CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Breakfast and Beds (Hotel Breakfasts -- Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, Thailand)

Time for another Thailand post.

One of the things we got with all of our hotels was "ABF." This means "American Breakfast." Now while I'd like to pretend that we ignored this perk and spent our mornings on my favorite little stools, I'm an actor and actors never give up free food. So we ate the breakfasts. And I have to say that having a little familiarity in your tummy to start the day really helps in your adventures when the day progresses. Here's how they measured up.

Our first hotel was the Montien in Bangkok. This was by the Patpong Market, otherwise known as the red light district, otherwise known as a place where ladies perform an array of impressive feats, such as smoking cigarettes with their cooters. This is not to be confused with the Montien on the River.

Now our Montien had a pretty impressive breakfast in terms of selection, and it wasn't too bad for quality either. Not great, but not bad. It's all buffet style. They seemed to have everything for everyone: eggs, bacon, sausage for us Americans, bangers and mash for the limeys, dim sum for the Chinese, miso soup for the Japanese, Thai specialties for everyone, made to order omelets, potatoes, breads and pastries, cereal, fruit, yogurt, juice, etc. So you could generally find something you liked.

I generally stuck to the yogurt, fruit and toast set. The fruits were tropical, as one might expect, and I got my first taste of dragonfruit. Pink on the outside, white on the inside with little black seeds. I was so happy to find out the origins of my favorite flavor of vitamin water.

All in all, it's a decent breakfast with lots of options. Not gourmet by any means, but it wasn't gross either, and it did the trick. Grade: B.

Our next hotel was the Rachamankha in Chiang Mai. This hotel was our favorite by far. We loved it so much. Their breakfast wasn't too shabby either.

They, too, had a continental spread with yogurt, cereal, fruit, juice, breads and pastries. The only difference was that theirs were of a higher quality. Pastries were still packaged/frozen, so we ignored those, but the rest of the continental spread was experienced a few times over our four day stay.

The Rachamankha (*sigh*, how I love my little Rachamankha), also had table service with made to order items including eggs (any way you like), sausage, bacon, ham, pancakes, french toast or a waffle. Jon typically got eggs, and they were really fresh, really great eggs. The waffle wasn't terrible either. The french toast was well made, but it was made with the bread the Thai seem to like, and I'm not crazy about it (think Wonder Bread with no crusts). Great coffee, tea and fresh squeezed juices (on lucky days, they had guava juice), too. The servers were wonderful, professional and friendly. I almost tried to pack one in my suitcase.

What's more, we got to eat our lovely breakfasts outside every day. Because it was the hot season, the hotel wasn't very full, so on some mornings we had the beautiful little courtyard to ourselves. Complete and total bliss, and quite possibly the best way I've ever started a day. Grade: A.

Next hotel: The Baan Haad Ngam on Koh Samui. Koh Samui was the only place we went that I wouldn't make an effort to return to in the future. The island is extremely tourist oriented and developed now, which was not what we were looking for. It was worth going to for the crazy fun, shoeless cooking class we took, and the kayaking trip to the extraordinary Ang Thong, but having done those things, I don't need to go back. OK, onto breakfast:

The Baan Haad Ngam is a boutique hotel at the northernmost end of Chaweng Beach. Breakfast was outside, looking over the ocean. Nice. The breakfast itself had the usual suspects, but it was not nearly as good as the Rachamankha. It was table service, too, but the service kind of sucked. It was slow and they messed up a few things but it's breakfast so we weren't too concerned about it. The eggs were typically dry, and none of the things we had were remarkable in any way. It was free, so we weren't too concerned about it, but I would have been really disappointed if we had needed to pay for it. Grade: C.

Our last hotel was the gorgeous, fabulous, everything-I-ever-wanted Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. We were only there for two breakfasts, and with the type of room we had we had the option to either eat at the River Cafe or have room service. We figured we'd do the River Cafe the first morning, and then get room service on the day we were leaving. Once we had eaten at the River Cafe, however, we had to go back the next day and pretty much said to hell with the room service. Fai had encouraged us to eat there even if it hadn't been included and once we did, I could see why. He also told us that it usually costs around $30 US, which is exorbitantly expensive for Thailand.

