Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good Fun and Good Eats

Life here in the new neighborhood has been pretty awesome. With pretty much everything within walking or biking distance, we have so many options open to us. There's also more of a sense of community here, even though it feels more like a city than a village. And we love our new house, so we are happy whether we stay in or go out. We feel so comfortable and at home here, which is the opposite of how we felt last year.

For social gatherings, there's Baan Baan Bistro, a little, open-air bar/restaurant that's quickly become one of our favorite spots. It's the site of happy hours on Friday afternoons, Trivia Night, and Open Mic Night. Many teachers here play multiple instruments and write their own songs and music, and it's fun to watch them perform. It's nice to be able to arrange and attend impromptu gatherings, kick back with a drink or two, hang out with friends, and watch village life unfold around me.
Baan Baan Bistro from the outside.
A scene from the last Trivia Night.
There's also a monthly ladies' book club, usually hosted by one of the teachers who live in this village. I had been invited to the book club last year, but never got around to it because it was hard to get out here and the timing was always wrong. The book club is unlike the traditional book clubs; it's more of a book exchange. Because it's hard to get our hands on multiple copies of one book, we just bring books we've read (or talk about the books if they're e-books) and grab whatever books that others bring that interest us. I feel like a kid in a candy store seeing the piles and piles of books. At the last gathering, there were over 100 books to choose from. The book club usually starts with an hour of socializing, drinking, and eating. With good food, good company, and books, what more can a person ask for?

Then there are the restaurants, ranging from the casual food stall to the upscale fine-dining establishment. There's a food stall that sells chicken, dubbed "crack chicken" by all who's had it because it is so good and addictive. Then there is the casual place where no one speaks English and there are no English menus, but the food is amazing and dirt cheap. Two of my favorites there are the fried chicken (served only at dinner) and spring rolls (served only at lunch). If you ask for a beer, the staff will run across the street or next door to buy it for you when they've run out. We've also found an Italian place that serves fresh buffalo cheese and a teeny, tiny hole-in-the-wall with inexpensive, but amazingly delicious, Neapolitan pizza, salads, and pasta with fresh sauce. There's also Little Savoey, another place with good, inexpensive food. We got one order of fried rice, and two orders of steamed rice, morning glory, chicken with garlic sauce, and Chinese sausage, for all of about $7.
Murrah House, home of the fresh buffalo cheese.
Food from Little Savoey: Chicken with garlic sauce on rice, Chinese sausages, and morning glory.
But that's not all. There are all sorts of places we haven't tried yet: the Swiss restaurant that is pricey, but well worth it, or so I've heard; the Fondue House; the Chinese restaurant (finally!); the steakhouse....The list goes on.

As if that's not enough, there's also a new shopping plaza that is one big sprawl of all kinds of restaurants: Italian, Japanese, Muslim, Indian, Thai, etc. Now that we've moved, the mall is actually only about a 15-minute walk away. One of the Japanese restaurants we tried there actually had sushi that's about as good as what we had back home. It was a bit pricey, but oh-so-satisfying.
Paseo, the new shopping mall full of dining options.
Gyozas from the Japanese restaurant Zen.
A full meal of sushi, sashimi, pickled vegetables, and miso soup.
This area also has a wide range of coffee houses and bakeries. There's Lord of Coffee, which serves coffee, lattes, smoothies, Italian sodas, and a mean cheesecake. It's full of cozy, comfortable reading nooks. There's also Cup of Joe, which serves only coffee. Within less than a minute's walk from our house is Sweetaholics, which serves all kinds of desserts such as cheesecake, tiramisu, and ice cream. We also recently discovered a 24-hour bakery run by a Muslim family that has amazing danishes. And there are yet other bakeries that specialize in specific baked goods. For example, there's a bakery that makes just bread, but all kinds of it.
Danishes from the 24-hour bakery.
Lord of Coffee.
Beautiful and yummy treats from Sweetaholics.
Based on what we've seen and done so far, I predict we will be doing a lot of good eating this year! I can't wait to dig in some more!

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