Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tagine de Marrakesh

Friends of ours recommended that we meet for dinner and that they suggested to meet at a Moroccan restaurant. It sounded very interesting so we for sure wanted to try it out. One of the reasons why it was interesting to try out was that the restaurant was in the Grace Hotel (for some reason I have never been in the hotel) is in the middle of the Arab quarter. The Grace Hotel is a huge hotel and is well known in Bangkok for catering solely to an Arab/ middle Eastern clientele and that there are many Uzbekistan 'women of the night' (if you know what I mean).

The name of the restaurant is Tangine de Marrakesh. Our friends who have very good taste in food; and they recommended to eat here with them, so there was no doubt that it was going to be good. The decor is like stepping into Morocco. Moroccan lamps hanging on the ceilings & Moroccan inspired tapestry & tissue covered the furniture and windows.

We let our friend do all the ordering since she ate here more often than us. She selected several Moroccan tasting dishes to start with.

I actually cannot remember the names of these dishes, so I will just explain them to you. The first main dish was a parsley salad. A refreshing beginning for our main course. Full of fresh flavours from the parsley and lemon.

The second dish was chicken & vegetables on cous-cous. I do love cous-cous and this dish did not disappoint. The chicken & vegetables were moist, soft and tasty. The cous-cous was fluffy and a bit dry (the way I like it). The combination is really nice.

The third dish was stewed lamb with prunes & almonds. A real hearty dish with a thick and tasty sauce. The lamb was tender and falling off the bone.

The fourth dish was chicken with preserved lemon. We never had this dish and it was great. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the preserved lemon added a twist in flavour.

For dessert; the waitress recommended we take a typical Morrocan dessert; a dough pastry filled with almond paste. We did enjoy the food but we are not big fans of this dessert. It was a bit dry and way too sweet.

The second dessert was sliced oranges in its own juices and a dash of cinnamon. Fruit as a dessert is always a nice idea and this dish was great. Very refreshing, tangy, sweet and sour.

Since the restaurant did not serve any alcohol; which was too bad because we brought two very good bottles of red wine which would have gone very well with the Moroccan food. We ended up drinking tea the whole night.

Overall the food is really good. Hearty & tasty food in a comfortable atmosphere and very affordable. We did feel a bit lonely because there were not too many customers. The only disadvantage about this restaurant is that they do not allow alcohol.

Soi Nana Nua, Sukhumwit 3 Rd., Bangkok 12
Bangkok, 10110

SCAD dinner at Maison Chin

We attended a SCAD charity dinner. The dinner was to help Soi Cats & Dogs (SCAD) of Bangkok. Here is SCAD's philosophy: Amidst the splendour of Bangkok's temples and on its busy streets, thousands of stray cats and dogs endure a miserable existence. Their plight is largely ignored. At SCAD* we aim to change that.

Established in 2002, SCAD (previously Soi Dog Rescue*) is a not-for-profit organisation with realistic goals: to reduce the number and improve the lives of Bangkok’s strays and, in so doing, create a happier and healthier environment for all to enjoy.

If you are a cat & dog lover and cannot accept the condition of these helpless animals on the streets of Bangkok please click on:
....and please donate money or time to SCAD.

We are dog lovers and it is very sad to see the condition of street dogs in Thailand. Sometimes my day is ruined when I see a dog on the street in such miserable condition. Not to go into a long story of why this exists in Thailand. We are just grateful that there is an organisation that cares for the well fare of animals that are abandoned, mistreated, abused and/ or neglected by humans.

The concept of the evening was an auction for a painting, sculpture, wines, spa treatment, get away weekend package, etc. All the items on auction were of course donated by generous persons or organisations that love cats & dogs. The proceeds of the auction would go to SCAD so that they can have the funds that is needed to help so many helpless animals.

The dinner itself cost 3,500 baht. The concept was that each course was prepared by a different chef from a different restaurant. They were very kind to offer their time & skills for the charity dinner at no cost.

Here is Sue Farley (on the right) the genius behind the organisation of the charity dinner and Miss Universe 2005, Natalie Glebova (on the left) explaining about the SCAD auction. Natalie is the ambassador for SCAD and is an animal lover.

The people enjoying conversations while waiting for the dinner to be served. The concept of the dinner is that

The first course was prepared by Bo.lan, one of THE talked about restaurants in town at the moment with chefs Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones ( The signature appetizer tasting plate including; southern style rice salad with toasted coconut and lime, young chili with crackling pork, mini black sticky rice infused with red curry topped with garlic prawn, and grilled beef with smoked chili relish. The wine accompanying the appetizer was Monsoon Valley Muscat 2009 Hua Hin Hills, Thailand. The first course was good overall but there was a problem with the southern style rice salad appetizer; it was too salty. They put too much fish sauce and it was uneatable. Somebody in the kitchen forgot to test the dish before serving it.

