Slurrrrp! A delicious lunch WithLocals

This past Saturday, T-bone and I had a very unique experience. We stuffed Hunca Munca into her sausage casing carrier, went for a ride on the BTS, and ate an obscene amount of food. None of that is unique – it pretty much describes every single weekend of our Thailand existence. The unique part is that we got to eat the obscene amount of food in the home of a lovely Thai family.

I was recently contacted by WithLocals, a company that connects travellers and locals through the power of chow. Basically, locals with a passion for Thai cooking invite travellers to come to their homes for a meal. WithLocals vets the host families, and then posts their profiles on-line so that travellers can choose a dining/cultural experience from a variety of options and price points. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and when the company invited me to enjoy a meal with one of their host families, I was pumped. It doesn’t get much better than a mound of tasty calories cooked by friendly people who don’t mind if Hunca Munca tags along.

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Or more accurately, they didn’t mind that we tagged along with Hunca Munca

On Saturday morning we made our way to the conglomeration of shopping malls next to the Siam BTS. Depending on how much you like to shop, this neighbourhood is either utter paradise, or pure, unmitigated horror. Fortunately, we weren’t there to shop. A friend of our host family met us at Siam Center, and drove us across the river to the lovely home of Meaw and Eiad.

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The two friendly faces in the back row other than Todd (I wouldn’t call my face friendly in this photo)

Our hosts were extremely welcoming, and they had prepared a MOTHERLOAD of Thai food for us to try. I had to use my full powers of introversion to contain my excitement when I saw the delicious spread on the table.

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Mmmmmmm…… Where to start……

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Two friendly fellas just begging to be eaten

 

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Som Tam (green papaya salad)

 

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Spicy beef salad. They grilled the beef over charcoal, and it was deeeeelicious.

 

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I didn’t get close-ups, but the feast also included pad Thai, pork omelette, rice, french fries, and spring rolls

 

While we ate, Hunca Munca alternated between sitting on our laps, taking selfies with the helpers in the kitchen, growling with our hosts’ friend,

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and writhing around on the floor. Todd’s pretty good at eating with Zoe on his lap, but I’m a terrible multi-tasker, so when it’s my turn to hold’n’eat, I usually set up a little “play center” on the floor. Oops. Did I just admit that publicly…

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Just chillin’ with her multi-coloured cow/giraffe thingey

As we ate, we got acquainted with our hosts. It was neat to learn about their backgrounds, and they were interested to hear about our experiences in Thailand.

By the time dessert rolled around, the “play center’s” entertainment value had worn off, and Hunca Munca was asleep on my chest. I didn’t think I could hold any more food, but you will be relieved to know that I girded my loins and gave it my best shot. It’s a good thing that I am so determined, because there were at least 4 desserts to sample.

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Mango sticky rice and some interesting rice flour flowers

 

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After dessert, our hosts showed us a display case with photos of all the travellers they had hosted in their home, and told us that they would add our photo to the shelf. I’m not sure that our sweaty mugs will improve the look of their home, but we were touched by the sentiment.

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Before we left, Meaw presented us with scarves made out of traditional fabric, and invited us to visit again. We were really overwhelmed by their generosity, and I do hope we’ll have a chance to take them up on their offer.

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I would definitely recommend this experience, especially to travellers. It can be difficult to meet “real” locals when you’re a tourist, and WithLocals provides a great opportunity. If you want to enjoy a meal with cute Meaw and Eiad, select “Dine in a homely setting.” Your heart and your stomach will both be full when you leave 🙂

Foodie Friday: Big Tree Restaurant

Today’s Foodie Friday post focuses on a hidden but simultaneously not-so-hidden gem: I am referring to the restaurant located on the grounds of our apartment building. If you drove past on the main road, the massive walls that the apartment owners have erected totally obscure it from view, but if you’re a resident of the apartment, you can basically spit on it from your balcony.

It is nestled amidst a veritable forest of Big Trees.

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Perfectly situated for an afternoon at the pool!

And from a more flattering angle.

The restaurant is the brain child of my l’il buddy, the Lovely Lip.
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(Dear Lovely Lip: please do not hurt me for posting the photo of you trying on the cupcake skirt)

She loves home decor and entrepreneurial adventures, and she has made the restaurant a darling getaway for hungry teachers, football geeks (who inexplicably want to get up at all hours to watch college ball) and a random assortment of neighbourhood workers. It opened several weeks ago, and since that time, it has been luring us and our neighbours with the promise of food at our very doorstep. I mean, some days, it is just a little too difficult to walk the 10 metres to the street.

