13 Feb Four Seasons Hotel – Chiang Mai – Cooking class and new Year’s eve.
I think I have already mentioned here that cooking was not always my cup of tea… I started learning how to cook quite late… after my thirties and by the influence of a very good friend of mine…
To be honest I dont really appreciate cooking the day to day food… I like the exotic and complicated dishes… I like entertaining people, and so, for that, I adore to prepare beautiful dishes and tables…
When it comes to exotic, I think the Thai cuisine qualifies in the top 5. ( It may not be for Asians, but it definitely for me).
At the time of planning for the trip, taking a Thai cooking course was one of my holiday priorities. It was just a matter of finding the right spot. Reviewing our itinerary and after some research, we decided to do it at the Four Seasons hotel in Chiang Mai, where we would be over new year.
It was an the right choice…
Lets talk about the place for a minute… A few years ago, I came across someone who told me about the hotel. It had stuck to my mind the fact that this particular person would return to the hotel every year for recharging.
The moment I set my foot at the property I understood the reason. No photo will do justice to the place. It is more than magical. I struggle to have words to describe it.
Situated about 30 min outside the old town of Chiang Mai, in the middle of the forest and rice fields, the hotel is an oasis… Ah, one may think, this is not so difficult to find in Asia… indeed, right. However, the way the resort is built with individual bungalows overseeing the fields, with manicured and colourful gardens around it, it gave me the feeling of arriving at paradise.
Hard to explain, but I felt like the speed of time has significantly decreased to a slow pace… I heard the birds, observed the butterflies and felt the breeze through the leaves… it sounds all very poetic, but it is hard to find a place where you immediately cool down.
It was New Years eve and the place was in full preparation for the imminent arrival of 2019.
The party was spectacular… the hotel, as you expect, had prepared an unforgettable night for the guests… local and western cuisine was served in the buffet. Traditional folklore show would keep us all entertained until minutes before midnight.
At midnight, the most expected moment… 2019 arrival with some fireworks but mainly with the lanterns ceremony. All of us were given a huge lantern to release in the air, inundating the close sky with flicking lights of hopes and wishes…
Magical, unforgettable… indescribable… a memory to treasure forever…
Our new year party was not about partying hard but to experience the tradition and because of that…off we went to bed as we would have our cooking lesson quite early in the morning.
1st January, 7 am, we were taken to the local market to choose the ingredients for the curry. I had chosen to learn how to make my own green curry paste, so we needed to identify and understand the various spices that we needed for it.
I was fascinated with the variety of spices we can chose from. Learn that the smallest the chilly is, the spiciest it will be…After shopping… we went straight back to the hotel to start preparing lunch.
The hotel has an specific cooking school with several cooking stations so that it can accommodate different groups. I took the course with my husband and kids…
The menu consisted of:
- Green papaya salad
- Phad Thai Goong
- Green curry with chicken in coconut milk
- Mango sticky rice
As you can see we had to work hard to learn it all, as all the preparation was done from scratch.
We started with the curry paste. It took us a good hour to master the technique. It is a lot more complex than it seems but it is the most important ingredient of the curry. I kind of wanted to really learn how to prepare it, as the pastes we buy at the market never really taste good.
Then, cooking the chicken and mixing the curry with the coconut milk was not so difficult to learn. BUT, never put the temperature too high, because this would make the fat separate from the coconut milk, and this would spoil the taste of the curry… so remember to never overheat!
Another interesting dish to learn was the papaya salad. I did not expect that the salad would come from the crust rather than from the inner part of the fruit. Spiced and crunchy, the salad turned to be a surprise.
The Phad Thai was also quite easy to prepare. Of course, the noodles need to be made out of rice and the preparation demands some kind of speed so that the dished is served hot.
The Mango sticky rice was way more complex… The difficulty starts with the rice temperature, as it demands two types of sauce, one salty and one sweet… both need to be placed simultaneously and with the rice warm. I managed to do it, but I think it will demand some practice on my side to get to the same result without the teacher on my side.
After the course, it was time to eat… and it was a lot of food… the good thing about it was that I was in the perfect place at the right time… after the meal, all I did, it was to find the nearest sofa, look at the horizon in meditation mode and snooze… ZZZZZZZZZ
One hour later…
I could have slept longer, but unfortunately it was time to go… we had a flight to catch to our next destination… Hong Kong…
I will now reproduce words from the person who told me about the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai – “many places make you want to stay longer, but you may never come back… the Four Seasons makes you not want to go anywhere else”
The gentlemen returns to the Four Seasons every year for 2 weeks.