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'Eid and the Angels


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> > Subject: Warden Message

> > Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 07:29:50 -0400

> >

> > The Canadian Embassy has received reliable

> information that threats

> > of a terrorist nature may be in the final planning

> stages within

> > the Kingdom.

> >

> > This information indicates the oil industry may be

> targeted as well

> > as compounds housing foreigners. Also, there may

> be possible

> > threats against westerners in public places.

> Canadian citizens are

> > advised to avoid public areas for the foreseeable

> future and ensure

> > security measures and procedures are in place to

> minimize any

> > threat.

> >

I figure if you're going to enjoy your trip, then

timing is everything.

It was obviously the right moment to get out of Dodge City.

I was taking the Embassy's warning to heart and

heading for Bangkok.

Some of you (okay, all of you) are saying "Wait a

minute! You piece of filth! You just got back from

Bangkok! And some of us have never been! This isn't

fair!"

"Yeah? So?" say I.

As I write this I'm at the Bahrain airport. I've

exercised my option for an upgrade, and am hoping now

that the di Bartoli Noble One is still on tap. I've

had a glass of a Languedoc Chardonnay that was a

little bit too far over on the fruity side for my

liking tonight (a La Baume 2003?), and a Haut-Medoc

from 2000 that's quite plumy.

This is another of those "is this trip really

necessary" trips. The family was off on an education

trip to Egypt. After my last two business trips

there, I realized that the last thing I needed was a

jam packed tourist adventure to a place where I'd

already spent five good years of my life. Plus, even though

the originated it, they make a mess of foie gras.

I was content to stay at home for the five days.

Swim, perhaps paint the courtyard, loaf, do some video

editting, and catch up on my writing.

And then they saw the moon a day early.

Coming back from the last trip, we were advised upon

arrival in Bahrain that while it wasn't yet Ramadan

in Bahrain, the Saudis had jumped the gun and declared

it fasting time. This had a knock-on effect, bringing

the holiday at the end of Ramadan, the 'Eid, a day

forward, and giving us a six day weekend.

I won't go into the vagaries of our vacation

calculations. Leave it be said that you need to

have the blood of an accountant in order to form the

pentagram to make sense of it all. I couldn't get

away for the whole week, but six days is six days

after all.

I argued with myself. After all, I'd done that four

day trip to Singapore for the WGS, and Yoonhi and I

had done a fiver to catch my intronization into the

Chaine and go up to Chiang Mai to use up the package

I'd bought at the last auction.....

Alright, it wasn't much of an arguement. I bought the

tickets, made the reservations, and spent the last two

weeks counting down the working hours.

The others left on Wednesday morning. Since then I

have regular reports on how Serena is having the time

of her life; sleeping on trains; crawling through the

Pyramids; going to museums; and shopping, shopping,

shopping.

Scud has reverted to a form of speech I thought

impossible, an abbreviated form of monosyllables. I

can tell he's thrilled.

For myself, I look forward to this. Had you any

doubts?

I have set myself the goal of 22 meals in my five and

a half days. Really, just four a day. With all the

walking and sweating, I think this is achievable.

However, I also appreciate that I can be distracted by

the twin evils of beer and pool. These are sirens I

must guard against.

I've now switched over to the Pouilly-Fume. Not as

over-the-top sweet as the Char was, more a wine to

drink and write - which is what I shall do.

My plans are - as you would surmise - fluid. D'Sens

has a wine dinner with M. Chapoutier on the 24th that

the good Doktor Kelamis will join me at with his wife,

Abdulrahman, and his wife Sandra, our ballet teacher.

This should prove to be interesting. D'Sens opened to

significant fanfare, the franchise of the brothers

Jacques and Laurent Pourcel from Le Jardin des Sens in

Montpellier, a two star operation.

The opening went well, but since then it's been a

controversial ride. Some say that once the brothers

left to get on with business, standards fell. Others

claim that there is nothing wrong, it's just that the

local palate isn't sophisticated enought to appreciate

the subtleties. Whichever the case, my associate,

who's office looks directly upon D'Sens, says it's

"DEAD" (all caps). However, I have the time and the

interest.

And this is the only wine dinner I could turn up.

But, the wines should be very, very nice. And M.

Chapoutier knows Montpellier, and Montpellier knows M.

Chapoutier.

After that, on the 25th, I have dinner with M and F,

two of my friends (okay, one of my friends, this will

be my first opportunity to meet F. I hope he will

become a friend), and, with luck, the good Khun CL,

who is one of my role models in food.

And so, I look with dismay upon my remaining three

evenings. One is bespoke, although I know not which.

A and I are off to find the choicest Vietnamese food

in town. One of my first dinners will be spent on

the terrace at Arun Residence, where I've taken the

penthouse suite for my first night. Honestly, I'd

almost like to spend the entire trip there, but I

suspect I'll be bored cut off in the old part of town

from my usual coterie of dining companions (plus, the

room is only available one night, but that sounded

better).

So, it'll be back uptown to the Emporium, and that

lovely view out upon the City. The Londoner is across

the street, and the Dead Artists' Street is nearby, so

there's an opportunity for beers. Baccarra supposedly

has some very nice Belgians they've brought in, and I

am, as ever, a fan of the cream bitter at the

Londoner.

I intend to eat some Thai food. A lot of Thai food.

I've been on a euro-centric binge the last while,

which isn't surprising given the nature of the WGF.

But Thai cuisine is a marvel of our times, and I've

been remiss in not spending my time on yams and gaeng

for the last few trips. Perhaps Ton Pho at Tha Phra

Arthit? Or the more upscale Heritage?.........

But then, there's the tasting menu at the Peninsula.

And I do so want to get to Paragorn to the

charcouterie guy and to Saveur, the rebirth of Bee's

original Saveur by her daughter Cake (Bee now has

Taling Pling).

Come to think of it, I should go back to Taling Pling.

So many meals, so little time.

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In the brief, Dead Artists' Street, AKA soi 33, has been, for several years, the home for a string of slightly upscale (let's not get carried away, though) bars going by such names as Degas, Renoir, etc. I'm not certain who gave it this name originally, but I'd first read it in one of Christopher Moore's excellent Calvino books.

Besides the bars, there are more than a few restaurants down the soi, and I'll have to see what I can turn up. The soi next door, Soi 31, is already home to a number of good places, and will be even better when Le Vendome moves there (in November?).

Now, back to the show.

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‘Eid and the Angels – part 2 – arrivals

The new airport. I’d grown so accustomed to Don Muang that I’m disoriented. No golfers by the taxi-way. Only endless factories and container yards. And swamp…..okay some things are the same.

The airport, contrary to much of what’s been said, runs well. I was in, through customs, and had my bags within about 15 minutes. Jetway worked, no need for bussing. And my driver was there and waiting for me. A short walk through the concrete and steel, and we’re at the car.

Driving in is where I really get lost. No more Baiyoke to navigate by. My friendly billboards I’ve come to recognize aren’t there. The Rama Gardens don’t flash by, nor does the Eastin Hotel.

Instead I have the Cobra Swamp, trees going into the centre of the motorway like plugs going into a bald man’s head, and an odd, forlorn string of mosques, in various stages of construction along the freeway.

And then the freeway ends, and it’s the grand game of traffic. But that’s okay. I’m just one big grin staring out the window as we pass the Golden Mount, and Democracy Monument. I see more restaurants I need to try.

My hotel, Arun Residence, is down on the river, across – like “right across” - from Wat Arun, and an alms bowl’s throw from Wat Po. I sit now in their restaurant, chilling out in the a/c, watching the temple, and noting the medium sized monitor lizard that just slipped into the water. Big boy.

I remember once, long ago, we’d questioned if anything lived in the river. Then we saw the fishing going on. Then we thought of the fried catfish we had eaten earlier. End of questions.

There are distinct signs of flooding. Some of the sidestreets we passed are still underwater, and the telltale sandbags and stepping stones are plentiful, even buttressing the front of the hotel’s restaurant.

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The rooms here are very pleasant, although I caution you that if you’re water buffalo sized like me, the shower can take some careful navigating. But the place has great charm, and the view from the verandah I have is, well, special.

You look down, and you see the half dozen tables and the river. There’s not a great deal of set back. You also see Wat Arun up close and personal.

And the room is well appointed. There’s the usual mitch match of wiring, but it’s fitted into the look well enough. And the bed and I are going to spend some quality time together after that flight from Bahrain.

Once I had the room settled, I went walkabout.

My first stop was lunch. I was back to Ton Pho. This used to be one of my favourite spots on the river, right beside the Phra Athit pier.

But, I was back. And things werent’ going well. First they were out of the banana blossom salad. Then they told me they didn’t have any clams. Then the frogs weren’t there. Heck, I was wondering if I had to bring my own mower if I wanted their yard grass salad.

I finally settled on a yam (salad) of tamarind leaves and prawns; soft pork neck braised in red curry and basil; and fried coconut tips with prawns. This last one I find delicious, and there’s a certain frisson that comes in appreciating that they have to use up a whole tree to get the coconut tips.

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The salad came nice and leafy, with enough fibre to keep me going until I’m in my 60’s (What does Miss Manners say about flossing at the table?).

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The pork neck was delightfully soft, giving way as you bit in and relished the warmth of the creamy curry it had been fried in with the chilis.

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And the coconut tips did what I needed them to do. They provided a mellow undertone of sweet and crispness against the diverse heats of the other two dishes. A bit of sour, a bit of sweet, a bit of sharp, a bit of soft.

The service, with the exception of the main waiter who recognized me, was generally surly. And, as I looked around, I found the demographics heavily farang weighted. That didn’t use to be the case. You could always count on a few teachers from nearby Thammasat University, but otherwise the backpacking crowd stayed away from here and kept their trade to spaghetti joints.

