Tag Archives: food

Thai Cooking Class in Ao Nang

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After a few days in Krabi town and visiting Railay, we decided to shift accommodation to the nearby town of Ao Nang. A mere 20 minute songthaew ride from Krabi town, Ao Nang is a beach town that despite being very touristic was just what we needed for our last couple of days of sleeping in, relaxing and eating-all-the-food before we started our hardcore month of Muay Thai training.

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Best of all, we were there for Alan’s birthday so we ‘splurged’ on a $40 a night room at the cute Ben’s House. We were all about the swimming pool!

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We had a couple of nights in Ao Nang and after spending much of our time there rotating between getting a massage, sipping fresh fruit smoothies and relaxing on the beach, we were off to spend the evening of Alan’s birthday doing something we both love to do: cook!

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We booked a cooking class with Thai Charm Cooking School, run by a husband and wife duo, and were picked up in the evening from our hotel to be taken to the countryside outdoor kitchen where the class was located. Welcomed with a cup of tea we were invited to choose from the many options of what we would like to learn to cook.

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It was an extensive menu - we would each be cooking a soup, a salad, a stir-fry and a curry (including the paste from scratch), followed by a melt-in-your-mouth dessert of both bananas in coconut milk and mango sticky rice. Naturally, Alan and I selected different things to cook each so that we could taste as many dishes as possible. Let’s just say, I’m glad we arrived on empty stomachs!

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The cooking class was small which was excellent - the maximum amount of people they ever have at once is 10, though being low season our class was just Alan and I plus another couple. Our teacher, Yok (I’m not sure of the spelling but she said her name was like an egg yolk!), was very passionate about her business and that shined through in the recipes she taught us - they were utterly delicious.

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We left with a plethora of new recipes (all contained in one little cookbook), a certificate (woohoo!) and a much better understanding of Thai food - not to mention, extremely full tummies!

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Perhaps the only downside to the cooking class - if you can even call it that - is that for the rest of our time in Thailand when I ordered any of the dishes we had cooked at a restaurant, I was often dissapointed because they weren’t nearly as delicious as Yok’s recipes!

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Taking a Thai cooking class was one of my favourite things we did in Thailand. I love to cook, and of course eat. Despite being slightly on the pricey side, it’s an activity I would highly recommend to any visitors to Thailand. In fact, its something I would love to do in more countries I visit - there’s no better way to learnt about a new culture than through it’s food, right!

The details: We booked a cooking class with Thai Charm Cooking School after reading rave reviews about it on TripAdvisor - and we were definitely impressed. I would absolutely recommend Yok’s classes to everyone, her enthusiam and passion for what she does shines through. For more information visit their website here. Just one tip: make sure you go with an empty stomach!

Have you taken a cooking class in a foreign country?


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Penang in Pictures

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Penang was the kind of place that I wanted to take photos of EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

I'm guilty of visiting some places where my camera remains untouched in my bag for days, but in Penang - Georgetown especially - I enthusiastically lugged it around pretty much constantly.

In my opinion, every street, every building, every moment, every itsy bitsy detail was worthy of being snapped into the memory bank.

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I'll admit I was skeptical of this popular Malaysian island before we arrived. I'd read a few fellow bloggers' posts about being underwhelmed by Penang so I was worried I'd feel the same. I'd also visited as a kid all the way back in 1997 and had some great memories...thankfully I was anything but disappointed!

We stayed seven nights in Georgetown, Penang state's capital city of about 750,000 people. Our days and nights were spent exploring and eating - this UNESCO World Heritage area also has a reputation of being a Foodie's paradise!

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The number one rule of ambling the streets of Georgetown is: don't forget to look up! There is incredible creativity at every turn, vivid lanterns piercing the blue sky, and antique wooden shutters hiding stories from the past. Penang blinded me with colour no matter which direction I looked.

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Prepare yourself for the onslaught...a plethora of photos of this island I loved.

So what did we get up to?

Street Art

Georgetown is known for its diverse street art. There is such a creative vibe to this city, I was delighted with what we found at each and every turn.

