Luckily, our daughter Isla has inveigled our way into the stratospheric sphere of a grandly likeable couple hailing from NSW/Michigan. I imagine you can pretty much draw a straight line between those two points through the earth, so polar are they. I speak, of course, of that eternal method of garnering new friendships….the toddler playschool. Of course, I am no longer travelswithadiplomat – just “Isla’s Dad”; in much the same way Nopodol’s No.1 Fan is now “Joshua’s Mom” (a different Joshua I hasten to add). Yet, despite this common – and easy – set of school sobriquets where once there was “Joshua’s Dad” – a tall, rangy, clean cut, possessed of a vice handshake grip, American who pretty much runs “The Four Seasons, Bangkok” – there is now just B.O.B.
The Diplomat’s Dad & Trish had come over for a holiday. For Dad, a 95% retired OBGYN, it was his first look at Asia. Given an inaccurate report of his ambivalence towards curry and crowds in general, I am pleased to report he had a ripping time. A highlight for him amongst the stunning beaches and mountains of Thailand was CIMB Bank’s annual fire prevention seminars. In the alley between the bank and our abode firemen spend a cheerful hour or two teaching bank staff how to wave their hands in front of gas jets of flame without getting burnt, how to approach burning cannisters and turn them off, how to treat fire management like a relay race. After the initial Western Health & Safety cultural horror and gawfawing process time ticks by, each fiery minute raising first doubts, then applause, then admiration, finally respect for cutting out the entertainment that is: running away down stairwells so endemic to western office fire drills to socialise on pavements in towns whilst gawking passers-by critique your corporate ties. By the end you finally think: hey if there was a real cannister fire I’d probably look for the nearest calm Thai to help me out rather than anyone else, to be honest.
I digress. So, one late evening the four of us tripped the light fantastic up to the Four Seasons Hotel in all its interior bubbling fountains and deep pile carpet glory to be ushered in to B.O.B’s charcuterie. And…what a place. Nicely chilled for the farang, which means the Thais scuttle in, order, then retreat to the humidity of the atrium. Talking of….it’s “cold” season here and that means a week of strolling down our back soi to find young, hip Thais trying on tuques; glancing this way and that in cracked mirrors held up by street vendors. They strut, preen and pose in winter gear. Meanwhile we are agape in our shorts and T-shirts. After all it’s 27C. Most Brits are stripped in a park desperately trying to toast themselves at 22C, let alone this harsh Thai winter. But…it is genuine. Thais handle anything below 20C about as well as the northern hemisphere generation handle anything over 30C. You”ll find a fair few here dressed like they are heading to the Himalayas any second.
Back to the meat…as you can see from the photos…
…the place is a regular abbatoir of choice cuts. With it comes a large range of wines and three cheeses – one of which is infused with whiskey. There’s no need to order a meal, just a few assorted platters and a truffle oil “pizza” starter. Therein lies a meal fit for Atkins, protein heavy bursts of lardons and dripping on your palette all swirled down with either brooding Burgundy reds or lighter NZ Sauvignons. The kind of quaffing that loosens tongues at the same time as fizzing them in gourmand delight.
It is precisely because of the quaffing quantity that the stories flow as freely as the wine. In vino veritas so the proverb goes. Chuck in cheese and meat and you’ve got a tongue-in-cheek recanting of romance stories. B.O.B is so called because Nopodol’s No.1 Fan used to be an air hostess on Quantas. Back and forth between her homeland and Japan seems to be the main route, but, somehow, on one of these flights a man from Michigan booked a seat directly opposite the jump seat where the hostesses sit. I’d say, about fifteen minutes after take off a conflab between the onboard stewards resulted in our man being conclusively agreed as the B.OB – “Best On Board” with Nopodol’s No.1 Fan winning the prize ticket of conversing for the next 12 hours.
…and yep, you’re just realising the implications of knowing air stewards et al. both judge and rank you every time you board a plane… if there is a B.O.B then is there also a W.O.B (Worst on Board)?
Of course, she did then have to stalk B.O.B to a hotel foyer but every great marriage has its roots in a chase, as the smiling memories released by a wine-infused charcuterie would always have us know.
That’s about it. Of course, the Four Seasons in Bangkok is terribly hi-so, but every so often, that’s just what everyone needs sans enfants. Plenty of time next weekend to take all the kids to a classical concert in Lumpini Park. If you’re ever in the area of Ratchadamri or booked into Canada’s finest hotel chain…skip the usual restaurants and try this charcuterie for a light repast full of flavour and vino. You won’t regret it one iota.
And, if you see B.O.B immaculately strolling through his domain, tip him a nod, have a word and feel all the more better for it.
Oh…and why Nopodol’s No.1 Fan? Well, turns out this Aussie lady is a pretty humorous blogger in her own right. Any ex-pat expectant Moms in Bangkok wanting both a giggle and some good advice…check out this blog about Bangkok’s best gynaecologist…
Is this what diplomacy is all about?