Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chiang Mai Pt 3 : Nasi Jumpru - BYO Sticky Rice

On my last day in Chiang Mai before flying back to Bangkok, my dear friend, Khan, took me to this very cute and stylish restaurant a bit out of town. It was a sunny and lovely day and Nasi Jumpru seemed to shine out of know where on the side of the Chiang Mai - San Kampaeng Highway.

This restaurant serves fusion food-Northern food, western style. Not another typical local food restaurant - even the name Nasi Jumplu is lent from Malay, meaning rice and dishes. Die hard fans of true Northern food might or might not like it but I actually do. Only one thing that disappointed me was that sticky rice was not on the menu. It's a sin not to have sticky rice with Norther food - fusion or not!
The venue is very nice - they also offer al fresco I preferred the air conditioned room on that particular day as the smell of still water in the field was not very appealing to me. The interior is very cosy - the decor and furniture are very warm and welcoming. The centre piece on this table is fancy yellow aubergines - they should be in Disneyland!

Plating was wonderful and the food itself was superb, albeit without sticky rice.We had green chilli relish and pork scratchings (crispy pork rind) and spicy sausages. These are two of Chiang Mai signature dishes - and Nasi Jumpru did it nicely. We also had Pork leg Northern Curry which came with thin pancakes like those you have with Peking Duck - this was something not traditional but not bad at all. The meat came away easily from the bone - tender and tasty. Yum. It's a same the two of us were so full so we did not try any of the puddings. Maybe next time:)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stanley and his Pet

I have posted about this before here. This time Bob was able to capture pictures of Stanley and his pet. The mouse, that is. I don't know how many he's got but this one is alive and well, albeit a bit wet from being groomed.

Maybe this one is similar to "Dojo" in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age . Or maybe Stanley just treats it like a lollipop? Who knows?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

School Reunion

Our girls' school back in Thailand has been a very good school and quite famous academically. It's a state school not private so students then were from all walks of life and backgrounds.I don't know much about our school in the present days - as things change and evolve all the time but I imagine rules will have changed with time. It used to be quite restricted with all the rules for the girls. We could wear our hair long, no perms, no ornaments apart from black and black only hair clips. The hems of our skirts had to be below knees. We could not scream and shout. When one the teachers walked past we had to stand to the side. We sat in mathematics and science classes as well as cooking and home economics. When we were in the toilette we had to pass water as gently and quietly as possible (so unhealthy!) - you've got the idea.

A couple of our friends are sitting in our school board and one told me that they have relaxed pretty much about the girls' rules and now the girls can wear long hair and wrist watches and bangles. Of course, what else do you expect? Time has changed and the past is another country like they said. I have watched 'Mad Men' and been reminded of 'another country' as I could see changes demonstrated from season to season.

Our head girl (whom we selected through student votes - very democratic back then) and several friends organised class reunion for the three of us when I was in Thailand in February. Three of us includes me from downunder, Sasha from the US and Pom from the UK. We were all back home at the same time so it was real nice we could catch up. There were about 60 of us - very noisy but definitely one of the most fun days of my time in Thailand. Thanks to technology that we can communicate with friends through Facebook and Line (communication app) - and we timed our visit to be around the same time.

We have doctors, pharmacists, judge, lawyers, IT experts, artists, lecturers, nurses, Air Force and Army officers and etc. but we left all those behind outside the function room and turned back time to be school girls of 16 (at heart) all over again. We also so had a guest - this was funny as we had the signage on the ground floor of the venue to direct our friends to the right room - it was one of our school seniors but she was 8 years ahead so we did not see or know her at our school. But she saw the signage and came to visit which was nice. School ties are pretty strong. I'd say.

We had sore throats from talking, shouting and singing. We had sore legs from jumping and dancing. We were still a bit hungry because no one was interested that much in eating at the function. All of these were gone the next few hours or the next day. What left are very good, warm memories and lasting friendships.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Officers Mess @ Fort Takapuna

We have been Jeremy Schmid's fans for over 10 years since his days as a young chef at Palazzo Roma in Drury. Then he entered into Hell's Kitchen competition on TV and would have won has he not withdrawn from the show due to work commitment. We loved his Creme Brulee pretty much back then.

He had opened Two-Fifteen, his own brasserie in Mt Eden after a stint as Executive Chef for Orbit at Sky City a few years later.. We had frequented his place and enjoyed his small plates especially his chacuterie plate with bread and smoked butter. Then he sold this brasserie more than a year ago and the place and the food has never been that good.

He has moved on to his new venture at The Officers Mess in Devonport. This is not quite a restaurant as such but a venue for functions which he has told us renders more revenue and with much less headaches. It's open for dinner only on Thursday nights and the main reason is that people can come and taste his food and wine before deciding for the functions or his die-hard fans like ourselves can still enjoy his crafts. The menu, which is changed every week, is small and the venue is more intimate - only a few tables and of course, reservation is very essential. He also opens the door on Sundays for brunch - a couple hundred covers every Sunday cannot be that bad!

It's quite a mission for us to travel to the Shore - there were 2 accidents on motorway last Thursday evening and it took us well over an hour to get there. It's worth it. I had my usual Flash Fried Squids and shared fish on pumpkin bed for main, and Creme Brulee for pudding with Bob. We still love his Creme Brulee after all these years.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Too Hot

As you may know that Bonnie attracts all sort friends during her walkies in the park. This retriever is one of them. Bonnie is not normally keen on playing with much bigger dogs but this one is an exception.
On one hot, sunny day they played and played and things turned a little bit too hot for the retriever. He decided to to take a dip in storm water drain - Bonnie was thinking about it but Bob told her not to even think about it so she came home nice and dry.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Deconstructed Berry Cheesecake

Easy, lazy way of making 'cheesecake'.