And there, on the table right in front of me was the damning evidence that this place had definitely gone farang.

They had paper napkins.

You know when a Thai restaurant gives up on the little squares of toilet paper jammed into a plastic cup that they’ve gone upscale.

Ah, a cruise boat just went by playing luuk thung (country – Issaan music) . Must be a Thai charter, ‘cause I can hear them singing along.

I should explain my setting at this point. It’s 10:30, and I’m up on my balcony with a Maekhong coke and an emergency can of beer Chang. If something goes horribly wrong, with the Maekhong, I can quickly pop the tab on the Chang and re-establish order.

Wat Arun, across from me, is lit up magically, all sepia tones. Down the river, Wat Kalayanimit is likewise done up. And further down from that is the albino edifice of the old stupa.

The floods leave their mark, a continual play of light reflecting back and showing the river flexing its muscles in corded ribbons (not bad, eh?)

There’s the odd cruise boat, and the occasional tug, but life on the river has gone dormant now.

As has life on the street. This part of town goes to bed early, it would seem, which suits me fine, as the sound proofing here isn’t going to stop much.

Okay, enough scene setting….damn, it’s pretty out there.

Back to the eating tour. After Ton Pho I walked along Phra Athit, looking for something good. I had a mind to stop in the Peachy Guest House’s beer garden, immortalized in Ekhardt’s writings, but it looked a little too concrete for me. Plus all the chairs were on the tables.

I walked. I found myself at the National Gallery, and stopped in to see the exhibit of photos on the “Tranquil Coup d’Etat” put on by the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand. . Some very good shots, but they all fell into the set categories: soldiers/hardware with flowers; soldiers and kids; soldiers and monks; hardware and traffic; soldiers and go go dancers. Okay, the last was probably the best. As a center piece, they had a collage of the various headlines for that day blown up. Bottom left corner was the Bangkok Post one that I’d kept.

The Gallery, if you haven’t been, is quite pleasant. It used to be the old Royal Mint. Tall ceilings, whitewashed walls. Odd rises and drops to keep the unwary on (or off) their toes.

I also took in the art market running on the weekend. I’m sorry, but it was sad. There was one fellow who had interesting looking stuff, but only one. And I wasn’t about to try and cart it home.

Ahh…..there’s a breeze blowing back up the river. Where did that come from?

After the gallery, I was at Khao Sarn Road, home of the world’s foremost anthropological study.

I hadn’t been here since 2001 when we took the kids down for the water fights. That was fun. This wasn’t. Everything was, effectively, cheap junk,. And densely packed cheap junk. At least on Silom you can find anime t-shirts and foreign film fest DVD’s and stuff. Here it was beads and tattoos.

And I found nothing worth my eating.

That’s a very sad comment.

I did stop for a beer at the famous Gullivers to rehydrate, but I found this a pale shadow of the newer one up on Sukhumvit, with only two pool tables. With a handful of police lurking in the darker corners, and some scraggly looking occupants, I wasn’t in a mood to linger.

I walked some more. Through the back streets, coming out on Rachadamnoern Klang and democracy monument. This major street was packed with vendors, every one of them flogging lottery tickets.

In the midst of this was the Black October monument, commemorating the violence of 1973 when things weren’t so tranquil. Very few smiling faces here.

Then, as a young man’s fancy turns to his stomach, I thought “aha! Café Democ” with lemon pork that some people I know had said was very good. So, in I went.

“Do you have food”

“Have, but chef no come yet.”

“When will the chef come?”

“I don’t knowwwwwwwwww.”

So, to salvage the situation, I had an ice coffee.

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I like these. I know, Asian wisdom says you have hot things in hot weather, but I like ice coffees. Sickly sweet and brown flavoured. A good head, with a straw proudly protruding.

Talking with the lone waitress, the place usually gets going after 7, and the DJ’s kick in around 10. That’s when it’s fun to be here.

So, I’d been to Café Democ, although I felt hesitant to count coup. But there, across the street, was my ancient nemesis.

Methavalai Sorn Daeng.

In 1988 we’d driven by this restaurant and thought “that looks like a nice place to eat”. Okay, maybe we walked. We were poor then.

Over the years I’ve made tentative approaches to my Thai friends about this place. The answers I’ve gotten back have ranged from “It’s very old”, “My mom ate there”, “It’s old”, and “Huh?”

This was it. I had my opportunity. I could do this, and no one would suffer but me.

Approaching the restaurant, you’re first informed that it’s been serving the best food since 1959 (I may be off a year or two, humour me)..

When you enter, it’s precious. There’s no other word. The busboys are all in dress naval whites, epaulets and all. The waitress (I think there was another, but she was glowering at the cash register the whole time, so I can’t say for certain.) was done up in a very nice red outfit with sash. She seemed particularly perturbed that I was there, which is odd as there were at least two other farang couples, each in the care of a Thai. But, she was cheerful, and eager to please, and after Ton Pho that was a relief.

I ordered fried mussles with chilis; fluffy catfish salad with mango; and fried preserved pork.

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Of these the fried preserved pork was best. This wasn’t what I’d expected, but rather another version of something I’d done at home years ago with beef. It’s basically dried meat that’s been deep fried with a sesame seed coating. But this pork was succulent and yielding as you bit in, with a fine flavour.

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The catfish salad was also quite good, but I could only take so much. It was fluffy to the extreme, the catfish being reduced to a deep fried tangle of fibres, almost like fried hair. The mango spooned out well on this, but as you can imagine, there was a lot of volume to work through there. I didn’t do it the justice it deserved.

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But the mussels, the mussels…how can I describe them?…..bad? Yeah, that describes them. First, they were too large. Second, I suspect they’d been frozen ala Walt Disney’s head at some point. Third, they just werent’ good.

I’m suspicious, too, as the most expensive thing on the menu was proudly labled as “fried canned Pacific clams in oyster sauce”.

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The place itself was so neat, though. Louise Cans (and I mean that spelling) furniture. Stiff backs and embroidered flowers. Starched white table cloths laying over a lace base. Good china. Nice cutlery (but no knives).

And a baby grand piano in the middle of everything.

The middle-aged group of Thai at the table behind me were calling the old lady, maybe my Mom’s age “nong” (younger sibling).

And the old lady was assiduously raking the carpet. It didn’t matter that there was almost no one in there, she was going to rake that carpet until every dust mote was gone, darn it. I felt like I should toss some bones on the florr or something to give her a working stock.

As there was no one playing the piano just then, they had canned piano music on the sterea.

I ate what I could and fled.

After this I wandered some more, taking in the street life of Ratanakosin, which I find generally much more sedate than the rest of Bangkok. Lots of food – but I was beginning to feel full – and lots of interesting tableaux, generally of the sitting-in-front-of the-shophouse milieu.

My target was the Pig Shrine. I don’t’ know how I missed this over the years. But there, close to Wat Benjabo whatever, was the pig shrine. It’s like this big, gold, thingy, with a pig. ….

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I’m going to have to ask someone about this.

And then it’s back to the hotel to write and rest. Particularly the rest part. I will never do well with airplanes.

Dinner I took early on the Deck. I’d snagged a menu earlier, and had been looting through it. Khun Gai, the chef, had a nice collection of items, half the menu Western, and half Thai.

The appetizers include fried mozzarella, sautéed Italian sausage with herbs, shrimp tempura with olive oil, grilled mushrooms, baked spinach steamed NZ mussels, sautéed mussels. Terrine de foie gras with passion fruit aspic.

Under Just Sandwiches they have a soft shell crab hamburger with pesto mayonnaise.

Soups include cream of pumpkin, and a shitake and truffle, as well as soup de legume.

Salads – the deep fried soft shell crab with pesto catches my eye, as does the warm chicken liver salad. And then there’s a pan seared escalope of foie gras with strawberry jam and salad.

Pastas come as your choice. Spaghetti, fettucine, penne, fusilli, rigatone or ink. Sauces include baby clams (vongole), very spicy tuna, with crispy sweet basil, stir fried garlic, chilies, kale, and salted Thai fish. EEVO, garlic, anchovies, olives and “blocoli”.

Mascarpone cheese sauce with fresh shitake sounds low cal, and there’s a carbonara.

Then there’s two risottos – on mushroom cream, the other saffron with grilled tiger prawns.

Mains! Duck leg confit. Pan grilled Australian “serloin”, Braosed pxtao; om red amd herb wine with veg. Pan grilled rack of lamb – the most expensive at 480 baht. Stuffe chicen breast. Roasted Atlantic salmon. Steamed sea bass fillet. Roasted trout with wosemary and pine nuts.

And there’s a Thai selection of two pages, with various started, soft pig neck braised in curry (that’s familiar from Ton Pho), duck leg roasted with oyster sauce, and fish and prawns galore. Grilled aubergine, which I suspect would be wonderfully smokey.

I started with a glass of Jacob’s Creek chardonnay, and began with Thai. I began with a yam som o that didn’t quite hit the right balance of sweet and sour.

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The chicken was a little dry at first, but with the sauce was very good. And the som tam of cucumbers was extremely pleasant, burning enough that I sheltered the Chardonnay for a bit and stuck to water. And there were a couple of skewers of pork satay, nice and creamy from the coconut marinade, but not yet gone over to mush.

For the main, I went with the duck leg confit. Unfortanately, while the skin was very nicely crisped, the meat had gone a bit too dry.

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Not really bad, by any means, but disappointing. I do think part of this may be to Khun Gai not being in the kitchen that night. I wouldn't write the place off, and will probably come back for that soft shell crab hamburger. It's nice to know it's here as the choices for dining this close to Wat Po or the Palace are fairly limited.

