Lunch with Chef Cayito

Living in Bangkok, I am fortunate to have so many options for good food.  From street food to the fanciest restaurants, you can find almost anything to your taste and budget.  A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be invited to savor delicious food by Chef Cayito and days past the taste still lingers on in my memory.  Having good food served beautifully whilst chatting with good friends is an experience all in itself. Experiences to be enjoyed, cherished and memories formed.

What did we have?

We had so many dishes, I had to look at the photos to remember what we ate.  The menu offered us a variety of tastes leading us from one dish to the other.  The first dish was a mix of yogurt and granola with some fruit sauces. ( I didn’t ask what sauces they were, I was too busy eating). It was just lovely and light enough to get your taste buds ready.  French onion soup was next with just the right amount of crunch and flavors. There’s something about warm soup that just seems to soothe and relax the soul. Trained in French cooking in Spain and coming from Mexico, our dishes were a mix of French and Spanish influences.  Grilled octopus and mussels in marinara sauce reminded me of our trip to Spain many years ago.  The sauce was so good I requested extra bread to dip into the sauce.

Main dishes arrived with a light tomato salad to accompany the grilled lamb with raspberry sauce and duck confit.  The grilled lamb was tender and melted in your mouth whilst the duck confit was divine with crispy skin and meat melting off its bones.  Duck confit has always been one of my favorite dishes when dining at French restaurants and Chef Cayito’s version was so good I would have more if I weren’t afraid of rolling out the door.  In case we wanted some more accompaniment, gratin dauphinois followed. A lover of cheese and anything creamy and hot, no matter how full I was, I had room for gratin dauphinois.  Our dessert was a wonderful surprise of light pancakes with strawberries and blueberries to end the meal. Perfect.

There’s something about having European food that always makes my heart smile a little more. It’s perhaps because it reminds me of growing up in Europe and the many trips we’d have enjoying the good food. If you want to sample Chef Cayito’s cooking, you’lll have to find him at charity events.

Sweet dreams readers. I now have to get myself a snack.

Bangkok Activity: Snowboarding @ Ski365 Future Park Rangsit

It’s been a busy busy year and am glad to have a few days off year end. It’s amazing what just a few days off can do to your soul.  It’s wonderful to wind down and hear yourself think for a few days. It’s wonderful to have ‘me’ time.  Today, I want to share with you this new place Alex and I just discovered. It’s an indoor skiing and snowboarding training playground.

Yes, in 35 degrees celsius Bangkok we now have an indoor skiing and snowboarding training place. I couldn’t quite believe it when Alex sent me the website.  We plan to go snowboarding in March and having never snowboarded before, we wanted to practice. Alex and I last skied many years ago.  We decided to check out Ski365 on Christmas day.

It opened in late November so parts of the facilities are still under construction They are, however, open for skiing and snowboarding.  We booked for the 1 hour trial lesson and had a slope all to ourselves with an instructor.  Equipment (snowboard, helmet, boots) are all included.

The lesson was exactly what we wanted.  Having read and studied about snowboarding, we haven’t had the chance to put one on and try it out. This place allowed us to do just that.  We got to practice heel slide and standing up on the board from a seated position. By the end of the lesson, we could both slide down the slope and stop fairly well.

Will we go back? Yes we will.  We want to be able to master a few basic techniques by the time we get to Japan so we can enjoy ourselves in the snow.

How was the overall quality of instruction? It was okay.  The boards were not customised to height and the instructor seemed a bit timid. To get information, you had to actively ask, which is great because we prefer instructors who don’t talk to much.

What do you wear? Wear comfortable clothes that dry quickly because you will get wet. I wore my yoga pants with a lose top. The slope is infused with water so when you sit, fall over or roll over, you get wet. Bring clothes to change, but their changing rooms are not finished yet so we had to use the mall bathroom.

What is the slope like? The slope is like a giant treadmill. There’s no ice involved and no fake snow. The slope is covered in synthetic material infused with water. They can keep the slope moving so you never get to the end of the slope, but being beginners we didn’t get to try the feature yet. We liked being whisked back up to the top of the slope once we’ve gone down the slope.

How does the slope feel? It feels like packed snow that is starting to melt. It’s like snow when you go skiing at the end of the ski season.

Overall, I think it’s great if you plan on going skiing or snowboarding for the first time and you want some basic training.  It saves practice time in the snow so you can enjoy more of the slopes when you get there. If you already know how to ski or snowboard, I think it would be a good place to brush up on your skills before you go.  My recommendation for now is that they get rid of the mosquitoes in the facilities.

Ski365 is at FuturePark Rangsit on the 3rd floor by the new Zpell mall.

