Irish Abroad: Top 10 Irish Foods We Miss

Lately I have really been craving various Irish foodstuffs that I simply cannot get here. I decided to ask my wide range of expat friends (who now live in Canada, Dubai, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Japan and Myanmar/Burma and many more exotic locations) what Irish food they missed the most while living abroad and the following were the Top 10 answers! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more good suggestions. :)

Number 10: A decent pint of Guinness

In fact this isn’t limited to Guinness, more Irish drinks in general which you often can’t get abroad. A decent Guinness, a pint of Beamish or Murphys, and an ice-cold bottle of Bulmers Light (for those watching the calories!) are the top contenders on the list of most missed alcoholic beverages. Along with Buckfast Abbey, that is.

While Korea does have a good choice of local alcohol ranging from low quality beer to a cheap distilled beverage known as Soju ( top selling alcohol brand in the world!!) and delicious rice wine called Makeoili, none of these will ever live up to a good Irish pint.

A good pint

A good pint

Number 9: Clonakilty Black Pudding

Clonakilty Black Pudding is a staple food item in houses all over Cork, and Ireland. Black Pudding , and the sausages, bacon, eggs, beans and toast which go with it, can cure any hangover no matter how bad and are not only eaten for Breakfast but can be easily transformed into a Gourmet Lunch or Dinner should the need arise!

There is NOTHING that comes even close to replacing Clonakilty Black Pudding here in Korea. Eating rice and spicy cabbage (Kimchi) to cure my hangover just doesn’t quite do the trick!

Mmm Black Pudding

Mmm Black Pudding

Number 8: Chicken Fillet Roll from Spar 

One of the biggest things I crave from back home is the humble ‘chicken fillet roll’ made up for you in a matter of seconds and found in every deli in the country. The fact that nearly every shop has a Deli, and that there is a shop on nearly every corner in every town, makes the lunch time experience back home a blissful experience!

When it comes to lunch time choices in South Korea, the choices are pretty limited and far from appealing! Most food is deep friend and if on a rare occasion it is not, my lunch time choice are limited to a variety of dishes made with rice, spicy cabbage and spam. No thank you!

The infamous Chicken Fillet Roll

The infamous Chicken Fillet Roll

Number 7: McCambridge Brown Bread

I think most Irish people will agree with me when I say that there is no better brown bread that McCambridge Brown Bread. Be it for toast in the morning, or sandwiches at lunch time or with soup in the evening, nothing beats a few slices of McCamdridge!

Here is Korea they seriously lack good bread, which is a bit of a mystery given the fact that there is a bakery to be found on almost every corner. In Ireland, bread is pretty much part of our staple diet where-as in Korea it is more of a treat or a luxury thus all the bread, and bread products are sickly sweet and could never be used the way they should be….to make a decent sandwich!

Best bread in the world!

Best bread in the world!

Number 6: Ballymaloe Relish

The relish SO famous, they sent it to space. Enough said.

Ballymaloe Relish

Ballymaloe Relish

Number 5: Cadburys Chocolate

No matter what country, no matter what continent, no place does a chocolate bar like Ireland. Ireland has the biggest selection of delicious milk chocolate, available in every shop, on every street corner, in every town (similar to the infamous deli counter!) and no amount of Hersheys, Peanut Butter cups or whatever other bizarre chocolate is on offer around the world will ever compete with this! Be it a Dairy Milk, a box of Heo’s or a tin of Roses at Christmas, nothing beats Cadburys chocolate.

Pure chocolatey goodness

Pure chocolatey goodness

Number 4 : Tayto Crisps

By sure Ireland’s favorite crisp. You just can’t beat a salt and vinegar crisp sandwich or opening up a packet of Cheese and Onions Taytos in the pub and sharing them with all around you. Soon enough, some other kind soul will return to the table with a new round of pints and another packer of delicious Tatyo crisps. And so it goes on…

In Korea we are given magical choice such as Wasabi flavour, Seaweed flavour and worst of all….Cuttlefish flavour. YUCK.

