"There is a quick catch up with old friends in Perth, amazing dining out in Bangkok and an overnight flight to reacquaint with Paris
Away from work, honestly I think they were glad to see the back me, and pack the car and off to Melbourne. Alex and Grace have arranged for us to have dinner with them at the Moor's Head. It's a pleasant dinner where we catch up with some more of Alex's adventures in Japan and the Band's plans leading up to Christmas. They have a tour lined up up the coast culminating in a festival at Dorrigo. Alex hasn't been to Dorrigo so I advised a crash course in the banjo. Next day we are up early and Alex drops us at the airport. We are off via Qantas (at the sharp end curtesy of my frequent flyer points) and just before midday we are touching down in Perth. Margie has never been to the western capital and I've only visited briefly for work so we are both looking forward to the stop over even if it is short. Perth to Bangkok
In Perth we are catching up with some old friends Trevor and Peta Wise. In another time Peta worked in our our restaurant, Barlows at the Belle Vueand Trevor had an accounting practice in Albury before they decided to head West and eventually settled in Perth. We are staying next door to their Freemantle apartment and suffering their extreme hospitality that extends to not only picking us up at the airport, taking us to our accommodation but hosting an indulgent evening at their place with their 2 lovely daughters and Peta’s mum and dad. In between arriving and imbibing we check our the Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Museums which are on the waterfront at Freemantle.
The next day we take the riverboat into town and have lunch with Margie’s brother Michael who is on a visit for work. Then it’s the art gallery and later another dinner with the Wise Family.
Just time for a look around and a morning coffer at Cottesloe and then its back to the airport for our trip to Bangkok. Gaggan and the 25 Emoji's
I got a tip off about an interesting restaurant in Bangkok called Gaggan. I made a booking on line months ago and received a confirmation which I admit I did not read properly and as a result didn't send my credit card details so 10,000 Baht could be sucked out of my account. He seems I get a call from the officious Wee advising that my booking on Saturday evening had been canceled but they could accomodate us on Sunday. I send the credit card and they email back a confirmation. Not good enough for the bossy Wee who has by now decided that I am not the type they want in their restaurant. However I don't give up easily either and after a bit of a standoff Wee blinks and calls to confirm the booking. She does however administer a firm warning that we must attend on time at 6.00 pm. As latecomers could not be accomodated. So at 5.58 with a taxi driver lost and the Bangkok traffic at a standstill I have visions on my 10,000 Baht disappearing into Gaggans tip jar and Margie and I having dinner in the carpark market. As luck would have it when the taxi driver gives up on map on her phone and hops out to ask directions from a fellow driver we are only a 100 metres from the front door which we manage to reach at 6.02. So after a short wait we are ushered to our table and the show begins.
We order a couple of glasses of Austian sparkling and our charming waiter commences a conversation that will continue throughout the evening. He explains that the 25 bites are inspired by emoji. There will be no cutlery for quite a while as most emoji are eaten with the fingers. The menu is just 25 emoji printed onto opaque rice paper. The first and second emoji arrive together and out guide advises that we must eat them in proper order. By this time we have moved onto a dry German rhesling which is going down very nicely. The first emoji resembles a rose with a shining white pearl in the middle. It tastes of concentrated watermelon and the pearl releases a liquid burst of flavour that is both surprising and extremely pleasant. The second emoji is a white egg shaped concoction sitting on a silver spoon. It is slippery and the outer covering contains a liquid interior somewhat like a small balloon full of water. When bitten it released another burst of flavour which was delightful but comprised of which I have no idea. There was a constant theme of playful surprise where you look and think of one thing and then taste something unexpected and different. This was continued in the next presentation which was preceded to the table by a devise playing a song called "lick it up". Sure enough the course presented a mushroom purée spread on a plate with an instruction in a piped pea purée saying "lick me". You know what everyone did. So it continued for the whole 25 emoji. Prior to each course the waiter would appear and offer an explanation quickly followed by the food. Certainly it was contrived and very much a performance but each offering was such a taste delight, the waiter so enthusiast, personable and extremely professional and the wines so marvellous it was impossible not to be completely carried away by the whole performance.
Did I mention the wine? After the first couple of courses we broke a fundamental rule and said to the sommelier (a charming Frenchman from Toulouse) "you choose you know what's coming". It was only after he had bought a particularly lovely Chardonnay, I think from Burgundy, that I recalled seeing some wines on the list at 1200 Baht per glass. Well it's only money but Wee gets when revenge in the end. When the dinner was all but over we struck up a conversation with the 3 people at the next table . A chef from Madrid who spoke little English. He was on his way to speak at a conference in Hong Kong and was furiously making notes as each emoji was cleared away. His his charming wife and a Spanish restaurant provisioner based in Singapore. Now we have a booking in a Michelin starred restaurant in Madrid as well as a promise of all kinds of invitations throughout Spain. We will see how this works out.
All that was left of the evening was a quick workout on the defibrillator after I saw the bill and a much more direct trip home in the taxi. Definitely a night to remember. A true one off.
4 The Bangkok Markets, a Hotel Dinner and A380 to Paris
The next day there is a visit to the main Bangkok Market (bought a hat and some cheap sunnies to leave somewhere as yet undetermined) then dinner in the Hotel’s Thai Restaurant before we are off to the airport for the 12.05 am flight to Paris. The Thai Airways A380 loads up enough people to populate a small village and somehow manages to get airborne. Asleep, a movie some breakfast and we are touching down in Paris.