It’s another busy season for me in terms of work and travel, and I thought I’d like to share a bit of that (after all, work and travel for me usually involves a little libation so it wouldn’t be too off-equity for the blog).
After almost eight years, I finally went back to Bangkok (yay!). The ultimate destination for great food, cultural exploration and shopping, it did not disappoint me with its beverages.
First of all, we were lucky to have been checked in Avani Hotel, the home of Benihana, one of Bangkok’s top 25 restaurants. For good reason: Not only is the food great (their teppanyaki and sashimi were to die for), the chefs are also amazingly entertaining.
Now, what’s challenging about pairing wine with beef teppanyaki and sashimi is that this particular genre of food has high levels of umami. That flavour profile is one of the most difficult to pair with wine, as it tends to make wine seem bitter and acidic, plus it highlights the oak and tannins. While it’s easy enough to pair the sashimi with a slightly off-dry white, we had to take into consideration the beef, which led us to pair the evening’s fare with a Provence rosé (bonus points because the weather and the hot teppan in front of us was just killer). I’ve been a fan of Whispering Angel by Château d’Escalans for ages because it’s just a quintessential take on a proper Provence rosé (with its salmon hue and refreshingly fruit forward notes). One could argue that the acidity on this wine would have skyrocketed with the food, but here’s where the matter of preference, intent, and breaking the rules come in: I felt like a sharp wine that day, and it’s okay. Plus, it didn’t end up severely astringent (as I initially expected), so all in all, it was a great gamble.
The day after, we simply had to indulge in our favourite Thai food (I mean, when in Bangkok, right?), which involved pad thai and tom yum noodle soup. The delicate Asian flavours and spicy kick of the food required something that’s found in most corners of Bangkok: Singha beer. This 5% abv pale lager of Thailand is being produced at 1 billion litres a year, and has an interesting story behind it. The symbol, the Singha, is an Asian lion. In Hindu and Thai lore, it is a powerful mythological creature. Similarly, the royal Garuda (a bird-like creature from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology) is found in the bottle’s neck, and its brewery, Boon Rawd, is the only brewery in Thailand allowed to do so because of its good reputation (the Garuda has been granted in 25 October 1939 through a royal warrant).
Thailand has been making progress in terms of winemaking, and what’s interesting now is the popularity of wine coolers, which I could only assume is because of the weather and the cuisine. It’s not uncommon to find things like Spy Wine Cooler (in different variants). Spy even comes in bottled cocktails and special edition bottles.
Speaking of cuisine, when someone mentions Thai food to me, in my simplistic non-chef mind, I think of lemongrass and pandanus (or commonly known to Southeast Asians as pandan). This is why it isn’t surprising to find herbal tea with these aromatic leaves in a Thai supermarket (where I had to manic shop for a colleague, eek!).
Tonight I’m doing an interesting talk with one of my dearest friends, Chef Jonas Ng, on food and wine pairing featuring bar chow and proper wine. Clearly, he and I jell well because of our similar philosophies on unorthodox thinking when it comes to food, drinks, and humour… So tonight is sure to be fun and mayhem.
We hope to see you in James and Daughters (21st Drive, Taguig) tonight!
… A Surprise Location 😉
I’ve been preparing for a certain work/study trip for the past few days (losing whatever’s left of my social life, hah!), and it’s been pretty exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t like talking about things that have yet to happen (especially ones with a lot riding on it), so let me just say… I’ll need all the good thoughts I can get for this one. I probably wouldn’t be as active on the blog for the first two weeks of July, but I’ll try to keep the Instagram going (@2shotsandapintofficial, for those who have yet to follow it).
That said, here’s to more travels in the future. Cheers!
BY THE WAY: Château d’Escalans is available in SnR (for the 1.5L bottles, perfect for a wine party on a hot day!), and Duty Free (for the standard 750ml bottles).