Last week, I had met Dorothy Cann Hamilton (founder, French Culinary Institute) in Seoul, and she said she wanted to have lunch while I was in New York. Turned out her schedule kept her out of the country this week. But she suggested I still go by and check out the school.

ZenKimchi editor Shin and I met at L’Ecole, the restaurant of the institute, which has been rebranded as The International Culinary Center because they now have an Italian institute and more. We had a good long classically French meal with a few surprises. Here’s a quick rundown.

Shrimp bisque. I really like the tarragon and the surprise crunchy crouton inside.

Calamari stuffed with rice and chorizo.

Arctic Char Tartare. I chose this because it had Stilton–what a surprising flavor!

This was the venison with a rich sweet and sour sauce and cheese polenta. Seasonal veggies in a small pot. Another object that I miss eating. The meat was juicy and minerally, which was fun to slide around in the sauce.

Duck. This was Shin’s dish. I liked it, too, but I don’t remember every bit. I particularly loved the creamed spinach and potatoes.

Fig and greek yogurt tart with frozen greek yogurt. Oh, I loved this, especially the barnyard flavor of the yogurt in the tart.

They gave us this as extra. I don’t remember the details on this either. Great lady fingers. The strawberry ice cream and the cream were both highly sharp, and I was mood for something creamy after the already sharp tart.

The meal was great, and I suggest L’Ecole for a lunch stop using the prix fixe menu. It’s decently priced and quality food.

Later, Will Doze took us on a tour of the school. They’ve recently expanded to five stories and are developing the fifth one for events and such.

My favorite parts were the library–oooh, cookbooks–and the theater. I also got to meet School Director Chris Papagni. We all had a great talk.

Check out that chocolate R2-D2.

Oh, and bonus–we got bags of bread swiped from one of the baking classrooms!

The plan was to head to the apartment and relax a bit before trying to grab a bar seat at Babbo at 5:30. Living in Korea, it’s an extra bonus to eat at a restaurant that means “Stupid” in Korean. But my body had different plans. Suddenly it was 9:00 and I had been sleeping. I decided to have a slice at Bleecker St. Pizza with Regina instead.

And everyone was right. That was some amazing pizza! Crisp crust all the way through, and the ingredients were balanced. And we had the requisite grease drips.

Regina and I hunted for a non-meat-market drinking hole–you know, someplace we could stand and be able to hear each other talk. A hostess at one restaurant suggested this place called Blue Ribbon. They have a restaurant and a cozy little wine bar across the street. It was a little crowded when we entered, but we got a seat after a couple minutes.

This was a great find!

I’m not wine expert, but Wine Korea Josh and friends have been teaching me a lot, and I know more what I like. They didn’t have any high tannic wines, but they had a lot by the glass and half bottles. I started with a pinot noir, and we ordered a filet of smoked trout with this joyful cream sauce. The bar wasn’t quiet, but we could at least hear each other. The tunes were post-ironic jazz renditions of ’80s new wave hits and foreign language versions of old pop songs with an occasional Quincy Jones thrown in.

I think the night turned out better than planned.

Don't make mistakes other travelers have made!

Get regular emails with insider tips on how to maximize your visit to Korea. Sign up now!

Tour Tips Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!