Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cooking class in Thailand

I have wanted to do a cooking course in Asia for a long time but I had failed to convince R. (I took that as a compliment, it surely means that I do NOT need cooking lessons!:-)

As we didn't have much else to do one day, I managed to include cooking course in the schedule!

9am one morning, we are on our way to the cooking centre where we got to decide which 5 dishes we will prepare: 1 stir fried, 1 appetizer, 1 soup, 1 curry and 1 dessert; knowing that we also make the curry paste from scratch!!!

Once the decision made, we head for the market where we learn a lot about different type of rice, different types of noodles (who would have known that some of them are made from beans?), the difference between coconut milk, juice and cream and get to see some very colorful ingredients.

Then, it's time for the farm where we get to taste all organic herbs we will use, try some new fruit, have a look inside the mushroom cupboard and finally it's hands on!

First the little welcome snack: Meang Kum, a lettuce wrap of ginger, shallots, toasted coconut, chili, peanut, lime, peanut and sugar cane.
It was good but I would advise not to cut the chili with your teeths...

Up next was the stir fried. I went for Pad see uw, R opted for the hot basil with chicken. I think I won this battle! I even think it was my favourite dish of the day.

As we were pretty hungry by that point, we ate it straight away! And then carried on with the appetizer. I was making spring rolls and I got top mark from the teacher. :-)))))
To my taste there was a bit too much wrapping but they did look good!!!

R was making his favorite dish of the entire holiday: papaya salad (he has since found out that it is meant to be a lady's snack but that doesn't stop him ordering it for every single meal!)
Papaya salad was very good, full of chilies as usual. Making it also looked really traditional in the wooden mortar.

Once this second dish eaten, we were on a row, making soup, curry paste, curry and dessert in one go!
The Tom yam koong soup was a clear winner for R, I don't know why but it was just so much better than mine, richer, less watery, tastier...

Making the curry paste was quite an exercise! Apparently it takes 2h on the stone mortar to make a proper paste! We probably did it over 20min and there were several of us taking turn. (It seems as difficult as beating the eggs white without the electric whisk!)

I was going for the Massaman curry and R for the Khaw Soi, a Chiang Mai speciality.
By now I have had 3 Massaman curries and I can officially say that there are as many Massaman curry as there are Massaman curry maker. None of the 3 I have tasted (included mine) had anything in commun...
Out of all the curries our group made: red, Massaman, panang, Khaw Soi, the best one was when we mixed my Massaman with some Panang.
So that's the new rule: if you can't make one dish properly, just change it!

Finally, sweets!
Making anything else than sweet sticky rice with mango wasn't even an option for me, but I have to admit that the special recipe of fried banana that R produced was really good as well.

We now have at thai cook book and once we leave Singapore and I make it back in the kitchen, I plan to use it fully!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Business trip to Sydney

R was off to Sydney for work, surprisingly, I decided to join in... ;-)

On the first day we were staying a bit outside of Sydney, at Cronulla, a seaside suburb of Sydney with a bit of an art deco charm.

When I made it to Sydney city centre, I noticed how much Sydney could look like London/England, both in names and in design.
I felt like looking at Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham palace, Harrods, the entry of the cabinet war room and walking in the gardens of some of the Oxford colleges. 

On some other shots, it's neither London nor England, just a really stunning city with really fancy McDonalds!


On my 2nd day, I took the ferry to meet a friend in Manly, on the north side of Sydney harbor. The ferry is definitely a highlight of the trip.

After dark, we went for cocktails at the top of the rotating Sydney tower, followed by dinner and a little bit of window shopping in the Rocks, providing us with some amasing views across the Sydney bridge and the Opera.

On Saturday, we continued exploring the city by ferry and by foot, indulging in seafood and enjoying a wonderful winter day (18C, same temperature but better weather than London on a summer day)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Singapore Wetland

North of Singapore, on the sea which separates Malaysia from Singapore stands Singapore wetland; an area of mangrove which reminds us that Singapore can be something else than a shiny skyline and roof top bars!

Unfortunately our visit was quite poor in animals comparing to what we could have seen (I let you figure that out by watching the photos carefully) but we did see a mother spider with her babies and because asia remains asia, through the jungle, we spotted a construction yard!