After dinner I headed over to Phar Arthit again in the hopes that all those “yuppy bars” would now be open. No luck. And Heritage, which had been on the list of places I wanted to do was closed.

I end up back at Khao Sarn Road, but found myself unable to face the noise levels and the crowds.

Sadly, I contented myself with a reasonable bowl of Hong Kong style bamee (which, by this time, I forgot to photo. So sue me!), and then stumbled up the new Gullivers around the corner from the old one on Khao Sarn. It had four pool tables. Things were looking up.

And from there, it’s back to the quiet streets around Arun Residence, and this wonderful view of the river.

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Lovely. I feel like I'm there, especially since it's stinking hot and steamy here in Hanoi. Iced coffees (or Halidas) are the only defense.

I remember the e-mails I used to get from the Canadian embassy when I was in Korea in 2003. Charming.

Dear suckers,

Buy your own plane tickets home.

If we get nuked, go to Yongsan, and ask the Americans nicely for a ride home.

Cheers/A bientot,

Your Taxdollarsatwork

I never got to flee to Bangkok.

Is the banana flower salad there similar to the Vietnamese one? It's one of my favourite dishes here, although here they use pig ears instead of pork neck.

Edited by nakji (log)
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Lovely. I feel like I'm there, especially since it's stinking hot and steamy here in Hanoi. Iced coffees (or Halidas) are the only defense.

I remember the e-mails I used to get from the Canadian embassy when I was in Korea in 2003. Charming.

Dear suckers,

Buy your own plane tickets home.

If we get nuked, go to Yongsan, and ask the Americans nicely for a ride home.

Cheers/A bientot,

Your Taxdollarsatwork

I never got to flee to Bangkok.

Is the banana flower salad there similar to the Vietnamese one? It's one of my favourite dishes here, although here they use pig ears instead of pork neck.

It's been wayyyyyy too long since I was in Vietnam, so I could hardly hazard a guess. The banana blossom salads I've had lately were in Chiang Mai, and the blossom had been cooked slightly. As with a lot of things here, there were plenty of chilis in the mix to wake me up,but the background flavour of the blossom still stood out, along with that texture I like.

A really neat banana blossom dish was in Singapore at the WGS this year. Justin Quek did a stuffed banana blossom. He was looking for something that would allow him to indulge in the flavours and smells of Singapore, while still delivering a good European style product. Great texture in the blossom, and wonderous smells and flavours.

At least if the Dear Leader were to pop one, it would be an excuse to go to Yong-san. I always found it so bizarre, going from the 12 floor world just outside the wire to the classic middle-American Everywhereville that you have on the base. Plus the choice of restaurants felt like you'd been back in the Midwest somewhere in the 70's. I do recall there was one club there that had a couple of great Belgain brews, and none of the service men would go near them because they were charging $1.50 as opposed to the $1 Budweisers......

Now I'm getting nostalgic again.

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'Eid and the Angels - Part 3 - Moving On Up

I awake at dawn to the great phallus of Wat Arun tumescent beyond my bedroom window.

Now that’s a great line to open with.

Dawn and things are stirring. I would’ve liked to have been able to say that my razor sharp mind had snapped me awake at just the right time to appreciate the morning calm….but,…basically,…..it was the rooster.

I’d been struck last night by how quiet the neighborhood was, and this morning was no exception. Except for Foghorn Leghorn down there, not a creature was stirring. The river was quiet, with not a longtail in earshot. Serenity.

(Later, from my friend Pom, I was to learn that the neighborhood was quiet because it was considered one of the more dangerous parts of town, and nobody really wanted to be out from under cover).

I was, it appeared, a prisoner, as I discovered when I try to head out for the early light. No one was in reception to unlock the doors. Nothing to be done for it but to retreat back up stairs, plug the kettle in outside (they’re the only electrical outlets that the kettle’s cord can reach) and wait in anticipation of my first cup of Nescafe of the trip.

Why is it, with the bountiful coffee plantations of Vietnam, the exquisite coffees of Laos, and perfectly good quality beans coming from Doi Tung, that all we ever seem to be able to come up with in hotels is Nescafe?

As I waited for the boil, fond memories come back of other places I’ve been locked-up in. Hotel Linh, in Saigon. Still one of my favourite trips, even if the food was mediocre (I am not the greatest fan of Vietnamese cuisine, having laboured over a decade in one such restaurant). That place in Siem Reab back in the 90’s where the staff blocked the doors with their beds in case the place was attacked. This is the price you pay for “boutique”, I suppose.

Ah, 7:15 and there was life down there, somebody cleaning the deck. Across the street the old lady had her stall open and was brutalizing the remains of a fish with her cleaver. Then she would wade out through the shin deep water backing up from the Chao Phraya to do the dishes with her grand daughter.

By 8 a.m. I feel up to navigating the staircase again. I found the door open a crack, and slipped out into the morning.

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I turned right at the top of the soi, and walked towards the vegetable market – the Pak Klong talaat It was a little later than I would’ve liked, but things were still lively. Women were collected in bunches doing things to bits of green; men manhandled their mountainous loads of lettuce on dollies.

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And then there’s that beautiful light, the sort that tumbles in from the odd cracks (and gaping holes) in the roof, dancing and falling with dust amid the broken slats of wood and mud within the rigid confines of its shafts and beams.

Potatos were meshed and carefully handled like fine bottles of wine. Chilies are pilled in mounds, and the sizes range from the tiny rat turd and bird chilies, to gargantuan red things that glare evilly at me from their mounds.

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A garlic shop sells ten different types of garlic. Banana leaves are available by the cubic meter (what would you do with a cubic meter of banana leaves, I wonder? Steam a whole pig? Maybe I could do something with a hor mok muu approach, or a Northern preserved pink pork…….?

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Closer by the river it was a choice of footwear. Gumboots or nothing. I picked my way carefully from islet to islet, while the working crowd dutifully waded through. The river at this point had flooded things to a depth of a foot or so. A matter of concern for my Rockports, but much less serious than what I’d feared.

High tide in the the Gulf of Siam was scheduled for the 23-26th, which, if the rains kept up, would push all the drainage back up to my thighs in Sukhumvit. Last October I’d been trapped in a taxi on soi 24 watching as the water slowly filled the bottom of the taxi and grasped towards my pant cuffs.

But, it seemed, we’d escape that this time.

Little Chinese shrines dot the place. Stuffed into a shophouse front up the soi from my hotel, Kuan Yu menaces passersby with his halberd. And in the middle of the market there’s a pretty little Thai shrine open to the sky, again with that beautiful light and dust falling upon it.

Coming back, I stopped by another boutique. This one called Aurum, and looking very sleek, almost like something pulled out of the Middle East, with granite counter tops and faux Grecian stylings.

I wonder if they have a pool?

But near to them is a small café fronting the river. I stop in and order a double Americano to recover from the Nescafe trauma I was still trying to shake off. The barista was much more competent than my Thai, and he delivered a good black coffee which I lingered over as I contemplated the river.

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From there, it was time to return to the hotel for a shower, and a rest in bed, savouring the comfort of clean sheets and horizontality, taking in Wat Arun through the window as I rehydrated myself.

My friend, Pom, had called the day before and was insistent that she take me from Arun Residence to the Emporium. I explained that access would be difficult, but she was insistent. I told her access down this soi would be close to impossible, but she wasn’t taking no. I gave up.

I packed (a moment’s work, given that I had barely unpacked), and then popped back into the Deck for lunch. I was after the softshell crab burger with the pesto mayonnaise.

When it came, it clearly fell into that category that your mother warns you of. Don’t try to eat anything bigger than your head. I solved this conundrum by breaking it into two open faced burgers, as there were two crabs in there.

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The mayonnaise was good, but I must say I didn’t ttaste very much of a pesto in it. But the crabs were great, crunching as my teeth rended in, giving up squirts of juice with each chomp. I took my time, until Pom called to say that she was up at the top of the soi, and couldn’t make it through all the cars.

I changed into my clean, yellow King’s shirt. There’s some controversy over Farang wearing these. Most of the controversy stems from other farang, as the shirts I have are gifts from my Thai friends, and they quite expect to see me in them on Mondays (at least).

Pom picked me up at the top of the soi, and we dropped in at the S&P across from the River House. A meal of laab pork, som tam, noodles with green curry, and rice with sweet Chinese sausage. Comfortable food.

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The laab gave a coarse texture, with the bite of the north east.

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The som tam was tomato, done in the Thai style as opposed to Issaan.

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The rice was smooth and warm to the palate, blending things and taking away the bite, and the noodles were pleasant.

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A bite of the rice noodle, a bit of the fried whatever it was, a crisp basil leave, a bit of egg, and a spooning of the curry over the top.

After lunch, and getting out of the parking lot (I have too many grey hairs to take up parking in Bangkok. There’s way too much double and triple parking for my liking), we headed back up to the Emporium.

I was home. Like a monk, I can be a creature of habit. I like the Emporium for its size,, and I love it for its view. On the 37th floor I look out over Benjasiri Park and the expanse of the city.

At night, when it lights up, I can stare for hours…..okay, I exaggerate, but I can easily kill a beer or a glass of Chardonnay while taking in the landscape.

And I was so, so happy to have a shower that I could use without a background in yoga.

I showered, swam, and hit the street, or rather, the mall. I stayed in the a/c, traversed the hall of the Emporium office towers, and slid into the Emporium mall, where I bee-lined to the gourmet mart upstairs.

I really need a kitchen in Thailand. That and a lot more time. But that ‘ll come to pass sooner rather than later, I suspect.

Beers were at the Londoner, of course. I was meeting with my director, P, and we were going to go over the current status on our film, discuss future projects, and mainly drink a lot.

We sat at Frank’s Corner. Frank was a longtime resident here, and a good man to talk to. He passed away just a few months ago.

