Four Years and Counting

The rest of you celebrate October 31st as Halloween.  For me, it is the anniversary of my move to Krungthep.  Hard as it is to believe, it has been four years since I moved here.  Every time I think that four years is a long time, I meet someone who has been here ten, fifteen, twenty years or more.  That puts it into perspective.

Another interesting date passed about two months ago: we reached the point where my time in Thailand exceeds Tawn’s time spent in the United States.  I like to joke that I’ve repaid the debt and am now earning credits.

Browsing back in my blog to the entries leading up to my move, I was startled at how rushed and panicky things were in the final weeks.  A lot of that has faded from my memory, but I was busily tying up loose ends, sorting through possessions, wrapping up work and closing fourteen months of living in Kansas City, my interim stop between San Francisco and Krungthep.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share the entry I wrote on my final night in the US, spent appropriately enough in New York City.  Back in those days, few people read my blog and so that original entry has had just fifteen views.  Here is is for posterity’s sake.  Sorry there were no pictures.

Sunday October 30, 2005

Daylight Saving Time has ended – yeah, an extra hour this morning before departing to the airport. Holly and I are sitting around her living room watching New York 1 for local news, drinking coffee, and I’m thinking about walking down to the corner bagel shop for one last taste of New York. Thai Airways’ website is showing an on-time departure (hours and hours before departure) for my flight.

Saturday night it was a pleasure hanging out with Keith and Aaron for about ninety minutes. Keith had his “Boyfriend-aholic” t-shirt on, which seems appropriate. Had a good conversation with Aaron about a little puppy that has been following him around!

I walked down Seventh Avenue to Blue Hill and thankfully allowed myself enough extra time because I overshot the restaurant by six blocks. It is in that section known as Greenwhich Village – the point where the grid of streets ends – that I got confused. Holly was just starting on a glass of Pinot Noir at the bar when I arrived, spot-on at 9:00. We had a fantastic dinner, that only could have been improved with the presence of Tawn and you, of course!

Holly and I chose the tasting menu, paired with a wine tasting menu. It was fantastic:

Amuse bouche

  • Celeriac soup
  • Butternut squash sorbet

First plates

  • Grilled wild striped bass with salsify puree and tomato-pepper vinaigrette
  • Wine: Lieb Family Cellars Rose, North Fork Long Island (New York) 2004
  • Chatham Cod with razor clams, lobster, crab and sucrine lettuces
  • Wine: Channing Daughter’s Vino Bianco, South Fork Long Island (New York) 2004

Main plate

  • Loin of Vermont baby lamp with wild mushrooms, chestnuts, banana squash, Stone Barns brussel sprout leaves
  • Wine: Joseph Phelps Le Mistral, Monterey County (California) 2002

Desserts

  • Buttermilk Panna Cotta with plum marmalade and plum sorbet
  • Cheesecake with bitter chocolate sauce
  • Wine: “MR” Mountain Wine, Malaga (Spain) 2004

Last taste

  • Miniature chocolate muffin top

The celeriac soup, served in a tall, thin shot glass, was very tasty and quite hot. It had a infused foam on top that was really a nice textural contrast to the rich soup. The butternut squash sorbet, served on a demitasse spoon, was richly flavored and subtly sweet. Very interesting and buttery but the flavors are better as a soup.

The bass and the rose wine were the best pairing. The bass had a seared crust with a tomato-pepper vinaigrette that absolutely melted in your mouth. The rose, which was enjoyable on its own, just jumped to life following the bass and the flavors continued to evolve for the next several moments.

The cod was very lightly cooked, tender and flaky. The broth was a high point full of great crustacean flavors that I sopped up with one of the fresh soft breadsticks.

The lamb, an unusual choice to serve a generous portion of loin, was lightly breaded on one side, tremendously tender and flavorful, and also a bit too salty. The banana squash slice was delectable and wild mushrooms and chestnuts captured the season beautifully.

Of the desserts, we suggested to the server afterwards that the order should have been reversed. The cheesecake was served in individual small preserve jars and had a small dollop of bitter chocolate on top. The cake increased in richness the deeper you dug and the chocolate had an interesting counter-note of saltiness. It was very enjoyable, but had been completely overshadowed by the amazing buttermilk panna cotta. Like a fresh yogurt, the tangy creamy base had a layer of plum marmalade that was bursting with ripe fruitiness. A wedge of plum sorbet added a coolness to the whole thing.

