After I get back, I’d still like to blog on a couple things I saw in Oregon before getting back to Thai and other Asian food, which judging by the emails I’ve been receiving, has sorely been missed here!
Joe’s Donuts is a donut shop in my hometown of Sandy, Oregon. Apparently the place has quite a reputation, and has a keen a following among locals, foodies in the Portland area, as well as skiers on their way up to Mt Hood:
Ironically, despite having more or less grown up in Sandy, I had never been to Joe’s Donuts. So one morning, with nothing to do and a hunger for American food, I decided to make the 10 minute walk over to the place. I ordered a double espresso, a blueberry fritter (I think that’s what it was called) and my favorite, an old fashioned:
The donuts were pretty good, but I’ve been out of the deep-fried dough loop so long I wouldn’t know an exceptional one if it hit me on the head. I’ve never even been to Krispy Kreme. And setting me even further apart from most Americans, I wasn’t even able to finish my donuts, and ended up taking half home in a bag.
Regarding the coffee, I find a perverse pleasure in ordering espresso in the US; because most Americans drink incredibly complicated coffee creations that involve multiple-digit ingredients, my order of a simple espresso almost always elicits a bewildered response. Several times while in Oregon I was only charged for what is known as an “extra shot” and got a decent espresso for 50 cents!
39230 Pioneer Blvd
My brother Garett lives outside Astoria, Oregon, a city located at the mouth of the Columbia River in the far northwest corner of the state. Astoria is an incredibly hilly town with lots of old buildings, and has served as the setting of such influential and groundbreaking films as The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. Film history is not, however, one of my interests, and luckily Astoria also has some interesting restaurants.
In town for lunch one day we stopped by Clemente’s, a seafood market and restaurant known for its fish and chips. Rather than plain old fish and chips, I went with the more exotic oyster and chips:
The coast of Washington, directly north of Astoria, is known for producing some of the finest oysters in the world, and I wanted to take advantage of this. Thankfully the restaurant treated them well, barely coating them in batter and deep-frying them so that the batter was crispy, but the oysters inside were more or less still raw, just like they should be.
Garett ordered albacore tuna with his chips, a fish that previously formed the basis of Astoria’s fishing industry.
I chose this bottle because Deschutes makes what must be my favorite beer of all, the Mirror Pond Pale Ale. The porter, although not my favorite style of beer, was excellent, and went very well with oily deep-fried seafood.
1335 Marine Drive
(503) 325 1067
One of the highlights of my visit to Oregon was the chance to finally visit the Portland Farmers’ Market. It is considered one of the premier farmers’ markets in the US, and features all the stuff I dream about while in Thailand: cheese, fresh herbs, wild mushrooms, wine, oysters and depending on the season, a huge variety of other produce.
I was there in May, very early summer, so understandably there wasn’t a huge amount of stuff available. There were lots of cold-weather veggies, including carrots:
and some early strawberries:
And perhaps more unusually, fern shoots:
Mushrooms from the forests of Oregon looked particularly interesting:
There is also heaps of delicious-looking prepared food, including these pizzas:
baked in this mobile wood-burning oven:
Another stall tossed its pizza dough on site:
This stall selling Italian sausage sandwiches was particularly popular:
I was particularly interested in the breads and baked goods, including these amazing looking loaves from Ken’s, currently considered one of Portland’s best bakeries:
Italian-style loaves from a German bakery:
and baked sweets, such as tiny lemon tart:
There were also lots of happy customers:
Finally back to Asia…
I recently found myself in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It’s a small town with not a great deal to offer, but fortunately has what must be one of the most colorful and interesting fresh markets I’ve ever visited. The market is located right on the waterfront, and gets started just before sunset:
The emphasis here is seafood, and the market had the biggest variety of fresh fish I’ve ever seen anywhere:
In particular, there were several vendors selling a tuna-like fish that I’ve never come across in mainland SE Asia:
as well as every other kind of fish you could imagine:
and the people who prepare them:
There were also several kids walking around clutching plastic bags, begging for fish scraps. This girl, one of them, was very interested in my camera:
Other interesting sea-related eats were several varieties of edible seaweed:
and conch shells with their meat sold separately in plastic bags:
There’s also plenty of land-based food:
and a great deal of prepared food, including curry shops selling stuff such as these deep-fried soft shell crabs:
and drinks sold by flirtatious vendors:
I’ll detail the interesting meal I had here in my next post.