Tayto Crisps - Best crisps in the world

Tayto Crisps – Best crisps in the world

Number 3: Garlic Cheese Chips (and other Chipper Food!)

While many Irish expats will admit to always having a wide range of foods available to them late at night, ranging from 24 Hour McDonalds, late night pizza joints and Turkish Kebab stands lining the streets, we will also cry out for Garlic Cheese Chips at 3 O’ clock in the morning, yearning for those late night chippers back home! (KC’s chipper in Cork is so popular they have a Queue Camera on their website!)

Garlic Cheese Chips

Garlic Cheese Chips

Number 2: A Jumbo Breakfast Roll

A brilliant mixture between number 8 and number 9 on this list is the Jumbo Breakfast Roll, whereby us Irish have perfected the method of putting an entire Irish Breakfast into a  Cuisine de France bread roll. A favourite amoung early morning workers, Builders and college students, nothing beats a Jumo Breakfast Roll after a night on the town.

The Jumbo Breakfast Rolll

The Jumbo Breakfast Rolll

Number 1: Barry’s Tea

Stop an Irish person in the airport and ask them what’s in their suitcase and about 90% of them will admit to having packed a box of Barry’s Tea bags. Us Irish just can’t seem to survive without them. Ideally served with Irish milk (real dairy!!) and a spoonful of sugar, a cup of Barry’s Tea has many magical attributes and is the perfect start, middle and end to every day. Be it relaxing at home, gossiping with friends, skyping home to family or reading a good book, a cup of real Irish Tea is always the perfect companion.

Barry's Tea

Barry’s Tea

Dak Galbi – Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Place cabbage, rice cakes and spicy chicken mix onto hot plate.

Step 1: Place cabbage, rice cakes and spicy chicken mix onto hot plate.

Step 2: Cut up the spicy chicken

Step 2: Cut up the spicy chicken

Step 3: Let the magical goodness cook for 10-15 minutes

Step 3: Let the magical goodness cook for 10-15 minutes

Dig into some of the more unusual side dishes such as shredded cabbage, mayo and cornflakes!

Dig into some of the more unusual side dishes such as shredded cabbage, mayo and cornflakes!

More of the delicious side dishes to accompany the meal

More of the delicious side dishes to accompany the meal

A shot of soju is a great way to start the meal!

A shot of soju is a great way to start the meal!

Food is ready, DIG IN!

Food is ready, DIG IN!

Happy Friendsgiving

Thanksgiving came to Ireland this year and what an event it was! Except, rather than Thanksgiving, it was nicknamed ‘Friendsgiving’, instead. Everyone (table for 10!) brought a different dish ranging from Ratatouille, Sweet Potato,  Mac N Cheese to Bannoffee Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and not forgetting the most important dish of all….The Turkey!!

Anyway the point of he day was to have fun, share some delicious food and be thankful for all the amazing friends we have. So let be take this opportunity to give a shout out to my friends, my family, and all my blog followers, “Happy Thanksgiving! I love you all very dearly”. Janet XxX



The 11th day of the 11th month in 2011. No, not the end of the world. Nothing nasty like that. Quite the opposite actually, especially if you are a lover of chocolate!

I always though Arthur Guinness day was the master of all marketing campaigns, that was until I discovered the madness of Pepero Day in Korea!

 Arthurs Day, was introduced 2 years ago to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Guinness brewing company and of course the infamous founder, Arthur Guinness. Guinness drinkers were expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness and an 82c stamp of an Arthur Guinness portrait was also released by An Post to commemorate the anniversary.

Everyone thought it was a once off stunt by Guinness to sell an unprecedented amount of pints in one day! However, 2 years on and the “tradition” continues! Why…umm to celebrate the 252nd anniversary?!?! In an attempt to make it a National holiday? Everyone just laughed it off as a marketing coup!