The River Cafe and Terrace is just how it sounds. It's a restaurant right on the Chao Phraya. I love that muddy river. It has such an incredible life force. Sitting on that terrace in the early morning sunlight before it got completely balls hot ranks as one of the most peaceful moments of my life.

As for the food, it was like the Montien on steroids. Several kinds of yogurt, including the delicious taro flavor, about five different juices, a veritable bakery with fresh (!) pastries, eggs, breakfast meats, french toast, crepes, dim sum, Japanese specialties and some really fantastic Thai specialties as well. It was all buffet style, but the buffet was tended with such care that it was as if it was made to order. And the real slap on the ass was that the food was *really* good. Hands down the best buffet I've been to anywhere. That's not saying much as I, in general, avoid buffets like the plague, but still. It has Vegas' ass kicked all over the place.

The service was impeccable; as soon as we left the buffet area, a server would take our plates and bring them to our tables for us. It was an experience that made me understand what it mean to be waited on hand and foot. Grade: A.

Now if you'll pardon me, I need to get me some breakfast.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Baby Girl (Pizzeria Delfina -- San Francisco, CA)

I waited very patiently through the gestation period, but you bet your ass that as soon as Pizzeria Delfina opened her glorious doors, I was there.

Jon and I arrived to a small line (but a line nonetheless) on their first day of service. When the doors opened at noon, We rushed to seats at the counter for prime viewing pleasure, threw some flowers at Annie as a congratulations gesture (which, in retrospect, must have seemed like an assault attempt considering the ferocity with which it was done) and got to looking at our porn menus.

The server was sweet and friendly in true Delfina style, and we were totally in our element sitting at the counter. We had a great view of all the vittles coming out of the kitchen, and what's more, we got to kick it with the funk-o-licious Melissa and Michael, who happened to be seated next to us at the bar.

The staff said one pizza would serve one and a half people, so we decided to get two and take some leftovers home. We also decided to get the insalata tricolore, and a bottle of wine. Nothing better than a downing a bottle of wine at noon on a Sunday.

The salad was great. It was composed of arugula, endive and raddichio, three things that Jon loves and I like. Dressed up all pretty with a nice vinaigrette and some parm, they became greens that I, too, loved.

Jon also had some of the house cured anchovies (which he affectionately refers to as "Craig's anchovies." And then I call him a dork...). He loves these so much that I'm actually worried that he might leave me for them.

Now as for the pizza, well, slap my ass and call me Sally but this is some damn good pie. We used the almighty Margherita as our gauge. Once I tasted the crust, I knew that Pizzeria Delfina had wrapped her little ball and chain around me. The crust was perfect: elastic, crispy and chewy in all the right places and, in what was my favorite birthmark -- a nice smattering of salt. This salt is the perfect complement to the sweet, tangy tomato sauce. Cover this bitch up with some creamy fresh mozzarella and you've got just about the most perfect disc of tastiness on this earth.

The salsiccia has all of the stuff above plus onions, red peppers and housemade sausage. I dig sausage, and theirs did not disappoint.

Our wine was a $15 bottle of Montepulciano. No, that's not a typo. $15 a BOTTLE. You could get college drunk on that if you wanted to. The only difference being is that this wine is actually good. Really. I'd go so far as to say GREAT.

We traded a glass of this stuff for a piece of the clam pie that Michael and Melissa had, despite the fact that we had just met them moments before (dude, don't give me that look -- you know I'm a slut). The clam pie is made without cheese, which may seem like sacrilege to some, but the salty, chewy bivalves give you all the love you need.

We ended with a cannoli filled with all kinds of goodness, including Bellwether ricotta, which I bathe in from time to time. It's then rolled in pistachios. Total eating time for this treat: 2.011 seconds.

Public Service Announcement: Pizzeria Delfina also does one item "in padella" every night. Among these are housemade sausage, eggplant parmigiana, mussels, etc. We, unfortunately, have yet to try any of these having been altogether too intoxicated with the visions of pizza dancing in our heads.

We returned the following Saturday with Jon's parents who were in town visiting. I was dubious that we'd get in since it was the first Saturday of service and they don't take reservations. Fortunately, the nice weather kept peeps out in the parks until the last vestige of daylight so we were as good as gold. Within twenty minutes of sitting down, the whole restaurant was packed and there were names on the board for the next open tables (including a party of 8, which is just absolutely ridiculous when you consider the size of this place AND the fact that the larger Delfina doesn't seat parties larger than 6). I think the busy factor has been overwhelming -- they had to close their first Wednesday during lunch to regroup, and when we ate at Delfina on the following Sunday (one week after opening) we heard they had run out of pizza by 8:45. I guess 200 pizzas for less than nine hours isn't enough. Christ! People really like this pizza...

