The term “soul food” comes from a dark period in American history, referring to food that is eaten for your soul to survive. When I hear the term today, I think of comfort, satisfaction and care – creamy and fatty food, yum! So you can imagine what I thought when I heard this is a “thing” in Bangkok – controversial! Nevertheless, many had recommended to try a few such restaurants serving specially selected regional Thai dishes. And I am glad we did. Here is a review for a few of them. Continue reading “Soul Food in Bangkok”
Everyone has a Christmas tradition. Well, everyone at least that somehow celebrates Christmas. It can be small or big, elaborate or subtle. Ours is pretty simple, and not very Christmassy, but its a tradition and we like it. Every year, as we travel to Asia, we have lunch at Issaya Siamese Club in Bangkok, with cocktails and a long tasting menu. Every year we also eat so much that we don’t really need more food the same day. Continue reading “Our Christmas Tradition”
The long awaited Tour de Asia 2017 has begun. Finally! It feels like the whole year revolves around this tradition. We book the trip in June, start counting the months in September, book restaurants and tours in November and then fly off in December. January to May we ponder if we should return to the same hoods again or try out something new. Every year we conclude that there is no better destination than South-East Asia. Its warm, the food is good and the price level reasonable taking into account that we want to be away for four weeks. There is the occasional temptation of returning to Hawaii, but the strong US dollar has kept us from going. So here we are again, in Cha-am Thailand, starting our vacation from the same resort we visited last year, the Veranda. Continue reading “Wineweek 164: Beach Life”
Cold, dark and windy – that is what Stockholm is like right now. Regardless of the weather, I am starting to recover from the shock of returning home. Browsing through pictures from the previous weeks is a bit depressing, but I will still torture myself further by writing about Bangkok for a while. There is so much good there that I want to recommend. Eat Me, in this case, is not an invite to come and chew off my arm, but the name of one of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok. It is absolutely amazing quality and for a fraction (well perhaps half) of the price of Europe. Continue reading “Eat Me – Don’t Mind if I Do”
This year, it has not felt at all like a traditional Christmas. At all! We just discussed it yesterday: no decorations at home, no Christmas food, no carols. This has been very convenient, as we (M) do not really care that much for Christmas. We utilize the holiday period to spend some time somewhere warm, usually in South-East Asia. And this year again we traveled early to avoid the tourist rush. But it is quite uncommon that Christmas slips by almost unnoticed. Proof that we have been way too busy this fall. Continue reading “Wineweek 112: Christmas Eve – Thai Style”
Today Stockholm has been covered in white. Snow has come early in record breaking amounts. The whole city is in traffic chaos. I feel lucky I made it home from work. And so I started counting again, the days that are left before we leave for Asia. It has become a yearly tradition for us to fly southeast for Christmas. Thirty five days. It isn’t that long. Continue reading “This Time Last Year”
Goodbye Koh Samui, Good morning KL! After a week and a half at the beach, we are happy to be in a big city again. I am not expecting Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia being a muslim country and all, to have much wine action. However we have read about a blooming coffee scene, and I am looking forward to some yummy Malaysian food. This is not my first time in KL. No, our paths have crossed before when I was an exchange student there almost 10 years ago. My time in KL was far from blending in with the local culture. I hung out with other Finnish students, lived in a hotel on the main shopping street and took taxi to school. Don’t get me wrong. If it would (monetarily) have made some sense to go more local, I would have. However our generous subsidies from the school and the Finnish government did not encourage more monetary efficiency. I had a great time (and maybe learned something), that was the main thing!
What about the past week then? Koh Samui has treated us well. We even had some wine: Vallformosa Brut cava at the pool; and a lot of local beer. It took us a few days, and the realisation that we should rent a car to really enjoy the place. However after some exploring, we found many places worth mentioning on this blog. Perhaps most of the restaurants etc will not get their individual posts, but here is a list of the our top 5 on Koh Samui.
#1 Boy’s Organic Coffee: is a small coffee shop in the south of Samui. There is really no other convenient way to get there than by car, but the south road is calm and quite nice to drive. They roast their own beans and do mainly espresso based coffee. It is the best coffee you find on the Island. M would say its very mediocre in the greater context, but man did that latte taste good after a few days break. They also have some nice teas that you can buy in a cute jar.
#2 Art Cafe by June: has two locations: one in Nathon and the other in Bo Phut, where we were living. They focus on “healthy” food: wholegrain bread, brown rice and raw cakes. It was not only reasonably healthy, it also tasted great. They also make wonderful fruit and vegetable juices and shakes. We spent a good amount of hours at this cafe just reading and enjoying some fresh snacks.
#3 The Hut is located in Fisherman’s village. Otherwise very touristy, the Hut is a fresh breeze of original Thai on the shopping street. We were initially lured in by the local menu that did not advertise any European food (I didn’t come here to eat pasta) and later experienced that the food was excellent as well. Its very popular so we had to actually reserve a table several days in advance for the second visit.
#4 I-Talay Nasai Garden & Restaurant is a lovely cafe on the Taling Ngam beach. It is located right on the rather calm beach. They have some tables with shelter from the sun, and you can just sit there, eat snacks and dip in the water in between. We spent 3-4 hours at this place just sitting, reading and snacking. Occasionally we dipped into the water to cool down. The food was decent (you can’t really screw up a fried rice can you) and the fruit shakes were nice and refreshing (but as always in Thailand do mention you do not want added sugar in things unless you wish to have them overly sweet. It was the perfect spot to spend the hottest hours of the day.
#5 Let’s Relax Spa. A visit to Thailand is not complete without some relaxation at the spa. Getting a massage is criminally cheap and my back has been aching for a good rub down. We opted for something, not upscale, but “better” than your average beach Thai massage. Some of the spas on the island are very expensive, but this road side palace had a decent price level. Both of us took a Relax package with a 45 min foot reflexology and a 120min Thai massage. This cost us around 1300 THB (~€40) for almost three hours of of bliss and pain. When it comes to a proper massage, No pain, no gain.
(#6) Wine Connection, not in my top-5 experiences but worth mentioning because this is a wine blog. It is the only proper wine shop (chain) on Samui. In the greater context it is not a great shop (or at least it is not a great shop for me, as it has a thin selection of sparkling) but if you want to buy some wine, then this is your place. Prices seem reasonable and the wine is kept in acceptable conditions and temperature. Wine connection has a few branches of Samui. One on Chaweng beach, and another one in Bo Phut next to the big Tesco. The one on Chaweng apalso has a wine bar, so that might be your place if you want a good glass of wine on your trip.
After nine days at Samui I can conclude that it was worth it sacrificing part of our vacation to hang out on the beach (we are city people). I am not much for vacationing in the same places every year, but now I would know what to do differently if I would come again. My top recommendations are to look for accommodation either in the south or western beaches as they are much calmer than Lamai, Chawaeng and the newly popular Bo Phut, and rent a car. Don’t be daunted by the left-sided traffic, just keep your eyes open and drive slowly. Without a car, you are at the mercy of the ruthless taxi drivers, and that alone can ruin your vacation.
What to expect next week? We will be continuing with some cafe and restaurant posts from Bangkok, wine shop memories from London and of course wine reviews. We also did a beer tasting on what Samuis stores have to offer and will be posting about. The next Wineweek will be written to you from our final stop and the most exciting wine-destination (with at least some decent wine-bars) in South-East Asia, Singapore.