Thanks to my awesome students in Korea I realised that maybe Arthurs day COULD become a national holiday. Why? Well when I was teaching them the months of the year and asking them what their favourite month was, “November”. was the answer they all shouted. “Why November?”, I asked. “Pepero day, Pepero Day!”

For those who don’t know what pepero day is, it’s a Korean National holiday where people buy their loved ones (children, boyfriends, parents, friends) boxes of Pepero (chocolate covered biscuit sticks).

I can remember getting box after box after box of Pepero chocolates from my students last year…in fact 6 months on and I STILL had them stock piled in my kitchen! They far from helped my attempt at a diet!

Pepero Day started as an elaborate marketing campaign by Korean owned Chocolatiers to sell more chocolates and is now a NATIONAL holiday. It is celebrated on the 11th of November(11/11), as on that day it looks like 4 little Pepero sticks are standing side by side. This year however, there are SIX little fingers standing in a row..The ULTIMATE Pepero Day…Chocolate sales must be through the roof in Korea this week!!

Want to read about more crazy Korean Holidays? CLICK HERE!

Korea: What Grinds my gears

Let me share with you the TOP TEN things that really grind my gears about Korea! If you look back through all my posts about te last year you will a whole lot of positivity praising Korean food, events, festivals, sights and of course the people. But every diamond has a flaw, so here is my list of 10 things that REALLY frustrate me about living in the land of “morning calm”.

10.Why can’t I get a decent sandwich?

I mean is it really too much to ask? All I want is to walk into a grocery store like I would back home, walk up to the deli counter and get a freshly made chicken and stuffing baguette. Or a ham and cheese sandwich. On bread that isn’t full of sugar. With cheese that doesn’t taste like plastic and with some chicken that hasn’t been DEEP FRIED!! Come on Korea, is it really THAT hard to produce a half decent sandwich? I’m begging you!

9. Korean Ajosshi’s asking if I’m RUSSIAN!

Now normally I would have nothing against someone calling me Russian. I mean Vodka is part of my staple diet and Russian ladies are known to be very tall, slim a beautiful but when Korean Ajosshis ask if our Russian they are in fact asking if you are a prostitute. This is thanks to many young russian women making their way to South Korea for this specific purpose. Last week I was with Samy in an elevator and this old ajosshis walks in, looks me up and down, then turns to Samy with a dirty grin and says “Ruiske?!” THAT really grinds my gears!!

8. Korean taxi drivers

First off I “thought” this was how the taxi business works. Customer hails taxi, hops in and taxi driver brings them wherever they wish to go. They pay and all is good in the world. Obviously Korean taxi drivers never got the memo! You hail taxi, then tell them where you want to go then they kick you out of their cab cause it’s not convenient for them or they tr and double the price of the normal fair just because you are a foreigner and obviously have the $$$ sign stamped on your forehead. They have ripped me off, over charged me, brought me to the wrong destination and often plain refused to bring me anywhere many times. They also drive like maniacs. As do Korean bus drivers, but thats another story!

7. Shoes shoes shoes

I love shoes. I love shoes with all my heart. So moving to a country for a year that does not stock my shoe size was far from a wise decision! With a population of over 50 million and 100,000’s shoes stores on every corner, every train station, every shopping mall; it is depressing to never be able to buy any shoes. It wouldn’t be SO bad if this were not also the case for clothes. I am both too wide and too tall (my legs too long, my arms too long, my hips too wide) to ever fit into all those cute Korean clothes. What’s even worse is I will never know for sure as Korean shops are too small to have changing rooms so you either chance your luck and buy it or get the hell out.

