Wednesday, October 10

Dean & Deluca

A very well-lit Dean & Deluca. That's ^ Miss Lee looking bored.
In a moment of total weakness I broke down and took everyone, including Miss Lee to Dean & Deluca. Remarkably, there are two Dean & Deluca stores in Bangkok. As you can imagine, the food there is very expensive. I needed a break from pad thai and I was willing to pay big baht to eat panini, fettucini, crostini - actually any food that ended with "ini" instead of "gai." My turkey panini was nauseatingly expensive, but I knew it would be worth every bite.

I had just begun eating when I noticed a man on a motorcycle, pull up onto the sidewalk.  He entered Dean & Deluca, with a large, clear bag, the size of a Hefty garbage bag, full of a variety of breads.  He walked straight back behind the counter and into the kitchen.  He came back out of the kitchen in minutes and stood at the end counter, obviously waiting for payment. 
Curiosity got the better of me and I said, "Lee, go over to that guy, and ask him where he came from?  Where did he get all of that bread?"  Lee looked really confused.  I expained my plan to her in 'Lee speak'.  I said, "If he brings bread here, cheap, little money, I want bread from him, cheap, little money, not there (I gestured to the counter) so much money."  Then I rolled my eyes and grimaced, as if, paying for the expensive bread was physically painful, to make sure she understood.  She said, "Kah, kah, kah" and jumped up presumably to go talk to the bread the guy.  But when she got to the end of the counter, she just stood there, like she was waiting for a bus, or loitering outside of 7-Eleven.  Eventually, she started talking to the bread guy and after he was paid (in cash by the way) he followed her back to our table.  He gave me his business card and said "delivery, everything, all places."  I didn't need the delivery man, I needed the bread source.  
Doesn't that look delicious?  Presentation is everything...
I located the Dean & Deluca employee that seemed most likely to be in charge.  I asked her where she got the bread.  She said that the delivery guy brings the bread from a nearby grocery store.  I asked her which store and she gave me the name, address and directions.  Even though it was pouring rain outside, I was determined to find that store.  I was on a mission to find cheap bread.  Why would I pay $10.00 for a panini when I can go to the store across the street and get it for $2.00?
I now know why they needed the delivery guy; he's probably the only person that knows how to get from the grocery store to Dean & Deluca.  The grocery store was not easy to find.  It was across a major thouroughfare, down a side street, down an alley, through a small mall, and off the back alley of the mall.  I'm not kidding. 

Miss Lee leads the way. Sure hope she knows where she's going.
Notice in the image above, that Lee, the babysitter, is walking ahead, with no knowledge of the children's whereabouts.  Katrina, in her transparent poncho, is walking in the wrong direction.  Who knows where Timmy is?  Suffice to say, he's still here, so we didn't lose him that day.

Pros: elaborate pipe system. Cons: no bakery case.

We did locate the grocery store. It looked and smelled a little different than Dean & Deluca. I took a picture because I thought that would really be the easiest way to depict the many differences between the two stores and the one similarity (both stores sell food).

I concluded that Joel Dean and Giorgio Deluca might not know about the unusual supply chain at the Bangkok store.  I took it upon myself to inform them via the feedback form on the Dean & Deluca website.  Here is the feedback I submitted:

Dear Joel and Giorgio;
I know from your website that you created Dean & Deluca to "offer customers a sumptuous celebration of food and a venue to experience all of the pleasures that cooking and eating can bring."  I currently live in Bangkok and recently had occassion to eat in your "enchanted emporium."  It was indeed enchanted. 

I thought you might want to know that the bakery items are being delivered in a garbage bag, by a very friendly (but smelly) young man, who arrived on a motorcycle from a nearby grocery store.  At my request, the D&D store manager (she was really helpful) gave me directions to the grocery store.  It is not an enchanted emporium.  The venue is not a sumptuous celebration of food.  However, they do sell a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, most of which I couldn't identify.  The bread that's available at D&D is also for sale, but, it's a fraction of the price and it's not in an appealing bakery case.  I scouted all around that grocery store and I saw no evidence of ovens, mixers, bakers - anything that would lead a person to believe that bread was being preared on the premises.  I'm so curious to know where the bread is coming from?  How many garbage bags, motorcycles and delivery guys are needed to get the bread from the oven, to it's final destination in the attractive bakery case at D&D?  

I would super-sleuth all of this out myself, except that I am American, and don't speak Thai, so I stick out like a sore thumb.  I took photos of D&D and the bread-supplying grocery store because I found the bakery and store dichotomy so fascinating.  Sadly, I was unable to submit attachments in the feedback form.

I used to go to a really good Italian restaurant in Boston.  The chef was a mom with twin babies, so she made the pasta at home during the day and snuck it in through the back door before they opened.  I wonder if the bread is like that?  Maybe some Thai woman with a bunch of babies is baking bread in her kitchen at 4:00 in the morning in preparation for the lunch rush at Dean & Deluca?  Anyway, perhaps it would be better if the delivery guy came in through the back door before the store opened.  Just a thought.  If you find out who's baking the bread, please let me know.  I'm really curious. 
Sincerely, Virginia
click here to see website for Dean & Deluca Enchanted Emporium
(Did you click on that link?  What's up with that chef and the goofy grin?  I bet he's really annoyed that they used that photo.)


