Ever wonder what Versailles would look like if they had money and the good taste to hire interior designers? Visit Thailand.
Some gorgeous madman with a color wheel danced into the palaces and threw passion and style around with wild abandon and expert skill. They cook like that too.
The city rolled past me, spilling the secrets it's taken centuries to craft. Once docked at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I glided out onto the terrace of the Verandah Restaurant, and ordered Duck Gnocchi.
Wild duck was roasted for centuries until a flirting glance from a Thai beauty caused it to surrender from the bone, its meaty fall cushioned by fluffy, soft gnocchi. Gods tossed tender greens upon the perfection and a prayer of shaved Parmesan floated from the heavens above.
The chef held out both hands, one filled with spices the other with herbs, balancing them perfectly. He then dropped them confidently in the strong broth and stirred the pot with a rhythm of flavor. Each bite did a lightly salted dance of traditional texture mixed with local exotica as I drew the hand-rolled dumplings up towards my quivering mouth.
I am grateful, I am deserving, I have no passport...
I flew out of the gilded city to get lost in the wild density of the Chiang Mai jungle where Ganesha himself still lives.
If you're not ready to touch the jungle, never fear -- she touches you.
I dream of the duck gnocchi and of Thailand. They both let my imagination run wild.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Hotel, Verandah Restaurant 48 Oriental Ave Bangkok 10500, Thailand