We ordered everything above. Except the wine. Instead, we got a red Lacryma Christi wine, which had a nice smokiness that went perfectly with our pizzas. Plus, Lacryma Christi means "Tears of Christ" so what's not to love?

We repeated our previous visit's order and added in some fresh stretched mozzarella and a broccoli rabe pizza.

The mozzarella is the same sexy, chewy love that you can get next door at my girl, Delfina. Perfect as can be.

The broccoli rabe pizza has the namesake veggie plus Bellwether ricotta (no sauce). The broccoli rabe is the perfect lover for the ricotta and vice versa. The creamy smoothness of the cheese balances the bitterness of the vegetable nicely.

We also got two other desserts in addition to the cannoli. Because the cannoli and the gianduja biscotti are the only desserts that are always on the menu, the two we ordered were in limited supply. We got a strawberry crostata rustica and a lemon budino, and the last two orders of each at that. Due to the popularity of those two particular desserts, it was only 8:45 when we cleaned them out.

The crostata was delicious. The strawberry was spread over the bottom crust like a dense layer of jam, with more crust latticed on top. This top crust had crunchy sugar crystals. The flavor was crazy pure, and it was not overly sweet which made me extremely happy. The lemon budino was by far the favorite dessert on the table, though. A budino is like a dense pudding, and I do love my pudding. It was topped with some lightly sweetened whipped cream, and I almost didn't see what it looked like with four spoons flying so furiously onto the plate.

And, because we couldn't stay away, we tried doing it take out style with some friends this week. We threw a quattro formaggio into the mix, and we were very happy with the results. The pizza came home nicely, and still tasted good cold the next day. The depth that the four different cheeses gave to the 'za (for those of us from Boston), captured my heart and I think on my next visit that I'll be hard pressed to choose between the four cheese and the margherita. Pretty soon I'm going to need a side of valium with the pizza in order to deal with the stress that is involved in making that choice.

The only pizza we haven't tried is the Napoletana, which is sauceless as is traditional and covered with anchovies and the like, which is also traditional. Next time.

So, while I could tell you that it sucks so that I wouldn't have to endure any lines and I could experience total dining nirvana, my conscience has the better of me. It's wonderful, delicious and everything I had hoped, dreamed and known it would be. Because, baby, those folks behind Delfina know how to do a restaurant -- it's as close to a guarantee you can get in this world. I'll see you in line.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art"
--La Rochefoucauld

Friday, July 22, 2005

Mixed Plate (Cortez -- San Francisco, CA)

For a very long time, a lot of people we knew were bugging us to go try out Cortez. So when we had plans downtown last Friday night, we figured we'd check it out.

Cortez is named for the famous explorer, and it's located in the Hotel Adagio. When you first walk in, it seems to go on forever. The restaurant is pretty long and narrow-ish, with a larger room off to one side. It would be relatively nice, if not for the God awful ugly ass light fixtures that look like they're from a Disneyland theme cafe in the 1980's.

Now normally, I don't give a shit about where I sit. In fact, I generally prefer sitting where I can see the kitchen so I can see how everything is done. Perhaps it's because we made an Open Table reservation a mere 3 hours before, but we got the shittiest table ever known to man. It was almost like an afterthought. My chair backed up to where they cut the bread. In fact, I'm pretty sure some of my hair must have ended up in the crumb bucket next to the cutting board.

Our server wasn't overly warm, but he wasn't necessarily cold, either so we had no problems with him at all. The service took a turn for the worse later in the evening (although it had nothing to do with his attitude), which I'll get to later.

We ordered as follows:

I had a raspberry lemonade that was so sweet and cloying that I had to go to the bathroom and check for spontaneous cavities. Jon had a pomegranate cooler with tequila, which was quite good. I'd definitely order it again.

First we had the Katafi crusted crabcake. This is very good, but not spectacular. The Katafi lends it an interesting texture, and the inside is extremely light. This is nice, but also a drawback; it felt as if we weren't getting a whole lot of crab, which is lame.

