Beirut and an Unfortunate Realization

I was contemplating this week’s Foodie Friday post the other day as I wasted time on the internet. I knew that Todd and I were going to go out for dinner on our anniversary, and I figured I’d just take photos of whichever restaurant we ended up going to. Then, I accidentally stumbled across a bunch of websites criticizing the trend of hipsters taking photos of their meals (such as here and here). Somehow, it never occurred to me that taking pictures of what you eat is an obnoxious trend – I love seeing photos of food, and I couldn’t be a hipster if I tried. I comforted myself by saying “don’t worry, self. This is for a blog post.” Then the realization hit me: taking photos of food for a blog is taking the trend to a whole new level. Not only do you engage in the obnoxious behaviour of photographing your food, you then go on to write about your narcissistic consumption experience. Hmmm.

I contemplated this for awhile, but it made me hungry. So I grabbed T-bone and went to Beirut, a Lebanese restaurant in the Thong Lo area. Nothing that a little a lot of garlic can’t solve. Soon, my fears had passed, and I was ready to once again take low quality, low resolution photos of food. Sorry, hipster haters.

Our meal started off with an assortment of vegetables and dips that were basically pure garlic cloaked in fat. So good.

Vegetable platter

Clockwise from left: tahini (sesame seed paste), labneh (garlic and cheese), jalapeno puree

Choosing our entrees was extremely difficult. I have a bit of a Lebanese food fetish, and Lebanese restaurants are few and far between in Bangkok. There were so many options, and I just knew that I would make the wrong choice and live with gastric regret. Fortunately, the restaurant had platter options – meals that include four different choices. And fortunately, I knew that I could coerce my husband into sharing with me (“It’s our anniversary, darling. You should celebrate our love by sharing all your food with me.”).

After much careful deliberation, I went with the following platter:

Clockwise from top left: Tabouleh (parsley/couscous/tomato/garlic salad), hummus, stuffed vine leaves, chicken shawarma

While Todd went with these treats:

Chicken shawarma, meat sambosa (meat pastry), tabouleh, mouhammara (nut/tomato/garlic/bread crumb dip)

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The platter with Todd in the background to give you an idea of its size

I was feeling intense fear at the thought that I would miss out on an important taste experience, so we also ordered this:

Cheese sambosa (deep-fried cheese pastry)

Maybe it’s because I hadn’t eaten Lebanese food in such a long time, but our meals tasted amazing. Pure garlic deliciousness. I was basically comatose with food joy. I could hardly speak, which didn’t necessarily make for the most riveting dinner conversation, but it was worth it. We waddled out a few hours later, and we fully intend to visit Beirut again.

What do you think? Are people who take photos of food obnoxious?

Gastro-bomb, Part 2: Cocktails’n’Calories at Gossip

Do not think that the konspicuous konsumption stopped at 5pm on Saturday. In fact, it continued, unabated, for several more hours. Because we live so far out in the stix, I like to make my visits to the city really count, which is why I chose to slap on a visit to Gossip in Thong Lo on top of our raw food/sugar binge. This is organization at its finest, folks.

The owner of Gossip – a cocktail bar and eatery – very kindly invited the magazine that I write for to review the cocktails and menu at the restaurant. I always like to be altruistic in these situations, so I volunteered T-bone and myself for this daunting mission.*

Karol, the quirky/passionate bar manager, whipped up a dizzying array of cocktails for us to try. I don’t have much experience drinking cocktails – whenever I see them on a menu, I usually cheap out and order “one glass of house red, please,” but I may be a new convert. The presentation and flavour combinations were artistry in a glass. Karol’s explanation of the drinks also enhanced the experience – he tries to balance his artistic vision with local tastes. For example, Thais apparently do not enjoy cucumbers in their drinks, so Karol has to content himself with hiding them amidst other, bolder flavours.

The Flower Fields Spritzer: Lavender bitter, rose and elderflower, Prosecco

The Aurelia – basil, thyme, limoncello. This was my favourite – a very unique mix of fruity and savoury flavours.

Fresh Step Cooler: artfully concealed cucumber, grape, and shiso leaf.

Mangosteen and Elderflower Sour: fresh mangosteen, elderflower, and lychee liquor

Racyrose: vanilla, chilli, and lemongrass. Topped with nitrogen foam.

Tender Love: bourbon with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and tonka. Yum.

Once we had been thoroughly bombarded with cocktails, Julien, the restaurant owner, wafted in on the evening breeze, and offered us food. We really couldn’t say no: following Newton’s First Law of Motion, once we’d started eating, there was no stopping. We sampled calamari and chorizo salad, shrimp satay, and steamed cod with ratatouille. I was lost in food paradise at this point, so I only managed to capture the chorizo and calamari.

Todd was excited by this writing assignment.

And then the desserts: very blurry photos of  the Marshmallow Chocolate Fondant and the Mascarpone Cheesecake.

This is supposed to be eaten in a very specific order: first, a slurp of the chilli infused chocolate; then a bite of the marshmallow fondant; then a sip of cherry juice.

Fluffy mascarpone cheese topped with pistachio macaron, gooseberry, and strawberry.

