Cooking in Chiang Mai

Ivan, Jennifer and I ordered sandwiches from the Cafe Croissant d’Or on January 20, 2009.  We packed everything up and checked out of Sok Dee Guesthouse.  We were flying to Chiang Mai today.  We hopped into a tuk-tuk and drove to the airport.  The plane was late. 

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We took off at 1:20 pm instead of 1:10 pm.  The short flight is only an hour long.  So, Jennifer thought we’d only get peanuts or pretzels (I was hoping for bananas).  But, we were served a small meal.  It consisted of chicken with a curry sauce, rice, vegetables, melon and a fruit muffin.  There were no bananas.  But, luckily I brought two for a snack.  The plane ride was mostly smooth.

We arrived at the airport.  The line to get the visas moved fast.  We took a taxi to the Green Tulip House, which Ivan had found on tripadvisor – it was listed as the number one speciality lodging place to stay in Chaing Mai. It was also listed in my ‘Lonely Monkey’ guidebook as a place that Monkeys would like.

We checked in and put our backpacks in the room.  We chilled out in the room for awhile. Ivan went downstairs to chat with Nancy who was one of the managers and very very friendly – I think its her that makes the place so popular.

We came downstairs.  We sat down in the Cafe at the Green Tulp.  Ivan and Jennifer ordered a pad thai with chicken.  I got pad thai with bananas.  The food was really good.

We walked around Chiang Mai.  Ivan and Jennifer bought some books at Gecko Books.  They wanted to stock up since we’ll be heading to a few beaches in the Philippines next month, and the book choice in the Philippines probably wont be as good as the HUGE Gecko Book stores here in Chiang Mai. I brought some books myself  – ‘Bananas  – a worldwide guide’, and ‘Me and my Banana – an autobiography of one monkeys quest to find all the types of bananas from around the world’. I look forward to reading them.

We walked around the Night Bazaar.  It’s filled with stands that have clothing, jewelry and souvenirs. 

We got picked up on the morning of January 21, 2009.  We were taking a cooking class at Siam Rice Cooking School.  We didn’t eat breakfast since Ivan read that you cook so many dishes during the class.  We stopped first at the market. 

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Our teacher showed us different ingredients used in Thai cooking.  There’s curry pastes for sale like green curry at this market. 

Then, we were taken to the cooking school.  It’s located inside a house.  There was a snack waiting for us.  It was coconut, rice and green onions snack.  We’ve had these in Laos before and they taste really good.  We were informed that we could pick what we wanted to cook.  There was a paper that listed Siam Rice Course A, B & C.  It was nice to be able to choose different items to cook than your friends. 

We had six dishes to prepare.  So, we set off to cook our first dish.  We all chose something different.  Jennifer picked Pad thai with chicken.  I was to cook Vegetables and Banana Spring Rolls.  Ivan chose Pad Se-Ew (fried big noodles with sweet soy sauce).  There were two areas with a different teacher.  The teacher would tell us what to chop the ingredients.  Then, we prepared our dish.  I made some good spring rolls. 

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Jennifer and Ivan enjoyed their noodles.

The next dish was a soup.  Ivan and Jennifer both picked Hot and sour soup with chicken. 

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I made Chicken and Banana in coconut milk soup.  My soup was nice and creamy.  Ivan and Jennifer had very spicy soups.  Ivan loves it really spicy.

Ivan, Jennifer and I each made Papaya salad next.  I added one banana with my Papaya Salad.  I called it Papaya Surprise Salad – since the nice surprise are the bananas.  The salads turned out tasty and spicy. 

Jennifer was cooking Fried Cashew Nuts with Chicken. 

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Ivan was cooking Holy Basil with chicken.  I was doing a variation of Holy Basil with Bananas.  Once again, the dishes tasted good. 

We all chose a different type of curry paste to create.  I was making yellow curry.  Ivan chose red curry while Jennifer picked green curry. There were groups making the curry paste. 

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It requires a mortar and pestle to make.  It takes awhile to pound it into a paste.  We made our chicken curry next.  We put our ingredients in a wok and cooked it up.

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The green curry was pretty spicy.  I liked my mild yellow curry.  It tasted great with the gravy over rice. 

Ivan and Jennifer learned vegetable carving.  It’s really hard.  I passed on trying it.  My monkey hands aren’t very skilled in carving or anything artistic.  Jennifer wasn’t very good at carving.  Ivan was actually decent at it. 

Our teacher showed us how to make the dessert.  We all chose sweet sticky rice with mango.  I’m sure you can guess that I added bananas to my sticky rice.  The desserts were nice and sweet.

We were all presented with a certificate that we completed the class.  We provided an e-mail address so the cooking school could e-mail the recipe book.  How awesome!  It was great fun cooking up delicious Thai food.

We chilled at the hostel after the class.  We walked around town some.  We were so stuffed from the cooking class – we skipped dinner.  We did have some ice cream at Green Tulip right before bed.

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