It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Restaurant Review : Smith, Bangkok, Thailand

Since our previous visit to BKK, the fab Smith restaurant has opened.  Smith is a new concept for BKK, nose to tail dining.  Nothing is wasted.  Now, whilst I'm not mad on trotters or snouts, I think this is a great idea.  Don't be frightened off, there's not too much mad stuff on the menu (though there's currently a dish featuring pigs tail, and another with head cheese - um, no thanks!) - and there's loads of really well done normal food too.

I had a fried squid starter which was scrumptious, washed down with a great fruity cocktail, and then my main was a wagyu burger (Australian Wagyu patty, squid ink brioche, golden gouda, spider mustard and rosemary fries).  I was curious about the squid ink brioche - it tasted just like any other brioche bun - but it was black!).

They also have a cooking school, knife store, and a chefs table available - and it looks like they do a Sunday BBQ lunch, but you might want to check that's still current.  Smith was absolutely hopping the night we were there, jammed with young and gorgeous Thai couples, and several large tables of office girls, each brandishing the customary two mobiles phones (hey, we're in Thailand now!), and enjoying scads of cocktails.  Service was brisk and friendly and everyone spoke English.

Smith is tucked just inside Sukhumvit Soi 49 (click HERE for a map), and it's not much from the outside, but it's fab and trendy-posh-warehouse-y inside.  We'll definitely go back.

1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49
North Klongton
Bangkok 10110
+66 2 261 0515 (bookings recommended)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Restaurant Review : Hemingway's, Bangkok, Thailand

Hemingway's is another new place since our last visit, and it's just across the soi from cheap and cheerful Suda.  "Our menu reflects the great adventures and travels of Ernest Hemingway and the amazing tastes and flavour the world has to offer.  Our menu is inspired by his passion for food and drink, and we're sure you'll find the menu fitting of his appetite for life."  Hmmmm, okay.

The gorgeous building that Hemingway's is in seems to have been a restaurant for years, even back when we were living there, but we hadn't ever gone inside before.  The lure of Mojitos was too much for us this time, however, and we wandered down soi 14 and into the comfortable bar.

The cocktails were great, as was the selection of tapas style nibbles, which we all enjoyed sitting up at the bar in the warm Thai evening air.  We asked for the menus and, after a quick peruse, decided we may as well stay for dinner, so we headed into the large dining room after an hour or so in the bar.

Now, the food was okay - not amazing and not bad.  Several things that we asked for weren't available, and there was only one other table of guests.  I had a half rack of ribs with fries and slaw and it was fine, but not good enough to hurry back for.  Later on our Thai trip I read a fairly scathing review of Hemingway's, which might explain why there weren't many other diners.

However, the Mojitos and the nibbles in the bar are top notch and the prices are reasonable, so maybe go there for that, and then somewhere else for dinner.  The service is good and the staff are friendly, and it's a mere hop, skip and a jump from Asok SkyTrain (BTS) and Sukhumvit Tube (MRT) stops.

1 Sukhumvit Soi 14
Sukhumvit Road
Klong Toie
Bangkok 10110
Phone:- +66 2 653 3900

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recipe : Tomato Jam

You know I'm mad for cakes, and I don't make many savoury recipes, but this one just jumped out.  We love cheese, fresh bread and cold meats, and I thought that this recipe for Tomato Jam would go swimmingly with those things for a lazy weekend lunch.  This recipe is dead easy, and would be fab if you've got a glut tomatoes growing in the garden, or if you see them on spesh at the supermarket.

Some of the 1.25kg of Cherry Tomatoes sliced and ready for roasting.

The recipe calls for 1.25kg of Cherry Tomatoes, which are about the size of my thumb, and then it says to roast and peel them.  I was NOT looking forward to peeling hundreds of teensy tomatoes, but the skin came away so easily when they'd been roasted.

All roasted now, ready for peeling - so much peeling!

Okay, so let's cook, as usual my notes are in italics:-

Tomato Jam
  • 1.25kg of cherry tomatoes (I think you could use any kind of tomatoes)
  • Half cup of sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Half cup of lemon juice
  • Quarter cup of chopped thyme, rosemary or basil
  • 1 finely chopped red chilli

  1. Preheat the oven to 165c (330f)
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet covered with aluminium foil
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes soften
  4. Let them cool and then peel off most of the skin, leaving about a third with skin on for texture
  5. Put the tomatoes in a heavy saucepan with sugar and salt and bring to a boil
  6. Stirring constantly, boil the tomatoes briskly for 7-8 minutes (I didn't stir constantly and they probably boiled for about 15 minutes because I thought they looked too watery otherwise)
  7. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, thyme and finely chopped red chilli (I didn't have any red chilli, I thought I did, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  I just ground a bunch of black pepper in to it instead)
  8. Store in sterile jars in the refrigerator

The finished product - YUM!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bar Review : Octave, Bangkok, Thailand

A new Marriott hotel has opened up on Sukhumvit Soi 57 and they've put a fab open air bar, Octave, on their roof.  I think it was about 45 floors up - the half height walls are glass and there's no roof, so if you've got issues with heights, this is NOT the place for you.  But if you're a happy bunny when confronted with fabulous 360 degree views of BKK and a "buy one get one free" happy hour cocktail deal, then you should put on your party pants and scamper along.

