Monday, April 25, 2011

Finding Asia in Paris: Thai Grocery Store Score (L'epicerie thailandaise)

Of  Sexy Dinners, Chili Peppers and Thai Grocery Stores in Paris

I have come across a diamond of a find while aimlessly perusing the streets of Paris on the sunny Easter afternoon! The name of said gem is Thanh Binh Jeune and it specializes in Thai, Vietnamese and East Asian foods, located in the 5th arrondissement.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but you cannot understand the challenge I experienced when looking for something fairly simple (in Asia anyways) and that's red hot chili peppers. I needed them to impress the pants off of ex-amour last week (complicated, read here) with this bad ass Arrabiata sauce of chilies, basil and fresh tomatoes after having being similarly charmed culinary stylez when in Jakarta. I'm convinced that this sauce can open hearts.

So after easily getting the other ingredients all I needed were the chilies. Quite reasonably I figured I would find it in the Franprix and at worst the Monoprix but in the end the only thing I found was disappointment. To make a long story short they were nowhere to be found so I replaced fresh chilies with chili paste, ended up with an overly salty sauce that sizzled the taste buds of my cooking victim and did nothing to prove my large claims that I had finally learned how to cook something out of this universe (I'm the least domesticated person eva but I had thought I had evolved!). To say the least, having both parties panting like dogs in the sun before bedroom goodness is NOT the most romantic way to start the evening. 

I was told for future reference that I'd have to venture up to Gare du Nord, the Indian/ethnic hood of Paris to get certain vegetables and spices and felt only dread because I am too lazy. Then by some stroke of luck yesterday I sauntered by this little Thai grocery store not far from 'home' and found the sought out red hot chili peppers! They also had other major staples in poor student/intern/unemployed diets such as a wide variety of instant noodles like Korean Kim Chi and Tom Yum soup. Lastly, it was much less expensive than the local grocery stores (30-50 centiems). Um..Bi-WINNING!

One more 'Lastly' just told to me by an old uni mate who lived in Paris. "It's also open on most, if not all holidays, so if upon flying into Paris on 31 December you discover an empty fridge, despair not! Delicious frozen dumplings are only a short ride away!" Merci Alain.

 Next day after my attempted murder, we get Subway for din-din,  and he takes me to the Dan Deacon Show. His charming idea > my attempted charming dinner. Sad face. 

Thanh Binh Jeune
18 Rue Lagrange

I wish there was a happy ending to this Easter tale of chili peppers and Thai store finds but unfortunately I made one massive mistake when attempting the Arrabiata again for my guests of our Orphans' Easter Dinner. Being the antithesis to Martha Stewart, I didn't realize the outrageous power these midget chilies had over their longer, more chillin' brothers (picture above) and nearly had a double homicide plus suicide combo with spiciness as the murder weapon! Word to the unwise: For six tomatoes, do NOT use 6 of the little chili peppers. I'd say 3-4 to keep it pleasantly spicy. Sorry ladies!! Anyways, good luck, World with your various love recipes and please share your ethnic grocery finds with us!!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ode to Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Goodbye Jakarta and Paris Lovin'

Shopping in Bangkok, Chillin' in Paris

This post is going to be a mega fusion of guiding you to the raddest place to shop in South East Asia to kickin' back with me in my first day back in Paris/the Western world after my 7 month hiatus in Jakarta on internship.

I need to tell you, World, that stepping out of the subway at Pont Marie  while the morning sun was getting up for work and shining on the white, gray stones of old buildings and causing a sparkle on the Seine almost brought tears to my eyes as I returned from the airport. It doesn't end there. To see all these handsome people bundled in coats and men in scarves (yum!) bustling about in the streets in the crisp spring air  was a literal breath of fresh air that I had not felt after living cooped up in the air conditioned bubble/ fried men's urinal smell  that is Jakarta.  People were walking around..for pleasure! We were able to kick it... outside on the STREETS. So weird. So epic. Unless you live in an Asian city, it may be hard to fully grasp the novelty I felt.

