Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Doing it Korean Style

I've been walking by Mama's Kitchen on my daily Grace Street walk for over four years now but I'd never stopped in to eat. Mid-morning just never seemed like the right time for Korean food.

So when I suggested lunch to a friend and she suggested something ethnic, Mama's was too close not to finally walk through its door.

For novices, we thought we did pretty well in choosing off the Korean Menu for Dummies, complete with pictures. The combos were irresistible because they came with dumplings, kimbap (sushi's lesser-known cousin), miso soup, rice, kimchi and veggies.

We got the beef bulgogi, long-marinated and extremely flavorful. I'd been looking at Mama's outdoor sign touting their bulgogi as long as I've been walking Grace Street.

Our other choice was the spicy squid stirfry, not nearly as distinctively Korean, but fabulous for its abundance of squid and crunchy vegetables. It was just as big a hit with the two of us. Mama had asked if we wanted it spicy and we'd said yes, but the heat was the manageable kind.

The view from inside Mama's was pure (Grace) street theater, probably at critical mass because it was the noon hour. Today's variable weather meant people were dressed in everything from jackets to shorts. We saw the mounted cops.

Talking city life and dogs for a good hour while we ate, we still had the makings of someone else's lunch when we finished, so my friend boxed up the remainder for her sure-to-be appreciative husband.

I, on the other hand, was lucky enough to leave with one of her homemade lemon cupcakes which she'd so kindly brought along knowing my sweet tooth.

We'd eaten early because I'd signed up to take a curator-led members tour of the Celebration of Print exhibit at VMFA that I'd just seen Monday.

I barely made it by 1:30 to join the group and the girl checking off names couldn't resist pointing out, "You were the first to RSVP!" underscoring that I was also the last to arrive. Hopefully the curator would forgive me for being a tad tardy.

Since I'd already seen the show, I came to hear what interesting tidbits Dr. Mitchell Merling might impart to the group and his first was a revelation.

"Prints can spend six months of every six years on display," he said. A woman immediately asked if that meant she should take down the prints from her walls. "Just don't leave the lights on at night," he warned.

I knew from seeing the show that there had been an etching revival in the 19th century in England and France, but I learned that this was when artists began breaking plates after a run, to ensure that the resulting prints were treated as individual works of art.

Dr. Merling finished by sharing road trip advice, telling us all to make sure we got to DC to see the Gauguin Show at the National Gallery which he called one of the best shows he'd ever seen. As if I didn't know.

I wanted to point out that I'd already seen the show and see if I could get some extra credit to make up for my tardiness, but I didn't want to be a showoff.

It was enough to head home knowing I had that lemon cupcake awaiting me. Forget validation; give me treats.


  1. Thanks Karen! - Mitchell

  2. Thank you for making my second time through the exhibit even more interesting than the first!