The main course was done by Maison Chin, the new restaurant with chefs Ken Hom & Pop Lertnibuna are involved with ( Crispy roast pork with cucumber mash and star anise honey-soy jus (the other choice was a steamed snow fish with Japanese soy and balsamic sauce). The wines that accompanied the main course was Domaines Theinpont Terra Burdigala Bordeaux Rouge 2006 & 2007. These wines are from the producer of Chateau Le Pin. The portion for the crispy roast pork was a bit small but was nicely prepared and tasted very good.

The pre-dessert was done by HiTim with pastry chef Tim Butler. Infused sake sorbet, Asian pear salad, chilled sake sabayon with lemongrass and basil puree. The sake dessert was interesting and creative. Overall the dessert was very nice.

The dessert was done by HiTim. Chocolate chiboise cream cake, black truffle emulsion, chestnut and honey ice cream. The wine that accompanied the desserts was Monsoon Harvest Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2009 Hua Hin Hills, Thailand. The presentation of this dish was not aesthetically pleasing for me; but the taste of the individual dessert on the plate was very good. I especially enjoyed the chestnut & honey ice cream.

All the chefs were gathered for a group photo with former Miss Universe.

The maccarons were done by pastry chef Tommy Rungnoppakunsi of Patisserie Masatomi. The maccarons were slightly crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside, the way they should be. The fillings were creamy and very flavourful. There was so much maccarons that we were given plastic bags to take as much as we wanted to take home. What a great idea!

Overall; a very nice evening and for a good cause. We would definitely go to another charity dinner for SCAD; a little help can make a difference and so that helpless cats & dogs in Bangkok can have the help, love & affection they deserve.

Bandara Suites, 75/1 Soi Saladaeng Silom Rd.

Alain Chabanon Wine Dinner at Le Beaulieu

Alain Chabanon (organic wine maker and considered one of the best wine makers in the Languedoc region) and chef Herve (chef, owner & considered one of the best French restaurants in Bangkok) of Le Beaulieu organised a night of fantastic wines a delicious food.

The guest listening to Alain explain about his philosophy of maing organic wines.

The first wine was Trelans 2005 (vermintino 55%, chenin 45%). The first dish was plancha of hokkaiddo scallops, celeriac puree & fresh chervil.

The second wine was Merle aux Alouettes 2004 (merlot 90%, grenache 10%). The second dish was homemade foie gras terrine, poached pear & Parisian brioche.

The third wine was Les Boissieres 2003 (grenache 84%, mourvedre 8%, carignon 8%). The third dish was roasted baby lamb from Pyrenees, casserole of seasonal vegetables.

The fourth wine was L'Esprit de Font Caude 2003 (syrah 52%, mourvedre 48%). The fourth dish was grilled stockyard beef tenderloin, ratte potatoe & jus de viande.

For dessert, they continued with the L'Esprit de Font Caude 2003. The dessert was baked apple tart & wine jelly, pacojet of vanilla.

Chef Herve taking a peek at the dinning room and smiling at the camera.

Overall; a very good evening. The wine dinner started off a bit chaotic due to some misunderstandings about the organisation of the wines. Once that was settled; the evening passed well. The wines were as usual, amazing. The food was fantastic. The wines and food complemented each other perfectly.

I will have to add that there were some very strange people at the dinner. One very arrogant & annoying older German guy who only drinks Bordeaux wines and considers all other wines not worth his time. The whole evening saying that Alain's wines cannot compete with Bordeaux wines. First of all Alain does not make Bordeaux wines. The German guy totally missed the point of what Alain is trying to do. Then why on earth was this German guy at the dinner? If he knew that nothing can be superiour than a Bordeaux wine, he should have stayed home. It is a shame that people can be so closed minded and actually do not know about wines. Because a true wine lover/ connoisseur would not compare Alains wines to Bordeaux but rate them on thier own merit; its structure, tanins, fruit, nose, longevity, etc.

A young french guy who sat next to me, who actually who works in the wine distribution business in Bangkok, but he had no clue about wines. However; talked as though he did. The problem was not me (since I am clueless about wines), but the people around him were also in the wine business and they could see through his big talk; it was a young guy trying to impress, but in the end making a big jerk out of himself.

But, that is why I like to go to these dinners. I get to meet some very interesting people and learn something from them. I also get to meet some very arrogant and ignorant people and I get to laugh about them.

Sukhumvit Soi 19
Bangkok, 10240, Thailand
02-204 2004

Elio Altare Winemaker Dinner at Gianni Ristorante

We consider Gianni one of the best Italian restaurant in Bangkok, maybe the best in Bangkok. We have been going to Gianni's restaurant I think for over ten years now. What is great about Gianni's is that it is consistently delicious.

