Sunday, February 1, 2009
I apologize in advance for the confusing order of the recent posts. When I open my blog editor in Thailand all the instructions are in Thai so I'm clicking buttons by memory. The first post from Thailand is two posts below this one.
Greeted by another hot and sunny Bangkok morning, we met after breakfast the hotel’s boat dock. A quick ride to the Sky Train then a transfer to the subway got us to Chuckchuck market. We started on the food side. A daily market of produce, fresh fish, meat, ‘take away’ food, and kitchen wares. The Thai people selling their products were proud and gracious, trying their best to answer us when we didn’t recognize the Jack Fruit, Rose Apples, or Roti. The 'food paparazzi', as we've nick-named ourselves, was out in full force taking photos of all the food in sight (like the chiles, above). Jen bought a little kit to make mien-a snack from the north consisting of dried shrimp, toasted peanuts, toasted coconut, fresh ginger, fresh limes, fresh shallots, a sweet sauce, and green leaves to use as edible cups. When we finally ate it (the next morning at the hotel) the staff looked so excited! We each assembled a cup and definitely liked the sweet and salty snack but, the best part was when our server asked if he could have the rest because he loved it so much.
Ok…back to the market. After the food market, we cut over to the other side of the street for lunch. The restaurant was buried deep in one of the sections of what must be the largest swap meet in the world. This huge market, on the weekends only, is packed with stalls selling everything from antique bronze buddhas to bolts of Thai silk to denim hot pants. If you need a watch, a sauté pan, or a swimsuit you’d surely find it here. Before we could shop we needed a meal so Sue took us to Ann’s restaurant. Nestled in next to an orange juice squeezer, Ann has been running this amazing little spot for 20 years. She cooks at home all week with two helpers and brings her food to the restaurant on the weekends. She serves over 200 people Thai food that is out of this world. Just a few of the dishes we ate were red curry chicken, fresh rice noodles with herbs and peanut sauce, grilled calamari, and fish soup in a spicy broth studded with mint and lime. The plates kept coming as Ann sat and chatted with us tableside. She is a gorgeous Thai woman who looks to be in her early 40s. She is a passionate cook and keeper of traditional Thai recipes, feeding the locals and fortunate tourists with care and love. It was a spectacular lunch.
While eating we chatted up another foreigner sitting next to us. He said the market was his favorite place in Bangkok and he’s been eating at Ann’s for years. He was a Canadian journalist in town on his way to Chiang Mai to write about a couple starting a cooking school. Well, we were the students going to the school and he was there to write about our experience. Who knew we’d stumble upon him ahead of time and even share a meal. It was a strange and funny coincidence. Needless to say, if you’re reading En Route magazine on Air Canada in the near future you might see the bit about meeting up.
Shopping after lunch was obscene. While things are cheap and there were clearly bargains to be had, the heat was oppressive and the crowds were nuts. One hour later we were back on the subway heading for the hotel. We had a little R&R before heading out to meet Sue again for dinner.
She took us to Face, one of a small chain of Thai and Indian restaurants around Asia. The space was a flurry of staircases, secret doors, fish ponds, and rooms. We found our way to a large private room and ate under the shadow of a huge Burmese Buddha. We enjoyed cold Singhas with juicy chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, spicy (very spicy) fish soup, pomelo salad, morning glory with a simple sauce, crispy fried soft shell crabs, basil chicken, and sea bass in banana leaf. Dessert is few and far between in Asia. They enjoy fresh fruit and not much else which, as you know, doesn’t always do it for me. But, this meal ended with traditional sweet sticky rice and mango along with friend bananas and coconut ice cream. It was a nice evening with fantastic smells and even better company.
It’s off to Chiang Mai to begin the cooking part of this adventure. Things will be decidedly more rustic but, we’re anxious to hit the markets and start cooking ourselves. More to come….