Presenting The Faux Gourmet!

The Faux Gourmet has been on hiatus for a while. I began this blog as a creative outlet during law school. After law school, I started other blogs on other topics and no longer needed this as a creative outlet, not to mention my diminishing free time.

But I kept cooking, kept taking food pictures and garden pictures, kept wanting to share the little tidbits of what I'd made. I occasionally did this on my personal blog (to which, I'm sure, people yawned and wondered when I'd post another cat picture). But I started to miss this space. Of all the blogs I have, this format, culled over several dedicated years and incorporating that adorable illustration by Sam Wedelich (see info the left) is by far my favorite.

So I'm back!

Expect short and sweet posts. Less food porn, more recipes and tips. If you want food porn you can look at any of the 5000 million existing food blogs. I don't have good lighting in my apartment and don't have time to style plates. I just want to make something yummy and eat it. If that sounds ok with you, stick around.

Looking forward to being back in touch!


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    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Friday Night Food Club

    June 29, 07 * Persian Restaurant

    Taste & See:
    An Iranian ["Persian"] restaurant near you
    Platters of rice, spiced veggies & hunks of meat: something for everyone.

    On Friday nights after work, some of my workmates & I head out to a weekly ethnic food outing. Of course, when used with food, ‘ethnic,’ often used as a synonym for ‘exotic,’ is a relative term; there was talk of an American burger joint in commemoration of the Fourth.
    One week's meal was, for me, truly exotic, in the “I’ve never eaten & am glad to be with someone who can order for me” sense of the word. In honor of a colleague departing home to Iran, we went to a restaurant with an English sign reading simply, "Persian food."

    Every dish we ordered, except the meat platters, consisted of a large plate of rice. There were dishes entirely composed of rice with some kind of flavored sauce drizzled on top, plates of rice with some chunks of meat, plates of plain rice accompanying smaller bowls of meat in a thick sauce, rice with herbs . . . The rice-based dishes should be ordered in a strategic proportion to the kabab platters, easily the first thing on the table to run out.

    Unless of course you are vegetarian. Actually, even among carnivores the kabab platters faced stiff competition from this eggplant dish we had as an appetizer with bread similar to [Indian] naan. The food is clearly meant to be shared, but if I had to order one dish just for me, this would be it.

    The second favorite was definitely the rice with tumeric, chicken and cranberry [our host said it wasn't a cranberry but she didn't know the English name; it was small and tart, tasted just like a cranberry]. The tart bursts from the berries provided a nice accent to the rich, pungent chicken and rice. It reminds me of a couscous I like to make.


    This recipe for almost instant couscous is from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, but I'm not sure which and I never use the cookbook anymore. It requires some guess work because I just do it by feel, but the basic parts are:

    -couscous, made via microwave: melt better & water into couscous according to proportions on packaging; let sit covered for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork
    -plain yogurt: stir in about 1/2-1 cup plain yogurt to make it moist
    -seasoning: black pepper, rock salt, tumeric [or saffron, if you have it], curry powder to taste; can also add crushed or chopped garlic and ginger
    -flavoring: chopped green onions and cranberries

    This makes a fragrant, beautifully colored side dish to like roasted peppers or tuna steak, or as a main with tomatoes and humus on the side.

    Here are detailed directions to the restaurant:
    Take the sky train to Sala Dang; walk up the Patpong soi that is furthest South [eg, furthest from the sky train] towards Surwongse. At Surawongse turn left. A short walk down Surawongse and there is a shopping plaza on your left with a tailor in the front, five or six stairs heading down to the shopping center, and signs advertising the shops inside. One should be red with Persian writing, and in English "Persian food." Good luck!

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    You can take my bread away

    July 12, 2007 * Ma Be Ba

    Taste & See: Ma Be Ba is located at 93 Lang Suan Road, which heads south off of Ploen Chit between Ploen Chit and Chit Lom BTS.

    Sit and chat for hours, drinking nothing but water, long after the dinner is through and the other patrons have left--not only do they not get irritated, they send out free dessert.

    Ma Be Ba is one of the last in a long strip of Italian restaurants, past several muddy driveways of empty lots at the end of Lang Suan Road. A bit hidden, but well worth the search.