Gianni had a very special winemaker dinner with Elio Altare. When we got the invitation; we reserved a table right away. Barolo is one of the greatest places on earth for a wine lover. No one producer in Piedmont symbolizes this more than Elio Altare. His wines are some of the best in Barolo.

Though Gianni makes sophisticated Italian food; his restaurant is warm, cozy and welcoming. The staff are always so friendly and efficient.

Since we had 6 wines and 6 courses; I will not go into much detail about each one. HOWEVER; I will have to emphasize that the wine and food pairing was fantastic. The wines were all drinking so well. The food was exceptional. The wines and food were in perfect harmony.

The first wine was Barbera d'Alba doc 2007.

The first dish was tartar of veal with quail eggs, vintage parmesan & shaved alba white truffles.

The second wine was Langhe doc "La Villa" 2001.

The second dish was flan of polenta "alla Pimontese" stewed snails & cream of parsley.

The third wine was Barolo docg 2004.

The third dish was traditional "Agnolotti del Plin", roast juice-porcini sauce.

The fourth wine was Langhe doc "Larigi" 2001.

The fourth dish was risotto with creamed roast pumpkin, raschera cheese & pigeon breast.

The fifth dish was Barolo docg La Morra 2001.

The fifth dish was slowly cooked Kurobuta pork belly, potato mousse & bagna cauda scented gravy

The last wine was Barolo docg Vigneto Arborina 2001.

The last dish was assortment of Piedmont cheese, vegetable mostarda & honey crostini.

Overall, an amazing evening. A bit of glutony with so much wine & food; but you do not have many chances to meet the man who is in charge of making some of the best wines in Piedmont, Mr. Elio Altare himself. We had a chance to have a conversation with him. He is a very lively, energetic and funny man.

34/1 Soi Tonson, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini
Bangkok, กรุงเทพมหานคร 10330
02-252 1619

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Alain Chabanon Wine Dinner at Pullman Hotel

Alain Chabanon the famous wine maker from the Languedoc was invited to have a wine dinner at Deja Vu, the French restaurant at the Pullman Hotel. Deja Vu is an enormous restaurant; think space and volume. Modern chic design with reds, blacks and browns as its major hues. A very dramatic concept with very good French cooking.

The long table with people attending Alain Chabanon's wine dinner.

The amuse bouch was a macarron fois gras. A very unique starter. Soft and slighty crunchy texture just like a macarron but the twist is the fois gras. A combination of sweet and salty was very prominant. A nice way to start the evening.

The first dish was tuna. Lightly seared, the tuna was cooked perfectly. Encrusted with sesame seeds and a light jus to accompany the tuna. A very light and simple dish but full of taste.

The next dish was salmon steak. A large piece of salmon steak that was cooked perfectly; still raw in the middle. Such a simple dish, but done so well. The tasty side dish of petite pois puree was also a nice change from the typical pomme puree.

The final dish was duck cooked two different ways. A nice touch in giving dinners different textures and tastes from the same product. The duck was tender and juicy. Another very delicious yet simple dish.

The dessert was sauteed pineapple. This was the only disappointment of the evening. The chef really impressed us with his skills of using fresh produce and cooking simple but yet delicious dishes. For some reason, this dish did not blend well with the entire dinner menu. For sure it was a simple dessert; pineapple is found everywhere in Thailand. But we felt the execution was not thought out properly; meaning the accidity of the pineapple was too over whelming for the dessert. The sauce was too sweet and the accompanying merangue was useless.

Here is the GM of the hotel and Alain Chabanon talking to customers about the food and Alain's wines.

Overall, a very nice evening. Deja Vu is an amazing restaurant for its sheer size and volume. The food is consistently delicous and the best thing of all...the food is very very affordable for such quality. The service is impecable and very friendly. I always look forward to see what the chef at Deja Vu comes up with.

8/2 Rangnam Road, Thanon-Phayathai, Bangkok
02-680 9999

Street Market (Hong Kong)

Our last day in Hong Kong so we wanted to walk around, play tourist and go shopping. We passed a fresh produce outdoor market on our way to one of destinations. As everyone knows, the Chinese are fanatics about the freshness of their produce.

Here is the freshest fish you can get. All still moving.

Sunday shoppers.

The photo on the left is a woman selling different types of tofu. The photo on the right is fruit stand.

BUT; this was the most amazing stall of them all. Fish mongers perfectly slicing live fish down the middle and leaving the halved fish with its heart still pumping for all the customers to see. It was very gruesome! That's what I call wanting very fresh fish.

The photo on the left is a vegetble stand. The photo on the right is a crustacean and shell fish stand.

Walking around Hong Kong island with its tall buildings and modern shopping malls; reminded us that normal life still exists on the streets of Hong Kong. Fantastic outdoor markets and street food. Instead of taking the underground all the time; we highly recommend that you walk or take the tram. You really get to see amazing things that you would normally not with the underground.