Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chiang Mai- A Foodie's Vacation

“What? You’re not stopping over at Bangkok?” My friends asked, quite surprised when I told them that I was flying out to Chiang Mai for five days from Singapore the second week of my vacation. I’ve been to Bangkok about 4 or 5 times before and I think I’ve out grown it. I remember my first trip to Bangkok; I must have been about 13. I was waiting outside an Arts and Crafts shop in the Night Bazaar while my parents were trying to get the best price (i.e. HAGGLING) for some items when this Sleazy and Greasy European Old Fart approached me and tried to push some Baht notes into the palm of my right hand. I was overcome by surprise at first; I couldn’t make out what he was saying to me. I glanced around for help and that was when I put two and two together. There were ‘Street Walkers’ soliciting at every few metres and this idiot had mistaken me for one of them. I’ve been told many times by Thais that I look like a local, but hang on, I was 13! Sure, I had too much make up on for a 13 year old but I was dressed decently, a little too mature maybe, but decent. We’ve all been there, we want to look as grown-up as possible when we’re teenagers, and as young as we possibly can when we’re my age. SIGH!

Anyhow, the last few trips to Bangkok with my family were, I felt, not very suitable for the girls. Bangkok is too ‘worldly’ for them, I mean the sex industry isn’t exactly low key and there’s too much reality for them to handle at their age. At my age on the other hand, I don’t like too much of a hustle and bustle type place anymore, I’m too laid back these days and prefer a serene countryside with simultaneous mountain and river views like Chiang Mai for a holiday destination. So, are you ready to share the glimpses of my Chiang Mai vacation? Here we go..

Kaohom Cooking School – A Thai Culinary Treasure

When I was planning this holiday, I did a bit of research via the Internet on the Cooking Classes offered in Chiang Mai. I read some really funny comments by tourists who took cooking classes in the kitchens of local’s homes. There was also the very famous Cooking School in Four Seasons Hotel where in the midst of the class, an elephant is ushered by. I didn’t want frills, that’s for sure, and nothing too commercialised. When I came upon the Kaohom website, I knew I had found the cooking school I wanted. It is highly recommended by ‘Lonely Planet’ and I must say I was impressed with what I saw. Still, I had some reservations with what to expect as from past experiences I have found that photos on websites are highly edited and can be really deceiving.
On the scheduled day, we were picked up from our hotel at 10am and chauffeured to Kaohom. It was a pleasant 30-minute drive out of the city. When we finally arrived, we were all “Ooooh and Arhhhs!” – Kaohom was every bit as beautiful as what I saw on the Internet! The cooking school is set in the middle of a lush estate with manicured lawns and gorgeous landscaping. Kanchana (our cooking instructor) and her assistants were there to welcome us as we got out of the car, and what a warm welcome it was. At that moment, I felt like I was on the set of ‘Fantasy Island’. It was almost surreal.

This photo collage is made up of pictures we took of the surrounds of the cooking school. Isn't the caterpillar a beauty?

Kanhana gave us a tour of the cooking school – the place was so immaculate and beautifully organized. There was an indoor cooking class and an outdoor cooking class set under a gazebo. The weather was exceptionally cool that day, perfect for cooking outdoors. Kanchana or ‘Tim’ as she introduced herself as, made us feel as though we were in the company of an old friend, we felt really at home.

This is me, with my head cut off, doing the prep work for our dishes.

Ming, all pleased with himself for completing the prep work before me. Paige in the background.

We were shown how to make beautiful garnishes out of chillies and carrot as part of our 'Botannical Delights' class. Isn't it fantastic!!??

Our lovely cooking Instructor, Tim, showing Chloe how to put the ingredients together for the Fried Corn Cakes.

Cucumber Relish - the accompaniment for the Fried Corn Cakes

Paige enjoying the experience.. and me, looking on.

Fried Corn Cakes - They were soooooooooooooo yummy! After we cooked each dish, we sat down together alfresco style and ate together while the food was piping hot!

Ooooooooo, Green Mango Salad! I'm salivating just thinking of the sweet and sour flavours!

Deep Fried Talipia Fillet - beautifully crisp eaten with the green mango salad, truly a match made in food heaven!

This is the point of difference that Tim offers in her cooking school, trade secrets! No cook book is going to tell you how to get the freshest, best tasting peanuts for your Pad-Thai!

