-Cycle 3, Item 86-
31 (Sat) March 2012
with Wild Porcini Salt
by Yong I
at Susan Academy (수산아카데미)
with Cho JH, Choi SW, Kim KH, Lee HS, Yong I
It was Yeonhee's birthday. We went camping.
The steak came late, well past midnight, after most of the others had drifted off to their tents, as if the chef had been saving it for the hardy few who'd earned the privilege. The chef was Yong I, a semi-regular of the group who's been with us since last fall. Apparently, he makes a lot of money as a director of television commercials and enjoys a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption. Case in point, for this trip, he'd shopped for groceries at Dean & Deluca. However expensive Dean & Deluca may be elsewhere in the world, it's double here in Korea. Among other items, he'd bought a jar of wild porcini salt, which was the primary seasoning that he used for the steak. Earlier, he'd made a big fuss about marinating the ultra-pricey cut of hanwoo (한우) (Korean beef) in some ultra-pricey Bordeaux. He also likes to talk about the fancy cooking classes that he's attended.
When it was time to cook, he heated the pan to smoking hot, drizzled some extra virgin olive oil, seared the steak for a couple minutes on each side, then finished it off by adding a splash of wine to the pan, which had the dramatic effect of bursting into flames and eliciting oohs and aahs from everyone. Done. He didn't even let it rest but immediately carved it into thin slices and served it on the cutting board with the salt.
The campsite was a typical "auto-camping" ground,
more parking lot than nature.
Last year, we all decided that we go camping too often to deal with the hassle of pitching formal tents, so everyone in the group purchased some form of the Quecha tent, which has an internal wire suspension that springs into completed form when simply tossed on the ground.
And I had the blessed fortune of tasting what may have been the perfect steak, certainly the best that I've encountered in my life. Perfectly crispy on the outside. Perfectly rare on the inside. The wine marinade balanced perfectly with the marbled beef. The mushroom salt provided a perfect touch of woodsy/earthy flavor that paired perfectly with the smoky aroma imparted by that flaming technique at the end. Even after considering certain variables that could've magnified my impressions of what, at the very least, was a very good piece of well-prepared meat--say, I was drunk and/or hungry and/or in a good mood; in fact, I was none of those--the conclusion holds firm. Upon taking a bite, I started jumping up and down, like Tom Cruise, an idiot that couldn't help himself, so overcome with intense emotion.
So long as we're camping in parking lots,
I've begun to push the convenience factor one step further by sleeping in the car.
Roomier than a Quecha, the interior allows me to stretch out my 183-cm frame without touching at either end and to sit up straight without my head touching the ceiling.
Designed for the purpose of accommodating sleepers, the backseats in the Land Rover Discovery fold 90 degrees forward and down to the floor to provide a completely level surface.