Friday took us to the Chiang Mai Thai cooking school, for an introduction to Thai ingredients and the preparation of six dishes. From our 9am hotel pick-up we travelled out to the country for our class. We each had a cooking station with gas burner, chopping board, knife, wok, bin and bowls of ingredients. In the kitchen we learnt about each dish, hear how to prepare the ingredients, watch the dish being cooked and return to have a go of our own, with help as required.
Spicy and sour soup kicked it off, with kaffir lime leaves, ginza and small green chillis (we had to guess at how spicy we wanted it). There was also lemongrass, but that tastes disgusting. It only took about 10 mins to prepare and we went away to eat it once done.
I briefly lost the taste/use of my tongue as I chomped through a very small, VERY spicy green chilli. My scoble scale has shifted as a result, and it seems nothing else tastes spicy.
Next up was fish cakes, with fish sauce, and a selection of bicarbonate soda, chilli sauce, palm sugar, etc, which we deep fried.
For our main course we created a green chicken curry, with a small and large egg plant and more kaffir lime leaves. Again we chose how spicy to make it. Accompanying the curry was the dish I most wanted to learn, pad thai; noodles, egg, various sauces for flavouring, dried shrimps, garlic and tofu. I loved making this, it was easy and delicious (and I did it better than Sam).
In the afternoon, all a little stuffed from eating so much, we cooked water chestnuts in coconut milk and a minced chicken dish.
About 20 of us took the course, and over the day we got to know most of them, especially over food; a nice Australian couple on their honeymoon after a three day hindu wedding, a Brazilian that works in London that will now be in Laos or beyond, an English ex-pat and friend, up from Bangkok. There was a lot of bonding and it was sad to say bye at the end of the day.
A little bit tired of Thai food, and especially rice, we went to the upmarket Favola for dinner. Pizza, bread and wine was a refreshing break from the norm, even if it did cost a premium. Away form the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai, the restaurant in a hotel, could have been anywhere in the world.