Saturday, 17 December 2011

Merry Shinsegaemas

Shinsegae Christmas party food

Christmas is not overwhelmingly apparent in Korea, and sometimes you have to go looking for it. There are clusters of lights in our neighbourhood and we have a rather lovely looking tree in our living room. So last weekend I took a hopeful trip to Korea's second city, Busan. Centum City is Shinsegae's flagship department store. Shinsegae translates as, 'New World' and this store is actually the largest department store in the world. I have visited the international food court before, but with Christmas approaching it seemed like the kind of place I wanted to spend a Saturday morning and I was not disappointed! The Christmas displays were a treat and the food was a feast for the eyes. The basement food court is really amazing and a great place to forage for western style fodder and special Christmas finds. We were lucky to find some real Stilton cheese. At $17 for 150g it was an expensive purchase, but you absolutely must have a decent cheeseboard on December 25th.

Shinsegae Christmas window display.

The food court is a hive of activity. Sushi, fajitas, and waffles are earnestly prepared with creative flair by incredibly friendly staff. More traditional Korean sweets like Gyeongju (Hwangnam) bread are swiftly formed and neatly lined up ready to be baked. Gyeongju bread is named after the city and is a sweet bread filled with even sweeter red bean paste. Down in the basement food court you can see this paste in huge quantities as it is scooped into small balls and used to fill the small pretty circular breads. Many of the foods are being prepared out in the open like this, so it is really fun to leisurely walk around and soak up the culinary atmosphere. There are some pretty fantastic aromas, too.

Making Gyeongju bread with sweet red bean paste.

I loved these gingerbread Christmas houses which were lined up on the counter, each one unique in design and sprinkled with Christmas cheer. They were rather pricey, but as gourmet houses go... I thought they were impressive!

Christmas gingerbread house with snowman.

Ginger bread Christmas house

These houses were not the only baked goods which caught my attention. The cakes were amazing! Fruit, icing, jam, sponge, cheesecake, chocolate, coconut, sweet potato every imaginable flavour and each one immaculately presented.
Shinsegae cakes

I was also taken with the range of preserves which included onion and olive marmalade, blackcurrant jams and ginger and lime jelly. There were also very heathy looking deli and wine sections. They even had Yorkshire tea! All in all, I recommend going to check out Shinsegae over the Christmas period and if you can make it over to Busan, the food court is a must. Like me, you will probably have a little chuckle when you see the 'Merry Shinsegaemas' signs.  

Preserves at  Sinsegae food court- Centum City

World teas at Shinsegae - Centum City

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