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Photo Friday: Paletas in Tulum

Posted by Ted on Mar 23, 2012 in Food & Drinks, Photography, Travel

My wife and I recently went to Tulum, Mexico for our babymoon vacation. We stayed at a lovely little guesthouse, el Mestizo, at the end of the beach road near the entrance to the Sian Ka’an biosphere. Our 2nd-story cabana overlooked an azure sea, with the sounds of crashing waves a constant comfort. Barefoot, we would walk down the beach for breakfast or lunch.

We swam in 6 cenotes (4 cavern, 1 open, 1 semi-open), saw 2 ruins (Tulum, Ek’ Balam), and snorkeled with sea turtles.

However, the best thing may have been this shop selling all manner of tasty frozen fruit pops, called paletas.

Paletas in Tulum

Paletas in Tulum

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Photo Friday: The Ostrich and the Zebra

Posted by Ted on Dec 9, 2011 in Food & Drinks, Photography, Travel

This week’s entries come to you from the village of Colnbrook, just outside of Heathrow Airport. I find myself in this unlikely place due to a last minute trip to kick off a new job that I started on Monday as a developer advocate for the newly launched Travelport Developer Network. Feeling trapped by the manicured comfort of my hotel, I needed to get out. Knowing that a trip to Central London wasn’t feasible, I settled for exploring the nearby town, stopping in at The Ostrich, which just happens to be England’s 3rd oldest pub.

As I savoured my Guinness, I read a pamphlet which detailed the history of the inn, dating back to the year 1106. Before there were trains, there were stage-coaches, which gave rise to an industry of coaching inns. The Ostrich was a popular stop for travelers from London on their way to see the king at Windsor Castle, where they might swap horses and change out of their riding clothes and into more formal wear.

Of particular notoriety was a 17th century proprietor named Jarman. He and his wife built an elaborate trap door in the room above the kitchen and would drop unsuspecting lone riders with large purses into a boiling cauldron in the middle of the night.

Business travel is rarely glamorous. When one isn’t working, it can be all too easy to relax into the comfort of expense-paid 4 star hotel luxury. However, one just has to walk out the door and be open to finding a little adventure.

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Street Food: Tacos Alonzo, Oakland, CA

Posted by Ted on May 7, 2011 in Street Food

It had to be the first. My favorite. The second closest taco truck to home, but closest to my heart. Their crispy carnitas tacos are perfect. To be honest, the only other variety I have tried is the asada, and while good, their true genius is in the pork.

You see, tacos are a nigh-perfect food. A bit of carbs represented by the small corn tortillas, a bit of protein in the tasty meat, and a bit of vegetables, all for $1.25. Cheaper than McDonalds, and a hell of a lot tastier.

me_taco

me_taco

tacos

tacos

taco_truck_battle

taco_truck_battle

alonzo_menu

alonzo_menu

alonzo_truck

alonzo_truck

Like all local trucks, they have a selection of meats, including not only pork and beef, but tongue, head, chicken, and tripe. Each truck also serves pickled vegetables to go with the tacos or burritos, and Alonzo’s mix includes radish, carrot, onions, and jalepeno peppers. As a topping for your taco, you can get red or green sauce. I always go verde. Another advantage this truck has over many is a crappy, rickety table – most times you must either try to hold your plate in your one hand while eating with the other.

Pasted to the side of the truck was an advertisement for “The First Annual Oakland Battle of the Taco Trucks“. If there were a food event that I couldn’t resist, this is it. Conveniently enough, it starts in just 2 hours and I already have my tickets. You can bet that the second installment of Street Food will showcase this definitively Oakland taco battle extravaganza.


Name Tacos Alonzo
Cuisine Mexican
Location

27th and Foothill, Oakland, CA
Price $1 – $6
Rating 9
Pros Best carnitas, pickled onions, table
Cons No fish
Hours All day, late-ish
Happy Rating


 

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Introducing a new ‘Street Food’ series

Posted by Ted on Apr 26, 2011 in Street Food

It was on the corner of 2nd and Howard when it happened.

Today was like any workday in SoMa, and truly beautiful weather inspired a long lunchtime walk. On my way back to the lab, hungry, I happened to see a white trailer selling crepes.

My resolve buckled at the thought of a Cheese, Smoked Turkey, and Egg crepe. While I waited, I mused about how much I love street food. Whether a beach hut in Costa Rica, a streetside noodle cart in Penang, a blended fruit smoothie corner in Chiang Mai, one of dozens of taco trucks near home, or a stall in the middle of the Djemaa el Fna, it really doesn’t matter.

As I stood on that curb listening to the sounds of downtown San Francisco, underneath a lightly cloudy blue sky and a warm sun, it struck me that I have a mission.

In the interest of public service,
I will explore the world of street food,
and share it with you
.
(The experience that is, not the food. Sample distribution would be a nightmare.)

To sample every street food vendor in the Bay Area is a lofty goal to be sure, and I hear Portland has street carts. I want to see if this proliferance of American street food exists beyond the Pacific West. I hope it does.

I walked down the street, holding a folded cone of crispy deliciousness in hand, with a bright future of crepes, tacos, tamales, soups, noodles, and fruit shakes ahead of me.

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Review: Tower Club at Lebua – Bangkok, Thailand

Posted by Ted on Nov 16, 2010 in Food & Drinks, Reviews

When my wife and I began our three month exploration of Southeast Asia, our first stop was Bangkok. Arriving at 11p after a 19 hour flight from San Francisco, there was only one place that I wanted to go; the Tower Club at Lebua. In the heart of the Bangrak district, Lebua is both relaxing and lively, offering five-star amenities with exceptional service at a great value. Luxurious without being pretentious, one is made to feel at home and is treated with courtesy and warmth. Fourteen hours jetlagged, there was no softer place that we could land than in one of their king-size beds.