6. Eating out alone is IMPOSSIBLE

Sometimes after along day working, I really don’t feel like cooking and just feel like going out for dinner. If my friends are feeling the same, we can all go out to galbi and have a nice night out. However, If I wish to do this alone my choices suddenly become very limited! In Korea eating is a social thing. All the food is shared. You don’t get individual plates as most dishes are placed in the centre of the table, and you cook your own meat at the table. It’s like your own little private kitchen. Here lies the problem; restaurant owners don’t like giving away one of their “private kitchens” if only one person is eating so even if there are free tables available they will always turn you away. This can be very disheartening and is something that really frustrates me. If I want to eat alone in Munsan I’m pretty much limited to getting a take-out pizza or eating a mingin seaweed and rice kimbap roll. Korea just isn’t made for loners!

5.My bank is the worst bank in the world

They don’t “deal” with Ireland so when I transfer money home they send it via the USA leaving me to pay all the exorbitant currency exchange and bank charges. They speak crap English, hardly ever understand what I’m looking for AND always seem to “lose” my money! Okay they finD it a week later but SERIOUSLY how can you just lose people’s money. Moving to Korea? Stay away from IBK!

4. Ajummas

Ajumma is the Korean word for any married woman or woman over the age of 35/4o.  These little ladies deserve a post of their own. While I respect that they portray this powerful image of women, I hate their pushiness, disregard for others and the fact that they are downright RUDE. They go out of their way just to push and shove you out of the way when getting on to buses and trains, steal your seat, elbow you, skip the queue in restrooms when your BURSTING to go and constantly stare at you for no apparent reason. I think everyone in Korea has a crazy ajumma story!

3. The Korean Private Education System

I feel silly writing about this considering as a teacher I’m technically part of it, but it really frustrates me how over worked young children are here. Kids here often go to school from 8am until 8pm jumping from Maths school to English school to History school, 5 days a week. They have no time to just “be kids”. Also working in a private school which needs to be looked upon as a business rather than a school can be really frustrating. Kids are moved up levels just to keep parents happy, even if the kids are unable to do the work. students who may be dyslexic or suffer from other learning disabilities are thrown in classes with other students just so the hogwon directors can keep receiving their tuition ee instead of recommending they attend special schools that will be more beneficial to their learning. Treating Kid’s education, and if you want Kid’s lives as a business opportunity is really awful.

2. Cosmetic Surgery

I recently wrote a whole post on this topic which you can read here. It really upsets me to see children as young as 14 or 15 obsessed with their body image and already planning to get cosmetic surgery. Korean women are already SO beautiful I really don’t understand why they feel the need to keep changing their image.

1. Dirty, rotten toilets

I wrote a post about this when I first got to Korea, mainly comparing western toilets to the squat toilets which the mainly us here. Now after living here for a year squat toilets are n longer an issue. The issue is with how dirty  toilets here are. In Korea, you are not allowed put your used toilet paper in the toilet, so you must instead place in the usually over flowing trash can next to the toilet. If public toilets have not been cleaned that day this “dirty, used paper” can be found all over the ground and often trailing out of the toilet. As it is uncommon to see women smoking in public, they all sneak off to the restroom where their trail of cigarette butts can be found. Also evidence of Koreans love of SPITTING can also  seen here, with spit dripping down the walls or on the floor. I will not not be sad to ay goodbye to Korean Toilets!

So that is what GRINDS MY GEARS about Korea, wha about you readers, anything to add?

Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white

No, this isn’t a post about the late King of Pop, or some insightful post about racial oppression. This is, in fact, a little more light-hearted, although perhaps not as cheesy as those struck by cupids arrow may desire.

Valentines day is always cheesy. The soppy poems, the chocolates, the public displays of affection. Turns out I have not seen the half of it, and neither have you, unless you are currently residing in Korea that is.

With D-day fast approaching, the streets of Korea appear to be over-flowing with an array of overly cheesy gifts; ranging from florists selling fake flowers (why, oh why would a FLORIST sell fake flowers?! My  mum would be appalled!) to every 7-11 and corner shop selling tacky bouquet shaped packets of Ferrero Rocher, wrapped in tacky, multi colored plastic, truly horrific.

