While my stint in Singapore was (sadly) short-lived, I still managed to cover a lot of gastronomic ground in four days. Which had no small part to do with my extensive preliminary research- besides grilling Edna, I also devoured as many Singapore food guides as possible.
Once I hit the ground I quickly learned that Singaporeans know how to eat; Singapore’s a nation positively obsessed with food. Which is no surprise- Singapore is a culinary wonderland, a delicious blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine. (more…)
In stride with my goal to take a cooking class in every Asian country I visit, I knew I would have to find a cooking class in Bangkok. And after spotting their rave reviews on Trip Advisor as well as an enthusiastic review from a close friend, I settled on Silom Thai Cooking School for my introduction to cooking Thai food.
Wet Market Tour
The morning begun by meeting our adorable instructor, Mai, outside the local wet market. I loved how she took the time to explain the difference between ingredients- by 10 am I had already learned about everything from identifying mushrooms to levels of curry spiciness by color.
Mai showing us finger ginger and the difference between a regular and kaffir lime.
Yellow curry paste, red curry paste, green curry paste. Mai taught us that red is the spiciest but personally green is my favorite!
Learning How to Cook Thai Food
Next we walked to the cooking school which I have to commend for its cute design as well as being clean, well-organized and spacious.
We began the class by washing all of the produce we had just purchased. Among the familiar (tomatoes, plantains, limes) were some new ingredients like yellowgrass and Thai eggplant.
The first lesson of the day was how to make coconut milk which was surprisingly laborious. You take shredded coconut, soak it in water and then squeeze it into a sieve. After you repeat the process a few times you have coconut milk!
Our adorable instructor, Mai.
Making coconut milk from shredded coconut.
I loved having a local teacher because she taught us so many little cultural quirks about Thailand. ”We put sugar in everything,” admitted Mai with a smile. Which may explain my slight aversion to Thai food, ahem…
As we squeezed the water out of the shredded coconut, she told us. “Good food take time, no?”
And when asked to explain how Thai people eat such rich food and stay slim, she replied, “Thai people no fat because chili and tamarind paste make you digest quickly.”
Other fun fact of the day- apparently kaffir lime keeps your hair from greying and can be used as a toilet deodorizer. Who knew?
Learning how to grind chili paste which apparently is how you tell if you will be a good wife or not in Thailand!
Something I noticed about Thai food was that the preparation for each dish is long, but the actual cooking time is quite short. Each of the dishes we made was on the flame for no more than one of two minutes. As I learned in Hong Kong, using a wok speeds things up considerably!
Here were the five courses we made.
First course: Chicken in coconut milk (tom kah gai)
Chicken with cashew nut (gai pad med mamuang). Personal thoughts? Meh.
Fried fish cake (thod mun pla) with homemade sweet chili sauce. My favorite dish of the day!
Red curry with chicken (kaeng ped gai). By the time we had this I was so full I could barely touch it!
The dessert. Which I can’t remember the name of but it had banana and was delicious.
Overall I loved Silom. Aside from the wonderful instructor, I loved how the class included so many personal touches like giving us a recipe book at the end of all the recipes we had made. One word of advice- do not eat breakfast the day of the cooking class as you’ll be absolutely stuffed by the end!
Even though I’m far from a Thai food convert, I still enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how to make Thai food at home.
Have you ever taken a Thai cooking class?
Many thanks to Silom for the complimentary cooking class. I have truly never had such a warm and helpful instructor so thanks especially to Mai for her patience with us!
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There are few things I love in France more than the open-air markets. There’s just something about the beautiful produce, friendly vendors and shameless people-watching that I adore.
I have been to the markets many times but never with a camera in tow. To my surprise and delight the vendors were more than happy to be photographed, and even made jokes like, “What, am I not pretty enough for your pictures?”
In the photos below you will see lots of my all-time favorite food items: blocks of salted butter, buckets of crème fraîche, large pots of rilletes and pâté and sausages like boudin noir and andouillette coiled up like garden hoses.
The produce at markets in France is different from markets in the U.S. : Vegetables come in covered in dirt, the cheeses are often made with raw milk and the wild game birds are displayed with their heads on, which I found out is so that you “know which animal you are buying.” There is also lots of offal, some of which is great, like the tripe-based andouillete sausage, and some of which is truly awful, like kidneys.
I hope you enjoy the photos, and Bon appétit!
Have you ever visited a fall farmers market in France?
In France, bread is a daily staple. Everyday mothers send the kids to the local boulangerie to pick up a baguette. (Sometimes one for breakfast, one for snack/dinner!)
But let’s start this French bread guide off with a pop quiz.
Which baguette is better? (more…)
So, what’s good to eat in Paris? Um, if memory recalls, everything.
As I sit and wait for the French ministry of labor to send back my visa documents, I’ve been musing over some of the most delicious meals I’ve enjoyed in France over the past three summers. Hopefully the ministry sends the documents soon because this list is starting to make me hungry.
Note: This list does not include cheese or bread as both of these things are so spectacular in Paris that they require their own lists.
As we all know, the French love their cheese. I love their cheese. I love them for loving their cheese. And frankly, sampling oozing, raw-milk French cheese is one of the best parts of visiting the country, at least for this fromage-o-phile.
I have worked as an au pair for a French family for past three summers so hopefully I have learned a bit about cheese by now. Here are some tips for buying, storing and serving this delicacy properly.