An all-suite hotel, the Lebua at State Tower has 358 rooms, of which the recently launched Tower Club comprises those on the top 51st to 59th floors. One, two, and three bedroom suites are spacious at 66 to 226 square meters, and offer feather-soft beds with 330 thread-count sheets, and complimentary mini bar, premium TV, and wireless internet. There are 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a lounge, swimming pool, and business and fitness centers. It is convenient to the BTS SkyTrain and MRT Subway, several Buddhist and Hindu temples, and the Patpong night market.

The Rooms:

While I had the pleasure of returning to Lebua, it was my wife’s first time. Her reaction upon walking into our suite was “Wow, this is where we get to stay?” and that enthusiasm would carry through until the moment of our eventual departure three days later. A hand-written letter from the General Manager welcomed us and was accompanied by a bowl of fruit and some assorted chocolates which we slowly savored. Every suite has a living area, kitchenette, and bathroom which can be separated from the bedroom with a sliding door and independent climate controls.

One of my favorite features of the rooms at Lebua are their open-air balconies, which require signing a waiver upon check-in promising that you won’t do anything stupid or hold them liable if you do. Our 55th floor balcony faced south, offering a view of the twisty Chao Phraya river, long-tail boats plying its waters by day and night. Upon our arrival, we had front row seats as the heavens above Bangkok welcomed us with a brilliant lightning show on the horizon.

Somewhat lost on my being a typical male, my wife appreciated the Bulgari toiletries enough for both of us. Beyond the standard soap, shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner, Lebua’s set of bathroom amenities also include a toothbrush, qtips and cotton balls, moisturizer, and bath supplies. “When I woke up jetlagged at 4am, it was wonderful to be able to relax in a bath, use nice bath salts, and scrub away weeks of stress and hours of flight with a loofah. It was a great way to start the day when no one else was awake.

Some other standard features that Lebua offers in their rooms are both daily housekeeping and a nightly turndown service, a local newspaper and weather report slipped under the door every morning, soft robes, and very good light-blocking curtains.

The Food:

If the rooms at Lebua are luxurious, its bars and restaurants are sublime. From exceptional buffet breakfasts to well-crafted drinks with a breathtaking view over the city and creative internationally-inspired cuisine, there is something to meet any taste or mood.

  • Tower Club Lounge (10am to 9pm) – Strictly open to those staying at Tower Club is the 52nd floor lounge that offers continental breakfast, afternoon snacks and drinks including free beer, and serves high tea from 3pm to 6pm.
  • Café Mozu (6am to 1am) – This poolside cafe with lush Middle Eastern decor begins its day with an extensive brunch buffet from 6am to 11am, offering dishes from around the world that give every guest the chance to try something new or have the comfort of home. Chinese congee and dim sum, Indian croquettes, Japanese sushi, and Belgian waffles are offered, as well as carved meats and sausages, stir fry, yogurt, fruit, pastries, and a variety of fresh juices. A large selection of breads can be toasted for you in a wood-fired brick oven. In the afternoon and evening, the fare turns to Indian and Lebanese cuisine, as well as thin-crust pizzas.
  • Sirocco (6pm to 1am) – Located on the 63rd floor, the world’s highest open-air restaurant offers a dramatic view over Bangkok and serves Mediterranean cuisine. Live jazz music adds to the ambiance, giving one a truly memorable dining experience.
  • Mezzaluna (6pm to 1am) – The chef’s tasting menu we enjoyed on our last night in Bangkok was one of the top ten meals of our lives. Twin chefs Mathias and Thomas Sühring create innovative Italian dishes that are a feast for all of the senses. By expertly combining flavors, textures, and colors, their works of culinary art took us on a roller coaster ride of taste and sensation. The service is flawless, with multiple servers making sure that every course was presented in unison. So beautiful they nearly brought tears to our eyes, a string quartet helped to create a relaxed space to savor every moment of our meal.
  • Breeze (6pm to 1am) – With both indoor and outdoor seating, Breeze offers modern Asian cuisine in an exquisitely designed restaurant.
  • Distil (5pm to 1am) – On the 64th floor, this bar takes its name from the very process that purifies a spirit to its purest potential. Premium whiskeys, vodkas, and brandies are available, as well as an extensive wine and champagne selection. An oyster bar compliments the drinks, and Cuban cigars are available as well.
  • Skybar (6pm to 1am) – Literally perched on the edge of the 63rd floor, a few steps up from the diners at Sirocco, you feel as if you are on top of the world (or at least Bangkok) as you sip elaborately concocted cocktails. A chest-high glass wall is all that separates you from the nighttime sky, where you can watch lightning storms on the horizon over a brightly lit cityscape.

The Gist:

If we could use only one word to describe the Tower Club at Lebua, it would be simply this; impeccable. The brand is consistent and unobtrusive, and everywhere there are nice touches that exude both class and comfort. One feels cared for from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave. Service is excellent, with staff always right there when you need them, yet not overbearingly so. The doormen always made sure our taxi knew where they were going, and the front desk staff are happy to answer any questions, even going out of their way to escort me out of the building to point out where we could get visa photos taken down the street.

Reasonably priced for the quality, Lebua can offer backpackers a chance to be pampered for a few days, and more upscale travelers an amazing home base to explore Bangkok. For conference organizers, Lebua is an exceptional property that has function space, meeting rooms, and enough amenities to allow for both focused and more relaxed business to be conducted.

Tower Club at Lebua
State Tower, 1055 Silom Road
Bangrak, Bangkok  10500 Thailand
Phone: +66 (0) 2624 9555
Email: towerclubresvn@lebua.com
Web: http://www.lebua.com/en/tower-club

 

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