    For some strange, strange reason, we had the restaurant nearly to ourselves [perhaps because it was a Tuesday night?] but the four of us got all-star service as if the restaurant had been opened just for our benefit. The portions were a bit small and on the pricey end [350-500 B] but we had no problem filling up with the enormous bread basket, containing at least 5 kinds of bread. [Including one strangely reminiscent of elephant ears/Indian fry bread. Hello, County Fair?]

    I'm not writing up Ma Be Ba for the food per se, but for the experience. A live band plays sappy covers, charmingly mis-singing key words ["You can take my . . . bread away"] and the odd salsa song. The dining space is also quite charming, a little Mediterranean haven inside the stinky concrete jungle that is Bangkok. Best of all, the chef made a personal appearance at our table to talk through a suitable menu for a gluten allergy [at an Italian restaurant!]. Later, when the food was long gone, the chef sent out, gratis:

    Bonus: Just up the street is an absolutely beautiful coffee shop with several rooms of couches for sprawling out on. The fact that it is Starbucks . . . well, what can you do. It is hands down the best Starbucks I've ever seen.

    Saturday, July 7, 2007

    The Ideal Commuter's Breakfast

    July 7, 2007 * Victory Monument BTS

    Taste & See: Victory Monument BTS food vendors. At least two are chains are found at sky train stops throughout Bangkok.
    Next time you need a little something to wake you up for a long day of staring at the computer [or Thai temples], take heart.

    For those of you not living in Bangkok, the Sky Train ["rot fai fa"] is the city's main artery of public transportation. There is a below-ground subway as well but it doesn't really hit the convenient locations most ex-pats or tourists would visit. The sky train stops are all above-ground and contain an impressive variety of shops and vendors. You can go to a tofu restaurant, or get a haircut, buy a cell phone or glasses, shop for clothing or hit up 7-11, buy magazines or hair bands or watches. And most of all, you can buy snack food. I have often wondered who actually gets their hair cut at a sky train stop, but other Sky Train vendors are undeniably useful.

    1. Waffles:

    Little dough-balls are rolled up to the perfect size in advance, but the waffles are often made to order. They're greasy but not that greasy, ideal fresh from the grill, and small enough to eat on your way up the stairs to the train- but even if you pack it away in your bag to eat at the office, they don't get mushy or clammy.

    My favorites are sesame or almond. The plain waffles are also very good, a sweet/salty combo. I'm a little afraid of trying the rum raisin or the mixed candy fruit, but you're welcome to and let us know how they are.

    The waffles appear to simply be called, 'Wa-FULL.' Just point to the flavor you want. Plain waffles are 15 baht each; sesame or almond are 18 baht. There's a discount for buying three.

    2. Soontra freshly squeezed juice:

    The fruit in Thailand is sinfully delicious. Dessert seems extraneous. But it is still fruit, and that means you can eat it for breakfast, which basically works out to- guilt-free dessert-for-breakfast. You can't lose!

    The juices at Soontra [look for a green sign with white lettering] taste very natural and fresh, sweet but not too sweet. The passion fruit, [nam sao-a-rote] with a bit of a natural zip to it, is my favorite, a perfect counter-point to the waffles. Juices are 18 baht.

    3. Iced latte:

    If you're like me, you don't do mornings without coffee. Luckily, sky train stops usually have two or three coffee stops. This shop even seems to cater to people who want their coffee in a hurry.

    In between espresso and the street vendor coffee, made dark with with sweetened condensed and evaporated milk, is a nasty instant coffee-sweetened condensed milk hybrid. This is distressingly common, to the slight of the much tastier alternatives at either end of the spectrum. I don't care how many Thai people like that nasty drink, I like my espresso drinks. "If you want Western Coffee, go to some Starbucks clone and pay your Western prices" you might be thinking, but I'm here to tell you: no more.

    This little coffee-stop, across from Quickly in an unassuming corner, has both an espresso machine and fresh milk. My iced latte was as tasty as anything I had at Starbucks, for only 20 baht.

    All beverages are 20 baht; see menu. 'Iced coffee" is 'ga-fae yen,' and if you want fresh milk, just ask for "nom sot," and point to the canned milks and say you don't want them- "mai ow."