Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hi Readers!

Please excuse my absence from updates this week.  I just came back from an amazing trip around Japan, and I'm preparing those posts which will start next week.

Until then, happy eating!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bo Lan - Sustainable & Seasonal Thai Cuisine

Our last dinner in Thailand.  There's no better way to end the weekend's food tour than with a tasting menu full of Bangkok's seasonal treats.  Bo.lan is a Thai restaurant that boasts of its sustainable and seasonal Thai cooking.  "Sustainable" and "seasonal" - two words that instantly attract me when it comes to local cooking and eating.  Using the freshest and the best of what's available - that's the heart of local cuisine.

Bo.lan offers traditional Thai cuisine presented classically and with modern variations.  You have a choice of the A la Carte menu and the Bo.lan Balance menu (the tasting menu).  If you make the effort to come here, go with the tasting menu.  It's just over $50 USD, soo reasonable compared to tasting menus in the states.

The menu starts the night off properly...with alcohol!.  These guys know how to treat their guests to a good night.  The drink is followed with a generous amuse bouche plate - sort of an introduction to the range of flavors that Thai cuisine offers.  And then the main event is in true Asian fashion, family style.

The tasting menu changes every quarter, and the restaurant even offers Saturday cooking classes for a hands-on demonstration on how to make a range of Thai dishes.  Two incentives to go back!

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Bo Lan

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Traditional Thai Dinner at Jim Thompson's House

While our Bangkok food trip was mostly filled with street eats and markets, we started the weekend with a traditional Thai dinner at Jim Thompson's house by the river, a notable tourist destination.  I briefly stopped by last year to see what the place is about.  Here are some pictures from that visit.

Because of the heavy rains, the restaurant was ours for the night.  Talk about exclusive dining for our first meal in Bangkok!  There is even a Thai dancer who pops in occasionally during the night to perform a traditional dance.  In between the dances, the room is filled with tunes ranging from yodels to Christmas jingles.  Something for everyone.

The meal itself was a great introduction to the different plates of Thai cuisine.  We didn't get the obvious dishes, and I really enjoyed that.  We had a range of appetizing bites to awaken our stomachs.  Thai appetizers are filled with citrus, herbs, and spice that make you want to eat for the whole night.  While I can't get enough of the classic dishes, I love tasting new bites to discover more and more of all that Thai cuisine has to offer.  And there is so much in their cuisine that you'll always be trying something new.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: Jim Thompson Dinner

Friday, June 15, 2012

Local eats around the streets of Bangkok

Touring Bangkok this time around on this food tour was a fun and tasty adventure all around the city.  We ate well at local hidden gems, filling up on some of Bangkok's classic street foods:

~ Thai boat noodle shop is a staple on boat vendors and at food stalls and soup shops.  It's like the Thai's version of Vietnamese pho.

~ Pad Thai, probably one of the best known Thai dishes around the world.  Everyone has their own version and presentation.  From a street vendor, ours was beautifully wrapped in a thin omelet pouch which held together a generous serving of noodles, served with fresh vegetables.  Street food with fresh vegetables - I love it.

~ Crab Omelet at Jay Fai was one of my favorite dishes of the trip.  This seemed so simple, yet so packed with flavor.  Fresh crab meat and some crab fat rolled in batter and fried, paired with a Thai sriracha dipping sauce for a little spicy kick.  I could eat that over rice for days.  Jay Fai was a great dinner place for local seafood dishes.  Each one had its unique flavor of spice or herbs or a classic gravy sauce.  Local street food done so well.

During our tour, we also had a couple moments to unwind with cocktails and mocktails.  In the midst of Bangkok's summer heat, a cold cocktail is a true relief.  Arun Residences by the River is a restaurant and bar by the Chao Phraya River with some fun concoctions to sip on while taking a break from the bustle of the city.  There's always a good reason to relax with a drink.

If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: Local Eats

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Food Tripping in Bangkok

Back in Bangkok!  One of my favorite food cities in the world.  And this time, I'm on a food tour!