Then, we had the "Croque Madame" which was our favorite dish of the evening. This was comprised of jambon de bayonne, hamachi and garlic buerre blanc and came with a poached quail egg on top. It had all sorts of my favorite things and we both decided it was super yums. The juxtaposition of the cold, raw hamachi and the warm brioche and egg was really sensory heaven. I do think it can still be improved upon -- it was a little *too* buttery (now when *I* say that, you know there's an issue) and the quail egg was a little overcooked.

Next we had the corn ravioli, which were fine in and of themselves. They had a zucchini puree, peas and cherry tomatoes. Both vegetables were off. Underripe in the case of the tomatoes, and, because they must hate me, the peas were mealy. I cannot stand a mealy texture when it comes to fruits and vegetables (and it for this reason that I am wary of all but the finest pears), so I was a little on the pissed side.

We also ordered french fries, which, as you know, happen to be my favorite food on earth. And Cortez does a great version. They are crispy and perfectly salted. Plus they come with some kick ass harissa and zatar spiced aiolis, which rocked my world. The only problem is that these would have worked best with the Croque, and they didn't bring them until....

We had our last dish, which was pork belly. I adore pork belly but wasn't really up for it that night. The waiter convinced us that it was God's gift to pork belly, though, so we ordered it. And it was stupid. Dressed almost exactly the same way as our raviolis and on a plate which made it extremely difficult to share, it did not appear to be the tasty piglet tummy that I so love. It was devoid of any flavor worth commenting on, and was just kind of blah and disappointing. And the vegetables still sucked.

For dessert we had the sugar and spice beignets with Valhrona chocolate fondue. These were warm and extremely tasty, but I would classify them more as little square doughnuts rather than beignets. The glutens were not quite right for them to be considered the almighty beignet, but they were still good despite the misnomer. In fact, I just might fill up my bathtub with that fondue and wallow in the love.

Now Cortez touts itself as a small plates restaurant. Small plates they are, but the way they serve them is completely retarded. They are, indeed, small, but they come on plates that make it extremely difficult to share. What's more, they are portioned out strangely. For example, the Croque could have been sliced before the egg was placed on top, or they could do smaller crabcakes as opposed to one large one. Simple stuff like that. The pork belly was presented like a regular old entree, leaving us puzzled as to how to proceed.

A bigger problem was this: We had four dishes with four very different flavors. They did not change our plates once. Normally I wouldn't care about this, I'm usually against that kind of fuss and waste of energy for the servers and dishwashers, but in this case it was absolutely necessary. By the end of the meal my plate was covered in the sauces, emulsions and juices of four different things, vaguely resembling the mystery drinks that kids make and try to force each other to drink (these usually consist of juice, pepper, ketchup, milk, and anything else they can get their grubby little hands on). It was supreme grossness.

Pacing was erratic, and on the slow side; we were definitely ready to go by the time the check came. Oh, did I mention that the check was placed on our table before our dessert arrived? Faux pas, my friends, faux pas. It was not high on the scale of consistency. To his credit, our server was swamped but still, it doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to realize that a dessert has not yet made it to the table. And I knew the meal had been a disappointment when I was frustrated by the total of the bill ($100, boots and all).

Would I go back? Perhaps. If I was waiting to see a show I might pop into the bar for a croque madame, french fries, and a pomegranate cooler, but that's about it. I don't think I'd sit down for another full on meal. I've just got too many tricks on my dance card and I can't waste my precious time, energy and cash flow on something that's simply mediocre.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I'm Selfish

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. I have been withholding information.

Pizzeria Delfina
opened today. I have known this since Thursday but chose not share the information because I feared the extremely long line I would encounter if I did. I am trying to make up for this by telling you now. They are open for lunch today, dinner tomorrow and then both lunch and dinner from Tuesday on (except Mondays). I will post a full review here soon, but for now I wanted to come clean.

It is as fantastically amazing as I had hoped. I promise to post a full review in the near future.

My apologies for not sharing. I'll try to make it up to you. I'm hoping that I'll finally get that French Laundry post up this week and I tried out both Cortez and Pearl Oyster Bar this weekend so I'll try to get to those, too. And, of course, Pizzeria Delfina.