Can you imagine your heart being overtaken in utter joy? I had a happiness tsunami from the visual splendour that greeted my starved eyes. Not to make my other senses jealous or anything, I rounded off this intake with buying a fresh Pain au Chocolat at the boulangerie on our street corner and got my mouth to stop grinning for a couple seconds as I chewed on some warm, buttery heaven. I know Parisians are meant to be assholes, but when I told him this was the first pain au chocolat I was having in 7 months he was so pleasant! Either that or his expression was just a squint from my annoying showcase of happy pearly whites at 9 am. Whateves, it felt good to be back! 

Anyways, here's how I spent my first day. Look at me casually eating this Berthillion Coconut icecream and totally not posing. On Ile Saint Louis in Paris 4th arrondissement, this icecream is a specialty here and mega delish. Oh, you noticed the two fingered ring? What a coincidence, I got that in Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market (see posting). 50 baht (less than 3 USD).

The Chinese brother from another mother pretending like he was going to jump off the ledge of the bridge with his board. Apparently there were "too many people looking."

First sunny and warm day in Paris (note Camille's bare chest, wtf right?), we all feel lucky as hell not to be stuck in an office (ahem, Paul). I bought the two hats for 200 baht a piece (7ish USD). I feel like I'm in A Clockwork Orange minus the violence with them on, so wicked.  The gray one is for my little trendster brother. Hope he likes it!

Beers along the Seine is a must when the weather is nice. Just the occasion to sit outside was rock n' roll. In Jakarta outside spaces are few and far between. The river is filled with sludge and pollution and probably sewage. Really, people who live in the Western world, don't take your cities for granted!

More casual staring into the distance.
Cut off American flag jean shorts vintage: 150 Baht (5 USD)
White blouse: 100 Baht (3ish USD)
Slouchy blazer thing (so comfortable and key to the wardrobe): too much money to say..but like 30 USD.

Beautiful bird tanktop by indie designer, Panthai Style, in Bangkok: 100 Baht (3ish USD). *Sigh, it's like art on a shirt!

TIP: For the best areas of shopping in Chatuchak Market go to sections 4 for indie designers (but a bit more pricey) and Section 5 for vintage.

Later on we hung out au Gymnase (the name of our friends' apartment) had a taco night with friends and finished it off watching Get him to the Greek. Jeez was I touched by that movie. So funny slash I love R Brand! (For the record, Camille made the jump.)

Anyhoo, tonight is a new adventure. Paris is just filled with things to do, it's almost hard to choose. For example. Crookers is playing at Social Club, Tiger Sushi DJ set, some other stuff and BEST OF ALL: We got free tickets to Dan Deacon. Weeeeeo!

(Apologies for all the mega long sentences and probably buttload of typos. I'm running late for dinner!!)

For more on Paris..
My First Week in France VIDEO

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cultural Differences

Asia versus Europe

Free condoms distributed in Indonesia courtesy of the UN versus Durex condoms in France. I tried to give Camille a condom (he's finally getting laid) that I had gotten for free. He opened it up and laughed at its inutility (not that he's some sort of big shot or anything).

 Having known western men who have used the local condoms, it is indeed possible to fit but they said it was hella uncomfortable and had to keep readjusting so it didn't fall off.

True story: One super motivated fellow without options actually ended up losing it..inside and had to go fishing (pun intended). So boys and girls, don't settle for free local condoms if you can avoid it. As you can see from this visual aid, the difference is hard to deny! Oh and of course it's the motion of the ocean that counts, just make sure you find what fits you best, World! Good luck and let the fun times roll!

Ps. I'm back in Paris (as you can see, I'm reunited with my brother from another mother) and I've never been happier. More to come on our first day together!

New! Check out this map on Penis sizes (thanks Marcel)!

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