Saturday, July 7, 2007

Private Oasis in Bangkok

There is always this need to belong. Wherever we are, we have a desire to find our own space we call our comfort zone. As an Expat in Bangkok, meeting friends is like going to a watering hole where I quench my thirst for a sense of belonging. I also know for a fact, that decompressing from the stress of everyday life and of work, we meet with friends to keep our sanity to survive amid the nine million people that surrounds us in this ever growing metropolis.

It can be alienating to be in a new place all the time, so I choose to go to familiar places where I am first name basis with people around me. It makes me feel I have my corner of the world. Every time I have visiting guests to entertain or friends to meet, it is nice to know a place to enjoy a good cup of coffee, a light snack and good conversation. It is estranging enough to sit in an unfamiliar place then have service that is lacking and bland food.

A friendly nod and a warm smile greet me every time I enter the BBCo. Deli at the JW Marriot in Sukhumvit Soi 2 ( Tel: 02 656 7700) , one of the two sanctuaries that I frequent. Coffee is excellent and the choice is great for light lunch or a snack. Weekdays I see yuppies or executives from the bustling Ploenchit business area grabbing a quick lunch or a group of friends meeting to catch up. They have 30 different freshly prepared sandwiches nicely displayed in a refrigerated shelf, quickly warmed when ordered priced at 75B to 120B per serving with 5 new varieties introduced monthly. It’s also hard to resist their assortment of cheesecakes topped with fresh fruits in season, and having friends around is always an excuse to take a break from a diet. On weekends, it’s a nice place to have my long breakfast and chill out. The crowd is more laid back. There are families having pastries and smoothies, girlfriends chatting over cappuccinos and bagels, or a guy working on his laptop over a latte and croissant. It has a neighborly atmosphere like a scene from a Nicholas Spark novel. The place is tastefully decorated and best of all the soft contemporary music is just right to create a mood but doesn’t interfere with the conversation. Pastry chef Ronald comes by to check on the guests and chat a while. As if the choices are not enough, ask Chef Ronald, he can graciously fulfill your request if you have a food craving for something different.

Further down the road to the Paragon Complex is my other docking station, The Oriental Shop at the ground floor (Tel: 02 6109845). It is the home of pate specialist, meat chef Benito. “Pate is like a staple food for us, in Belgium or France it tells us our mood for the day or the occasion, like for a working day, we have French onion pate on croissant for breakfast, for lunch wild boar pate on white bread with preserved apples, and on Sundays we enjoy a nice long lunch with family or friends with goose liver pate and wine”, says Benito. Pate is a mixture of meat with liver, and the proportions have to be just right to have that smooth texture. I swear it melts in your mouth! It is spread on white bread and perfect with a glass of sweet white wine or cinnamon & cloves tea, “…not too hot”, Benito says, to enhance the pate flavor. There are 12-14 different flavors to savor. My favorite is the Tapas, a plate of 12 different pates on small slices of white bread. His wife, Nadja, helps prepare the sandwiches and is always ready to recommend a pate that will suit your taste or mood for the day. Mind you, at 180B/serving, it is really filling, both for the soul and the stomach! And what better way to do it than share the relaxing lunch or afternoon with friends and maybe after, a stroll around the mall.

The little pleasures in life are what make us survive in big cities like Bangkok. We value the quiet times we spend with friends and look forward to the next ones. We do explore and diversify from time to time but then we find the need to return to our good old familiar places. In my opinion, every person has to have his own refuge like Bruce Wayne has his bat cave. I know I have mine, my own private oasis.

June Sauer

1 comment:

mandy said...

Your article makes me hungry.. and your pictures are really nice,and looks really yummy.