We picked up a map from our guesthouse and took ourselves on a lengthy DIY walking tour of Georgetown's street art. As well as spotting many of the popular works marked on the map, it was just as fun ducking our heads around corners and getting lost down alleyways - you never know what you might discover!

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Temples

As we explored the lively streets we welcomed the respite of beautiful temples and mosques, inviting us in for a few moments of peace and gratitude.

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Clan Jetties

Eventually we reached the ocean, and explored some of the Clan Jetties. Established in the late 1800's by Chinese immigrants, some families still reside in these housing settlements built out over the water. Despite slowly developing into what seems to be a string of souvenir shops, a wander down Chew Jetty (and the other five remaining Clan Jetties) remains a worthwhile glimpse into another life - plus some incredible sea views!

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Why yes, that is a long drop toilet going directly into the sea!

Little India

We meandered Georgetown's lanes of Little India, absorbing the rich aromas of spices cooking and Bollywood music blasting.

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Whilst we were there, we couldn't resist grabbing a thali for lunch.

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Perhaps followed by a few rainbow-coloured bites of Indian candy?

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Penang Hill

One evening, as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, we ventured out of Georgetown to Penang Hill, for a half-price ride (after 7pm) up the funicular!

Boasting spectacular, sweeping views right across the bright lights of Georgetown and all the way back to the mainland, it was worth the expense.

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Gurney Drive

Another day, we laced up our walking shoes and spent an afternoon ambling from Chinatown to Gurney Drive, wandering along the shore and admiring the views back towards the mainland.

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While we were nearby, we couldn't miss the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple and Wat Chayamangkalaram Thai Buddhist Temple. Breathtaking!

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Fort Cornwallis and the Jubilee Clocktower

For a rich lesson in Penang's trading history, we headed to Fort Cornwallis and the Jubilee Clock Tower. Fort Cornwallis was originally built back in the late 1700's, yet has never seen a battle!

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The Jubilee Clocktower was built in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Two interesting facts: 1) it is 60 feet tall, one foot per year of the Queen's reign, and 2) it is ever so slightly on a lean from the impact of bombings during WWII.

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Batu Ferringhi

Of course, no visit to an island is complete without a day on the beach! From Georgetown, we caught a bus to Batu Ferringhi to feel the sand between our toes and have a laugh at those holding on for dear life on the banana boats.

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Cat Cafe...?

Once back in Georgetown, why yes, we did indeed visit the local Cat Cafe! It was my first Cat Cafe experience, and despite the decadently delicious chocolate cake I'm not sure I'll be back. The cats were a bit...boring? Puppy cafe, anyone?

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Delicious Food

In addition to chocolate cake, of course we devoured plenty of tasty food. Penang has plenty of local specialties - and while we did our very best to eat as many as we could, it appears my hands were too busy shovelling food into my mouth rather than getting snap happy with the camera.

However there was one dish in particular that caught my fancy and which I perhaps ate every single day we were there. Without a doubt, the world's most perfect combination of rice noodles, cockles, prawns, bean sprouts and chives, bound together in a deliciously addictive soy sauce.

Char Kway Teow. I love you.

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Hawker food centres abound in Georgetown, with anything and everything you could want to eat! If you're staying in Chinatown, Red Garden is worth getting to for dinner.

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The constant heat of more than 30 degrees Celsius had us begging to quench our thirst. From many days of arduous research, Alan and I can conclude that fresh apple juice trumps all. You can thank us later.

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Relax and Sleep

We escaped some hours of the exhausting heat in our peaceful room. We hunted down a brand spanking new guesthouse, in a perfectly renovated traditional building - I'd be back to stay at Rope Walk Guesthouse in a heartbeat.

We sunk deeply into the bed at night, and lapped up the extravagant shower and its multitude of settings (mist!). Seriously though, how could you resist this outlook from bed, for just NZD$30 a night?

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As our guesthouse was very new and relatively unknown, we were the only guests. The friendly staff generously attended to us with delicious food, while insisting we relax and watch some TV.

We were fed fresh Roti Canai for breakfast, and brought peanut pancakes and cendol at just the slight mention that we were interested in trying them.

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Oh, Penang, you really got me good.

Vibrant, colourful, creative, cultural, interesting, historical, friendly and delicious - in my opinion a place that you just can't quite get enough of.