Ming, stir-frying the Pad-Thai like a pro!

Yay! I can make Pad-Thai!

This is the Best Pad-Thai that I've ever tasted - and I made it myself! Tim uses the freshest and best quality ingredients.

Ms Kanchana Ubolsootvanich, 'Tim', our lovely hostess and cooking instructor. I have so much respect for this lady- she runs the school professionally with her carefully orchestrated teaching powered by her passion for Thai cuisine culture. Tim is a single mom who raised her two sons and put them through College and continued studies abroad single handedly. Hard work and long hours continue for Tim as she manages the school and does the prep work for her restaurant, the renowned 'Wanlamoon' which is accredited by Thailand's most prestigious gourmet critique every single day. Tim has no culinary training but learned her cooking skills from watching her own mother cook as a little girl. We had a teary-eyed moment as she shared her inspiring story with us.

After the tears, we need dessert! This is the pumkin custard we made - it was nothing short of AMAZING!

We chattered more over an aromatic cup of coffee...

We really had an excellent time together. Here's Kanchana laughing at one of Ming's Jokes...

Another shot of Tim - she sure is petite!

We all had such a fantastic time with Tim- the girls made us promise that we would return to see Tim again in the near future. Are you planning a trip to Chiang Mai? This is one experience you dont want to miss! Here's how you can contact Tim;
180/1 Chiang Mai - Mae Rim Rd.,
Donkaew, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
50180 Thailand
Tel: 66 5386 2967, Fax 66 5386 2968
Mobile 08 1993 5320

Stay tuned for the 2nd part of our Chiang Mai Foodie Vacation!


Big Boys Oven said...

Oh such a wonderful heavenly made thai cooking class. I am sure i will too enjoy cooking with Tim!

Wendy said...

I love how light and colourful your photos are.
I was in Chiang Mai six years ago and, on the spur of the moment, attending a cooking course. It was wonderful! Think that's when my serious interest in food began.

daphne said...

oh gosh. Looks wonderful. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with your family with Tim!

singairishgirl said...

Oh gosh. You make me feel as though I want to be there this minute. But no plans to go Chiangmai. love Hopefully in future. I really would to attend the class at the school. I'm sure you all had an amazing time. Can see it on your faces. And a relaxing one too. Love the photos on nature. Very well-taken.

wita said...

TFS your culinary trip to Chiang Mai. I'm definitely amazed by taht and I really want to try when I have an opportunity. Corn cakes looks stunning, when you have a spare time, do you mind sharing the recipe please? It made me drooling.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Wow, it looked like an amazing trip for the entire family. Your photos and commentaries are absolutely fantastic -- they really capture the feel of the place, I think.

I am SOOOO IMPRESSED with your photography skill. HONEST! The collage of the caterpillar and flowers are way better than most of the photos I've taken.

And thanks for introducing us to the family and Tim. It's like watching a little documentary.

I look forward to the second installation of your adventure.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

P/S> How many times have you cooked the dishes you've learned in Chang Mai since you got back?

joy said...

Aaww, love the fact that you were having such a wonderful time with your family. That is really sweet! I'm jealous. Seems like you've been having loads of fun with your camera, eh? Really wonderful shots, Carol! I don't know when Thom and I would be able to visit Thailand again, but when we do, I'm sure not going to miss Tim.

Glad you've updated your blog. Inspires me to do the same.

Your Love Coach

Kelly Mahoney said...

Those are some beautiful garnishes. Better than many restaurants!

sexy shreya said...

Ah!!! the Perfect blog entry at the Perfect Time... I am in the process of planning my trip to Thailand for next year. Since this is my first time... I will do some mad-shopping in Bangkok as well. But now, I can ask you all the food-related questions for Chaing Mai....

Eggy said...

Sounds (and looks) like you guys had such a blast! Great pictures, Carol. Can't wait for your chicken rice post :)

tigerfish said...

What a great way to spend it in Chiang Mai. I remember visiting Chiang Mai when I was younger...very young then (think I was still in primary school). We only visited villages and bought some handicrafts. It seems Chiang Mai has changed so much.

I love Pad Thai too...have not had any decent ones in the US.

Daniel Indradjaja said...