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I won’t try to argue over the Londoners’ cream bitter. It’s not a proper cream bitter, perhaps, but I like it, and I’m going to continue to drink it. So there.

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I wasn’t too keen on the egg part, but biting in it was very much like biting into a good dumpling. The outer skin was fried up but inside it had overtones of, like I said, dumpling, but also slightly of warm spam.

Happy hour at the Londoner is 2-for-1, so we stayed for our usual six or eight pints, and then headed out. We’d discussed our dining options, and P, from the South of England, held that Khazama had the best Indian food to be found in Bangkok.

Now, as airline food is sometimes considered the national cuisine of England, you may question my putting a matter of this importance into the hands of a son of Albion.

But he and I have eaten before. When I was last in London, I met up with him, and his first recommendation for food was identical to mine – St. John. So I know I cant trust my palate to him.

In the rain we hailed a taxi up Sukhumvit to Faces. This Balinese inspired complex hosts Thai, Indian, and Balinese outlets, as well as an attractive little bar. Entering, and meandering through the expanse, it does feel like Bali; like the Dirty Duck or Poppies in Ubud. Lots of really lovely wood, staggered layers, and the nice conceit of wrapping inside and outside around each other, with no clear boundary (other than the a/c and the reflections in the glass) of where one ends and the other begins.

We ordered more beers, to maintain continuity, and then looked at our choices on the menu.

I opted for the raita and the palak paneer, and Paul chimed in with prawns in a red tamaraind curry, and mutton in a karma. All savoury, and perfect to go with some naan and kulcha.

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The dishes came out as saucy as we’d hoped. And the breads were just right, a crisp outside, but with a pull to the texture inside. We rampaged through the meats and cheese, and then mopped up the remnants.

After dinner, we dropped down to check out their bar, another beautiful piece of work. I had something limey and alcoholic called a Bangkok Boom, and P took something less technicolour.

As a comment on bodily waste (you knew this was coming) they did have a very nice washroom, with ice in the urinals, something that just brings out the competitive nature in most males. I’d first noted this in Sharkey’s in Phnom Penh, where large bricks were put down to keep the odours non-toxic. It was good to see it here.

We followed this with some more beers, (Heinikens and Tigers- I would’ve had to go further back down Sukhumvit to find Beer Lao). We had some discussions about the film - now showing in Singapore under a new title – The Possessed. We couldn’t quite figure out the title change, and there were some other issues, I am certain, that were of great concern to us. I think there’s going to be a sequel.

I seem to recall getting home and explaining to the guard at the Emporium how a rose could be a lethal offensive weapon.

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Even though you've just had Indian, do you think you could make a stop at Dosa King? It's around Sukhumvit--maybe around Soi 15, just across the street (but on the same side) from the hotel shaped like a ship--the Westin (it's attached to Robinson's, with a Tops in the basement)? I love Dosa King.

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I'll try and get to Dosa King for one of my lunches tomorrow before I have to head to the airport. I figure with a 6 p.m. flight, I can manage three small meals tomorrow besides lunch before I have to check out.

I'm already two days behind in this, not yet having covered the M. Chapoutier dinner on Tuesday, or last night.

So many meals, so little time.

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‘Eid and the Angels - Part 4 - Tuesday

The day begins around 9. It seems like a good idea to let it get to ten before I push my luck with the other eyelid.

But by 9:15 I’m up and putting the finish on the notes for Part 2. I think, “Perhaps this is getting out of hand when I’m using up Bangkok time to write these things?”

And so now I’m in the airport catching up. There’s a time to be obsessive/compulsive, and then there’s a time to fret about being obsessive /compulsive.

Before going too far afield, I stopped in at the Emporium’s food floor for a quick snack. My eye, the last few days, had been caught by the bright yellow stands advertising vegetarian fare for the Vegetarian Festival, which was now in full swing. Down South you get a whole carnival show of self-mutilation, people ramming steel rods and swords through their bodies, hooking buckets onto rings forced through their flesh……sort of like Central London on a Friday night. But in Bangkok you get none of that (well, except for some of the dance clubs) and it was expressed primarily in terms of food (it is a vegetarian festival, after all).

I had a hankering for some of the noodles I’d been looking at all week, so I ordered a plate of yellow soba with mushrooms. A nice, cloying feel in the mouth, very greasy with a slightly slimy overtone.

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I quite enjoyed that.

An hour or two after that, I found myself for lunch over at Silom Shopping Village. My friend, Pom, has her shop located there, and on Tuesdays the restaurant in the complex puts on an extensive spread of Thai food. I showed up to find she’d already ordered.

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We had some old favourites; Phat Thai

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a mixed rice dish - Khao kuk ka pi – fried pork, kapi (little dried shrimps), lime, and other bits and pieces.

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There was a pat woon sen – thin translucent noodles with a topping of fried chicken and pork. And a nice soup of Kao Laon.

After lunch, I ran a few errands (or rather, waddled a few errands) and then made it back to the pool to try and do enough laps to get me into my dinner jacket.

Dinner was at D’Sens.

Canapés

Tavel Rosé

Amuse Bouche

La déclinaison du Homard/Lobster Symphony

Roasted in a caramel of apples, a carpaccio with seasonal mixed herbs, poached and slightly smoked served in a vegetable broth reduction

Cruzes Hermitage White Petite Ruche 2004

Marinated black cod fillet

in Port Wine and Sake, carrot emulsion flavoured with cumin

Cruzes hermitage red petite ruche 2003

Saddle of lamb

thin crust of coriander and lemon with green anise, tomato mousse, roasted in sherry vinegar.

Gigondas, 2003

Assortment of farmhouse cheeses

Chateauneuf du Pape La Bernardine 2004

Pre dessert

Crispy Tourron

with extra bitter cocoa and lemon sherbert

Muscat des beaumes de venise 2003

Mignardines

I arrived at the Dusit just a la minute. It had been years since I’d last been here, before the brothers Pourcel of Montpellier’s Le Jardin des Sens had followed up their Tokyo expansion with this thrust into the Bangkok market.

Stepping out of the elevator onto the top floor, the Tiara of the Dusit, you step into the soft reds of the lobby, with curtains of redder beads setting the tone.

At the bar I join some friends, take in the view overlooking Lumpini Park and Sukhumvit in the distance, and try the Tavel Rosé.

It’s a very pleasant, soft rose, easy on the palate. Much more a “light” red than what I usually think of as a rosé. I see now why the people at Saveur in Vancouver were so happy to find the Joie Rose. They’d told me of the rosés they drank in France, and I’d quite enjoyed the Joie. I enjoyed this, and it made a good accompaniment with the canapés. These included:

Lobster Samoussa

Lobster flesh, couscous, bell peppers, herbs, and bisque reduction wrapped in a brick leaf.

Salmon Rillettes on a Toast

Poached salmon mixed with mayonnaise, shallots, and herbs served on a toast.

Cod Fish Accras

Shallots, spring onions, lemongrass, and chilies blended with cod flesh and flour.

Sea Bream Spoon and Butternut Puree with Lemon Sauce

Oven baked bream covered with lemon sauce and accompanied by a butternut puree, served a very pretty spoon.

Smoked Duck Breast and Grilled Tuna Skewer

Pretty much what it says, with a sauce of tomato, mayonnaise, and herbs.

I should’ve taken more pictures, but I was too busy yakking with my friends, several more of whom had arrived during the canapés.

The view is wonderful. There are taller buildings, but this, on the 22nd floor, benefits from the open vista across Lumpini Park, placing you with a panorama, but still close enough to the ground to appreciate the detailing. A similar effect to the Emporium, perhaps even more striking. If there is a down side, it is that this view is only really appreciated from the bar (and the facilities, but more on that later).

M. Chapoutier had been wise enough to bring with them the charming (and very pretty and very qualified) Priscilla Teoh, the sommelier from Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. She was originally from Singapore, where she’d been the sommelier with Raffles. I’ve met some of the sommeliers in Singapore, and she’s from good quality. With her on hand, we had a much better idea of what M. Chapoutier was trying to accomplish, with a move towards “biodynamic” wines, dropping the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to preserve the terroir.

They feel that they’ve only been very serious in the last 16 years, when Michael (the “M” in M. Chapoutier) took over. He’s been working with Robert Parker in making over the wines, looking to long macerations, developing length and depth in the mouth, while balancing this against a good nose.

What we would be drinking would be younger, more straightforward wines. The Travel rosé we’d just had was composed of granache grapes, the famous variety originally from Spain, showing off, as we’d noticed, more of a “red” in the finish.

The room stretches back around the Silom side of the building, with red the dominating theme. Our table, however, was all in white, a small tent of a table set on the second level up from the windows. This actually did afford a reasonable view across the bar, so we did not complain (although we did ask to lower the lights slightly).

There were actually two amuse Bouche.

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The first a gazpacho of tomato and 4 other vegetables with a black olive sable.

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Then this was followed by a wonderful porcini soup in another shot glass, this one with a trio vegetable custard to go with it on one side, and a vegetable spring roll (with a touch of citrus) on the other. The porcini started well, and finished better, with the mushroom sludge at the bottom giving great texture as you finished the slurp.

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The trio of lobsters consisted of the roast, on top of the caramelized apples, gave a good strong flavour, a direct injection of flavour in the mouth; the carpaccio, which I could appreciate as a delicate flavour, showing off the herbs, but still I am put off by the texture of lobster when not cooked through, in opposition to raw prawns, which I find delightful….but that’s just me. Where was I? Oh, yeah, #3, the “poached and slightly smoked” which I did quite enjoy, with the background of the smoking there to play with your tongue.

