A Few Things about Wine

September 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

Mika at PB Valley vineyard

I.

I recently wrote a story about the rise of wine drinking in Bangkok for BK Magazine, during which I asked the business manager of Siam Winery why they bothered to have such a resort-like vineyard with holiday packages and stuff.  He said, “Because the impact of a wine is not just what’s in the bottle. It’s also where you are, who you are with, what occasion you’re celebrating.”

II.

I’ve drank countless bottles of wine since I started drinking at age 18, many of those bottles being those 2-litre Yellowtail monsters and those from Trader Joe’s lovingly called two-buck Chuck.  But these are the ones I will never forget:

– One night in July 2005, G. and I drank a bottle of a cheap Pinot Grigio on my rooftop in Boston.  It was the first time I’d heard the name.  The night also involved Nina Simone, a makeshift waltz, Thai papaya salad and becoming a woman, as they say.

– In the summer of 2007, in New York, on a Tuesday, I went to the Clinton Street Baking Company with C.  We’d just become friends again after a long hiatus.  The restaurant had a cheap wine promotion, and we got a bottle of Rioja Crianza and drew all over the butcher paper tablecloth. On our way home, standing on the corner outside Katz Deli, it started to rain.

– This past June, I split a bottle of Great Western Pinot Noir 2006 with S., on the bizarre porch swing that sits on the concrete 30th floor rooftop of my apartment building in Bangkok.  I had just turned 26, and we didn’t know each other very well yet.

And earlier this year, I had what I think was the experience that caused me to actually take notice of wine.  I’m told all wine enthusiasts have one, the gateway.  For me it was a work thing, a press dinner to sample the Valentine’s Day set menu at Bo.lan. I sat across the super cute winemaker from Siam Winery and beside a jolly old Belgian man, and every delicious course was paired with a wine from Siam Winery. I had been very sad, recently returned from New York, but by the time we got to the Monsoon Valley Muscat 2008, I was ecstatic.  I didn’t know a wine could taste like lychee.

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Two Things I Eat for Lunch

September 5, 2010 § 3 Comments

Khao mok kai

In the weekends since my last post, I have taken a wine class, gone on a vineyard and winery tour to beautiful Khao Yai, visited a friend in a remote province of Thailand that had never been on my radar before, commenced a slightly hokey “creative recovery” course by Julia Cameron that makes me cringe and blows my mind at the same time, been to a rum tasting and checked out several nice restaurants in Bangkok.  So now my big challenge is to gradually turn these experiences into posts after a ridiculously long and unwarranted hiatus.

I’ll start with something small rather than something big.  I’ll avoid making this a This is What I Ate Today kind of blog, but if you’re reading this, chances are that you either don’t live in Bangkok/Thailand and this is going to sound pretty exotic, or you live in Bangkok and should go get these dishes right away.

I work in Silom, the business district of Bangkok, where lunchtime is an insane affair, as thousands of employees from all the high rises set off to find good, affordable food located nearby.  So naturally, Silom is bursting with all kinds of eateries, from fancy French restaurants to shopping mall food courts to sidewalk-choking street stalls.

One of the places I go to with my two editors, Greg and and Nick, is a street operation on Soi Convent, a few steps up from the Starbucks, that sells nothing but khao mok kai, or Muslim-style chicken and rice (pictured above).  A plate of this comes with rice, yellow with turmeric and other spices, and a leg of chicken, tender as hell, with the skin still on, all topped with crispy fried onions and a sweet chilli sauce on the side.  It costs 30 baht, which is just under a dollar.  Also on the side, you can get a bowl of broth, made with chicken bones and lots of green chillies.  When we’re done with our khao mook kai, we turn our attention to the soup, slurping away, and, in my case, nose running from the spice.

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