This would all be bearable if we were reassured it will all be over come Monday. Alas, Korean marketing companies have really tapped into their soppy, doting population by creating not ONE but THREE holidays.

Valentines day, on February 14th where girls hand over cheesy gifts to their boyfriends, March 14th, “White Day”, where the boys repay the favor but usually handing over much more expensive gifts and April 14th, known as the ever tragic “Black Day” where all the poor single ladies convene at a local noodle joint and devour black noodles to mourn (or in an ideal world celebrate) their singledom. 3 months, 3 days, 3 (Korean) holidays and an overload of cheese.

On that note, if you are feeling a little adventurous this Valentines day why not EMBRACE the cheesiness, and create or invest in these unique gift ideas. Enjoy!


Some heart shaped Cheddar for your loved one?

A bit of... hard wood??! (Also known as a cheese board!)


Some Cheese and crackers, love?


Extra Cheese...purleaseee

Strawberries in my toast?!...You are a KEEPER!

The Bul, The Dak and The Galbi

This is the first in a new series of posts entitled “The best of Korea” which I plan on posting weekly. Thanks to the great response to my post “The Food, The Bad and The Ugly“, which was about the “not-so-good” dishes they serve up in this fine nation. This first post will be all about what I LOVE about Korean food, “The bul, the tak and the galbi!”


Less of these "Hot Dogs" please Korea!

No 5 – Samgyeopsal

Samgyeopsal is a traditional Korean dish mainly consisting of very fatty cuts of pork, which diners cook themselves on a grill in the centre of the table. It is accompanied by Kimchi, yellow radish, garlic, lettuce leaves, peppers, spicy soup ,salt n pepper sauce and rice too if you request it. This stuff is seriously tasty, but try find a place that does the least fatty cuts as sometimes it can be a bit much.

No 4 – Ddukbokki

When I first arrived in Korea I detested these squishy, stodgy rice cakes, believing them to be the spawn of satan. (Mainly due to the fact the ones I had were drowning in spicy pepper paste!) However as time goes on I am loving these little rice cakes more and more. If you are lucky, and they are cooked with some Tak Galbi for just the right amount of time, they are melt in your mouth sensational!

No 3 – Shabu Shabu

A boiling broth of vegetables brewing at the centre of the table, the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold winter night. Add a plate of delicious, thinly sliced beef to the hot-pot along with chinese cabbage, mushrooms and onions and you have yourself a feast. But WAIT..there’s more…along comes the bowl of delicious noodles which are added to the mix and it is topped off, last but not least, with some hot and steaming rice. When all is said and done you can drain the remaining soup from your bowl and be happy at having just consumed a 3 course meal, all in one. Mmmm shabu shabu.

No 2 – Dak Galbi (Chicken)

I had this for my birthday dinner and simply cannot get enough of the stuff. Dak Galbi is a mixture of chunky, marinated chicken pieces, chinese cabbage, rice cakes and hot pepper sauce, as always, cooked on a big hot plate in the centre of the table. Looking at all the delicious ingredients slowly cook is maddening as you just want to dive in and gobble it all up. A great dish for sharing with big groups and can be topped off with fried rice mixed into the leftovers and rolled up in snack size rice rolls. Deliciousssss.

No 1 – Galbi

Undoubtedly THE most popular dish in Korea. Galbi (Korean for ribs) can be either beef or pork and is cooked on a charcoal grate in the centre of the table. Getting to cut up big slabs of prime cut, raw meat with a scissors is a cultural experience in itself! Add to that up to 20 tiny side dishes( which will always appear, whether you ordered them or not) in which you can spend and age trying to figure out whats what! From tofu to radish, up to 5 different types of Gimchi, different sauces, a variety of vegetables, lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, sizzling soups, garlic, jalapeno peppers…you name it, they have it! The best type of galbi restaurant is one where you pay a set amount (10,000 won which is only 6 euro!!) and it is all you can eat! I meat lovers dream!