With this we’d enjoyed the Petite Ruche 2004, of the Rhone, lean, with delicate touches of honey and cantaloupe. This is made with a marsanne grape, and I believe someone at the table was noting some herbs in the finish. Priscilla, in talking of this wine, noted that it is the only white wine grape that will age over 50 years. This grape is still very popular in Australia, in addition to the Northern Rhone.

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The carrot emulsion made a great presentation for the fish, which followed on, the two spears of asparagus atop in a guard position. The flesh of the cod pulled away nicely, and the marinade of port and sake gave it a lingering sweetness. Beneath we wondered at the crunchy chopped bits of green, and were heartened to find out that we’d got it right as brussel sprouts.

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And with this a red, the scarlet sister to the Petite Ruche, this a very forceful Syrah (Shiraz), typical of the Norther Rhone, where only Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanee are allowed. With 100% Syrah there’s plenty of fruit and spice to complement the sweetness of the carrots and the marinated fish. This has a good nose of grapes, fresh and abundant.

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Next was the saddle of lamb. Our table took in the aroma of coriander that rolled in ahead of the dish as the wait staff approached. The meat was excellent, and the dollop of mousse on the side, bright green anise with tomato and some potato (very light) whipped in for body was perfect with the meat.

As was the wine. Later, when talking with her about the wonderful nose on this, she did advise that she’d had it opened for quite some time before to develop. This is one that I went back to again and again, just burying my nose in the glass and enjoying the aromas. This is a symphony of the Southern Rhone, comprising the Cinsaut, Grenache, Mourvedre, in harmony with the Syrah. A strong wine, just right for the boldness of the lamb.

I had another bite of the lamb, added a bit of the mousse, and put my nose back into the glass before taking a good mouth, swallowing, and breathing in.

And then I called for more.

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Cheese next to go with the Chateauneuf du Pape. A pretty collection of four cheeses; a classic Brie, the Tomme de Savoie, a creamy Robluchon, and the Morbiere. The Morbiere drew our attention immediately. We’d assumed it was a layer of “bleu” running through the middle, but Priscilla let us know ahead of biting in that it was a layer of ash, used to separate the morning and afternoon milks in the cheese.

The Chateauneuf du Pape wines can include quite a variety of grapes, but M. Chapoutier’s Le Bernardine relies only upon Grenache and a hint of Syrah. The result is very good with the cheese, lacking the robustness of the Girondas, but still strong with good fruit and a background of earth.

This was enough to call for a trip to the facilities. Others had urged me to take a gander, and it was spectacular. Now, this won’t be of as much use to women, but for us men, there’s something very satisfying to be able to use a clear glass window with a running patter of water draining away to the bottom, giving you a “clear” (depending upon your kidneys) view of the city below you. This is probably the most striking urinal I have ever had the opportunity to use.

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I returned to find a pretty little thing of a panna cotta found its way to my table, with strawberries trilling away in a layer, allowing us to linger on the red.

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And then the fortified Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2003, a golden sweet finish to the wines of the night.

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This went with a dessert of a crispy Tourron, a Spanish nougat dessert sided with a crisp mille feuille of hazelnut and some lemon sorbet beside it to clear the nougaty taste of the Tourron.

Some more Muscat, and a refill on the Girondas.

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And then some mignardines to fill things out (at least to fill out me). Happy little bites of chocolate and bakery tastes.

So, after a nice little meal in the Thai capital, what next?

Having made our farewells, several of my friends and I decamped for Vertigo’s Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree over on Sathorn for cigars.

61 floors above the streets of Bangkok, the Moon Bar is not the place for those with a fear of heights. But with the lights of the city spread out far below it does make a beautiful setting for a good gin martini (South, I believe, although I get a little fuzzy at this point).

I had a nice chat with the bartendress from the Shangri-La. She had worked here before moving to the Shangri-La, but still loved coming here for the view.

I had to agree.

The bar is set further back from the restaurant, reached by another set of stairs. It sits as a square upon the platform, and is thankfully enclosed with an appropriately tall but good-looking railing.

By one it was time to go. I made it down in one piece, hailed a cab, made a quick stop on Sukhumvit for some pork satay (no photos, sorry), and then went back up to my room to enjoy the view from the 37th floor.

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Thanks for the review Peter.

I must admit that I did not enjoy my meal at the Raffles Grill, which was another Pourcel consultancy project until quite recently. Thierry Alix from the Shanghai outpost was doing a guest chef stint and I was invited for a degustation lunch (just before an interview at 2.30 pm; not the most ideal preparation for the alert journalistic mind).

That aside, I found the food a confusing mix of flavours; Vietnamese, French, Thai, Chinese. I don't think there was a dish that I actually enjoyed (which shows how grateful I am since my meal was comped). The amuse was something extremely sour, which was about my most memorable flavour recollection of the meal. The dessert, something called a Vietnamese mem, was abysmal.

And my waiter was a chap from mainland China who had trouble stringing four words together in any comprehensible accent. Considering that I was dining with the Raffles PR manager at the time, I found this quite stunning.

However, Alix then rebounded quite strongly with a Brittany seabass main on a different occasion, which was one of the best pieces of fish I've had.

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Thanks for the review Peter.

I must admit that I did not enjoy my meal at the Raffles Grill, which was another Pourcel consultancy project until quite recently.  Thierry Alix from the Shanghai outpost was doing a guest chef stint and I was invited for a degustation lunch (just before an interview at 2.30 pm; not the most ideal preparation for the alert journalistic mind).

That aside, I found the food a confusing mix of flavours; Vietnamese, French, Thai, Chinese.  I don't think there was a dish that I actually enjoyed (which shows how grateful I am since my meal was comped).  The amuse was something extremely sour, which was about my most memorable flavour recollection of the meal.  The dessert, something called a Vietnamese mem, was abysmal.

And my waiter was a chap from mainland China who had trouble stringing four words together in any comprehensible accent.  Considering that I was dining with the Raffles PR manager at the time, I found this quite stunning.

However, Alix then rebounded quite strongly with a Brittany seabass main on a different occasion, which was one of the best pieces of fish I've had.

I'd heard that D'Sens was very good when it opened and the brothers were in residence. Since then I've heard conflicting reports. Some that it dropped in standards, others that it is still excellent, but doesn't pander to the local tastes, and so has trouble building a clientelle.

What I experienced this evening was very good service, and a well coordinated meal around a good selection of wines. I must admit, I'm a fan of wine dinners. Done properly, they give the chef some structure to contain his fancies, and so you don't get lost.

In this case, we have wines that are familiar to the Pourcel brothers, and so things worked out well. They're not grand, grand monuments to wine making, but they work well with the choice of dishes. Other times I've had dinners where excellent food and wine is completely at odds, almost as if the chef was unaware of what was being poured, and could care less (a seafood dominated chef for Barolos!).

I guess, when I have a degustation, when paired with wine, I look for the chef to put together a story, or perhaps a musical composition. After all, we're shelling out a good bit of change, we want to enjoy this as much as a good play or opera. What I had this evening at D'Sens made sense (sorry for that, but the alliteration was too handy), working from fairly clean amuse through traditional approaches to lobster, and then fish and a lamb that went in an interesting French colonial direction. Desserts were appropriate for the sense of France they were going for, so all in all I was happy.

Compare this with my write-up elsewhere on the Square in London. Like you, the thread was lost somewhere early on. Too many flavours, without one dish leading sensibly to the next.

Mind you, I had the benefit of a charming young blonde sommelier from the Alsace, so that's a step up from your waiter, I must admit.

Now, to find some space to load more pictures and get on with the next part.

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‘Eid and the Angels –part 5– Wednesday

I actually woke up to eat breakfast. This is a rare occurrence. While I do admit that some people feel that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I find it to be in direct conflict with the role of early lunches and brunches. It’s a personal decision, I suppose.

In reasonable form (this means I did wash and put on clothers) I made it down to the 25th floor (I just bang EL until I get there) and weaved through the general chaos of residents and their families working over the buffet.

Having badmouthed “the most important meal of the day” already, I have to swallow my words and admit that Bangkok isn’t a bad place to eat early. Besides the usual omelets, sausages, hash browns, and the rest, there’s always fresh pineapple, and papaya to be taken with a wedge of lemon.

And the Japanese section will have plump, steaming rice, and usually a bit of grilled fish with that cloyingly sweet sauce the Japanese put on fish and eels.

And coffee. Gotta have coffee.

This, with the morning view of Bangkok from up here, had me in a better mood. I looked at what needed to be done. Obviously, lunch would soon be in order. After that, mid-afternoon snacks, and then dinner at the home of some of my friends.

I took lunch at Kalpapruek On First. I’ve stayed at the Emporium numerous times. I love it for its views, for its location (direct to the BTS) and for having my own small kitchen to play in (although I don’t seem to get around to it often enough). But I still haven’t explored the entire array of eateries that are here. Kalpapruek is one that had caught my eye before, and a few people had good things to say, so I figured this was a relatively easy stop.

As you’d guess, it’s on the First floor (not the Ground floor, which I, as a dumb Canuck, checked out first). I was shown to a seat by the window, with a view looking out onto the broadside of the Skytrain, but also with a relatively intimate view of the main entrance.

Not a bad place for people watching. My favourite is, perhaps, is upstairs at Greyhound’s six or so tables outside the restaurant proper on the balcony by the escalators. I’ve sat out there before with a pasta dish and a gin and tonic and watched the show go by.

But back to lunch. I noticed on the inside of the menu that these same people are tied in with Thai Tai at the Sporting Club. Maybe I should try that?……

I settled on the ped phalo kra prao krob, braised duck with deep fried basil leaves, and khao hmak gai - curried chicken rice. I’m a sucker for anything that’s braised, and the curried chicken rice sounded interesting.

