Today was a day to eat, eat, and eat some more.
So, yeah, basically it was an awesome day!
I signed up for a Thai cooking class with one of the many (and I mean many) companies that offered it here in Chiang Mai.
The company I chose was Smart Cook cooking school because the man at the hostel suggested it and it also had an option to go to a farm and cook instead.
For 1000 baht ($35) I was signed up for a full day of food. The pickup time as with many of the activities here was between 8:00 and 8:30 although by 8:40 I was still waiting in the courtyard.
The man at the hostel got in touch with the company and a few minutes later another man on a motorbike was here to pick me up.
Apparently the van came at 8am and I somehow didn’t notice. Hmmm, I think the guy just didn’t come cause I was waiting out in the courtyard at ten to eight.
Anyway, I got to ride on the back of a motorcycle so all was good.
A short time later I was dropped off at the local market where Bennie our instructor for the day was showing a couple of people in the group the different herbs and vegetables available.
The 3 of us joined the rest of our group and 10 of us were on our way to the farm.
To get to the farm, we crammed in the back of a mini-jeepney for a 15 minute ride to the rail station where we then boarded a train for a half hour ride out of the city and then another 10 minute jeepney ride to the farm.
The farm wasn’t really a farm as it was more like a house with a garden attached to it but it was still nice to get out of the city and the garden had a huge variety of different herbs and vegetables growing in it. We saw papaya, eggplant, 3 different types of basil, chives, garlic, galangal, ginger, chilies, and kaffir lime plants.
After touring the garden we went inside to start our cooking class.
First we each selected a dish from the 5 different categories: stir fried, soup, appetizer, curry and dessert.
I selected Pad Thai (of course), Hot & Sour prawn soup, Spring Rolls, Green Curry with Chicken and Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango.
We all gathered around a prep table each with our own round cutting block and butchers knife.
Bennie then went through the first 2 courses with us – the stir fried and the soup courses. Alot of us were doing the same thing so it wasn’t too hard for her to explain. She showed us the ingredients and how to prep them which mostly involved just cutting different vegetables and herbs.
Once everyone had prepped everything we headed over to the cooking station where there were soup pots set up for us to make our different soups.
For mine I skipped the spicy parts but it still tasted pretty damn good if I do say so myself.
Next came my favorite dish – Pad Thai!
Our soup pots were replaced with woks and we cooked up all the prepped herbs, vegetables and sauce along with some chicken, noodles and an egg and that was it.
It was actually so simple to make. Of course it’s never that easy when you’re in your own kitchen but I think I could give it a go when I get home.
After chowing down on our soup and stirfries we had an energy boost which was a good thing because next came our curry pastes.
On our prep station we each had these ominous pestle and mortar sets awaiting us.
For the next 15 minutes we basically pounded the crap out of various herbs and spices to make a nice paste. Of course I knew as I was adding the ingredients that there was no way I’d be able to eat this paste as spicy food and me are not on speaking terms.
But still, it was nice to pound the crap out of something…
At the cooking station I added my green paste to coconut milk and chicken to create my Green Curry with Chicken dish.
We sat down and ate our dishes with some white rice. Even though I knew it’d be spicy I thought I’d give it a shot as it was kind of watered down with sugar and coconut milk. Plus I had rice to help.
Yup, still pretty spicy but, damn, it tasted good – I make a mean Green Curry.
Time for springrolls.
These were pretty easy to put together. We cut up all the veggies going inside and then wrapped them in flour paper closing them with an egg wash.
Once we had them all wrapped, Bennie deep fried them in a sizzling hot wok with oil and tada springrolls!
Now I was getting a little full.
But, alas, there was dessert to be had!
One of my new favorite desserts I might add – Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango.
The rice had already been prepared as it takes several hours to prepare and they actually had started making the rice the night before.
A little sugar and coconut milk added to the rice and that was it. It tasted so amazing with the fresh chopped mango.
After it was all done we each received a certificate and a recipe book.
And that was the end of the cooking class.
We headed back into town via jeepney, train, jeepney again except it took forever to get back to my hostel as we had to stop at everyone’s different accommodations and of course I was last to be dropped off.
By the time I got back around 4pm I was wiped out. Literally. I was so exhausted and I hadn’t even done anything strenuous today. It’s just the heat. When you’re not used to it, it just saps all your energy.
I camped out in the nice cool confines of my air conditioned dorm room for a bit where I once again pulled out my hair trying to figure out what I was doing next.
These were the options that I was floating around in my head: go to Laos in two days, stay here in Chiang Mai a little longer and then go, go up to Burma first, skip Laos, go to Bangkok instead, go to Indonesia instead, or Philippines, or Europe.
Yup, I was even contemplating sidetracking over to Europe on my Asia Trip.
So much was swirling in my head it was crazy.
And then, in a brief moment of clarity I said stop screwing around and decide so that’s what I did.
I booked the all day zip lining adventure for tomorrow and then the following day I’m heading out of Chiang Mai towards the Laotian border via Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong. From the border it’s onto Luang Prabang via slow boat and then I’ll head south through Laos and into Cambodia.
Done and done.
With a huge sense of relief and the feeling of a gigantic weight lifted off my shoulders, I headed out in the early evening to have some dinner and then by 10pm I was done for the day.
Overall a pretty damn good day!