Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chiang Mai Finale

Today was our last full day in Chiang Mai and the girls, Preston, and I, had signed up to take a class at the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School.   We had a really fantastic day that started out with a stop at one of the local markets to get a tour and pick up some ingredients.




After the market we took a ride about half an hour outside the city to the farm where our instructor for the day, Durian- who told us that her fruit namesake may smell, but she does not- showed us around the grounds.  She taught us about all the different Thai herbs & vegetables and then took us into the kitchen where we all had our own little stations.


We started off by making a curry paste- we got to choose our color & since I'm now obsessed with massaman curry, I went with yellow.

The next course was soup & I chose Tom Kaa, which is a coconut milk based soup with lemongrass and chicken.  When it was finished we got to take it outside and enjoy it.   We started chatting with other people in the class, mainly about how impressed we were with our own cooking.

Back in the kitchen, it was time to use our curry paste to make the actual curry.  Directly after that, we made another dish and I chose cashew chicken.  There were three choices of things to make on every course and between the four of us we got to try everything on the menu.  After the first three courses everyone was stuffed and they started busting out the doggy bags, much to the confusion of the French and Australians in the group, as they don't really believe in that sort of thing.

Since we were so full, instead of moving on to the noodle portion of the class, they had us do dessert- because no matter how full you are, there's always room for dessert.  It's apparently an international rule.  I made bananas in coconut milk with palm sugar and pandan leaf and I expected to love it, being my two favorite fruits and all, but it was so mindblowingly good that I actually considered licking the bowl (and totally would have done so in the privacy of my own home).

15 minutes later we were back in the classroom for noodle time.  I was very excited to learn how to make Pad See Ew, even if I was too full to eat it.   We packed it up and took it back to the hotel to have later, even though I was pretty sure I would never be able to eat again.  It was even great cold and I am totally asking for a wok for Christmas.

On the way back, in the truck, we chatted with a couple that was staying at our hotel, Robin and Dan.  They quit their jobs and are on a traveling adventure for 6 months, I'm 100 different levels of jealous.  They were really awesome and had some great future travel suggestions for us so I'll be following their travel blog when I get back-

Back at the hotel Lauren went for a massage while Amanda and I went to check out the Night Bazaar.  I was really excited because I like to get interesting artwork as souviners when I go places and I picked up two really cool things here.  One of the random carts on the street had a woman making these flat leather pieces that she was pounding out with a nail and then painting.  She had different buddhist representations, and I went with an elephant- a traditional symbol of patience and wisdom, I could always use more of both.

Then in the very back of the Kalare Market, there was a an artist's studio that had the most amazing paintings.  I was literally there for half an hour trying to decide which one to get, they were all so great.  In the end, I chose this one of monks walking up towards a temple:

Lauren was beat after her massage but Amanda and I decided to go out for a drink for our last night in Thailand!  We walked around for awhile, and somehow ended up turning down hooker alley where there were a bunch of scantily clad Thai women (women?) hanging out in doorways of mostly empty bars.  A couple did have some customers and interestingly, we saw one group playing Jenga.  Hooker alley did have a rotee stand, so we picked up a pancake and headed back to the main street.  We stopped at John's three level bar so we could look out over the city and had a drink while we watched Naomi Watts have the worst day of her life, dubbed over in Thai, in King Kong.

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