The duck was quite pleasant buried under a liberal pile of crispy bright green basil leaves. Soft, fatty, and squirty.

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And the curry was really good. Bright orange-yellow, with chicken firmly imbedded into the mass of rice, like some bizarre poultry based meteor impacting the moon. In the rice are little cubes of potato for contrasting the textures, and there’s some crispy fried shallots on top for the finale.

The soup on the side had a sad little chicken limb in it, but it was mainly there for the clearing flavour of the broth.

With all this, just water. I was still getting things back together.

After lunch, I was off to Fuji. I love Fuji.

Fuji is the Japanese communities shopping market. To get there, you go down past either Villa 33 or the Bull’s Head, and then dog leg your way around to the back side. Past a selection of interesting Japanese restaurants, and Fuji is laid out to your left.

Inside everything is wide lanes and serenity. The antithesis to the cramped, claustrophobic aisles of the Emporium’s Gourmet Market, and Villa 33. While I always stop in at Villa 33 for some things, the layout reminds me of Toul Sleng prison in Phnom Penh……okay, it doesn’t have the wall of human skulls, but then again, Toul Sleng took theirs down, too.

The staff, well disciplined, are putting goods on the shelves, white gloves carefully positioning each packet. The matrons are demurely pushing their carts in good order, stopping occasionally to bow to each other.

And then there’s the muzak. We’re talking 1960’s elevators here, folks.

Myself, I was looking for yuzu (which I didn’t find) but I did grab some dried goods; peppers and powders, mainly.

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Outside, I couldn’t help myself. I was caught by a sign advertising octopi. I looked, but couldn’t quite figure out what it was. So, following the cardinal rule of “if you can’t understand it, eat it”, I bought a pack for 80 baht.

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These things have a habit of snowballing. Once I’d bought a packet of octopus heads (that’s what they looked like) buried under a sweet sauce and fried onion, I was then captivated by a teepee of grilling sausages.

Again, the idea of entrails stuffed with unidentifiable remains that may or may not contain Jimmy

Hoffa aren’t the sort of things that I’m going to turn my back on.

I scurried back to the room, poured out a glass of the Penfold’s Rawson’s Retreat I was working on, nuked the sausage and octopus heads, and tucked in.

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The sausage was everything I’d hoped for. Little squirts of fat breaking through with every bite through the intestine wall. Sweet, with a good volume of rice, like a Cajun boudin.

And the octopus heads? What can I say to describe them? Indescribably foul? Yeah, that would do. These things had no hint of octopus about them (I’d been hoping). They tasted for all the world like a big ball of cooked waffle batter, with some goozy sweet brown stuff squirted from a squeeze bottle onto them. The onions reminded me of the taste and texture of old cat fur (don’t ask how I know that).

I put aside the Penfolds for a moment to down an Asahi beer and clear my mouth.

Chardonnay back in hand, I contemplated the failing light over Krungthep, the City of Angels. It’s a pretty name in the short version. Heck, even the full name is pleasant when sung by Asanee and Wasan, a great techno drone that goes on and on.

I snapped myself out of it. I had to swim, clean up, and dress. I was to have my favourite dinner of the trip this evening, dining at home with some of my friends.

But for that meal, I am sworn to silence, and my camera stayed off.

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‘Eid and the Angels – Part 6 – Thursday

Another difficult morning. This was becoming a trend. Forget breakfast, it’d just get in the way.

I was out by 9:40 to be at Siam Paragon by 10 for the opening.

Siam Paragon may have the ultimate mall food floor. A lilting rivulet runs through one wing, flanked by very trendy looking Italian, Belgian, Thai, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

Another wing holds clusters of well appointed kiosks, with some boutique elements cheek by jowl with the food court royalty – Burger King and Dairy Queen (that must go against Jewish dietary restrictions, I think). Clean, spotless even, full of beautiful people buying beautiful things. I keep on waiting to see the cast of Zoolander.

My purpose was to take a small repast at the Oriental’s shop, as everyone has been talking well of Benito Plasschaert. Heck, they’ve been talking well of him for a long, long time, dating back to his days in Chiang Mai when he would come down to Bangkok occasionally to do classes at the Oriental which had rave reviews.

In Chiang Mai he was a must see. My friends ranted about his charcouterie. But luck wasn’t with me, and he was out of town when I was there.

So, it was a given that if the two of us were in the same town, we’d have to meet.

I arrived just as the doors had opened, and the staff were still prepping some things. I did the appropriate “ahems” and immediately someone was there to take my order. This early in the morning, that can be problematical for me. Do I have pate, or do I have hams? Both are acceptable ‘Eid choices for me.

Reviewing the menu, my answer was simple: I would have a sandwich of Burgundy pate with ham, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and chutneys. Voila.

There was a solid layer of pate down under the pile of ham, and these flavours worked, alongside the tomatos and the chutneys, to deliver a very satisfying sandwich experience.

The sandwich violates one of the primary principals of sensible eating. Never eat anything bigger than your head.

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Sense and sensibility have sworn me off as a lost cause.

Benito arrived just as I had begun savaging my food. This is never a pretty sight, and he was kind enough to leave me to my feeding.

As I ate, I admired the view some more. Le Notre across the way, mirrored by the Vanilla

Brasserie and their aproned staff. Next to that was Savoury, where I intended to take lunch. Next door to us was an Italian, advertising cuisine by Marco Cammarata, with another Italian, Amici, within gesticulation range.

Once the frenzy was over, sufficiently stuffed to the gills (the European lady at the shop was kind enough to offer to wrap half my sandwich to go, but I knew her efforts would go to waste) I stopped by the counter to give Benito my regards.

He was a little forlorn today, as he was trying to develop a workable menu for this afternoon’s cooking class. I wish I had had the time to attend, as his reputation as a teacher is excellent, and, looking at the kitchen, I was in love.

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The kitchen is exactly what you need for pastry making in Bangkok. Climate controlled (on top of the mall’s climate control) it affords a workable space to avoid all the cloying problems of humidity in the Big Mango. I’ve heard numerous chefs discuss the problems with some dishes due to the climate. Benito, however, cautioned that, for many of the Thai, it can be a problem with the temperature being too cold. I doubt that I would have a problem with that, but I could appreciate that the Thai might start locking up and turning blue.

This day he was doing European appetizers. Dishes meant to taste and look good. In a couple of weeks he would be doing his charcouterie course. I wish I could have been there for that.

I took my leave and strolled over to MBK for a couple of hours of shopping. In part to make certain I brought home the appropriate peace offerings, and in part just to work up my appetite again.

Only day 5, and I was beginning to flag.

For lunch I returned to Siam Paragon and did another turn around the establishments. While there were plenty of interesting places – Bee & Bug! In Thailand you never know, it could be honeyed grasshoppers. And then there was Papa Beard’s, selling deep fried cream puffs, advertised as “fresh” and “healthy”. I am holding out an outside chance that, like coffee, beer, and red wine, deep fried cream puffs will prove to be the panacea we’ve been waiting for.

I’ve been cautioned by several friends that you can’t get a good meal here in Paragon, but even if that is the case, it’s all so…..clean. After awhile, walking through the cafés and the shopping market, you just get giddy.

I finally span down to a relative rest at Savoury, a big, stupid grin on my face. I was scared to look at the other floors in case they seduced me even further. This could be evil.

To ward this off, I turned to the menu.

For a house white by the glass, they offered only a sauvignon blanc. My thoughts for the sort of fare I saw would lean more to a chardonnay or a gewurtztraminer. But, I quibble. The menu looked like fun, and I wished I had two more people with me and more of an appetite.

Savoury Gastrocafe is a rebirth of the earlier Savoury, opened by Khun Bee many years ago.

She later turned to savoury Thai dishes, as opposed to European dishes, and opened the very good Taling Pling. When I talk to my middle-class Thai friends, Taling Pling is a place they like to go. Khun Bee’s daughter, Khun Cake, has opened this venue, and it’s had some good reviews.

Not high end, this is more a chance to try different things.

She’s running the first part of the menu as Thai tapas. The idea of several small dishes runs near and dear to my belly at this point in time. Eclectic in a good way, they offered a lot of tasty sounding mixes; chicken liver parfait with Melba toast; salad of grilled white asparagus; pomelo som tom; ox tongue stew….

I settle on a classic clams in butter and garlic with brioche, and a spicy salmon with fresh ginger and lime.

I smell the clams approaching the table. Over the top with garlic as I’d hoped. One of my fondest early memories of Thailand back in the 80’s was coming around an alley corner in Chiang Mai and walking into a wall of garlic odour. How can you not love this country?

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The clams came soft and chewy. Spooned out on a bit of the bread, and there’s a disaster just waiting to happen to my clothes.

But the salmon was the better of the two. The spices were just right for a miang kam, and they happily provided bpai cham ploo (betel nut leaves) along with two types of lettuce for wrapping the mince up and popping it in your mouth.

Of the three wraps, I’d have to give the bpai cham ploo pride of place. I love the waxy feel, and that aroma it gives off as you masticate.

Sad to say, though, I was in such sorry shape that I couldn’t even finish. This was becoming distressing.

I waddled over and chatted a bit more with Benito as he waited for his class to show. The Belgians are always easy to talk with, especially if you’re talking about food. But I also asked as to how he found Bangkok, after his time in Chiang Mai.

“When I was in Chiang Mai I felt I was missing the big city. Now that I’m here, I’m finding I miss Chiang Mai.” The eternal conundrum. At least Benito is reasonably free to pursue the things that interest him. For the moment, he enjoys his classes, so I hope there’ll be a series running when I return next.

Dinner was set for some time much later, which was good. I did some more shopping for foodstuffs - little green eggplants, fresh mushrooms, pork jerky, crispy pork, and shredded pork – it was the ‘Eid after all. And then I took a turn around the pool.

