St. Anne’s Square – in memory of those we lost ❤

But despite it all Manchester pulled through…

When the initial reports started filtering through the media that something had happened during the concert at the Manchester Arena, hundreds upon hundreds of people were sharing information, doing their utmost to provide help, transportation and lodgings to those who left the event disorientated. I would refresh my Facebook timeline every thirty seconds and see dozens of new posts offering a sofa for people to rest their head or listing the names of children and teenagers they were keeping safe amid the chaos. At that moment, I could not have been prouder of my birthplace, my home, my Manchester and so I decided to write this post dedicated to the best city in the world!

Things I LOVE about Manchester

  1. Number one should be kinda obvious if you read my introduction… it is the PEOPLE! The wonderfully warm and wacky people nicknamed Mancunians! They are the beating heart of the city, the essence that gives Manchester its notoriously friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I love going for walks with our Lazza and being greeted numerous times by fellow walkers; a simple ‘good morning’ is SO refreshing these days considering the majority of people live their lives behind a screen and thankfully Manchester has not kicked the ‘old age’ tradition of speaking to people face to face.
  2. The endless varieties of food on offer! Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Korean… Manchester has it all and none is in short supply! I loved my time working in Rusholme because of the available food options; I would shuffle over to Falafel for some creamy hummus and warm pitta or make my way over to the Afghan Cuisine for a steaming kobeda kebab. Akbar’s on Liverpool Street is my go-to Indian; they have the most flavoursome seafood balti and supersized naan breads that come to your table hanging further than the length of a 30cm ruler. Yard & Coop is the place to go for some fried chicken! Marinated in buttermilk, it is super juicy and tender whilst the batter is amazingly crispy. Dazzling Café is a fairly new place but it has the most awesome collection of pizzas! I tried the pesto duck pizza the week before I moved and it was so tasty. The pesto was super green meaning it was freshly made and the duck complemented it well. I also tried their honey toast for dessert: a massive mountain of sweet bread, smothered in hazelnut sauce and cream…yummy! Almost Famous has an eclectic collection of burgers and fries; some include frazzles, there is bacon rain…it is every Burger Queen’s heaven! Ultimately Manchester is the place for all the foodies out there!

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    Dazzling Cafe’s amazing duck pesto pizza!

  3. The weather! Always a bone of contention for most Mancunians but not for me. I have always preferred the colder season of winter back home; nothing better to me than being snuggled up warm at home on an early dark evening listening to the pounding rain outside. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy the days of sun we do get during summer, feasting on my dad’s exquisitely marinated BBQ food or by strolling around one of the many parks, however winter is my buddy! So much so that the first time it chucked it down over here in Busan, I simply sat under a shelter and enjoyed the sight, smell and sound!

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    Cheeky summertime BBQ!

  4. Northern Quarter! Is there any where better for a cheeky couple of cocktails and a slut drop extravaganza than Manchester’s very own NQ?! No, there is not. Favourite place to let my hair down on Fridays and Saturdays has to be Lost in Tokyo! Decent drink prices and a blend of RnB and Pop music. Majority of the time I stumble over to Twenty Twenty Two’s once LIT kicks me out for a few tipsy rounds of ping pong! The nightlife does not end here however… there are countless bars in the NQ where you can just enjoy some drinks and a chill with mates. I’m always either in Affleck & Brown (awesome cocktails) or The Freemount (awesome live music to tap your feet to). Also the NQ has served as a filming location for Peaky Blinders and Captain America in the past!

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    Twenty Twenty Two’s! 😛

  5. Afflecks Palace! Integral part of the NQ! A fantastic, multi-storey complex where you can find one-of-a-kind clothing, buy unique barbells or hoops for your piercings, or get a new tattoo. My favourite thing about Afflecks is its inclusivity; it does not judge, it does not hate and it states this the moment you walk through the door. It’s anti-phobic stance is emblazoned across the stairs going up to the first level from the Short Street entrance. Anywhere that treats everybody as equal feels like home to me!

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    Afflecks Palace FTW

  6. Royal Exchange Theatre! I have seen countless shows at the Royal Exchange (‘Macbeth’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, ‘Helen of Troy’) and so far none have failed to disappoint. A personal favourite would have to be ‘Fatherland’; a brilliant performance fulfilled by 13 cast members about contemporary fatherhood and how the past has shaped it and what hopes there are for the future. Although the entire cast were phenomenal, the standout performer for me was Tachia Newell; Manchester born and bred, he was a student at Xaverian College (incidentally where I worked before moving to Busan) and he starred in ‘Waterloo Road’ for a few years. During ‘Fatherland’, my eyes were instantly drawn to him each and every time he was in the centre of the theatre. His performance was so raw, organic and he is definitely one to watch!
  7. Surrounding areas! There are so many nearby areas to venture out to if you ever want to get away from the city for a little break. Lyme Park is in Cheshire and it is such a wonder patch of land to go for a Sunday stroll. There are quite a few, cosy and dog-friendly pubs nearby as well serving delicious food! It also served as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; I like to picture Mr. Darcy waiting for me there! Formby beach is just over an hour away by car; we always take Lazza there as he loves the feel of the sand underneath his paws. There are also some amazing country spots where you can go for a long walk. Ladybower Reservoir near the Snake Pass is beautifully picturesque at any time of the year and Mount Shutlingsloe is lovely but make sure you wear the proper sort of walking shoes as it gets quite steep once you reach the top. I, of course, wore Nike Air Max and was slipping and sliding all over the place. There are so many other places to explore which I have on my to-visit list once I return! 
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    Lazza on Formby!

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    Ladybower reservoir!

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    On the top of Shutlingsloe

Honourable mention: iFly! Before I traded Manchester for Busan, I went to iFly near the Trafford Centre with my family to do indoor skydiving! It was such an awesome experience, a mad adrenaline rush and it has made me want to experience outdoor skydiving! It has been added to my bucket list!

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EmmaFly!

Any Mancunians who think I’ve left something vital off this list? Anyone ever visited Manchester and have a favourite place to walk/shop/eat? Let me know in the comments! 😊