It was an absolutely fantastic meal and I can’t wait to return to Blue Hill again.

 

18 thoughts on “Four Years and Counting

  1. I am always so impressed at the way you describe food…I usually say something terribly original like “I liked it a lot, very tasty”…lol. I never think of textures or a “hint of saltiness” I am just SO pedestrian!! You have been in Thailand longer than we were…you almost count as a native now!!!! lolRuth Ann

  2. July 22nd 2005, I think that is the day I moved into New Delhi. Four years does feel like a long time but like you said, when you meet people who have been here for longer- it does put things in perspective. You were a food writer even back then eh?!

  3. It’s quite a bit of time to be abroad. I think it might be less of a hallmark if you lived in Europe but being in Asia probably counts for more I guess. I recently met a partner for one of the big accounting firms in El Salvador. He was originally from Scotland and he mentioned that he had lived in Latin America for most of his life but he attributed it to the fact that he married there … all of the expats who did not marry locals eventually went back home. So I guess you have my “crystal ball” reading.

  4. Happy Anniversary! Sounds like you weren’t too rushed to leave as you were able to enjoy a wonderful meal… but have to wonder why you weren’t snapping photos!?

  5. Four years seems to pass in the blink of an eye now a days but it IS a long time. That’s the great things about blogs though, the fact that you can capture your memories and go back in time. Brings back such interesting feelings.

  6. your gift for writing these wonderful posts, should earn you great position with Food and Wine magazine, I swear. Four years in the Big Mango. That’s great Chris. But I wish you were here.

  7. Time flies. When you look back at all these year in Thailand, all that matter is what’s meaningful and fulfilling to you. If I had the chance of doing it all over again, I’d have taken your route as well!

  8. After reading this, I ended up looking back in my journals.I’m just curious, how far back have you kept record?I’ve been journaling since about 1986, and have had an active web blog since 1996. Anyway, point is, I went and looked back 4 years ago this week, and I can’t believe how much my life has changed — just as how your own life has changed since then. I was doing very well then, and was very much in love, my wife was still with me, I was surrounded by friends, etc. And I look at my life now, in ruins, four years later.It’s amazing how things change like that.

  9. @yang1815 –  And this was before Barack and Michelle went there for their big date night.@Wangium –  I have some thoughts about that so I might put it into a post. Thanks for prompting me.@Dezinerdreams –  I’ve enjoyed fine dining for several years thanks to some roommates after university who worked at Anderson Consulting, made good salaries and had good taste in dining.@TheLatinObserver –  More and more, I suspect that many western expats who live abroad for a long time will end up splitting their time between multiple locations.@murisopsis –  Back in those days I wasn’t yet taking pictures of food in restaurants. Plus, with a dimly lit restaurant like Blue Hill (which is excellent and well worth a visit) it would have been especially hard to take good pictures four years ago. Digital camera technology has improved so much over those years and low-light photography is no longer such a hurdle.@alextebow –  Thanks. Family and friends back in the US are something I miss greatly and the main reason I would enjoy being back in the US. If I was able to travel a bit more frequently between the two countries (maybe every four months or so) that would be very nice.@brooklyn2028 –  I have a side project where I’m turning older blog entries into yearbooks for each year. So far, 2005-06 and 2007 are complete. I get two copies printed with the idea that eventually, these will go to my two nieces as kind of a history of at least one slice of the family tree. Currently, one copy of each serves as a coffee table book for us.@agmhkg –  Thanks. I know that the years to come will be even more enjoyable.@ZSA_MD –  Well, if I were living in the US I would certainly find my way to Quincy a heck of a lot more often! Oh, the cookbooks arrived, thank you. I’ll sit down this morning and get the check written and off to you. Thank you.@CurryPuffy –  I want to talk to you about that. Maybe we can find some time when we’re in Hong Kong?@chow@ireallylikefood –  You know, I’ve started journaling several times in my life but rarely kept up with it. What results is a collection of entries that are stand-alone snapshots of different times of my life dating back almost twenty years. The good thing is that I usually wrote these at key junctures in my life, after or during major events, etc. so they are very interesting snapshots. I also kept most of the correspondences I was engaged in back in university and afterward, so there is a decent written history there, too. So far in my adult life, you can take any four-year period and in each of them a lot has happened. As you say, it is amazing how life can change.Do you do a non-food blog as well? It strikes me as that you have a lot to say outside of food.

  10. Pingback: Ever Thought About Moving Back? | christao408

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