Royal Thai Cuisine With Naj Exquisite Thai

Royal Thai Cuisine With Naj Exquisite Thai

One of the types of Thai cuisine we are unfamiliar with is what is considered Royal Thai cuisine, based on rich, traditional recipes.  These are recipes adapted from ancient recipe books, and funeral books left by past generations.  We were first introduced to Royal Thai cuisine during our final stop of our Taste of Thailand Food Tour, but otherwise it remains elusive. Visiting Naj Exquisite Royal Thai Cuisine We hoped that would change walking into Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine, just off of Silom Road in Bangkok.  First impression, it was like stepping back in time.  The restaurant sits in a historic Thai building, that was once owned by a Thai aristocratic family, dating back to the era of King Rama V.  Not being a specialist in Thai royal history, I found out later that means the house has been around since the late 1800s.  It was certainly colonial, with high ceilings, large doorways, and wooden trim, and well appointed interior. We were greeted by Can, one of the owners of Naj Cuisine.  Although opened in 2004, the family has been in the restaurant business for thirty years.  Can remembers helping in his parent’s restaurant when he was a child.  Now, he and his sister run Naj as a family business. Can was thrilled to have us join him for lunch. He walked us to a fancy table, complete with throw pillows on the chairs, to talk about the menu.  We did not really spend much time looking at the actual menu.  Can just wanted to know what we liked and what we didn’t.  Mostly, though, he wanted to figure...
Courtyard Bali Nusa Dua – A Bali Beach Escape

Courtyard Bali Nusa Dua – A Bali Beach Escape

I have been known to be the Goldilocks of the beaches, and in Bali this was certainly the case. I am not a surfer, or even a strong swimmer, so the hard core, strong wave beaches on the southwest of Bali just don’t do it for me.  I am all about lounging around in the water, bobbing along like an apple on Halloween.  And, it took us over one and a half years until we found me the perfect Bali beach escape, at the Courtyard Bali Nusa Dua. Nusa Dua is not the real Bali, and is world’s away from Ubud.  But, that was what I liked about it.  The Courtyard Bali Nusa Dua is set in a resort zone, on the west side of the tiny peninsula that juts off the south end of Bali, an area called the Bukit.  It was an escape, from the rainy season in Bali, from the traffic of Ubud, and our life living in Bali.  I think it is a similar escape for folks from Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and certainly all over Australia.  A perfectly manicured resort community, with hotels, and relaxation, as far as the eye can see. Escaping to the Courtyard Bali Nusa Dua I could tell we were in a different place as soon as we walked in and saw the large open air lobby, decked out for a Balinese style Christmas and the lagoon style pool that meandered through the resort.  I knew right away that I would be enjoying a cocktail while sitting pool side.  After a week of crazy eating and traipsing all over Bangkok,...
The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

I decided, well over a year ago, when we had just signed the one year lease on our villa in Bali, that I wanted to be an expert on happiness.  This is such a lawyerly thing to do, right?  I want to be a happier person, so I should read a bunch of books on it, and become an expert on the topic. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, was one of the first books I downloaded. My Own Happiness Project Over a year later, I finally read it.  I think I just assumed that happiness would come to me.  Or, perhaps I thought I was already happy.  It was not until we faced about six months of struggles, even living in beautiful Bali, that I realized I was not as happy as I wanted to be.  This was on the of the first books I picked up, and I thought would be the best book to start our International Happiness Book Club, as part of my own Search for Everyday Happiness.  The Happiness Project was the book that actually inspired me to start the book club. Gretchen Rubin spent a year on her Happiness Project, walking through a different part of her life each month, from love to work to friends to spirituality.  Our book club spent a month reading the book and analyzing it.  In a way, I felt we were trying to cram a years worth of happiness resolutions into a month.  We were trying to...
A Disappointing Meal at Franceschetta 58 – Modena

A Disappointing Meal at Franceschetta 58 – Modena

When you tour a region like Emilia Romagna for two full weeks, eating yourselves silly, you are bound to eat tons of great food.  During our trip we ate truffles and artisan gelato, toured vineyards, and dined in the company of Michelin star chefs.  So, when we heard that there was a fancy restaurant, with three Michelin stars, in the town of Modena, we got excited. Until we saw the price tag.  A little too rich for our blood. Then, we found out that the same chef, Massimo Bottura, opened another restaurant, using fresh, local ingredients, offering smaller plates at reasonable prices.  Now, that excited me.  We had a great experience at Bodega 1900 in Barcelona, so we were hoping for a repeat. High Expectations From Franceschetta 58 That is how we found ourselves at the little neighborhood brasserie, Franceschetta 58. We arrived a little early, close to 7:00, as we continued to learn that the appropriate time to eat in Italy is closer to 8:30.  We returned when they opened at 7:30, and were asked if we had reservations.  When we said no, the server titled her head to the side, paused, and offered us a small table in the corner. I figured that even if they had a later reservation, we tend to eat quicker than a table full of friends catching up.  After all, with 13 years of marriage behind us, what else can we talk about over a meal? The menu at Franceschetta 58 was more inventive than traditional, so it was exciting to try something new, dishes that we could eat surrounded by locals...
Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience

Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience

It is always interesting when it seems that our paths have come full circle, even in unusual ways. In 2006, we took our very first trip to Southeast Asia, living in a little bit of luxury with my high paying lawyer job, with seemingly endless years of increased salary and bonus.  Of course, for this trip, we would have to stay at the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok, right on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.  We had a balcony room, overlooking the river and the city lights.  We had a tailor deliver our newly made suits to our room.  I watched reruns of Friends from the bathtub, a tiny screen inset into the wall just above my feet and all of the luxurious bath bubbles.  We dined on high end Thai food overlooking the river. Now, our trips to Bangkok often revolve around searching out great street eats, but occasionally a little luxury is warranted.  Every once in awhile I like to go back to being that fancy person staying in a luxury hotel (although, I never want to go back to the job, just the salary that afforded me the luxury). The Luxury of the Bangkok Riverside Dining When we heard about the Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience, we thought we would have the chance to be fancy in Bangkok once again.  During December, the Bangkok Riverside Dining Experience allows foodies to experience 25 different fine dining restaurants, all located along the famous Chao Phraya, at reduced prices.  Three course, set dinner menus, are only 999 Thai Baht per person, or about $30 USD. Just choosing among the 25 participating restaurants...
Search For Everyday Happiness

Search For Everyday Happiness

Okay, so I know the word happiness is trendy right now, like finding your purpose (more on that in a few weeks), but I am struggling to enjoy more of my days, and I found that I needed help. For those of you who have been following along, Eric and I have had a little bit of bad luck recently, on the heels of a few rough months starting with the passing of Eric’s cousin, Ed, a person who lived life to the fullest and was always happily smiling.  He did not need to think consciously about being happy.  Ed was just happy.  But, the last six months have not been as easy or as enjoyable as I would have hoped, particularly considering the lives we have chosen.  It has been making me think about what we are doing with our lives, and how to bring more happiness to our every day. This may seem strange as people assume we live fabulous and exotic lives, which must make us happy.  I am learning that it is not as easy as you might think.  Instead of being happy every day simply because I escaped my former lawyer life, I find myself often feeling negative, complaining, and doing things that result in not only a malaise for me, but for those around me.  I have resolved to do something about it!  Do you want to be happier in 2015? http://ctt.ec/qdl94+ #HappinessClick To Tweet So, I have decided to create a 2015 Search for Everyday Happiness, and I am seeking volunteers to help me over the year by joining an international happiness...
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