Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 5- Chiang Mai cooking school day!!!!

Whenever we go on holidays- be it for pleasure or business, we try to eat food where the locals eat. If you see a place full of locals, you know the food is good and you know the food is either: cheap, tasty, an experience in itself, or something in the restaurant itself has won them over, in order to come back again and again. Some people find that concierge's are the best people to ask where to eat/shop/go, but we find asking someone on the street if they're from here, then ask for advice, is the best way, as concierge's have deals struck up with restaurants/tourist spots and will trap you into going there. So, when walking along the river in Chiang Mai, we asked where the best place was to get breakfast- something fresh, something cheap and something yummy. We were not disappointed!

There was this lovely local to a motorcycle rental shop and laundry shop (typical), so we went by the recommendation given. We had Thai coconut buns and fruit salad. It was the BIGGEST fruit salad we had both ever seen, topped with a GREAT iced coffee (this time, I got SERIOUS hives from the caffiene). We were NOT fans of the papaya again, tasting like mushy tomato, but the pineapple, banana (again, I HATE banana, but couldn't get enough of it here) and pomelo (like a dry grapefruit, but less tart, and you eat it with your fingers, as it's peeled like an orange).
Writing in my travel diary, while waiting for breakfast!

We got picked up for cooking school at Baan Thai at 8:45, and were both SO excited for the day!!! We met a guy at cooking school, named Richard, that looked so much/had an accent just like our friend Mat Stockdale! We couldn't stop shaking our heads at how crazy that was!

We checked into cooking school, and were taught about sticky, sweet, brown, red and white rice and their purposes in Thailand. It was interesting to know that I can now abandon chopsticks...can't use them anyway...and use sticky rice to pick up and eat all of my food, curry included! YAY!

We went to the market to shop for ingredients and had a chance to do some shopping in the market on our own. We bought some seeds to grow herbs at home- the old guy selling them, so excited that we wanted to try to grow them in Canada (this was all translated by our cooking teacher), that he threw in a few extras!!!! We bought: Thai Basil- tastes like licorice, Lemon Basil- SUPER lemony, Holy Basil- SUPER spicy, Corriander- Thai corriander is long leafed, Baby Corn (YAY!) and Pea Eggplant (I don't like it too much, but Graham does and it's a good veg to soak up sauce in paenang curry. I also got a dragonfruit shake ("shake" here, really means fresh fruit blended with ice), all for a whopping $4!!!!

We went back to school and had a snack: rice puffs that were watermelon flavoured, Thai beer nuts (OMG!), pomelos and Thai apple, which tastes like a mix between a carrot and a diakon- weird!, and prawn crackers, which Mom would have LOVED!

My "typical" beert nut/chip nut face that I somehow always make!
We were each to cook 6 courses while here today. It was a HUGE FEAT, as by the 3rd course, we were all DONE LIKE DINNER! We had to ask for a 30 min break at one point, so that we could go walk around before we could stuff anymore food inside us! Graham and I decided to each cook 6 different courses, so that we could take as much info/skill home with us as possible! GENIUS!

Graham cooked:

Paenang Curry: very delicious and simple, Graham choosing to use 3 chilies, as those bird's eyes are HOT!
Red Curry Paste: used a mortar and pestle to hand make this and it was HARD work!
Hot & Sour Soup: very good and easy to make (nothing like the GOOPY soup you get here)
Papaya Salad (Som Tam): 2 chilies used- REALLY good and fresh
Cashew Nut Chicken: sweet & sour and can't wait to make this at home!
Mango Sticky Rice: YUM! YUM! YUM!
I cooked:

Thai Green Curry: REALLY, REALLY SPICY, but delicious! Curry at home, is NOTHING compared to real Thai curry!
Green Curry Paste: I had a hard time making this, mostly because it kept getting on my hands and I was breaking out in hives from the green chilies, but also because it's just HARD work!
Coconut Chicken Soup: SO DELICIOUS, just thinking about it makes me want it RIGHT NOW!
Pad Thai: lots of lime and peanuts! Best Pad Thai ever! Pad Thai at home, is so WESTERNIZED!
Spring Rolls: Oh love! I want to cook EVERYONE homemade spring rolls after this! You will NEVER, EVER eat one in a restaurant ever again! They were so easy, so quick and so CRUNCHY! Not greasy at all, and cooked in really hot oil, in a thin wok, so they cooked fast and no grease could soak in!
Fried Banana: FRESH coconut and sesame was battered around them. We bought grated coconut at the market, soaked it, made our own coconut milk for the batter, and used the leftover coconut after for the dredge! It was so crunchy, and anyone who doesn't like banana or coconut would LOVE these! I liked to call them...Banana candy!

We got so full, we couldn't eat much of anything near the end (I did consider putting the fried bananas in my purse for later, but Graham said that was embarassing!), and were so FULL! It was worth every penny! Tours here can be the most costly part of your trip, but they are well worth it and still cheap compared to home! Cooking school cost us $20 each for the day, 6 courses, the market experience and all beverages included! DEAL!

We then came back to Lai Thai and Graham wanted to read one of the photography magazines that he picked up at the airport, and I wanted to head off to a local supermarket- one of my favourite things to do in new places or countries! I bought dried fruits as gifts to take home, spices and curry pastes- SO CHEAP! It was easy to take a taxi here, but getting a taxi home, took forever! Blue taxis don't cross the river, so I had to try to flag down any red taxi that might have crossed to drop someone else off!

We went for a walk along the river, which was always an adventure.  Traffic was so insane here, it often took either a local to help us cross the street "of death", as Graham called it, or to stand for 10 mins and then RUN!  It was a gorgeous walk along the river!

We walked from here to the market, and met a really nice couple from Colorado and had drinks with them in the square. It's so fun to meet people travelling, and even more fun when they are the same age as your parents, and just like them :)
We tried these Thai sweets with these two Indian men from England...just as fascinated by the look of them as we were! They looked like a SUPER gummy candy, but had seeds and nuts on them, so we weren't sure whether they actually were candy or not! The lady let us try whichever ones we wanted, which was really sweet! A few of them were GROSS, but some were delicious- the coconut, strawberry and coffee especially.

We took pictures of the cutest Thai girl working in a jewellery stall with her Mom and Aunt. I was trying to teach her peek-a-boo, which got HUGE giggles! Graham loved taking her photo and showing her them after! The Aunt gave us a business card, as we asked if we could email them the photos when we got home!

I bought two skirts at the market, so pretty and slimming :), and bought coin purses to bring back for Mom and the girls, and a photo diary for Graham. We finished the night with banana roti pancakes with honey (YUM!). They were crunchy on the outside, but super soft on the inside!!! Oh, and of course, a 30 minute foot massage with the same ladies as last time, as Graham is LOVING foot rubs now!!!


What a fun filled day!!!!!!


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