Penang, I'll be back!

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Have you visited Penang? What was your experience like?


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Healthy and Delicious Crispy Toasted Muesli Recipe

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. If I'm out for brunch, I'm an eggs benedict kinda girl, but at home I usually rely on cereal/muesli/porridge, yoghurt and fruit for a healthy boost of energy to get going in the morning.

And boy, this muesli is a superb start to the day. It's a versatile and simple muesli recipe that can easily be adapted with what you feel like or what you have on hand. You can change up the nuts and seeds, or even add some dried fruit. Live a little, be wild, go crazy!

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Crispy Homemade Muesli Recipe

Inspired by Annabel Langbein's low-fat muesli recipe in Great Food for Busy Lives

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups rolled oats (I like the chunkiness of the homebrand ones)
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup fruit juice (I used Just Juice's stevia sweetened apple juice, though I've made with cranberry before and that was delish)
  • 1/4 cup flavourless oil (or coconut oil would be fab!)
  • And a couple of generous handfuls of banana chips, to mix through at the end!

Method:

Preheat oven to 150*C. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds and cinnamon. Mix the apple juice and honey together and heat to dissolve the honey. Add the oil to the juice/honey mixture. Pour the wet mix over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Tip into the largest roasting pan you have and spread out (cleaning up is a breeze if you line the pan with baking paper!). Bake for about an hour, checking every 15 mins or so, until golden. Mix through the banana chips. When cool, store in an airtight container.

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I like it best served with my favourite The Collective yoghurt, blueberries and peaches. Yum!

Whats your favourite breakfast?


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Probably the yummiest salmon noodles you will ever eat.

It's no secret that salmon is right up there in my list of favourite foods.

Well, here's another fun fact for your day: noodles are too! Okay, so perhaps not such a fun fact, but very true none-the-less. I will almost always pick noodles over rice (the only exception being when the noodles are saturated in a gooey "gravy" sauce...this brings back a nasty memory from a while back involving a meal in Thailand and the unfortunate few days that followed...let's not talk about that).

If, like me, you're a lover of salmon and noodles, this recipe is a keeper. Even if you're not, try this! Go on, I dare you. It's delicious, pinky swear.

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It is bursting with fresh flavours – sesame, soy and ginger. It makes a small piece of fresh salmon go a loooong way. It is packed full of greens, wilted down so you hardly even notice you're eating them.  It is delicate, healthy, balanced and more-ish.

This meal is better than takeaways, you have my word.

Adapted from this wonderful book of Annabelle Langbein's. (Thanks Santa!)

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Salmon Noodles

Serves 3 - 4, depending on how hungry you are.

Ingredients

200g dried wheat noodles (soba or udon - though you could really use any kind of noodle)
200-250g salmon, skinned and boned (I usually do this myself, as the salmon is cheaper)
1/4 cup soy sauce + 3 more tablespoons
1 tablespoon sesame oil + 1 more teaspoon
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (or brown sugar, or honey)
A bunch or 2 of bok choy, rinsed and sliced
1/2 red onion, diced OR 2 spring onions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Coriander & sesame seeds, to garnish

Method

Chop salmon into 2 cm chunks. Mix together the first measure of soy sauce (1/4c), first measure of sesame oil (1 tbsp), palm sugar, and onion. Mix salmon into the marinade and set aside for at least 10 minutes (or for a few hours if time allows).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil, and add a scant teaspoon of salt (this makes your noodles taste good!). Once the water boils, add the noodles and simmer until cooked – usually 3 or 4 minutes, but best to refer to the instructions on the noodle packet for this step. Drain.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Cook the salmon and marinade and gently stirfry for a couple of minutes until the salmon is pink (be careful not to overcook!).

Add cooked, drained noodles and bok choy, along with the additional 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Gently toss around to cook the greens, taking extra care not to break up the salmon too much.

Sprinkle salmon noodles with sesame seeds and coriander. Serve.

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This is a quick and easy meal for a weeknight. If you start cooking at 6.30, your salmon noodles will be ready in time for Shorty at 7! It is also great for lunch the next day - reheated or cold.

Enjoy!


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