And an additional 10 meters to the pork noodle place.

The restaurant serves a variety of Western and Thai food. It clearly understands its main audience – teachers can get yer basic heart-attack-on-a-plate Western foods, move on to coconut milk and Pad Thai, and then abruptly switch to green salad and chicken when they start feeling the guilt.

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Nope. Not feeling guilty yet.

I’m not naming names, but a few of the teachers have become permanent fixtures.

And it’s Cute Patriotic Texas Beth for the win!

Todd and I usually visit several times per week. Even though I basically know the menu by heart, it takes me forever to make up my mind. Thankfully, Lip and her waiters do not subscribe to the hover school.

Just the Looking Cute and Perky school

They do, however, enjoy taking pictures of their customers eating. Such as this gem that showed up on their website. I’m sure it’s helped increase their sales.

The sad part is that I wasn’t even trying to pose for this one.

Although my arteries may disagree, I am pleased to have a convenient venue in which to eat tasty food and inflict my abominable Thai on unsuspecting waiters.

Foodie Friday: Backpacker Grub

The time has come. I would be remiss in my blogging duties if I did not dedicate a Foodie Friday post to backpacker grub. Thailand is a magnet for backpackers, and if there’s one thing that all backpackers need, it’s food to fuel their intense lifestyle of sleeping in, wandering around buying stuff, drinking beer on patios, and wearing loose cotton clothing. When a friend from Calgary told me that her roommate was backpacking through Thailand, I knew I’d found the perfect chance to sample the gastronomic delights of the backpacker’s ghetto. I met up with the delightful Intrepid Italian Christiana, and we waddled, bellies first, to Khao San Road, the global Pad Thai epicentre.

Christiana intrepidly avoided the allure of the KFC lurking in the background

Generally, when people tell you that they just l-o-v-e Thai food, they are referring to one of the following items: red curry, green curry, yellow curry, tom yum soup, mango sticky rice, banana pancakes, iced coffee and last but definitely not least, Pad Thai.* These, when diluted with a Chang beer, form the nutritional pyramid of the Backpacker Diet. The Intrepid Italian and I only had an afternoon, but we plunged in with abandon. We take research seriously around these parts. She started with a bowl of green curry:

Green Curry (Gaeng Kiaw Wan) – not my photo, in case you didn’t already guess that from the good lightning and tasteful presentation

After a hefty dose of coconut-cream-laden curry, we needed a little iced coffee to cleanse the pallet. Thai coffee is going to receive its own post at some point, but for now, let’s just call it health in a disposable cup. It is a combination of Nescafe or espresso (if you’re lucky), evaporated milk, coffee whitener, a heaping helping of sugar and a goodly dollop of sweetened condensed milk, all mixed together and poured over ice.

And I also managed to miss taking a photo of our iced coffees, so you will have to make do with one of T-bone buying his daily dose.

We later moved on to Pad Thai. I go through phases with Pad Thai – sometimes it tastes like ambrosia from heaven, sometimes I get a little get sick of it. But in the end, I am forced to admit that the combination of noodles, chicken, egg, chili, lime, peanuts, and a gallon of hot grease is the ultimate comfort food. Like the proverbial dog to its vomit, I always return.

One of the approximately ten billion Pad Thai vendors on Khao San Road

We bring tidings of comfort and joy

It was necessary to wash this deliciousness down with a cold Chang Singha (they are basically the same brew). I cannot call this beer good, but it is adequate. Enough said.

It was cold and moist, so we choked it down

It was my dearest wish all day to find a plate of mango sticky rice, but the elusive vendor evaded me. I comforted myself with a banana pancake liberally doused in Nutella.

Like all good comfort food, these start and end with hot fat

It was a long journey back to my home in the suburbs, and on the way, I somehow felt the need to purchase and consume an entire pineapple to cut the grease in my gullet.

Calling my name…

It may not be the finest cuisine that Thailand has to offer, but there is a certain je ne se quoi about backpacker grub.

* Credit where credit is due: Thank-you Amara for the list idea and for sending your room mate to me