The rainy season has arrived in Bangkok. The skies are typically overcast, and on most days there is rain, usually in the late afternoon or early evening. With weather like this, I have not gotten out much during the past couple of weeks. However, I did purchase and download the latest season of Mad Men (SD since I am too cheap to pay the extra $12 for HD); I am about halfway through it. I have also bought several books from iTunes, and I find it a better buying experience than Amazon’s Kindle store. Anyway, here is a brief update of the past couple of weeks.
On the 4th of July, I joined several of my wine-drinking friends for dinner at Nahm, a restaurant rated number 3 in Asia and 32 in the world by the UK’s Restaurant Magazine. David Thompson, the owner and executive chef, opened his original Nahm restaurant in London and it was awarded a one-star rating from Michelin. Two years ago, Thompson opened Nahm at the Metropolitan by Como Hotel in Bangkok, a five-minute walk from my apartment.
Our wine dinner at Nahm featured wines from Bellingham, a winery that has operated in South African since 1693. We started with the vineyard’s Pear Tree White, a delightful and fresh mix of Chenin Blanc and Viognier that is a fine everyday wine and particularly enjoyable in the hot summer months. The dinner’s featured wines were Bellingham’s Old Vine Chenin Blanc and a Small Barrel S. M. V. (Shiraz, Mourvèdre, and Viognier), both from the winery’s top of the line Bernard Series.
Nahm’s tasting menu began with smoked fish with peanut and tapioca dumplings; prawn and coconut wafers with pickled ginger; salted threadfin perch with ginger, chili, and mango on betel leaves; and fresh watermelon and mango served with toasted coconut. A freshwater crayfish salad with pork and Asian pennywort and a crab soup with egg and snake gourd (a vegetable) followed the appetizers. The main dishes were a Massaman curry with Wagyu beef and sweet potatoes, grilled river prawns with okra and baby corn, and a omelette with crab and bean sprouts. Two traditional Thai desserts — sweet Thai wafers with poached persimmons and golden duck egg noodles, a treat commonly found at street vendors, and pandanus noodles with water chestnuts, black sticky rice, tapioca, and coconut cream — finished out the meal.
Buona sera e buon appetito!
Il Bolognese is a small Italian restaurant near my apartment that I have patronized regularly since I arrived in Bangkok. The head chef, Andrea Bernardi, hails from Italy and he makes absolutely the best pizza in Bangkok in the restaurant’s wood-fired brick oven. Over the past two years, the restaurant’s clientele has grown steadily and it is currently rated number 11 of the 7,300+ restaurants in Bangkok by Trip Advisor. When I visited last Saturday, I was asked whether I had a reservation, an unheard of question even a few months ago. While I did not, Andrea knows me as a regular customer so he graciously arranged a table for me and my guest. One of the restaurant’s real treats is a glass (or two) of homemade Limoncello, straight from the freezer, at the end of each meal.
Despite the time difference from Europe, most Thais are football aficionados. The fan base for the top teams in England’s Premier League is particularly devoted and passionate. As part of their pre-season exhibitions, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool as well as Spanish League champion’s FC Barcelona, are all coming to South East Asia to play friendlies against local clubs or national teams. Each of the four clubs will play a match at Bangkok’s Rajamagala Stadium against either an All Star team or Thailand’s national team. Last night, a Thai All Star team defeated Manchester United by a score of 1-0 in front of a sell-out crowd of 50,000 people. The Thais are understandably ecstatic about the outcome, but I expect neither last year’s Premier League champions nor for the Reds’ new manager, David Moyes, share this joy. On Wednesday, Chelsea will play the same All Star team at Rajamagala.
A 51-year-old American expat who worked for Caterpillar was killed by a Thai taxi driver on Saturday July 6. Apparently the two got into a dispute over a 51 baht (US$1.70) fare. As the disagreement escalated, the taxi driver got a 12-inch machete from the trunk of his cab and slashed the American. Since taxi fares start at 35 baht, it is very hard for me to understand why an expat would seriously dispute a 16 baht ($0.50) overcharge, particularly to this degree. While taxi drivers do not make much money here in Thailand, the overreaction by the driver that left this passenger dead is also incomprehensible. What a tragedy for all concerned.
Next weekend, I will make a long anticipated trip to Australia. I fly to Perth on Saturday morning and I will visit Australia’s west coast through Tuesday. On Wednesday, I fly cross-country to Sydney where I will stay until Sunday when I head back to Bangkok. It is winter in the southern hemisphere and Perth and Sydney are in the southern (colder) part of the country. However, at 32 to 34 degrees southern latitude, these cities are as far below the equator as Dallas, San Diego, and Atlanta are above it. Thus, I am expecting refreshing cooler temperatures that reach the mid 60s during the day and fall into the low 40s at night.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2013 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.