Pinoy Eats World has been expanding their global tours, and I was lucky enough to be around to catch this one.  In comparison to my past trips to Thailand, this was mostly casual and filled with markets and local joints.  I love that you can go back to this city multiple times and it can always be a different kind of trip - luxurious and pampered, casual, historical, architectural, Hangover Part II.. take your pick.

In these next two weeks and in these next four updates, I'll be showing you the markets, the local eats, and a couple of the nicer restaurants we were taken to over the course of a weekend trip.


First up, markets and street eats!

When I was younger, touring cities included museums, churches, department stores, and restaurants.  These days when I travel, I tend to bypass the churches, temples, and pagodas.  If I really need a filler for time, then I'll look into museums.  If I'm in a shopping mood (which doesn't happen frequently), then I'll check out the department stores.

Instead, I love focusing my trips on the local foods and drinks.  Markets, food halls, cooking classes, and local restaurants and bars.  These are my museums and my cultural tours.

On this trip, we were taken to 4 markets, including 2 food markets and a night market.

Jatujak (or Chatuchak) Market.  If you're into outdoor markets full of everything from A-Z, this is your place.  Get ready to bargain!... But for me, I just came from the states where I filled my luggage with clothes from and (shameless plug promoting a couple of my favorite online shopping sites.), so shopping wasn't on my mind for the weekend.

Or Tor Kor Market, one of the cities nicest food markets, right next to Jatujak.  I first went here a couple years ago prior to a cooking class.  I'm so impressed with how this is such a clean dry & wet market.  If I lived in Bangkok, I'd buy a lot of my fruits and produce here for my weekly meals.  You can also stop for a bite, which I highly recommend.  These vendors are using the freshest ingredients straight from this market.

Amphawa Floating Market.  Located near the Gulf of Thailand, it's a bit of a drive from the city.  We enjoyed an afternoon leisurely strolling by each of the vendors, nibbling on local treats, and taking in the sights of locals and tourists.  I love seeing the food boats - that's way cooler than the food trucks in the states!  Each little wooden boat had their own specialty - papaya salad, grilled seafood, fried rice, noodles, etc.  If you have an extra afternoon or night, and you want to visit this afternoon floating market, it stays open through the early morning on weekends as well.  You can also grab a boat at night to enjoy the river and the fireflies whizzing around.

Soi 38 Night Market.  In Thai culture, you have frequent mini meals throughout the day.  That means you have a dinner part 1 followed by a dinner part 2 later in the evening.  So when in Bangkok, eat all the time.  After a big meal, we were taken to Soi 38 for more savory bites and some memorable sticky rice and coconut milk with mango.  I love watching the vendors cook up your orders in high heat, so quickly, and with such passion.

Thais love their food, and it's always such a pleasure to dine with them in their country.

If you can't see the slideshow, check out my Flickr album: Market/Street Eats

Friday, June 01, 2012

Let's Play Ball!... But first, drink & eat!

The best time to visit San Francisco is from April through September, maybe even October on a great year.  Why?  Giants baseball season!

Every single trip back, I'm either at AT&T park or at a bar with friends enjoying a game.  When I do get a chance to watch at the park, eating and drinking always accompany the afternoon and evening.

The SOMA district is filled with bars and restaurants with pre-game fun.  Beer and appetizers are the best way to go.  One of the best spots is right at the park at Public House.  It's a fun restaurant and bar swarming with Giants fans.  You can even access the bar during the game.

After a couple of beers and snacks at Public House, my brother and I walked around to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.  Grilled cheese has been making a scene lately throughout the states.  I love it - it's one of my favorite childhood foods.

A few blocks away from the park are also a handful of taverns and bars, like Pete's Tavern, Pedro's Cantina, 21st Amendment, etc.  There's something for your every mood and craving.

Once you've filled up on snacks and tasty beverages, you're all set and even more excited for game time.  Go Giants!

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slideshow, check out my Flickr album: Pre Game Grub