I must admit its nice when people start commenting that they miss your blog. "When are you gonna write again", "I have not seen a new blog from you in a while". Well yes this is true and its about time 'I climbed back onto the horse' so to speak. Its been a bumpy start to my illustrious blogging career so far. No consistency in subject matter, lack of technology in some instances and just plain too busy on the road all the time. I have travelled from Brisbane at my brothers to Melbourne, Sydney (you got a short run down at this point as I saw Leonard Cohen), then off to New Zealand where I fell in love with not only the stunning scenery the constant shifting tastes and flavours that this country had to offer as well as the numerous consumption of lovely wines, but I also fell in love with a beautiful woman. She kinda side swiped me you might say and I got way laid on a different adventure altogether, but I digress. New Zealand then led me back to Brisbane, then Kuala Lumpur and now currently I am in Thailand in the sunny paradise of Krabi. All freaky jutting mountains and all. No way could you describe the landscape as undulating. It positively explodes out of the ground in great abandon. Sheer cliffs and abutments vie for skyline domination in every direction and in between, cute villages, sandy beaches and bubbling streams of pure delight. And I have not even begun on the food. So apart from missing my sweetheart in New Zealand terribly I have the privilege and the ecstatic good fortune to eat lovely exotic foods but also to cook. Luckily I am staying with friends in a village outside the touristic area of Ao Nang in Krabi. We avoid tourist, buy local produce and cook indoors - we are the only 'pharang' or foreigners in town which is kinda lovely. They do laugh at us though when we wander the streets looking at the foods on display and we think "what the fuck is that!".
I cooked a lovely prawn red curry using locally made red curry pastes and great fresh herbs and spices. I prawn stir fry noodle dish that closely resembled a Pad Thai. Some greens in oyster sauce and garlic, and a carrot and sultana salad typical of Thai style salads, guessing all the ingredients along the way. My friends and I must say it was a bloody good meal, and the seconds that were left over were mightily sought after. My friend Sam from Turkey, who I am visiting in Thailand, also taught me that eating a pot noodle was not always a dodgy slack thing to do especially when livened up with a few spoons of the red curry from the night before. As for whether or not it is a newly concocted hangover cure is yet to be seen but we all managed to pull ourselves together with said pot noodle in belly in order to make our way to the Siam Cuisine Thai Cookery School. Here I learnt the secrets behind curry pastes and how to create the basic model for many a Thai dish.
We cooked Stir Fried Noodles and Prawns (Pad Thai), Fried Rice with Seafood (Khao Phad Talay), Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yam Koong - both clear and red - made red by adding sweet chilli paste and a little milk), Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kaa Kai), Papaya Salad (Som Tom Thai - which had a very versatile sweet, sour and spicy sauce that can be used for a number of other dishes, which I made by pulverising garlic, chilli, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together). Finally we made fried chicken with cashews (Kai Pad Met Ma Muang) and fried chicken with ginger (Kai Pad Khing), followed by the all important curry paste and its resultant green and red curries (Nam Phrik Kaeng Key-au & Dang). The curry paste was exhausting and exalting in equal fashion, as I have always wanted to know how to make it just did not know how much bloody effort went into it. Its exhausting due to the lengthy pummeling involved with mortar and pestle. Grinding was not only useless but further time consuming, you had to bash the ingredients to a pulp for about 20 minutes before the teacher was satisfied we had all sweated enough. A bloody blender would have made me very happy at this point but it was nice getting the hands dirty.
So chillies (a lot! green ones for green curry paste and red ones for red curry paste - seems kinda elementary now but I didn't know at the time), shallots, garlic, galangal (Thai ginger), lemon grass, ginseng, kaffir lime peel, coriander root and shrimp paste. Said blender would be used in future at this point, but mash away we did and a fine result furnished us with the tastiest curries any of us had ever had - mine was green and I mean green, not the anemic green I was used to. You may be wondering what about desert and you won't be dissapointed. A sticky rice with mango and coconut cream - it was to die for!
Another thing you may be wondering in between runs to the fridge for a snack after I hopefully have made you all hungry is, what did we do with all the food. You start cooking around 9.30am and each dish you create you have to eat. I tell you by the time we brought our curry's to the table we were begging for doggy bags and only able to dip spoons in to taste. But when the desert came out despite our distended bellies and groans of near stomach exploding proportions, a taste was all we thought we could manage and the second stomach in humans reserved for deserts allowed us literally lick the plates clean.
So as I relish the impending further classes intended, I leave you with the thought that I am a lucky bastard indeed to be in this position. I shall cook for my friends again tonight, a pork red curry with local Thai aubergines and wash it down with Singha beers, which have become my new friend for the next three weeks. More exotic sandy and deserted beaches await me and treks on khayaks through caves and canyons. The feeding of monkeys and the washing of elephants and perhaps a little shopping and bargaining on the tourist streets to buy interesting tid bits for my darling back in New Zealand. Hopefully I can bring you more mouthwatering discussions about Thai culinary delights in the next day or so. Until then try not to bare me any grudges or wish harmful things on me due to jealousy. Thanks dear reader.