Top 20 Things To Do At The Damyang House

What will you do during your stay at The Damyang House?  Here are 20 suggestions to help you organize your visit (in no particular order).  These can all be done without a car (bus/transfer service gets you to the house):

1.  Hike Through the Bamboo Forest
Pretty obvious choice seeing as you’ll be surrounded by it on three sides.  Added bonus:  the trailhead is in the front yard.

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Restaurant Review: Windmills of My Heart (내 마음 풍차) – Soba Noodles/Don Katsu


Don’t be fooled by the goofy name of this restaurant…it actually used to be a functioning mill and was used to grind the crops gown by local farmers.  They’ve kept a lot of the old machinery intact and it makes for a really unique atmosphere inside.  The additional antiques around the restaurant provide just enough eye candy to keep you busy while you wait for your food.  Nice views of the nearby river and excellent background music (60’s and 70’s Korean pop music) as well.

 

 

 

 

 


This place was empty for years so we were pretty excited when the owners finally decided to remodel the space and convert it to a momil restaurant and cafe.  I’m a HUGE fan of both momil and don katsu, the main two dishes here, so it was going to take a lot more than a quirky atmosphere to impress me.  Sure enough our first visit left me not only unsatisfied, but also annoyed that the server wouldn’t give our group more than one order of don katsu because they thought it was too much food.  It wasn’t.


To be fair, we went shortly after they opened and it’s very possible they were still sorting out their menu.  We decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and recently returned to see if things have improved over the last six months.  They definitely have.

The momil is handmade and the odang was a welcome addition.  The broth was a bit on the weak side, but it was otherwise a solid effort and something I’d be happy to eat on the regular.


The don katsu is also handmade and one of the best I’ve had around Damyang.  This is what I’ll return for!  The additional fried treats, salad and rice were all tasty as well.  Not as fancy as what you get at SoHo down the street, but still pretty damn impressive.

 


Two piping hot bowls of soup and a fried pork cutlet for 20,000won.  They even gave us free americanos in to-go cups as we left.  This is a perfect spot to grab lunch after visiting the Eco-Park, or just stop by for a latte and enjoy the warm caste-iron stove, unique atmosphere, and countryside views.


Not a fan of noodles?  Plenty more restaurant suggestions can be found here.

TDH Updates: 11-19-14

We’re gearing up for winter and the colder months ahead!

The cold weather pretty much guarantees you’ll be spending considerably more time indoors during your visit.  Not to worry.  We’ve updated the entertainment center with a sweet 55″ smart TV and the full 5.1 surround sound experience is now hooked up and ready to go.  No neighbors to complain, so don’t be shy with that sub-woofer!!  Feel free to bring your favorite movies, or dig through the 200 or so we have on tap.  14,000 songs as well, and the music sounds just as good on those speakers.

This heating pad doesn’t look like much, but it will make all the difference during your stay.  The caste-iron fire place will keep it toasty well into the night, but inevitably, it’ll burn out and the temperature will drop.  You won’t notice at all!  (don’t worry, there are space heaters and ondol in addition to the fireplace and heating pad.  You won’t be cold!)

Those of you visiting in groups larger than two will appreciate the new sleeping pads and blankets we’ve organized.  Guests 3 through 6 will have to fight over floor space in the living room, but we can at least promise a good night’s rest.

Hope to see you soon!

Homemade Pizzas From Scratch

With so many healthy distractions around it’s easy to overlook something as standard as a kitchen.  Especially during BBQ season.  I can tell you, however, that after a decade plus of living in Korea our kitchen is far from standard.  The biggest benefit of remodeling this dump (see the before photos here) was that we could correct a lot of the “mistakes” the original designer made.  Believe it or not this kitchen used to be a separate closed-in room in the back of the house.

Besides having enough space for more than one grown human to cook in, the kitchen is also well stocked with all sorts of fun tools to help make you feel like you know what you’re doing.  You’d be surprised at what I’ve dragged back with me after my yearly visit to the States (cast iron sausage grinder for starters).  Here’s my collection of pizza tools, which although not 100% necessary, sure do make the experience infinitely more enjoyable and efficient (Butcher’s block, pizza cutter, pizza stone handle, pizza peel, pizza stone and rolling pin).

Not saying I have the best pizza in the world, but I will say it’s pretty damn tasty, always a crowd pleaser and crazy cheap compared to what the local “Italian” restaurants are charging.  Basic recipes and procedure below.  Consider it on your next visit!