There's a lift from the lobby up to one very high internal bar, and then you exit there and walk up a fairly steep flight of stairs to get to Octave.  One thing to note if you're "getting your cocktail on" is that the toilets are down those steep stairs again, and then up to the bar again ...

Because it was so new, and we were quite early in the evening, there weren't many people around so we got the pick of the comfy chairs in a corner with fab views, and the cocktails started coming.  The cocktail menu isn't large, but the ones they make are good - especially if they've got a "two for one" deal going on (check it's still running if that's what you're going for).  We didn't have any food there, so can't comment on that, but if you're up for decent cocktails at a good price, and a seriously amazing view, then get yourself up to Octave.

Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit
2 Sukhumvit Soi 57
Phone:- +66 2 797 0400

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Photo Gallery : Maeklong Market, Thailand

One of the big things I miss from Thailand is the availability of good quality, fresh, cheap produce.  Where we live now, I can't even buy any Asian greens, and I really miss that.  There's no fresh coriander here, but I can buy fresh basil (yay!).  Walking through Maeklong was fantastic, and I wished I could scoop up all the lovely cheap seafood, fruit and veg and take it home.  Here's a bundle of shots of great produce in this amazing market - all laid out for the locals to buy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WIN Two Nights at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

The utterly glorious glamour-pups over at Luxe City Guides are giving you the chance to win two nights accommodation at the The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London.  The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is renowned for serious glamour and all round fabulousness, and its room rates start at 550GBP per night, so the chance of two nights for free is something that should have you scampering to enter.

Luxe City Guides also have a brilliant guide to London available, so even if you don't win the prize, this guide will tell you all about the absolutely best places to see next time you're in London.  

Click HERE to enter, and good luck!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tour With Tong : Bangkok, Thailand

Despite living in Bangkok for nearly two years, we hadn't actually done a lot of sightseeing, so when we were back last we decided we'd go on a tour and see a few sights out of town.  After a quick bit of googling and checking TripAdvisor, we rang Tong from Tour with Tong and booked the half day Floating Market Tour (the itinerary of which has since changed from what we did) at very short notice.

Our guide, Khun Charlie, was waiting for us in the lobby of our hotel at around 6.30am the next morning.  Now, I know that sounds disgustingly early, but Thailand gets HOT later on, so if you can book a tour in the cooler morning, then that's the way forward.  We jumped into his air conditioned car and headed off to the Floating Market, with him giving a running commentary along the way.  We were the only people on the tour, so it was very personal.

I had been to the Floating Market about 20 years before and it has really changed in that time.  Now there is just a small market and hundreds of klong boats filled with predominately Russian tourists, cruising up and down the "market" klongs.  There aren't many locals doing their shopping there now, just lots of tourist things for sale, and a few stalls with produce for the locals.  It was still good to see, and very colourful, but I'm guessing that most locals shop at the supermarkets now.  We enjoyed our klong boat ride around looking at things, and it was getting much busier by the time we left.

We then headed to a few local temples, one run by Monks who keep animals such as camels, horses, deer, goats etc.  You can buy animal food to feed them, including Bok Choy which was so fresh and lovely I wanted to take it home and cook it, not feed it to a bossy goat.  The temples always provide great photo opportunities - but make sure you take your shoes off, and ladies must have their arms covered (no coochie cutter shorts and boob tubes here, girls!).

Khun Charlie decided to throw something else into the mix, a surprise he said, so he zoomed off through the back roads and landed us at Maeklong Train Market.  This place is AMAZING.  I hadn't even heard of it before, but it's a real local produce market set up along side and on top of a functioning railway track.  Really.  Eight trains a day terminate at Maeklong Station and it's something you have to see to believe.

Around three minutes before the train arrives, a bell rings, and the vendors pull all of their produce off the lines for the train to pass through, putting them all back again with in seconds of its passing.  I know it sounds bonkers, and it seriously is, but I'll post pictures and then you'll understand (maybe).  It's something you have to experience to believe and it's much better than the Floating Market.  The Maeklong Market is where locals actually do shop, and the Market itself is huge.

So, basically, give the Floating Markets the swerve,
and head for Maeklong - it's amazing!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering,
the photos above were all taken in under 10 seconds ...