Monday, October 1

The Circus at the Bangkok Zoo

Zebra eating bread that Miss Lee threw at giraffes' head

I'm not a big fan of zoos.  But the Bangkok zoo is a 'must see' attraction because it's really more of an outdoor park for people and wild animals.  I took Timmy, Katrina and Miss Lee to the zoo.  I've checked 'Safari' off my bucket list because we had direct access to animals that most people never see, even on a safari.  We saw animals from every continent and I'd say we covered 4 of the African 'big 5' in one afternoon.

There were many food stalls and some sold loaves of bread.  I assumed that the bread was available for tourists to have a picnic by the lake.  No, the fresh bread was for the animals.  I don't think Miss Lee has ever been to a zoo.  Certainly no one ever told her "Don't feed the animals."  She literally ran for the bread and her first stop was the water enclosure.

Komodo Dragon on raft, surveying the buffet 

The 'water enclosure' housed the komodo dragons, (also known as the komodo monitor lizard) and prehistoric fish. So we're all clear, 'water enclosure' as defined at the Bangkok zoo, is a small lake where zoo goers can rent paddle boats to get as close as humanly possible to the water creatures. 

Years ago, I saw 13 komodo monitor lizards behind my hotel on Kho Phgan Ngan island.  They ranged in size from 2 feet to 8 feet.  They are huge and appear to be massive, slow, dumb, super-sized geckos.  At the time, I thought they ate flies and ferns.

Since then, I learned that the komodo monitor lizard is venomous and has 60 serrated teeth.  They are able to sprint at 12 mph and dive 15 ft under water.  The komodo monitor lizard isn't picky and eats just about anything, lizards, snakes and even smaller Komodo dragons.  Other menu items include birds, monkeys, goats, horses, water buffalo, and humans (all of which are readily available at zoos). 
I used the axiomatic method to devise the following Euclidean proof to determine the relative danger of the Komodo Dragon:
          Carnivore + (Massive body x Pea Sized Brain) = Certain Death for Victim

Here is a video of tourists in a paddle boat in the 'water enclosure' with the komodo dragons.  I was hoping the people in the paddle boat were security.  Nope, those people paid to slowly paddle around murky water filled with large, venomous lizards.

Frankly, the venomous Komodo Dragons weren't the worst creatures in that water.  What was worse, simply because it was so icky, was the albino, prehistoric, bottom dwelling, tuna fish.
What are those things?  One of the fish had things growing out of its face.  It was horrible.

I was so totally disgusted, I made Miss Lee move on to the next exhibit.  The giraffes and zebras were in the next enclosure and we quickly became the exhibit.  A group of children, presumably on a field trip, stopped and took pictures of us.  Miss Lee began throwing large pieces of her bread at the Giraffe's head.  I couldn't get her to stop.  Her aim was terrible.  She missed the giraffe altogether.  Finally, I picked some grass, and held out my hand and the giraffe gently bent his head over, stuck out his tongue and took the grass.  Miss Lee went wild.  I then explained that giraffe are herbivores and don't eat bread.  Then I went on to explain, that wild animals, should never be fed, even in the zoo.  She pulled out more bread (how much did she buy?) and gave some to Timmy and Katrina and encouraged them both to climb the fence around the giraffe and zebras.  You can hear her in the video saying "good boy" to Timmy.  My babysitter, is encouraging my son, to climb over a fence into a cage with wild animals. 
It didn't stop there.  The guy that's in charge of the hippopotamus enclosure, came over and gave Timmy and Katrina bananas and taro root so that they could feed the hippopotamus.  A group of people gathered around and took pictures of my kids feeding the hippopotamus.  

We had a great day at the zoo.  I have many more photos.  I have a picture of a sun bear that looks like I was only three feet away - because I was three feet away.  I have an awesome shot of a meerkat.  But how can a meerkat possibly compare to a picture of a seal from four inches away?  Yes, we pet the seals. 

It was a bit of a circus the day we went to the zoo. But I suspect the Bangkok zoo is like that every day.

Friday, September 28

Miss Lee saw me naked.

Review and contemplate the diagram below.  This is the layout of the kitchen, master bathroom and balcony.  Can you identify the major, fundamental, design flaw?
You are correct!  As depicted in the photo below, a person standing in the kitchen, can look out the kitchen window and see a person through the bathroom window.  In this image, Timmy has taken the extra step of going outside to the "balcony."  This step is not necessary.  Regardless of whether the lights are on, or off, the person in the bathroom is clearly visible from the kitchen.
Not so secret spy
After I stepped out of the shower and reached for a towel by the bathtub, I looked up, naked as a jaybird, only to see Miss Lee, on the other side of the kitchen window, staring back at me.  Excellent.
His expression indicates I am clearly visible
I simply pretended that I didn't see Miss Lee. I decided in my mind, that the windows are special one-way windows and therefore, I could see her, but she couldn't see me. Then, because I knew that she really could see me, I hid in the bedroom for a long time. I locked the bedroom door and yelled out, "I'm working, and then I'm taking a nap." My laptop was not in the bedroom with me, but Miss Lee is not exactly a brain trust so I doubt she realized that I couldn't work without it.
Balcony / Outdoor hallway to exposed area with railing
Here's the balcony.  It's cozy.  The narrow hallway leads to a space exposed to the elements.  Note the laundry in the lower left corner of the picture.  Who's laundry is that?  It isn't drying.  We are in monsoon season.  It's getting wet every afternoon from the rain.  Is it Miss Lee's underwear and pants?  Why are her clothes hanging out to not-dry on our not-balcony?  If they aren't Miss Lee's clothes, than I really think that the woman who owns these pants and underwear needs to come get them.