So sorry, sweeties. Please forgive me.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Writing on the Wall

Good morning! I awoke this morning to an e-mail from Stan Sesser, the writer with whom I did the Asian Wall Street Journal interview. It was published today (or yesterday since Thailand is ahead of us). You can view it here, but you'll need to be a member in order to read it. As an added bonus, our own Pim is also featured in the article.

Fortunately, the journalist agreed with me on my restaurant review -- a couple of other bloggers didn't fare so well. He did, however, mention my Michael Mina review, so I'm expecting a whole new slew of hate mail just in time for the weekend. Awesome.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Restaurant Haiku

Servers are my friends
They bring me delicious food
I love them so much

Order some dessert
Don't worry, you won't get fat
It completes the meal

Nothing is open
SF sucks for late night eats
This really sucks balls

Make sure to tip well
They work hard for the money
Give them your lovin'

I ate too much food
But the menu looked so good
Now my tummy hurts

Delfina is rad
My tagliatelle rocks
You can't have any

Zuni's fries are great
Shoestring potatoes they're called
Eat them up so fast

El Farolito
You are so very dirty
But also tasty

Ton Kiang is cool
So many little dumplings
Shove them in my mouth


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Into the Deep (Deep Sushi -- San Francisco, CA)

***UPDATE: Deep's service SUCKS ASS.***

***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: When I first tried Deep, I sat at the sushi bar. That's where you should sit. Repeat visits have proven that the table service kind of sucks. Slow and a little bit clueless. But the fish is still incredible so I'll keep going. I'll just sit at the sushi bar from now on.***

You'd think from the news that this heat wave we've got going on was the friggin' apocolypse. I'm from the east coast, and I, for one, miss those hot summer days. And although it was crazy hot in Thailand, I still spent the trip reminding myself how I'd always rather be sweating in the summer than freezing in the winter. I hate being cold. HATE IT. So I'm digging the summer lovin' we're getting now.

Nothing goes better with a hot day than sushi. Jon and his co-workers had hit Deep a few weeks back and he was dying to take me there. So off we went to outer Noe Valley (practically Glen Park) to a teeny little hole in the wall with cutesy hip decor. The menu looked extremely interesting, so we decided to go for some things we hadn't seen elsewhere. They had a pretty impressive wine and sake list as well, which I'll have to experience later as water was the only thing gracing my glass last night.

First we had the Romi Romi Salmon, which is on their starters menu. This was slices of raw salmon with spicy soy oil and tobiko. Man, I love soy oil so much. It's just mad tasty. And so was this dish; the salmon was incredibly fresh and not fishy at all -- just the way I like it. Yummy for my tummy.

Then we had a margarita roll. This was on the specials menu and had spicy hamachi, cucumber and lime and it was so good, it made me horny. Really. This might be the sexiest sushi roll I've ever had. The lime added a really nice depth to the whole thing.

Next from the specials board was the Marilyn Manson roll, which is a play on the Marilyn Monroe roll on their regular menu. This was a shrimp tempura roll with cucumber and avocado. Then there was spicy hotate (scallop) on top. Then the whole thing was drizzled with siracha and another spicy sauce. And you all know how much I love a little spicy goodness. This roll had a phenomenon like no other -- the tempura was still hot. I was so surprised by this, that I just about stood on my stool at the sushi bar and started a Hallelujah chorus. The whole thing was absolutely delicious.

By this point, I was pretty full. Jon kept going with a roll picked by the chef: salmon, shrimp tempura, scallions and a sauce I didn't take note of. He liked it, but felt it was more of the same. If I could have eaten more, I would have gone for the sunflower roll, that comes with a sweet little quail egg on top. And they had some gorgeous looking crab, making me desire a California roll (or better yet, their spicy Cali roll dubbed a "Baja Roll") for the first time since puberty. Everything was so fresh that it was practically still swimming. I'll definitely be back.

After dinner Jon and I took a nice little stroll to Deep's neighbors, for some sweet dairy love. Man, I dig summer in the city.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cold Tamale (update on Tamal -- San Francisco, CA)

I have agonized over this post. I really hate to do it. Being a restaurant whore, I know that running a restaurant is a tricky business. But I have a reputation to uphold and I must report that on my last visit to Tamal, I was sorely disappointed.

