Taking a holiday when you live on a beach and have pretty much great weather most of the time presents some choices as to the kind of break you want. Heini and myself love eating out, almost like its a sport – and I’m damn good at it too. So we headed for a short week to a country that for myself is my 2nd home – Thailand. The only decisions left was what, where and when were we gonna eat. The answer was simple: Everything, everywhere, and constantly!!!
1. Full English breakfast
Any Yorkshire man worth his salt will know that we fry things as a sport, only loosing to the Scottish who have even mastered such culinary delights as “fried mars bar” and “fried butter” (!), but due to government health warnings we keep these things north of the wall. That said nothing really comes close to the full English fry up and my global search to find the perfect one continues, but I must say my recent discovery was almost there.
On recommendations we went to Veganerie Restaurant, around Bangkok’s Sukhumvit24, and upon looking at the menu the “Full English” stood out like a glowing greasy beacon of all things British. It took me the time to read the dish’s description to make my decision, and it was a good choice: vegan toasts or English muffins, scrambled tofu, saute’ mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, smoky soy bacons, soy sausages and greens. Now I do know that some things don’t belong on the same plate as a fry up, but being 2017, I turned a blind eye to the greens, and pushed forward to enjoy the meal. And enjoy it I did. Not too greasy or as heavy as others I have consumed in my time, the bacon did have the bacon crunchy texture (American style) and flavour I’ve been looking for, and before Heini had got half way through her “eggs benedict”, I’d completed a long overdue task and basked in my swollen glory.
2. Creamy Thai curries
Mission 2 was to find the creamiest Thai curries that would make my mouth water like a monsoon river filled with coconut milk. Now I LOVE phanaeng curry, either being fried with minimal liquid and maximum flavour or even a creamy almost soup with vegetables, tofu, and spices. So my next mission was to find my favourite dish cooked to perfection, our friends who joined us to Bangkok recommended a great place called “Cabbages & Condoms” which despite its name did serve great food with some strange dining decorations…
Hungry and sweaty (it had been at least 3 hours since we last ate) I sat and glanced at the menu to see a great vegetarian selection and ordered some vegetable spring rolls and a healthy sized bowl of “prik nam pla”, my favourite spicy counterpart to any dish. Normally made with fish sauce, chilli, lime, garlic, and a bit of sugar. I was able to substitute the fish sauce for soy sauce with out any drama, and with extra chilli I filled my spring rolls making them hotter than burning jet fuel…! There was not a long wait before I was tucking into a spicy fried phanaeng curry loaded with flavour and vegetables and minimal source, mouth burning from the liberal additional chilli I gobbled the lot and felt my healthy midsection stretch my shorts that little more accompanied by a burning stomach.
3. Buffet lunches, the vegan minefield
Buffet lunches for myself are a dangerous munchie venue at the best of times, I have little self control when it comes to numerous food choices and a small plate, and large belly. Usually I feel a lot like the starship enterprise’s tractor beam is constantly pulling me back for more. The key for me is to drink lots of water and thus not over indulge. I failed.
We ate an amazing buffet lunch at Chiang Mai’s “Elephant Nature Park” about an hour outside Chiang Mai, more on this day trip later. At first impressions all the dishes contained meat so I loaded healthy sized portion of vegetable fried rice on my plate and proceed to check for a non meat curry, it was then our guide for the day informed us EVERYTHING was vegetarian! This did nothing to help my waist line, and after a few trips to the hot plate I was grateful we were not tracking today.
I consumed mock beef, mock chicken, tofu, and much much more cooked so well that others in the group were shocked the lunch were vegetarian. Hands down the best buffet lunch I’ve eaten in the last 2 years.
4. You don’t make friends with salad
But you can with Thai salad. For those like me whom salads are not normal a first choice when eating out, Thai salads are the exception to the rule. Sometimes sweet, spicy, acidic, and simple these are my favourite snack food accompanied with a slab of sticky rice. But where to find the best?
Look around the street and before long you’ll find a street vender selling freshly made Thai salads and other lunch snacks, for my my favourite has to be spicy papaya salad from the street. Just the sight of the raw papaya strands, carrot, tomato, lime, peanuts and more gets my mouth watering. Also whilst in the Chaing Mia we discovered fermented tea leaf salad, sounds not so appetising but was sensational, just that nobody wanted to share the recipe. And because it’s a salad – its healthy and good for the waist line. I felt for the first time my shorts loosen a little, a very little.
5. Thai cooking courses
Years of youtube videos, online recipes, and countless failures in the kitchen producing a coconut sludge that tastes nothing of what I expected it to be. Even my upstairs “sloth like” neighbour Bod has trouble sometimes consuming my kitchen produce. This had to stop.
We signed up for a 4 hour cooking course in Chiang Mai with May Kaidee’s vegan cooking class, this way I’d find the correct way of substituting normal animal ingredients for vegan versions without loosing the taste or having to cook next to a dead carcass and body parts.
Here we were shown how to make extremely fast Thai favourites like my beloved phanaeng, red, green, massaman curries and be fully competent to expand my belt stretching culinary techniques at home. Also including many salads, sauces and curry pastes we were guided by the lovely Nim to produce food I would happily pay good money for at any restaurant. Over 4 hours we cooked, ate, cooked, ate and ate until I thought I’d have to be rolled out like an umpa-lumpa.
Now after just over a week of overeating I find myself on a stomach shrinking mission of weight loss, and I think some daily visits to our underwater world should do the trick. Though we did other activities other than eating and look forward to sharing them with you soon.