Hm.. I love Thai Food. yum..yum.. slurp..slurp. I must say Ming looks rather demure in the first picture. Hahaha. :-)

thwany said...

wow this look's like a layout from gourmet

Sylvia said...

Oh Carol, your post was amazing.I can feel you joy and the wonderful time that you spent with your family. And how you enjoy in participate in those cooking classes. Your photos are amazing ,like always,and you can pass trough them all your feelings. Congratulations, Carol !!

Patricia Scarpin said...

I would have loved being part of this class!

Rasa Malaysia said...

Oh wow, I wanted to learn how to make that chili carrot pretty. Seemed like you guys had a lot of fun. I don't like BKK that much but haven't been to CM, next time. :)

Dwiana P said...

I enjoy reading your vacation story! absolutely you did have great time. And thanks for sharing those stories.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! I just love Thai food and you have managed to make me hungry again just 2 hours after my dinner, lol!

Lovely blog, Carol. I came from Daniel's blog (Messy Pastor) and I shall be back for more. :)

BTW, did you have a good time in Singapore?

God bless!

Ashley said...

What a fantastic article! I have mostly traveled to southern Thailand, and Bangkok some. But Chiang Mai is now on my to-do list! Thanks for the wonderful information and beautiful pictures!

Anonymous said...

Thai cooking is so wonderful, and I have tried for years to get the techniques down. I especially love Pad Thai!!

teeth whiteners

Oh for the love of food! said...

BB Oven,
Yes, it was a really enjoyable experience, you would like it!

Thanks for the compliment. Where did you do the cooking class in Chiang Mai?

Indeed! I would recommend Kaohom to anyone looking to do a cooking class in Chiang Mai.

Thank you! We are looking forward to doing another class with Tim.

The corn cakes were AMAZING!

Thanks,Bud, you always say the nicest things. No, we have not cooked any of the recipes we learned, I don't have all the ingredients handy, but we're going to have some friends over and do a serious Thai Cook up

we always enjoy our time spent together, no need to be jealous, you can start on your family planning right away! haha!

Yes, the garnishes are really pretty, most restaurants don't bother beyond the sprig of parsley.

Oh for the love of food! said...

Sexy Shreya,
Thanks for checking my blog out, and yes, you are welcome to ask any questions regarding Chiang Mai - I am happy to help!

Hi A, I don't know that I'll devote a whole post to the Chicken Rice, but I will definitely make a mention of it in the Singapore Vacation post!

Looks like it's time you visited Chiang Mai again. The Pad-Thai was incredibly easy to make and incredibly delish!

Ming demure? that's something totally new to me! I love Thai food too, can't get enough of it!

Thanks for the compliment!

Thank you for your kind words! I could learn a thing or two from you when it comes to photography.

Yup, I would be very suprised if you didn't!

Oh for the love of food! said...

Yes, Chiang Mai was so much more fun!

Thank you. It was such a pleasurable experience, I can't stop talking about it!

Thanks for coming by, your blog is cool too. Singapore was ok, I go about twice a year - hub's family are all there :o)

Thanks for visiting and for the kind compliment, you will LOVE Chiang Mai!

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Pad-Thai is one of my favourite Thai dishes too. Hope to see you here again!

tankiasu said...

Wow wow wow..what a wonderful trip!

OnlinePharmacy said...

xKz6LT Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

SteamyKitchen said...

I'd love to visit Chiang Mai someday. The cooking class you took sounds so much fun! Maybe I'll have to organize a girls trip!

next day air tramadol said...

foyolw Nice Article.

buy meridia pharmacy online said...

w0YikE Magnific!

meridia coupon with insurance said...

xHna7V Nice Article.

chicago downtown motel said...

Nice Article.

name said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.

cairns backpacker tours said...


airplane mountain nevada sierra tour said...

Hello all!

Oh for the love of food! said...

Yes, it was an excellent vacation! I can't wait to go back!

You would LOVE the cooking classes at KAOHOM, and the setting is absolutely breath-taking!

To all the anonymouses,
Thank you for your kind compliments.

loan for computer purchase said...


ringtones said...

Thanks to author.


Thanks to author.

blog fioricet intrackback said...

BrbR4v Nice Article.

get totally free ringtones said...

actually, that's brilliant. Thank you. I'm going to pass that on to a couple of people.