It was obvious, though. I was going to need some exercise if I was going to manage dinner.

The meal tonight was with one of my old, old friends in town, and he likes to eat. So, I needed a serious work out.

I took my pool cue, and went out to shoot.

Down the street from the Emporium is Flyers. It’s been there for around five or six years now.

It’s not the semi-pro hall that Ball In Hand is, nor does it have the light and feel of The (lamented) Brunswick, which was probably my favourite place to shoot. But it does have air-conditioning and Asahi Super Dry, so it would do.

That was good for an hour or so, and by then A had shown up. We got in a few more Asahi’s, caught up on the après coup, and then had a few more Asahi’s.

At some point we decided that food would be a good option, so we grabbed a cab and headed down to soi 11.

Our first check was Wasabi @ Q. This had been reviewed very well a month or two back by my friend, and I was interested in the uni they’d brought in. When I’d tried to get there a couple of weeks ago, though, they were shut. We figured it was just the coup, but they were still shut.

This was turning into a mystery. I hate mysteries.

We walked back up to the intersection, and spotted a pool table. This in turn led us into a local establishment, The Fun House, which seemed to be anything but. However, there was a table, and there was cold beer, albeit Heiniken and not Asahi. We settled in and mulled our options.

Okay, we didn’t really have an option. There was a good new Vietnamese place around the corner that he thought well of, so we’d give that a shot while we were still ambulatory.

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Xuan Mai is around the corner and back up a bit, a tiny little place of around six or eight tables, done up in that attractive Indochine yellow you get used to seeing peeling off the walls from Vientiane to Saigon. There was another group settled in already, and they turned out to be common friends, so this made for a good setting.

We went for two fish. The one, Cha Ca, is the classic of Cha Ca street in Hanoi, one of the few Vietnamese dishes that had made a lasting impact upon me. With this, we also ordered the caramel catfish. We had some cold bbq beef noodles to start, some Hanoi style spring rolls (with crab) and Meyung’s Roma Fries, her take on fried potatoes she’d had in Rome.

Food aside, it’s worth coming just for Meyung Robson. American, she’d come over to Bangkok in “an official capacity”. She’d retired, but had stayed on as her kids were settled down here. And she’s not the type of woman to not be doing things.

She’s not shy about talking about her food. I like that. Others may not, but to steal from Sydney Greenstreet in the Maltese Falcon “I’m a man who likes talking to men who like to talk”….or women for that matter . She may talk loud, and often, but I spent 11 years working in a Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver, so I find it sort of comforting.

So, how was the food?

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I liked the noodles. Lots of nam pla in the smell and feel, slipping and sliding down your throat like those small Spanish eels. They weren’t so much cold as slightly under room temperature, and so not as striking on the palate as the Korean noodles can be, which will often have ice cubes dropped in to give the jar to your mouth. By keeping the temperature higher, however, you have more nose to the dish, more flavour. A good, light opening to get the hunger working.

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Likewise, even after years of them, I will always go out of my way for spring rolls. Those little glass-like shards of the outer layer slashing at your lips and tongue as you crunch in, and the counter of the vinegary sauce to the oils in the roll.

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The Roma fries, weren’t something that I would go hunting for. The problem being how to keep a firm, crisp exterior after the initial fry. It might be the lack of beef fat (or better yet, horse fat), perhaps, but I didn’t delve too deeply. They were just there.

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The Cha Ca was alright, but not quite as I remembered it. It lacked something in the sharpness that had defined it before. It may just be my memory, which can play tricks with an old man like me. It has been eleven years since I was last there. It was good enough, but didn’t hit that resonating note with my memories.

The last was also alright, the caramel fish. Good, deep flavours. A little on the oily side, but this would be fine with rice. However, we hadn’t taken any rice, as that tends to stuff up our appetites. As it, it was an interesting flavour.

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The finish I liked. Crème brule in coconut shells. A good, caramel ized crispy crust, and that rich, rich flavour to dig through for. My accomplice teased her about re-using the husks, but she didn’t rise to the bait.

I don’t want it to see from the above that I didn’t enjoy this. I’ve long said that the only bad meals I’d ever had in Bangkok were Vietnamese, and this wasn’t bad by any means. The ambience suited my mood, and the dishes were all good. And the price was reasonable. I just tend to be too critical of things. If I had been in Saigon, I would probably have raved about this meal.

With two tables holding about six or seven of us, and with Heyung chiming in (and the kitchen staff trying to remain invisible), it was a great atmosphere, with lots of back and forth and chairs getting dragged about between tables. It's a great thing when a meal at a restaurant can feel like a dinner party at home.

The thing to watch out for is that things don’t change. What works very well for a small restaurant could, as 'A' points out, fail horribly with success and size. Examples given were two other places I’d wanted to try. One was Sonie’s, which used to be on soi 31. It had a great reputation as a tiny joint doing interesting Japanese fusion. They’d moved to bigger premises, and now couldn’t deliver in the same intimate manner they’d done before. The result? Doom.

A worse fate waited for one of my old favourites; Woodstock’s.

I remember Woodstock’s and it’s sister outlet, The White Rabbit. The White Rabbit, on the ground floor of the Nana Plaza, did two breakfasts. For 100 baht you could have the English Breakfast, that came as two plates heaped with beans, toast, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, toast, and probably the kitchen sink tossed in with the orange juice and coffee. Or, for 110 baht, you could have the Australian breakfast; a cup of coffee and a bloody Mary.

But that passed away by around 1990 or so. Woodstock’s lasted much longer. After an initial stint as a go-go, it had evolved upstairs into the gathering place for Bangkok’s Harley crowd, and afforded a good music system, big screen sports or movies, a couple of pool tables, well-regarded burgers, and a strict “no-hassling-the-customers” rule that kept the rest of the Plaza out. It made for a good place to hide when you’re crowd was busy elsewhere.

So, what happens? They closed up shop in the Plaza a year ago February and moved to new, spic and span digs off of Thonglor. The result? Dead. Very stylish, 3 stories, but absolutely dead.

Excuse me while I wipe away a tear.

This all came up as, once we’d finished our Vietnamese meal, we felt the need for something to settle us a bit. Wasabi hung in our mind, so we decided to do Uemasa or Hanako off of Thonglor.

Hanako, which brought in cod sperm last Christmas, had already done the Jekyll and Hyde thing by the time we arrived, and had flipped from restaurant to karaoke for the night. There was no way in hell we were going in there, so we booted over to Uemasa. There, everything was dark, the staff just getting into cabs to head home. But, there was a dim ray of hope. The place next to Uemasa was open.

Torajiro was a nice, clean, well –lit place. While not as impressive as either Uemasa or Hanako, it was perfectly serviceable. A pleasant entryway, and private booths for the customers. It was nicely set up as a later night place to eat, talk, and drink.

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Uni wasn’t on the menu, unfortunately, but they did have attractive looking scallops, which we ordered and came interleaved with slices of lemon. I love that citrus tang on a good slice of scallop, and this was enough to get the two of us interested in eating again.

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We complemented this with a quart of shozu, served up with soda and lemon. More civilized than beer at this time of the night (and less filling) it also meets the need for ceremony, with the waitress careful to keep our glasses filled as the evening progressed (or is that morning).

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For memories of the Pacific NorthWest, we had a big bowl of ikura donburi - salmon eggs and raw salmon on a bowl of rice, and I found myself entranced by the tonkatsu, which arrived buried under a mound of shaved horseradish.

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Okay, maybe the shozu was doing some of the entrancing, but the breading on the pork cutlet was crispy, hot, and countered well by the tang in the horseradish. A little sweet sauce, the hint of nori coming through……

As happens, time passed very easily, and all of the world’s problems found themselves resolved.

We went from there to some other fine drinking establishment, and then, at some awful time of the day, found ourselves enjoying Beer Lao on the curbside of Sukhumvit. The Lumpini police came by and chased us down the road until we got across Asoke, and there the much more sensible Thonglor police left us to our discussions and some skewers of pork interleaved with green capsicums and onion.

Finally, in that hideous time when the sun is almost arisen ("dawn" I think it's called), I headed for home.

There was a plane to catch, and two more meals (at least).

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‘Eid and the Angels – part 7 – departures

All good things come to an end…..but I still had shopping to do. I woke up wondering how my friend ‘A’ actually gets into work after these evenings/mornings.

I figured, okay, the sun’s up, I might as well do the same. I was down in the Emporium for the 10 a.m. opening, and trying to make up my mind what to eat in the Food Court.

There’s some contestation amongst people about which food court is the best. I’m fond of the Emporium in part because of the tall glass windows looking out onto Queen Benjasiri Park, and also in part due to the fact that I can get there without having to go outside.

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I opted for stewed pig’s leg, served over greens and boiled cabbage, with a nasty looking egg plucked out of the brew and bisected on the plate. Bit of rice on the side, a cup of strawberry ice tea (which tastes every bit as red as it looks), and I’m jump started for the day.

My only real task, beyond packing, was getting my final grocery shopping done. I’m not all that fond of the Emporium Gourmet Floor for fresh greens, but I’ve reached that level of sloth where I intend to move no further than possible. Going across the street would fall beyond those bounds.

After that, it was back to the room to manhandle suitcases, although this was nowhere close to the trauma I went through the last trip, where I found that my 20 kg weight allowance was going to have to cover 45 kg of luggage.

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I finished off my beers; thought better of finishing off the Maekhong, and relaxed over some cold cuts I’d brought up from the deli section.

And then it was time to leave.

Souvarnabhumi was relatively easy, with traffic not being a big concern as I’d left quite early. Once inside, I was curious what was available, so I postponed my lounge time and did a bit of a walk.