Website: http://www.ski365.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ski365.zpell?_rdr

Fish and Chips at the Wellington Seamarket

Wellington Seamarket Fish and Chips

Wellington Seamarket Fish and Chips

It’s Sunday night in Bangkok, it’s hot and humid with a little breeze.  I could do with a little more cold weather but for some reason today I’ve been thinking of fish and chips. Hmm.. there’s nothing quite like having hot fish and chips after a cold walk outside in the rain.  It just doesn’t taste as good in hot Bangkok.  The fish and chips in Wellington was heavenly. The first afternoon Alex and I got into Wellington, it was raining, cold and windy.  After twelve hours of traveling we were hungry. Okay there’s airplane food, but it isn’t satisfying.

So we checked in and headed out for some food.  The hotel recommended we try out the Wellington Sea Market which was on Cuba street. It’s pretty easy to see with it’s huge signs and as it’s a standalone building it’s really not hard to find.

It’s an outlet of the Wellington Trawling Company which supplies fresh fish all over the world and also to top restaurants in New Zealand.  At their outlet you can even choose your own fish and tell them how you want it cooked for a little under two kiwi dollars.  They have all kinds of fresh fish and oysters as well.  We just ordered their simple fish and chips and I have to say it was delicious!  Their fries were equally good, not greasy at all and for a reasonable price of about $4.50.  If you want mayonnaise or ketchup you pay extra.  They have small packs on the counter for 90cents or larger packs in the freezer for roughly $1.50.

What fish do they use?  They said they usually use Blue Nose or the Warehou.  I honestly have no clue but it does taste good.  You can dine in on one of their few tables or take away.  Most of the people we saw, came in for takeaways.  It’s understandable since it’s hardly a place you would go for service or ambiance. It’s a simple fish outlet shop where you come in for fresh fish and dine.  I’m sure there are many more places in Wellington selling fish and chips, but Alex and I were perfectly happy with our Wellington Seamarket and did go back for seconds before we left.  http://www.wellingtonseamarket.com  Nothing beats eating food freshly cooked. Okay I’m hungry now.

Bon Apetit!

Wellington Seamarket Outlet

The menu

The menu

Having “Me” Time: 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Travel Tales: Introducing Vientiane, Laos

Sometimes a place so close can seem so far and when you finally get there, you wonder what kept you from visiting sooner.  My work this year has given me the opportunity to travel to many South East Asian countries (as some might say “regional” travel) and though most days you miss the comfort of your own home, the almost monthly travels does have its perks; for a few hours in the evenings or early mornings, you get to explore the city.  Some cities are not so convenient, but Vientiane, Laos is a great city to walk around even if you only have a couple of hours.

It’s so charming I have to confess that I have fallen in love with it and even as I am writing, images of its streets and shops appear like a trailer in my mind.   It’s as if I have been charmed, intoxicated.  There’s something about the place that makes me yearn to go back and visit once more.

A city with a population of roughly 700,000 to 800,000 on the banks of the Mekong river, Vientiane still retains many of it’s old world charms.  There are no shopping malls, no large advertisement billboards or flashing electronic ads to numb our senses but rather there are streets of local shops and eateries nestled in between boutique hotels and guests houses.   I’m not sure how long this old world charm this will last, seeing that there are plans to build a large World Trade Centre Complex, but I have to admit I have a selfish dream that it will continue to retain its charm.

What is there to see in Vientiane and should you visit it?  Find out and follow me on my next few posts as I take you on a virtual tour around the city to ancient temples, bakeries, eateries and shopping.

 

Bangkok Brunch: Chu chocolate bar and café

Having my own home, kitchen and not so crazy about food as in my fat days, I’ve been eating out a lot less.  However, don’t get me wrong, I still go out and enjoy good food.  Today my good friend recommended we go try this new place in town called “Chu: chocolate bar and café” as we wanted to have “Eggs benedict” and this place served breakfast all day long as well as a variety of chocolate drinks and desserts.  My favorite kind of place for a lazy weekend breakfast.

It’s still it’s soft opening, but it seems to have attracted quite a bit of clientele with its new space and great atmosphere.   It’s furnished fairly simply in an industrial style with open ceilings, cement floors and wooden tables.  Simple, yet comfortable and most importantly, spacious.   Something that is now harder and harder to find in Bangkok.  It has a lot of natural light which is great, even though there is no view.  There are seats for every kind of customer. If you just wanted dessert, there were soft sofas where you could rest, and if you were eating alone, there’s a high table with high chair where you can look out of the restaurant and people watch. Lovely.  A seat for everyone.

What about the food?  We ordered Eggs Benedict with Norwegian Salmon, Norwegian Scramble, Homemade Pancakes with blueberries, Chicken Ciabatta with pesto, walnut .  For dessert we had Lava cake and Chocolate con churros.  What a feast it was.  So what’s the verdict?  I think overall the food was average.  The ingredients were fresh, presentation beautiful, but taste wise it wasn’t the best place in town.  The Eggs Benedict were a bit disappointing.  I had expected the jumbo poached egg to just melt into the smoked salmon and sourdough muffin base when pierced, but instead the yolk was soft boiled.  I wanted runny eggs to just melt into the hollandaise sauce and permeate the smoked salmon and muffin.  That’s how I like it.  The sauce was okay, but I think there was slightly too little of it to offset the jumbo egg.

