Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I ate in Thailand

Before I left for my trip to Thailand, I did a lot of research...on food. I rewatched the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" episode from Chiang Mai, I read up on some top foodies' best places to eat, and packed a bunch of stomach distress medicine in my suitcase. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, all of this preparation went right out the window.

While food in Bangkok and Phuket was good, none of it compared to the food I ate in Chiang Mai. I found it was best to just "wing it" in Chiang Mai. Yes, I checked out Trip Advisor for some general restaurant recommendations, but that really only worked for some of the more upscale restaurants. And when I say "upscale" I'm not necessarily talking about fine dining, but places with white tablecloths, that are indoors (maybe even with air conditioning!). Other times I just opted to find one of the random silver pots on the street and point to one of them and just see what I got. And I'm happy to report, everything was wonderful.  Here is my culinary adventure through Chiang pictures. I'll follow up with several of the recipes I learned to make in my cooking class over the next two weeks. Enjoy!

This was a lovely panang curry with jasmine rice from one of the nicer restaurants (W by Wanlamun) I dined in which doubles as a culinary school. It was a short walk from the guesthouse I was staying in and I ended up eating their twice. They had a very inventive approach to how they presented food, even offering up veggie spring rolls up in shot glasses.
But this pananag curry was my favorite dish there. While I felt like it could have been a bit more spicy, the flavors were a nice balance and the chicken was cooked perfectly.  For more food envy, here is their website:

One of the regional Northern Thai/Burmese specialities, which can be found in large pots along the street and in most of the restaurants, is called Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a curried noodle dish that usually includes chicken or pork, noodles, and the occasional stray vegetable. The dish is topped with crunchy noodles and served piping hot.

In short, it's like taking an indian curry (which tends to be runnier than Thai curries) and putting on top of rice noodles. Delicious. And from what I understand from my guidebooks, not a dish you can find very easily in Thai restaurants in the states. But I will definitely be on the lookout for it.

A trip to Thailand would not be complete without sampling some of the street foods. The smells are overwhelming as you walk through the night markets. There are a lot of exotic dishes out there, and to be honest, I'm not sure what it was I was eating half the time, but it was usually meat on a stick like these guys. For 10-20 baht per skewer (somewhere around 75 cents each) you have your pick of sweet street meat.
While most of what I ate over there consisted on meat, rice and noodles, there was the occasional opportunity to satisfy any sweet tooth I might have. This beautiful bit of street food, the roti, is the Thai version of a crepe. This was filled with banana and nutella. Divine.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the food I enjoyed on my trip. The next few entries will include pictures and recipes from the Thai cooking class I took while on my trip.


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