What sucks even more is that the chef's daughter was a student of mine. A student who I adore. But that doesn't change the fact that the restaurant is not the smorgasborg of delights I had discovered on my first visit.

On my last trip there, it simply wasn't very good. I found that the shrimp tamale I was so enamored with before had a bitter taste. And the masa was super dry. Like cotton dry. On top of that, I was pretty ill later in the evening (which may or may not be a result of the meal). The other things we had that night were not bad, but they weren't great. And we're in San Francisco, so you really have no reason to eat anything that's less than great. Especially a sub par tamale since we've got the fan-fucking-tastic tamale lady selling them cheaper than yo mama.

This hurts me so. The building blocks are there, it just seems consistency isn't a strong suit. And for me, consistency is the hallmark of a good restaurant, so...

At any rate, I cannot in good conscience stand by my previous review. I still contend you can get a good meal there, but it's not a guarantee. Sucky for me, sucky for you, sucky for them, sucky for all.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

This is Why I Go to Restaurants (My House -- San Francisco, CA)

My dears, notice the time of this post. And while I'd love to say I'm up this late on a Saturday night because I was groovin' it at some fab restaurant, I cannot. I am up this late because I am doing laundry.

Jon and I have been so damn busy lately that we've hardly had time to hang with our friends (yes, I have them). So we decided to have a bunch of them over for a little fondue party. We had it goin' on -- cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, all sorts of dipping madness, salad and wine. A lot of wine. Six bottles, nine people, one of whom was pregnant which, when you are doing wine math, makes a total of eight drinkers. Four drivers so they drank less, too.

Now, I like my house. It's my little haven. I like sharing it with people, especially people as cool as my friends. But I am also an only child and possesive about people messing with my stuff. I'll cut you, bitch!

Let's call one of my friends "M". M is one of my favorite people ever. But sometimes, she doesn't know when to quit on the wine front. Tonight was one of those times.

I started getting concerned when M looked all passed out like on our couch. Face down. You know where this is going, don't you? Yes, my friends, about a half hour later there was enough vomit to cover the state of New York on my living room couch. It appeared to be mostly 1. strawberrries and, 2. red wine. My couch is tan. Awesome. Thank Christ for slipcovers.

So I grabbed the Wine Away, grabbed the "Shout!" and got to scrubbin'. My years as a nanny were coming in handy. I am now anxiously awaiting the results of a power wash cycle on my washing machine. And I have an audition in about eight hours. Sweet. I'm so fucked.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, July 07, 2005

City of Angels, Part 3: Street Walker (Street Food -- Bangkok, Thailand)

On our first day in Bangkok, Fai took us to Chatuchak market (also known as JJ), which is like the Disneyland of street markets. It only happens on the weekend and there are 9,000 stalls. Really. No hyperbole here. Nine-fucking-thousand stalls. And as I've said before, more times than any of you really want to hear it, it was really damn hot.

Because of this hotness, our appetites had pulled a disappearing act unlike any other. But boy were we thirsty. I think I drank four bottles of water in our first twenty minutes at JJ (PSA: only drink bottled water that comes in clear -- not translucent-- bottles. Fai took it a bit further and told us to only drink water from 7-11's, where they also, curiously enough, sell dim sum). What a waste because by the time I got a clue, I discovered the wonderousness of the frosty beverages available to me at JJ.

First, Fai got us a young coconut split open and served with a straw. It was cool and sweet and gave my tastebuds a little more to get excited about than a bottle of water. That said, the fleshy part of the coconut is a little too slimy for my taste when it comes in that form, and it was also a little sweeter than I care for. Especially when my throat is dry as a sauna in hell.

After the coconut love, we had something so delicious that if I had known I wasn't going to see it again after that day, I'd have bought seven. It was a strawberry slushy. Simple enough shit: strawberries, ice, blender. And it was heaven. And, as you can tell, we totally abandoned our "no ice" rule six hours into the trip. And I got it all down the front of my shirt. Nice. Cost for both was about 10 Baht each.

Now the rest of our street food experience came at the end of our trip, when we realized "Oh shit, we need to eat more street food!" We had three days in Bangkok in the beginning that was comprised of mostly buzzed about eats. Then we headed to Chiang Mai and Koh Samui, and finally returned to Bangkok for our last day and a half. It was then that we got our street food on.

