Baan Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Picked up in a sawngthaew from your hotel, once at Baan Thai Cookery School you don pretty aprons and bandanas, and head straight to the local markets to buy weird and wonderful fresh ingredients. On return to the cooking school, prepare to eat! To start, a Thai “welcome pack” consisting of chilli, peanuts, coconut, dried shrimp, ginger and shallot self-assembled in a cone leaf of some sort, accompanied by some sticky rice and banana and mangosteen. Next we cooked up one of my favourites – chicken and cashew nut, immediately followed by a spicy noodle salad and chicken in coconut milk soup. We used little green chillies for this, how many was up to the individual punter. After a brief 30 minute break which involved lying on the floor under the fan propped up by those Thai triangular pyramidal cushions, soon enough it was back to the grind to make some red curry paste. This involved finely cutting up heaps of herbs and roots and then grinding them up in a heavy duty mortar and pestle until we had dead arms. Before we knew it we were back sweating up a storm in front of an oil-filled wok frying up fish cakes and cooking red curry chicken. A kilo or 2 heavier, we were then escorted home. Fantastic day, but my hot tip is: Don’t eat the day (or 2) before.