A few weeks ago I wrote about the Health & Cuisine magazine photo shoot at our condo. The magazine is always looking for people to feature in their “Men’s Cooking” column, so Tawn has used his connections to promote people as potential profiles.
Brent is an expat American who manages Chanintr Group, the company that owns the rights to retail brands like Martha Stewart, Thomasville, and Barbara Barry in Thailand. With his sense of fashion and style, he was the perfect person to recommend for the column.
We arrived a bit after 10:00 at Brent’s apartment (left), a high-rise on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River nestled at the end of a small soi between the Shangri-La Hotel on the south and the Oriental on the north.
As one would expect for the manager of a group of home furnishing stores, his apartment is beautifully decorated, tastefully appointed in a comfortable but not stuffy way. It was a relaxing place to spend a Sunday morning as the photo shoot and interview took place. Especially after the bottle of pink champagne was opened!
Here are some views taken from Brent’s apartment. From top left, clockwise: View towards Taksin Bridge with the Shangri-La on the left. View upriver with the Oriental on the right and the Millennium Hilton (with the “saucer” on top) across the river. View of the State Tower which has the rooftop bar and restaurant, Sirocco. View of Assumption Cathedral where we went to a wedding recently and, behind it, Assumption University.
While there, we were introduced to the maid’s niece, Phrae, who was staying with them during the November school holidays. She is quite the tom boy, with the aunt constantly complaining about her poor manners. She’s rambunctious, yes, but it seems fueled by spirit rather than spoil. Below, Tawn and Phrae play on the balcony.
I think my role was to keep Phrae occupied so we played with her pretend mobile phone for a while and then, when I took some pictures of the view, she wanted to take some, too:
Figuring that the only thing I had to lose (beside the camera, if she dropped it off the balcony) was some memory space and some batteries, I let her start taking pictures. In the next hour she snapped 400 photos, using up one battery and almost filling the memory card.
As she was taking pictures, I decided to let her shoot uninterrupted because I was reminded of the 2004 Academy Award winning documentary, Born into Brothels, directed by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski. Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Kolkata to photograph the lives of prostitutes, While there, she befriended their children and taught some of them photography. The photos were featured in the films and there were many stunning images.
What struck me was a curiosity of what pictures Phrae would take and how she saw the world around her. Of the 400 photos, at least half were completely unusable from the standpoint of being very out of focus or terribly overexposed (you can’t take a picture of something shiny from three inches away, use a flash and expect to see anything afterwards). But there were several dozen that I thought were very interesting. I’ll post them after I’ve finished this entry so you can take a look and see the world through her eyes. Here’s the link to that entry.
Let’s get to the real reason for us being there: the photo shoot. Brent, who spent fifteen years living in Tokyo, is a big advocate of a Japanese breakfast, which he eats every morning.
This healthy breakfast includes brown rice, an egg, some dried seaweed, pickles vegetables, and firm tofu. Looks lovely, right?
Most of the shooting took place in the kitchen, but some additional shots were taken on his south-facing balcony overlooking the front of the Shangri-La. The lighting was a bit of a challenge (at least for me – probably not as much of a challenge for the professional photographer), but they shot a series of a “conversation among friends” at which only Brent had any food in front of him. Strange, huh?
Amazingly enough, Brent makes his own pickles. He demonstrated for us, using a plastic pickle-maker (looks a bit like a salad spinner) that he bought at the Isetan department store. The best of all the pickles was the turnip (brown, lower right corner) which are salted, squeezed to remove all the liquid, then soaked in soy sauce. They pick up such a wonderful smoky, caramel flavor.
Below, Brent slices daikon radish to demonstrate the pickle making process. We also tried his homemade dill pickles (excellent) and pickled beets (the best I’ve eaten).
You just know that I’m thinking about making my own pickles, don’t you?