It’s good to know people in other parts of town. Today my friend Cherry, a resident of Thonburi, took me to Tha Din Daeng, a part of her ‘hood I would otherwise never have visited. According to Cherry, this area is known for its vendors who sell satay, the Indo/Malaysian dish of grilled skewers of meat.
There are several satay vendors along this relatively short street, and they serve from lunch until late evening, and use some of the longest grills I’ve ever seen:
I can’t even imagine how hot it must be to grill food over coals on an April day in Thailand:
We sat down at the first shop we came to and ordered 20 sticks. As shown in the first pic, pork satay is served with the famous peanut sauce (which, incidentally, many people in America mistakenly associate with Thai food) and shallots, cucumbers and sliced chilies in a vinegar/syrup mixture. In Thailand satay is also often served with grilled white bread:
something I’d be curious to know the origin of.
Everything was great, although I must admit that I prefer the Malaysian practice of furiously fanning the flames so that the satay have a smokier flavour. Cherry, on the other hand, seemed to find no fault with it:
Thaa Din Daeng Pork Satay (Google Maps link)
Tha Thaa Din Daeng, Thonburi
Lunch & dinner
I’m proud to announce that I’ve recently started up a new blog. The Old Main Drag is where I’ll be dumping my non food-related photos, in particular the “street” photography that I’ve been obsessed with as of late. The blog is embarrassingly bare-bones at this point, but I wanted to get it up ASAP as I’m heading off for my second and third homes of Oregon, USA and Stockholm, Sweden in a couple days, and wanted a platform from which to post images from these places.
I’ve been wanting to do a photo blog for a while, and finally, here it is. Actually setting up the blog was a matter of a few moments; the hard part was thinking of a name. The one I finally decided on actually comes from a Pogues song that happened to come on while I happened to be sitting trying to think of a name… I’ve been obsessed with the “street” photography of masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt, and thought the name reflected something of the nature of their work, as well as the essence of the images I hope to show here. These are going to be works in progress; the pics that I snap on the way to a job, or something I’m proud of that will probably never sell, but that I like nonetheless. My main inspiration for this concept has got to be David Alan Harvey. Despite being a Magnum photographer and filing a constant stream of stories with National Geographic, the guy still finds time to add to his own blog, At Home with David Alan Harvey.
At present she’s looking pretty sorry–I’ll get a custom banner and add some links hopefully sooner rather than later. For now I just wanted to get it up as soon as possible, as in a matter of hours I’m to leave for Stockholm, Sweden, then on to my home Oregon, and wanted a place to post images from both of these locations. For now I’ll start in my third “hometown” of Bangkok. I Happened to be down on Khao San Road, Bangkok’s famous backpacker district, the other night. I was just passing through, but quickly realized that this place warrants a full-scale photographic expedition, something I’ll certainly do when I come back in May.
After people watching for a while we stopped in at Brick Bar, a place where, oddly enough for Khao San Road, I was virtually the only white guy. We had come to see Teddy Ska, a Thai band that had been recommended.
The band was really fun (what other band in Bangkok has a violin soloist and a horn section?), and really got the crowd going:
Siam Paragon taken with the ultra-wide Nikon 10.5 f/2.8 DX.
I’ve always liked wide lenses, but with Nikon’s less-than-full-frame digital factor of 1.5 means that most wide lenses are never quite wide enough. Until now. Stick this digital-only fisheye on the Nikon D200 and you’ve yourself got the equivalent of a 16mm on a full-frame camera. I bought this lens mainly so I could do some insane-wide landscapes of Stockholm, but suspect it will provide endless hours of fun far into the future. After I get back to Bangkok I hope to obtain the DxO Optics Pro software to straighten out all those crazy lines. One can do the same thing in Photoshop, but apparently this program is quite sharp and easy to use. Anybody have any other software recs?
Detailed info and lots of example pics taken with this lens can be found here.
Last night was the opening for Surat Osathanugrah’s exhibition Face – Hand – Back – Foot. Surat is a very wealthy and well-known Thai businessman, but he’s also a talented photographer. Apparently he was more or less forced to take the family business, but always harboured ambitions to become a photographer. Now he’s retired and has time to pursue his true passion.
The exhibition was held at Kathmandu, Bangkok’s only 100% photography gallery, which is owned by Manit Sriwanichpoom, one of the country’s most well-known artists. The gallery is located in a restored Chinese shophouse, and the downstairs showcases Manit’s own work:
and the upper level is where the temporary exhibitions are held:
Incidentally, in about a year from now I’m actually going to have my own exhibition at Kathmandu, but more on that later…
I happened to find myself on Khao San Road again last night, and although I was running to meet friends, had to stop and take a couple pics:
I’m back in Stockholm, Sweden, one of my three “hometowns”. I lived here as a teenager and have been back and forth quite a few times over the years. Oddly enough, I actually have more friends here in Stockholm than in America, so it always feels great and somehow familiar to come back.