Sauce
Sure, you could use spaghetti sauce, but that’s not impressing anyone.  Not to mention making it from scratch takes about five minutes and is nearly impossible to screw up.  Put these ingredients in the blender and give them a good mix before cooking it down (simmer for 45 min).  

1 can tomato sauce
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 large onion (caramelized)
2 bulbs of garlic (roasted)
1 spoonful of tomato paste
1 spoonful of chopped oregano
1 spoonful of chopped basil
1 spoonful of red pepper flakes
1 spoonful of sugar
Healthy pinch of salt
Healthy pour of olive oil

Obviously the recipe is flexible so add/subtract to taste.  Roasting the garlic is also an extra, but I usually roast some to use as a pizza topping anyway and like the taste of it in the sauce.  Do yourself a favor and cut the ends off before drizzling them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, wrapping them in foil and cooking them for 35 minutes at 230 degrees.  Yum.

Dough
Every recipe for dough looks similar so don’t put too much thought into it.  The tricky part is remembering to make it in advance, preferably the night before. 

6 cups flour
2 1/3 cups water
20g salt
20g sugar
15g dry yeast
Healthy pour of olive oil

Mix it all together and let it sit, covered, in a warm place until it has time rise at least once. 

Toppings
This can be a bit labor intensive, so now would be a good time to get the rest of the team involved.  Plenty of knives and cutting boards around so give everyone a vegetable and have them start chopping while you man the stove and cook everything down.  It’s pizza so there are no rules.  Here’s my usual set-up:

Veg:  Onions, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, and spinach

Cheese:  Cheddar and mozzarella (mixed),  Goat cheese (separate)

Meat:  Homemade spicy Italian sausage (10,000won/250g), anchovies

 Here’s what my work station looks like~

Procedure
Once everything is organized you can start cranking out a pizza every 15 minutes.  Pizza by nature is a casual food (at least at my house!) so we usually eat while we cook.

Roll out the dough while the oven is preheating to the highest temperature possible, usually 250 degrees.  The pizza stone should be in the oven.

 

Sprinkle corn meal on the pizza peel (or dust with flour) to prevent the dough from sticking.  Gently transfer the rolled dough from the counter to the pizza peel. The dough should “slide” around on the pizza peel when you snap your wrist.  If it sticks you’re never going to get it in the oven!

Sauce the dough and add whatever toppings you want.  I usually keep it simple, never adding more than three toppings.  Do NOT add the cheese yet as it will typically burn if it’s in the oven too long.

When the oven is ready to go you simply need to slide the pizza from the peel to the stone.  Not always as easy as it looks.  It takes a couple of tries to get the hang of it.  Let the pizza cook for about 10 minutes (this will vary depending on how thick the crust is…these times are based on a thin crust).

When the pizza is nearly finished, grab the pizza stone handle and remove the pizza/stone and place it on the stove top.  Cover the pizza in cheese and return it to the oven for a couple of minutes.  When the cheese is melted it’s ready to eat.  Slide the pizza off of the pizza stone directly onto the butcher’s block, slice and eat while you start prepping the next pizza.

Enjoy!

Spicy Italian Sausage, Onion, Yellow Peppers, Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese:

Spinach, Mushroom ,Onion, Goat Cheese:

“The Vegetarian” (Mushroom, Onion, Spinach, Bell Peppers and Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese)

“Breakfast Pizza” (Homemade American Breakfast Sausage (sage), Onions, Sunny-Side Up Egg, Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese)

“Garbage Pizza/Calzone” (Last pizza of the night…all the remaining ingredients!)

TDH Updates: 10-8-14

Seasonal changes:

  • Winter is approaching and with it comes the need to heat the house.  The cast iron fireplace was originally bought for it’s aesthetic value, but after realizing what it costs to heat a stand-alone house with ondol things quickly changed.  That 200kg beast in the photo above, when used correctly, does a much better and more efficient job of heating the house anyhow.  Guest staying during the colder months will be given a quick tutorial and are encouraged to turn down the ondol and enjoy a proper fire.  Honestly, you’d be crazy not to!

  •  Enjoy a piping hot cup of coffee on us.  Have a couple.  Free coffee is now available!  I bought that gorgeous stainless steel french press as a Christmas gift for my brother, but quickly ordered myself one after seeing how nice it was.  A little taste of luxury first thing in the morning is never a bad thing.  

  • We harvested the last of our summer veg (peppers anyone?) and replaced the planter box with some leafy greens and scallions.  Definitely the healthiest garden I’ve ever had the pleasure of maintaining.  Feel free to grab a few handfuls to eat with your BBQ.