Kota Kinabulu’s evening market, besides having some great raw ingredients, also had some wonderful prepared food. In particular there was an entire section dedicated to grilled seafood. Choosing from shrimp, lobster, several kinds of fish and crabs, I had a grilled mackerel/tuna tail and a grilled squid:
These were accompanied by a spicy sambal, rice and various sides that were already laid out on the table:
The sides included hinava, a local raw fish dish, shredded green mangoes, and a couple seaweed ‘salads,’ which is what I chose:
The seaweed was naturally salty and crunchy in texture, and was great with a squeeze of lime. An excellent meal, and best of all, the whole thing cost me about $3.
Every Saturday my neighborhood plays host to a gigantic talaat nat, or weekend market. I love this market and always look forward to it. Ironically, I always tend to forget that we also have a much smaller market every Tuesday afternoon. It’s probably only 1/4 the size of the Saturday market, but there’s still some interesting stuff, including fruit:
and Thai sweets:
This girl was helping her dad sell crabs:
This stall sells northern Thai dishes:
Not the best, but good when you need a northern Thai fix. Much better were the southern Thai hor mok yaang, grilled curries:
They’re sold topped with crab meat, shrimp, fish or horseshoe crab eggs. A crab and a shrimp and a plate of rice formed my dinner.
I’m off to Cambodia tomorrow for a week where I’ll be working with Phil of Phenomenon on some articles. I won’t be posting, but you can expect some follow up posts here after I get back.
I have plans to do an exhibition at Kathmandu, the photography gallery of famed Thai photographer, Manit Sriwanichpoom. I’ve been photographing Chinatown a lot lately and took some of my images to Manit before I went abroad. He saw some potential in the pics I brought by, and in particular liked the following shots:
I also like these shots, so it’s good to know Manit and I are on the same page. My only problem is that I don’t really have a “concept” yet. I’ve just been walking around shooting whatever looks interesting. Also, I’ve been traveling so much lately that I haven’t had time to go back and take more shots. Fortunately I have time–Kathmandu is booked up until the end of the year. So I get back from Cambodia, where I’m going tomorrow, I’m going make a point of going back to Chinatown on a regular basis and will to sure to share my progress here.
I’ve returned from Cambodia and will soon be posting some bits and pieces from my adventures there, as well as finally getting back to some good old fashioned Thai food blogging.
Mexican is a cuisine that one is pretty hard-pressed to find in Bangkok. Thus there was something of a buzz in Bangkok (OK, essentially an email from a friend) when a new taco shop opened off of Sukhumvit.
Compelled to investigate, I ordered three soft tacos (pictured above), which in the Mexican style, are served open-faced and topped with your choice of meat: chicken, seasoned ground beef, carnitas, carne asada and barbacoa beef. I went with carnitas and carne asada and found them both to be pretty good. The corn tortillas weren’t bad either, but the entire taco package was brought down by shoddy toppings (shredded iceberg lettuce, tinned jalapeños and “cheese”) and a sweet, slightly artificial tasting salsa (“John’s Red Hot Salsa”). Inexcusable really, considering that most the requisite taco ingredients, including some of those lacking at Sunshine (cilantro, lime, onions) are available fresh here in Bangkok.
Burritos and chips and salsa/guacamole are also available, as well as a couple plate dishes. Sunrise Tacos is a located a short walk from Asoke BTS station and is open 24 hours.
For obsessively in-depth insight into the Los Angeles taco scene, including images of real tacos, visit The Great Taco Hunt.
No. 236/3-4 Sukhumvit
02 229 4851