I wasn’t particularly interested in food when I was living here, but one thing that left a strong impression was the very un-Swedish (yet very Swedish) kebab. This kind of food may seem common to most Europeans nowadays, but I’d never come across the stuff growing up in Oregon, and at the time it seemed very exotic. My friends and I swore by Kebab Kungen (“The Kebab King”), a hole-in-the-wall (by Swedish standards, anyway) place in Södermalm that served what were the cheapest kebabs in town (I think they were 19 kronor back then?). I recall skipping gymansiet (the Swedish equivalent of high school) to come down there, fill up on kebab, then explore the city. Nostalgia and a desire for chippped beef brought me back to Götgatan, only to find that Kebab Kungen has been replaced by a shop selling sporting equipment for children or some other rubbish… I was forced to walk directly across the street to Jerusalem Kebab, Kebab Kungen’s direct competitor, and a place I had seen countless times, but had never entered on strict moral grounds:
Like most (all?) kebab places in Stockholm, you can order beef or chicken kebab, in a pita or on a plate (with pommes frites), in addition to pitas or plates of felafel or deep-fried eggplant:
I’ve always wanted to try the other dishes (does anybody ever order anything but kebab?), but haven’t got around to it yet… My 25 kronor (125 baht, about 2 US dollars) got me a kebab i bröd with everything. The bulging pita (pictured above) was filled with a generous amount of salty, spiced chipped beef, which was covered with lettuce, red onions, bell pepper, yogurt and chili sauce, and my personal fav, pickled chilies. It’s messy, but absoultely delicious, and by Stockholm standards, very cheap.
Incidentally, in trying to find the address for this place I came across a site called Allt om kebab (“Everything about kebab”), which looks to be a great reference for kebab fans in Stockholm, but which unfortunately appears to be down at the moment.
By the way, är det nån som vet vad hände med Kebab Kungen?
Götgatan 59 (near Medborgarplatsen subway station)
Sometimes you never can tell.
Ironically, Swedish food can sometimes be a bit difficult to find here in Stockholm. The fish-and-potatoes diet that most Swedes’ grandparents grew up with is seen as woefully old-fashioned compared to the more popular tapas, Mexican, sushi and Italian cuisines that are found on every street in the city. I think this is a pity as there really are some wonderful traditional dishes here. In particular I absolutely love the breads, from the cracker-like knäckebröd to the rye-laden limpor, and am fascinated by the variety of fish dishes; pickled herring, baked salmon, smoked eel, etc. Thus I was fortunate when upon exiting Slussen subway station on Södermalm I came across the stall pictured above that combined the two. Nystekt strömming means “freshly fried herring”, a traditional Swedish dish that at this stall is served both traditionally and with a modern touch.
After a long wait (I guess people do like this kind of food–why isn’t there more?), I ordered a knäckis, which takes the form of a pizza slice-sized hunk of knäckebröd topped with two fillets of the fried herring, lightly pickled slices of cucumber, red onion and parsley:
This is the “snack” version and cost 27 kronor, but the herring is also available as a heartier plate along with mashed potatoes and a salad. For those who cannot break themselves away from American-style fast food, there is also a bizarre-sounding “herring burger”.
According to this site, the owners, Tommy and Viveka, have been selling nystekt strömming at Slussen since 1991. When asked if they ever get tired of fish they replied, “No. If you work here you eat herring every day.” Sounds good to me.
Nystekt Strömming stall
Slussen subway station
As in most other big European cities, the residents of Stockholm buy their groceries at modern supermarkets. However the city still supports a couple examples of old-school market halls, which I’d like to feature on these pages. The first of these is Hötorgshallen, located in a basement below a large movie theatre smack in the middle of downtown Stockholm.
This being Scandinavia, you’ll find quite a bit of seafood, including fresh:
and ready to eat:
Other interesting looking local food is found at Saluplats 30, a stall selling the prepared dishes and ingredients of Sweden’s neighbour to the east, Finland:
The food here looked delicious, and quite similar to traditional Swedish food, and I definitely plan on buying a few things for a picnic in the future. In general however, Scandinavian food is not the emphasis at Hötorgshallen, but rather other cuisines, including Greek:
Middle-Eastern, including these amazing salads and mezze:
and most predominantly, Turkish. Other than a couple Turkish delis and the obligatory kebab stall, there were also two places selling ‘Turkish burgers':
These took the form of buns filled with various Turkish condiments. I found this too interesting to resist, and ordered a vegetarian version:
It was stuffed with deep-fried eggplant, grilled cheese, a dolma, some salad, and then topped with two sauces of your choice. It was actually quite good, but got me wondering if such a thing is actually found in Turkey, or is a result of the Swedish desire to serve everything in burger form…?
For more info on Hötorgshallen (only in Swedish), go here.