As we ate, I asked Julien loads of questions about his experience working in restaurants, and establishing Gossip. It was a neat opportunity – it’s always interesting to hear someone talk about their life passion, and Julien is clearly passionate about food.

After several hours, we realized that we had reached a heretofore undiscovered apex of fullness, and heaved our heaving stomachs onto the BTS. The things I do in the name of duty…

*This post is not sponsored by the restaurant

Gastro-bomb, Part 1: Rasayana and After You

Sorry for the gap between posts, friends. The truth is that I spent so much time eating this past weekend that I didn’t have time to post. And the truth is that I ate so much that I really can’t cram it all into one post. So, today, I’m going to present what I ate between the hours of 1pm and 5pm on Saturday, and on Wednesday, you’ll get to read about what I ate/drank between the hours of 5pm and 7:30pm. And just so you don’t think I’m an appalling glutton, let me offer the disclaimer that most of this consumption was done in the name of research – I had to review a few restaurants for a magazine. And as I learned in school, research legitimises anything.

On with the food!

First up was lunch with Kirk and Gi. This Cultured Couple just reeks* of good health, and when they invited us to their favourite raw food restaurant, we couldn’t say no. Rasayana is an organic oasis located next to a dog physiotherapy pool** on a quiet street in Thong Lo. The moment we set foot on the porch, we were enveloped in waves of hippy goodwill.

Like wallowing in pure rainforest essence. Whatever that means.

We all started off with fresh-pressed juice. If I was a better food writer, I’d be able to tell you what each contained, but let’s just say that Kirk and Gi’s juices were green, mine was purple, and Todd’s was puce. And they were loaded with health.

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Because all the food at Rasayana is raw (can’t be heated or cooled beyond certain points), the restaurant has to be really creative in its recipes and ingredients – we were really impressed by its interpretation of popular dishes. We sampled the mushroom burger, the pizza, and the pesto pasta.

The “bun” was a sunflower seed crisp.

A tomato-carrot filling covered in cashew cream and fresh basil.

Zucchini noodles with fresh basil pesto.

And going raw doesn’t mean going without dessert. We ordered the key lime pie, the doughnuts, and the carrot cake.

Carrot “cake” with strawberry sauce.

Dee-licious Key Lime pie

Date coconut “doughnuts” with a side of Todd’s hairy knee

All of them were tasty, but the lime pie was the clear winner in my books.

The meal finished with room temperature water, and warm tea. I could feel pure health radiating out of my pores.

But Gi’s pore-radiating was much prettier, so here’s a picture of her.

Unfortunately, I then chose to undo all the benefits of raw food by visiting After You, a popular Thong Lo dessert destination.

No, no. After YOU.

In my defence, I had to review it, but the timing was poor. I scooped up Hanna, a little buddy from my years working at summer camp, and forced her to eat cake while I snapped photos. She ordered the sticky toffee toast, while I had the mocha-toffee cake.

EAT IT NOW, HANNA!!! But not before I get a good photo.

My cake was good – an appealing slab of chocolate cake with toffee-nut topping, but Hanna’s toast was the winner. I couldn’t keep my fork off her plate. Something about a butter-drenched slab of white bread covered in toffee and ice cream just does it for me.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Sorry, buddy. You just don’t measure up to the toast monstrosity.

Hanna tried to fend off my fork while simultaneously pretending that she didn’t know the crazy person bumping into waitresses and snapping awkward photos.

And coveting other desserts.

As the toffee and butter wrestled with the raw food in my gut, I grabbed T-bone, and we headed to the day’s next culinary destination. Coming up on Wednesday: cocktails at Gossip!

*See, Mom: I learned how to spell “reek.” You can stop mocking me in the comments section.

**I am not joking.

Toast!

This post is short and (extremely) sweet. We recently found ourselves swept up in the phenomenon known as Asian toast, and I feel that all of you deserve to witness its magic.

Feast yer eyes.

I don’t know exactly how this delight is made, but I will do my best to describe it. Start off with a large hunk of white bread. It should be the equivalent of 5 or 6 regular slices. Somehow fill its innards with sweetened condensed milk and butter, baste the whole blob with butter, then bake/toast it. When it comes out of the oven, douse it in syrup; add a few scoops of ice cream, a few puffs of whipping cream, and (in this case) a few slices of banana; and top it all off with a little more syrup.

Todd wears his special athletic shirt because his stomach is about to get a Work. Out.

T-bone and I first tasted this phenomenon in a bubble tea shop in Calgary’s Chinatown, and have been craving it ever since. The Calgary version, however, was only 3 or 4 slices tall, and it lacked all the fun dairy accoutrements. Thailand knows how to do it right. Given the popularity of toast, I am amazed that the entire nation isn’t obese.

This plate alone could feed the nation.

Todd’s parents were with us when we ordered this monstrosity, and while I would like to claim that the four of us shared it, in all honesty, Todd and I hoovered that sucker down with very little assistance.

Todd’s prototype, AKA Papa Dawg Dave, is prepared to provide backup if needed.

For any curious Bangkokians, we ordered this particular toast mountain at Cookies Crust at Mega Bangna. It was good, but if you really want the ultimate slab, check out After You Dessert in Thong Lo.