From Immigration, the airport splits to two wings. The restaurants are on Concourse B (although some come up earlier) to the left, away from my lounge in G, but I need the exercise.

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The first things you come across are the Surf Bar and the Glass Bar, both laid out in the middle of the concourse, with curving bars to sit at. Some nice looking cold lobster on ice out there. It sort of reminded me of the seafood bar in the Copenhagen departure area.

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After that was the Glass Bar, similar layout, but the food didn’t look as good. Primarily buns and croissants. After a bit of walk from there, you’re at the food area itself, which has Dairy Queen, Burger King, a few coffee shops (one by Doi Tung, another by Black Canyon), a Chinese spot with ducks and siu mai, a bar or two, and some fruit counters and other odds and ends such as Savour and Heads or Tails.

One caution about being down on this concourse, the a/c is struggling.

When you come back the other way (turning right after immigration) you come up against two more central bars, the first a sushi place – Sushi Koku - which is good to know. The actual sushi section is down at the far end, so keep going when you first hit it.

The next venue is back to being a bar – Café Palomar. After that come the Mango Tree and Volare tucked against the walls with the shops.

And finally I was at the lounge.

Okay, I appreciate that things aren’t quite all ready yet, but I’m perturbed to find out that not only is there no shower in this new facility, there’s no bathroom.

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The food is, well,……where do the airlines get these sandwiches from? These are frighteningly reminiscent of the Egypt Air sandwiches, made once a year and distributed thereafter until the next anniversary (okay, these weren’t as bad as those). Our choice was tuna fish, cheese, and a ham sandwich that may have seen a pig in passing.

Still there was a serviceable pair of French wines, a merlot and a Semillon from Bourdeaux, so I’ve contented myself with those.

Next! Airplane food.

This is always the highlight of a journey. What, oh what, is lying in wait under that piece of tinfoil?

Now, to be kind, I was too cheap to get myself out of cattle class, so this was my own fault.

However, this time I came prepared.

The waitress, gave me the snootiest of Euro-sniffs when I turned down her meal.

“Only some bread, please”

“Only bread? No salad or dessert even?”

“Only some bread, please”

“<sniff!>”

Once I had made my instructions clear, I reached into my computer bag and fetched out a package of parma ham that I had held back from my earlier repast. The waitress returned in time to find me gnawing through the plastic, and was kind enough to grace me with a smile once she realized that I had better things to eat.

She was even kind enough to bring me extra wines from business class to go with my meal.

This is probably the best way to move ahead with airline dining. Treat it as an opportunity for a picnic! The Americans have been proactive in this role, pretty much dropping all service on their domestic flights (as if there ever was any to begin with), and expecting passengers to bring their own pizzas and baguettes on board.

So, at the end of the trip, after an ‘Eid holiday spent in the City of Angels, what was the tally?

Day 1: Bahrain airport – a selection of wines, but no meal. The business class meal doesn’t count either, as I concentrated on the wines, instead.

Day 2: coffee at the Deck, and then lunch at Ton Pho, followed by ice coffee at Café Democ, and another meal at Sorn Daeng. Dinner proper at the Deck, and then a walkabout involving a bowl of noodles off of Khao Sarn.

Day 3: morning coffee on the verandah overlooking Wat Arun, and a double Americano at Vivi’s on the river. A reprise meal first at the Deck, and then Thai food proper at S&P by the Palace. Scotch egg at the Londoner (with beers), and the Indian at Face.

Day 4: Soba at the Emporium, and Thai at Silom Shopping Village. And French at D’Sens with M. Chapoutier doing the wines. Drinks at Vertigo, and pork satay on the street.

Day 5: breakfast (my only one) at the Emporium. Kalapruek on First for an early Thai meal, followed by octopus heads and sausage from soi 35. And then a very, very, very good meal with my friends at their home.

DAY 6: sandwiches at The Oriental Shop in Paragon, followed by Thai tapas at Savoury Gastrocafe, also in Paragon. Then beers and pool, and Vietnamese at Xuan Mai, followed by Japanese at Torajiro. Top that with more drinks, and some pork skewers off the street, although the break between this day and the next gets kind of hazy.

Day 7: stewed pork leg in the Emporium, cold cuts and drinks in the room, and a ghastly cheese sandwich and wine in the departure lounge. But this trauma was calmed by my picnic of nice ham sandwiches on the plane.

Total, about 25 different eating experiences, and a lot more beer, wine, and Maekhong under the table as well.

Regrets? I didn’t make it to Dosa King - I’m sorry, Rona! – I just ran out of steam at the end. I also didn’t have the time for an evening out at Tawaern Daeng or Coliseum, both of which have great Thai beer hall food. I had not time for lunch at Le Vendome or Beaulieu, and I couldn’t make it to Giusto (although I did run into Fabio). And, being in the old part of town, I didn’t get to do brunch at the Four Seasons (which would’ve toasted me for the rest of the day).

Memorable? I liked what D’Sens did with this wine dinner. I enjoyed the tonkatsu at Torajiro very much, and the experience and the different flavours in Xuan Mai. Face was a beautiful setting, and I’d like to see what their other restaurants are like. The softshell crab burger at the Deck would draw me back if I was down doing Wat Po, and I will always be happy to spend my Eid holidays eating pork skewers off the street. And as a spot to be dressed well with a martini, it’s hard to top Vertigo’s Moon Bar.

The best meal? Dinner with my friends at their home. Those are the hardest meals to beat.

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Hi Peter,

If I may be so bold as to presume that is the end of your reports, thank you for a wonderful thread. I returned to Sydney just before the Aidilfitri celebrations started in Malaysia, so I unfortunately missed out on the festival atmosphere. It is refreshing to read reports from SE Asia at such a great time of the year.

It's perhaps one of the most hackneyed old chestnuts in travel writing to say that you understand a place only by knowing its people, but that authentic flavour weaves its way through your posts like the unmistakeable taste of nam pla.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Regrets?  I didn’t make it to Dosa King - I’m sorry, Rona! – I just ran out of steam at the end. 

:sad: But I suppose I can forgive you, since you offered so much other good food in its stead. : :biggrin:

Memorable?  I liked what D’Sens did with this wine dinner.  I enjoyed the tonkatsu at Torajiro very much, and the experience and the different flavours in Xuan Mai.  Face was a beautiful setting, and I’d like to see what their other restaurants are like. The softshell crab burger at the Deck would draw me back if I was down doing Wat Po, and I will always be happy to spend my Eid holidays eating pork skewers off the street.

I'll have to remember the Deck for my next trip. We always make the trek to Wat Po since that's where the family Buddhas are, and we're always hungry. Now we'll have somewhere to eat! (That crab burger looked great! Anything fried is good, that's my rule.)

Did you find fried chicken skins anywhere? I had some once, but can't remember where.

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Regrets?  I didn’t make it to Dosa King - I’m sorry, Rona! – I just ran out of steam at the end. 

:sad: But I suppose I can forgive you, since you offered so much other good food in its stead. : :biggrin:

Memorable?  I liked what D’Sens did with this wine dinner.  I enjoyed the tonkatsu at Torajiro very much, and the experience and the different flavours in Xuan Mai.  Face was a beautiful setting, and I’d like to see what their other restaurants are like. The softshell crab burger at the Deck would draw me back if I was down doing Wat Po, and I will always be happy to spend my Eid holidays eating pork skewers off the street.

I'll have to remember the Deck for my next trip. We always make the trek to Wat Po since that's where the family Buddhas are, and we're always hungry. Now we'll have somewhere to eat! (That crab burger looked great! Anything fried is good, that's my rule.)

Did you find fried chicken skins anywhere? I had some once, but can't remember where.

The Deck is easy from Wat Po. Out the back door and it's about two sois to the right of the massage school.

If you can remember where the chicken skins were, please let me know! I've got at least one family member who'll discard everything but the crispy skin on turkeys and chickens if we let her have her way.

I'm planning on being back after the New Year's (we'll be in Luang Prabang for that) so I'll drag the clan by Dosa King!

Cheers!

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Great trip report!

I'm just planning a trip to Bangkok now and the Arun Suite is available at the Arun Residence - I think I want to stay there but was wondering about your comment regarding the safety of the area. Some people have told me it's fine - what are your thoughts after staying there?

The other place I'm considering is on the other side of the river - the Ibrik by the River which isn't quite an convenient a location.

We'd really like to be right on the river in a small hotel - but it's our first time to Bangkok so we're not sure and would appreciate any comments you have

Thanks!

Edited by ESEIBERT (log)
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Peter - those octopi heads that you were talking about - I think what you had were TAKOYAKI BALLS. The good ones usually come with bits of chopped octopus in the batter and come with a delicious sauce and topped with fish flakes. I'm sorry what you had was disgusting, if you do see them again or if you ever travel to Japan or Korea, try any takoyaki balls stand on the street and you'll be amazed at the delightful contrast of tastes and texture of the octopi balls.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Peter - those octopi heads that you were talking about - I think what you had were TAKOYAKI BALLS. The good ones usually come with bits of chopped octopus in the batter and come with a delicious sauce and topped with fish flakes. I'm sorry what you had was disgusting, if you do see them again or if you ever travel to Japan or Korea, try any takoyaki balls stand on the street and you'll be amazed at the delightful contrast of tastes and texture of the octopi balls.

Dear Goddess,

Thanks! I'll always give food a second (or third, or fourth) chance.

I'm lining up a trip to Korea (South, that is) for next October to take in the fall in Sorak, so I'll give them another try in their proper setting.

Usually, what we get in Bangkok is pretty true to form, but there are cases where things go astray in the translation.

Plus, it gives me more things to look for in Korea (although I don't think that'll be a problem)!

Cheers!

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