Jennifer and I sat down with some relief–finally out of the rain in Wonju.
We had come to Wonju looking for the Hanji Festival. A display of traditional paper in a beautiful mountain city in South Korea sounded like a wonderful way to spend the weekend. Unfortunately the day had started off poorly and just got worse from there. I woke up late to a phone call from Jennifer asking when I would make it to Wonju. She wasn’t far away and I realized I had completely missed Vandertramp and Naomi. I rushed to get a taxi and on the first bus headed to Wonju. I asked how long the drive was and I was told half an hour. (I think–there’s a lot of second guessing when getting by in Korenglish.)
Well, the half hour quickly became an hour. The ride was beautiful. Jennifer patiently waited for me and even found directions to the festival from a nearby PC bang. I finally arrived in the early afternoon. We took the first taxi we found and were dropped off near a Family Mart. Certain we were in the wrong place, we tried asking for directions. The clerk very kindly pointed us in the right direction. After walking for far too long in a pouring rain, we stopped in Pastarito.
The imported Italian-style eatery looked warm and inviting. It’s completely weird to see an country’s version of a foreign culture. Pastarito is the Korean version of Macaroni Grill. Just Koreanized. It’s like that here. Everything is completely opposite and exactly the same.
After removing dripping socks and shoes, I ordered coffee, vegetable spaghetti and garlic bread. I discovered my coffee would be served as dessert. I didn’t want to wait, but I had garlic bread to distract me.
My expectations were low. I’ve come to think of comfort foods from America as difficult to find and enjoy. I appreciate the effort to make spaghetti, but I’d rather not have sweet, orange tomato sauce.
But Pastarito came the closest to home. The garlic bread started things off right. The bread was crusty, buttery, garlicky and hot.
The cream of mushroom soup was up next. The soup was a bit salty and I suspect it enjoyed a previous life in a Campbell’s can. This made me nervous for the entree, but I went back to the garlic bread and felt better.
My vegetable spaghetti came out piping hot. The spaghetti was complete covered in a layer of melted mozarella. My eyes almost popped out of my head with surprise. I miss cheese! The chesse, tomato sauce, carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers and corn all came together in a dish of comfort. It was just what I wanted on a cold rainy day. Jennifer said her alfredo was delicious. And if my spaghetti was any indication, I’m sure it was.
Content with the world, I was happy to sip my coffee and chat. The coffee was delicious. It’s called Blue Mountain and I will have to find the grounds for at home. It was one of the best coffees I’ve enjoyed here. Jennifer and I talked for awhile about Korea, teaching and the people we know as the restaurant prepped for dinner. A small family came and sat near us. They seemed quite happy with Pastarito too.
Eventually we left for a crazy bus ride to nowhere. We never did find the Hanji Festival, but I’m putting Wonju back on my list of places to go. All thanks to one little shop called Pastarito.