For 2 you'll need:

120 grams frozen strawberries and raspberries
2 tablespoons caster sugar
A tiny pinch of salt
70 gram sweet biscuits (I was naughty, I used Shortbread biscuits in mine)
1 teaspoon butter, melted
100 grams Mascarpone
50 grams Cream cheese
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Mixed frozen fruits and caster sugar in a jug, microwave for 50 seconds, add salt,stir and set aside until cool. When it is completely cool, give another good stir and refrigerate.

Blitz biscuits in food processor and mix with melted butter. Reserve 2 teaspoon of the mixture before dividing into 2 nice glasses. Press the crumbs lightly and chill.

Beat mascarpone, cream cheese and icing sugar until fluffy. Pipe into the prepared glasses, cover with cling film and chill further.

Before serving, ladle  fruit mixture over the chilled 'cheesecake' in the glasses. Sprinkle with the reserved biscuit crumbs. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chiang Mai Pt 2 : Making Merit at the Country Temple

One of the reason I flew up to Chiang Mai was to celebrate my friend's birthday.We were in the same all girls school ages ago.This friend of mine, Pattirat is a business women in restaurant trade and she is very well known in the local industry. Pat planned for us 10 girls to stay in Chiang Mai for a couple of nights and then travel to the neighbouring Chiang Rai. We would also go to one country Buddhist Temple 40 minutes from the city to erect the ornamental part of the gable for the shrine hall hall at the temple.This ornamental part is call 'Cho-fah', paid for by Pat and her husband. More about Thai Temple architecture is here

To be able to dress up for the occasion, my friends took me to do dress shopping at Lao Jow Lane - quite famous among shoppers, both locals and visitors for fabric, clothing and craft shopping. I spent about 30 minutes and got a very nice entire Northern Thai outfit. This outfit consists of a long narrow skirt and a crop top - very fitting for this event.

At the temple the next day, we were greeted warmly by the locals on arrival. We sat in the main ordination hall for an hour or so while the monks were chanting. We chipped in some money for the temple before proceeding to the shrine hall for the Cho-fah ceremony. Building halls is believed to be one of the great merits you can do for the Buddhist temples. And to  finish off the halls, Cho-fahs need to be erected and connected to the gables. A lot of Chinese crackers and flowers were dispensed during the 15 minute ceremony.People here were so friendly and warm - we had been generously fed and profusely thanked (for the Cho-fah). Pat has done something meaningful for this small Buddhist community far from the city where money does not come by that easily. Nicely done, my friend.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Close Encounter

Life is not fair. Rudi has moved house to the other side of town. Harper is still devastated and not yet herself (who will be when your BFF has moved away for miles!) Even Stanley is not around - his parents have gone for holidays and he has to be in Summer Camp for cats!

When Bonnie goes for her walkies in the park, she has no usual friends around at the mo and has to make do with new ones. Some dogs are OK but some are too pesky for her liking. Cats are dubious but they are worth a try. This one is perhaps not the best kind of cats for close encounter. The cat's body language makes her feel a bit iffy. So maybe next time lucky, heh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chiang Mai Pt 1 - Lanna Rice Barn Diner & Homestay

I am so sorry I did not have a chance to do any blog post during my 3 week stay in Thailand. Wi-fi was so unstable at my mother's and I had to use my brother's Personal Hotspot with my iPhone and iPad - and it was painfully slow. I also had a bit of tummy upset and a few days out of action in the first week back home.

Anyway, now I am back here - and New Zealand just beat Australia in World Cup Cricket ODI. Just one wicket but that's more than enough.

Bangkok has been changing every year I fly back home - this time there was no exception. More buildings, more motorways, more elevated train rails and it seemed to be more people. I will post about things in Bangkok later. Today I will talk about my first trip to Chiang Mai in 15 years.

I flew out  to Chiang Mai with my dear friend who is permanent resident of this city in the north. The market for low cost airlines is booming and travelers can benefit from many choices of airlines from 2 airports. Several domestic and regional flights depart and arrive at Don Muang Airport (this is the old Bangkok International Airport - a bit sad and tired, honestly). Low cost airlines such as Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Lion Air are based at Don Muang which is very handy for me as it takes only 20 minutes to travel to the airport from my mother's. If you are closer to Suvarnabhumi Airport (the new Bangkok International Airport) you can choose Air Asia, Bangkok Airways,Thai Airways and Thai Smile. You can buy your ticket, select you seat and check in on-line - very easy. You can change departure times but not the routes - if you don't have fixed schedule, you might want to buy one way to start with. Nok Air is very OK in my opinion. Although their fleet is a little bit vintage but their service is wonderful. I flew back to Bangkok with Thai Lion Air and I will post about this later.

Chiang Mai has also changed dramatically in 15 years but it still has its old world's charm in some places. I wish someone would invest and restore this nice old building above to its former glory.

From Chiang Mai Airport we went straight to lunch at Lanna Rice Barn or Lam Khao Long as the locals will call it.

This restaurant has been converted from the old rice barns and buildings into restaurant and homestay.

It is quite close to Wiang Kum Kam, the ancient settlement that was flooded and abandoned 700 hundred years ago. The food was typical northern fare and very tasty although I could eat much but I enjoyed the beautiful flavour and atmosphere. Allow a couple of hours here to explore Wiang Kum Kam if you can.