Our first night, we headed to the Siam (pronounced See-AHM) area to pick up some kickin' clothes we had made. We needed one more fitting so we ended up with nothing to carry. And we were so beat down at this point that we *almost* gave up and considered going back to our bombass hotel to order room service. We were walking on an overpass to the skytrain when I spotted it below on Phaya Thai Road. Hark, what light on yonder sidewalk breaks? It is the noodle soup man and I'm gonna get me some of that shit.

We walk up to the cart and point and sign and the noodle soup people point to the sidewalk and then we notice the tables and plastic stools and the sea of Thai people sitting at said tables and stools. It's a restaurant. In the street. I think I'm in love.

So we take our seats. I'm pretty sure I felt a breeze from the wind created by the simultaneous turn of the heads around us. One of these things is not like the other. Jon and I being that thing. No matter.

We get our soup. It has wide rice noodles and shrimp dumplings. It has tasty tasty broth. It has the one scoop of dried chilies that Jon dumps in. Then he turns to look at something in the (very dirty) street and I dump in two more scoops. Everything about it was wonderful, especially the fact that the usual odor permeating the city of Bangkok was mysteriously absent.

Now here's where we get either major kudos for being badasses or a smack upside the head for being jackholes. At these streetside tables you get little metal cups. And on those tables is a metal pitcher of water. And it's hot and I'm tired and I'm thirsty, so, really, why the hell not? What's the worst case scenario? I'm puking for a few hours? Small price. So we drank it. And we were absolutely fine. Cost for the whole experience: 50 Baht.

So with that under our belts, we felt ready to do the grand tour of street food on our last day. After taking us to the floating market (and eating noodle soup with pork balls on the skinny little boat), Fai drove us back to the city and to Chula 18th street in the area of Talad Suan Luang so we could pig out Thai style. He took us from cart to cart, fulfilling our fantasies.

Jon wanted Param Long Srong, which is meat, peanut sauce and spinich. In the states, it's usually made with beef or chicken, but the place Fai touted as the "only" and "most famous" place for the PLS made it with pork. We got me a tasty little packet of pad thai. Then we got some pork dumplings. And some pad kee maow for Jon (wide noodles, spicy goodness, brown gravy-ish sauce, pork and yummy yum yums), because he didn't have enough food already. We sat down at a place where Fai ordered two noodle soups and we began the chowing down.

I will never ever be able to eat pad thai again.

It was so good I don't even have words for it. Firm little tofu bits. Crispy dried shrimps. Chewy tamarind-y noodles. I. can't. breathe. because. it' And then there was the epiphany -- so this is what pad thai should taste like. And the pad kee maow kicked some serious ass as well.

The Param Long Srong was unreal. The peanut sauce was complex and silky, and, unlike the kind you get here, it was not made from peanut butter.

Let's take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we were eating in THE STREET. And it was a million times better than anything I've ever eaten in a restaurant in the US of A.

Afterwards, we had some ecstasy inducing coconut ice cream with bits of tasty weird stuff on top.

Total cost for all of that, plus a beer and two cokes: 200 Baht or about $5. Take that Ronald McDonald, you punkass bitch.

Dearest ones, if I ever go missing, you know where to find me. On a little plastic stool in Bangkok drinking the crappy water and eating the food of angels.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Monday, July 04, 2005

Getting a Foot in the Door

Some of you may have noticed that I am Bay Area Blogger #13 over at Becks and Posh. The sexy lady behind Becks and Posh is Sam, who I had the pleasure of dining with last Thursday. If you read both of our blogs, you know that we are both extremely busy girls. Somehow, a miracle occurred and we both had a day off in the middle of the week (save for an evening performance for me). And where else would we go but the Slanted Door? After hearing that Sam had not eaten there since getting stuck in her pants on Valencia Street, I figured I'd use my magic powers to get us in.

She's as fabulous as I thought she'd be (and I have high expectations) and, my darlings, it was one of the better meals I've had there recently: lovely window table, dishes right on the mark (although the spicy squid was on the watery side for my taste; that dish has been kind of hit or miss lately, but the miss is still pretty good), charming server. All in all a perfect lunch with a perfect companion. To top it all off, just down the hall in the Ferry Building, one of my favorite authors was doing a book signing. I am one lucky bitch.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld