Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cooking in Chiang Mai

After all the excitement of our Muay Thai experience, we decided we needed something a bit tamer the next day. We started the day by sleeping late! After a steady stream of early mornings, due to meeting tour guides, getting off trains, etc., it felt so nice not to set an alarm to wake us up.

Somehow, we still managed to be awake in time for our hotel's breakfast. A lot of the places we have stayed include breakfast, but the majority of them define "breakfast" as two pieces of white bread with jam. If you're lucky, you might get some cereal. We have been buying yogurt and muesli as we go so that we can have a real breakfast, but we didn't get a chance to pick up any yogurt in Chiang Mai. Turns out, we shouldn't have worried.

The breakfast at this place was an all-you-can-eat buffet! They offered Thai food and Western food: fried rice, fried noodles, cabbage, pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit, and boiled rice soup. We feasted! We didn't know of any good places to get food near our hotel, so this was the perfect way to start our day. We filled up and didn't even have to leave the grounds to find lunch. Instead, we spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool, reading books, and researching things to do in the area.

Our lazy day ended at 4 pm. We had to be showered and dressed to meet our driver then, who was taking us into town for a cooking class with Baan Thai Cookery School! We hopped in the back of his truck and rode to the old city, picking up four other chefs along the way. We were all from the US or Canada! It was kind of exciting to have a normal conversation again, with accents we understand.

The cooking class began at the local market. Our guide walked us to several stalls and explained the kinds of foods we might find there, especially the ones we would be cooking with later. It was a great way to introduce us to the foods we would be eating later!

By the time we got back to the classroom, our hosts had set up individual dishes for the first course. Each of us had selected one dish out of three to make, so they split us into teams according to which dish we chose. TJ made pad thai, while I made chicken with cashews. We walked through each step together: chopping all the ingredients, sauteing in a wok, and then the best part - eating!

We had four courses over the course of the evening, stopping to enjoy the food we made after each one. The second course was two different kinds of soups.

Then spring rolls.

Then curry!

We thought ahead enough to bring our ginger wine from the fruit winery in Australia. It sat in the nearby refrigerator while we were cooking, and we would pour a glass to enjoy every time we sat down to eat something. The man we bought it from was right - it was delicious with Thai food! It was the perfect complement to a night of great food and good company of new friends.

Instead of going back to our hotel after dinner, we asked the driver to drop us off at the night markets. We wandered through the colorful stalls with one item in mind: TJ was looking for a Cuban cigar. Eventually, we made our way to the fancy hotel Chedi, where they handed us a thick menu with descriptions of all the different cigars. When TJ told them he was specifically looking for one made in Cuba, they assured us that entire collection was from Cuba!

On our way home, we stopped at a bar in the middle of the night markets for some people watching. We met yet another American, a man from Colorado in Thailand on a business trip, and spent the evening talking about our impressions of Thailand, listening to a Thai guitar player sing old rock songs, and enjoying a few drinks and the beautiful weather. A perfect way to end the day!

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