The Norwegian Scramble was good though.  I love anything with eggs and the scrambled eggs were a delight to eat.  Soft with mascarpone cheese and smoked salmon, it melted with each bite.  I just wished I had a little more of the scrambled eggs. Portions are not exactly on the large scale here, but good if you want to watch your waistline.

My favorite was the Homemade Pancakes.  I think it was probably the only dish to which I have nothing to comment on.   The texture was nice and fluffy, the fruits fresh and the maple syrup just lovely.  I enjoyed every bite.  Chu only provides you a little pot of syrup though, so if you are the type that loves to just drench your pancakes in maple syrup then you’d better ask for more.

The Pesto Chicken Ciabatta with Walnut Sandwich was okay.  I always like chicken and pesto so for me, it’s always a good choice to order.  It tasted great, but if you want to use fork and knife, it gets a bit hard to cut.  I ended up using my hands to eat the sandwich.

Dessert was chocolate lava cake and Chocolate con churros.  It’s okay, but I thought the lava cake slightly too sweet, the outside not soft and fluffy enough.  If you’ve had chocolate and churros in Spain, of course it’s no way as good as the original.  I miss San Gines in Madrid and wanted the Chocolate con Churros here to be like the one I had in Madrid, so was a bit disappointed at the small size of the churros and the chocolate that wasn’t liquid chocolate.  It could be from a different part of Spain, but helas I’ve only had the one in Madrid.

Service?  It was fast, friendly and efficient, but I was a bit surprised when one of the waiters did not speak Thai.  Hey, I’m in Thailand!  It was also a bit inconsistent. Before dessert, they cleared the dishes, but failed to finish clearing all of it.  Minor details which I am sure will be improved upon once the restaurant is fully opened.

Overall?  I still like the place and thoroughly enjoyed sitting there for almost three hours without feeling rushed.  The food was average, atmosphere pleasant and a great place for a lazy weekend breakfast with friends.  It’s great if you are indeed of a quick meal and are not necessarily in search of the best Eggs Benedict in town. Will I go there again?  Yes.  Location is great. Atmosphere lovely.

It’s at Asoke BTS, Exchange Tower 2nd Floor.  Convenient and you can even go walk around Terminal 21 afterwards to digest. Bon appetite!  https://www.facebook.com/CHU.BKK

Seating area

Seating area

IMG_8652 IMG_8648 IMG_8647 IMG_8644 IMG_8642 IMG_8641 Chu cute sofa corner Like their decor Chu brownies Chu seating view Chu menu Chu long table Chu menu Chu menu

Old Bangkok Morning Life

Summer is coming soon to Bangkok and already I am dreading the summer heat.  Fortunately we have a few days of cool weather at the moment so it feels as if we are enjoying a short festive season.   I love it, because it is a short reminder to enjoy the little things in life.   This morning I had the opportunity to take a little walk before work and it feels good to just walk outside, feel the breeze in your hair, watch people going out and about and listen to the birds chirp.

Early morning walks just as the city is waking up for me are always one of my favourite times of the day because you don’t get rushed, or have to feel the hurry of the morning rush hour.  Watching the sun rise, you get to observe how varying degrees of sunlight affects the way you see the colours around you.  This is especially interesting in the old part of Bangkok where traditional wet markets still exist and with it the traditional way of life in Thailand.  You see people carting baskets of fruits, vegetables and even fish to sell at the market.  You see housewives out for their daily supplies, people passing by on their way to a destination or the lone dog hoping for a kind heart to give it some food.  Markets, being typically the focus of action, often find shops and restaurants nearby.  In Thailand it’s the same with stalls selling all kinds of food not far off from the market filled with people grabbing something to eat before another long day.

Coffee and croissant is not the typical breakfast here.  No Cafe Solo nor Uma Bica.  Here it’s Fish Maw Soup, Congee, Rice with Toppings, Noodles.  Whatever you want to eat, its open since early morning.  We eat our breakfast like a King, as the saying goes.   I used to wonder how one could eat so much for breakfast, having grown up on cereal or toast coupled with a glass of milk.   I now start to understand.  If you start your mornings early since it gets quite hot later on (lets’ say breakfast at around 6am) by noon you feel like you could eat horse. A big one.  It’s best therefore to have something slightly heavier than just toast so that you don’t go crazy and bite a chunk out of your colleague.

The great thing though is that food is available 24 hours a day in Bangkok.  It still fascinates me how in Thailand, food is available everywhere no matter what time of day it is.  It can be 6am or 4pm, you’ll find restaurants open for business with people inside.  I used to ask what meal they were eating, now I find myself sometimes eating at odd hours of the day.

Watching life reminds us how special and wondrous it is.  Each person has their own life story to tell.  We have ours to tell so to live one’s life is indeed a blessing.  Each and everyday, look at the life around you and think how lucky you are to be alive.  Life is precious. Tomorrow there may be no more markets,  no morning chaos nor dog wagging it’s tail…