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Archive for November, 2010

There’s no explaining this one when it arrives.  Appetising really isn’t the word.  This is a food challenge.  Boiled blood, tripe, god knows what the other stuff is, and an incredibly spicy broth – dyed bright red.  Andrea ordered this dish at a stopover on the bus to BKK – actually some of my most memorable meals of trips past have all been at bus stops.  In fact one of my favourite noodle soups of all time was at the stop between Udon Thani and BKK- I’ve been there twice strangely and the same woman served me a t 2am on both occasions – though I doubt she remembers me, just another Farang. However, This one really takes the prize for most challenging noodle soup.  And it’s good, real good.  All those strange textures and offensive flavours we don’t really like in the west.  Intense is the only word I could think of to describe it.

This is real thai food.

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Another Fish Feast- Koh Chang

Well it’s only days till my trip is over.   And I’m glad I’m getting the chance to gorge myself on cheap seafood in an idyllic location once more.  This is the way I started the trip so it’s a fitting way to end it. 

Sadly, as we having a few drinks most times I got few photos.  The one I did get was of this great platter with – Grilled mackerel, tiger prawns, Blue swimmer crab, scallops and squid.  All served with a tangy lime and chill dip.  Simple.  Just grilled – In fact most Thai food is like this – and get this, only £7.  Apart from this we ate whole snapper, tuna, mussels, and anything else we could find that was going to be alive just before it was cooked for us.  Fresh is best.

As well as great fish the other tasty treat on this paradise island is the great Isaan food.   A lot of people from this poorer Northeast area of Thailand migrate all over the country bringing their food with them.  First thing in the morning in lots of these places catering to locals – and a few whiteys – they start grilling chicken legs and pork shoulder till it’s tender and serve it with some sticky rice, fiery papaya salad, and some incredibly spicy dipping sauce.  Another great way to start the day, and another incredibly healthy balanced meal.  Why can’t I have this for brekkie all the time?

Apart from the fish though, Koh Chang is a great alternative to the Southern Gulf and the Andaman coast.  It’s still built up along the western coast, but there is a pristine jungle interior and a much quieter East coast.  There’s  also the quiet fishing village of Bang Bao – where all the good fish is!!

It’s only five hours from Bangkok – Get yourself there next trip.

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Angkor

Another epic ancient landscape.  Temples, Temples, Temples. Oh and a few more.  I have to admit after eight months of travelling I’m feeling a little jaded.  But still, you have to see this place to believe it.  The shear scale of Angkor Wat, the overbearing atmosphere of the Bayon, still in ruins Preah Khan – All places, amongst many more, that anybody at all interested in history, architecture or culture should visit at least once in their life – I’ts my second time!  But even though the temples are massive structures, it’s the small details that really make it amazing – beautiful, intricate carvings showinga mixture of scenes from the Hindu epics, wars and everyday life in the Angkor.

Anyway, if you need some more info google it.  Here’s my photos – none of which can begin to give you an impression of the place, maybe a little one.

Angkor November 2010

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Pork Kebab Baguette

Well there’s three words I didn’t think I’d say together.  But they’ve turned into three words I’ve learned to love pretty quickly.  A combination only a French influenced country could come up with.

All the old Indo-Chinese countries produce baguettes – a reminder of their french colonial days – and each have their own twists.  In Phnom Penh this is the way they serve them – slightly toasted baguette lathered in butter, some grilled sticky pork kebabs,  pickled green papaya and cucumber and then the condiments – sweet chilli sauce and crushed peanuts to sprinkle on top.  I’m sure the french would be proud of their legacy.

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It’s The Snail Man

We’ve just arrived in Cambodia and we’re already sitting in a cafe having some fantastic Ice Coffee when who should pass by but the snail man.  I literally chased him down the street to get some of these tasty morsels.  Only 20p for a bag of  steamed snails  with sweet chilli sauce – A bit like buying a bag of nuts.  Nobody else seems to want any though.

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Undoubtedly the world capital for street food. You could literally spend weeks trapsing around Bangkok trying different dishes and never have the same thing twice.  The thing is,in practice it’s too easy to find something you really like and eat it all the time, especially if you pass the same way often – think duck noodle soup, I am.   

So for the last couple of times we pass through Bangkok this trip I’ve decided to stick to the without eating the same dish twice.  The Idea Comes from Richard Barrow on his fantastic Thai Food Blog – Although I’m not able to stay in Bangkok eating food for 30 day, as much as I’d love to, everytime I’m there for the next few weeks I’ll keep it going.

Anyway heres a couple of standout dishes from this visit:

Grilled mackerel wrapped in banana leaf – We got this on a stall on Samsen Soi 6 where there are a few places doing grilled fish.  I love the way the Thais cover their fish in bucket loads of salt before it goes on the grill – the seasoning penetrates right through and gives the flesh a slightly cured flavour.

Spicy Beef Salad – This young gentleman made me an unbelieveable Thai beef salad.   It had an incredible amount of fresh chilli and the guy working there was even worried I might not be able to eat it.  Obviously I proved them wrong, but it was the hottest thing I’ve ever enjoyed.  Lots of plain cabbage and Thai basil help to cool though.

Mixed Noodle Soup – My personal favourite dish in the morning has got to be a bowl of noodle soup.  This place we went to  on Phra Sumen was jam packed with older women munching away on steaming bowls of soup – a sure sign of a good meal I’m told.  The soup had fish sausage,fish balls, wontons, pork balls and was topped off by this huge corn cracker on top.  Cornflakes with soup mmm.

Pork and Vermicelli Kebabs – I’m gonna struggle passing one of the stalls selling these guys.  The meat is a bit fermented giving it a bit of a funky taste so not everybody’s cup of tea. 

 Chicken Rice – Actually  a Chinese  dish, but given the thai onceover with a super spicy and fresh dip for the chicken.  But apart from that its just a plate of perfectly poached chicken over rice, some of the broth with chinese celery,and a few chunks of cucumber.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best. 

Thai stlye seafood Salad – More salad, More chilli.  It always seems that when a dish has lots of cooling leaves and herbs the thais use this as an excuse to add a shitload of chilli.  This is just freshly cooked seafood, leaves, some thai basil and a sweet/sour/spicy/salty dressing.  More simple great food.  And where else can you get fresh fish for 60p?

Papaya Salad – Another Salad, why not?  It’s been absoloutely roasting in Bangkok this week.  All the fresh salads have been a godsend.  This is a classic northern thai dish of green papaya strips, long beans, peanuts, tomato.  It’s dressed with fish sauce, lime and lots of chill – of course- then its pounded up in a huge mortar to bruise it a little and mix it up.

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