It seems that I left Italy just before the weather turned really cold, I was lucky but I feel so sorry for all who had suffered because of the snow. Seeing photos of Venice full of ice in the paper this morning was quite shocking, I was there a mere two weeks ago and it all seems so unreal! And even more unreal thinking that my posts these days are about Thailand, where it is quite... hot! But I hope that these images will bring a bit of warmth to my Italian friends.
|By the hotel's pool and Sala Thai restaurant|
We stayed in this hotel in Bangkok, and on the same evening of our arrival we went to the Sala Thai (the Thai house restaurant) for a traditional dinner and dance. The setting, food, music and costumes were all a joy and an experience for the kids, who had never been here before, and thus enjoyed a first taste of Thai style! An hour prior to dinner I requested a vegetarian meal for us, and they obliged happily.
Actually, the meal was almost vegan, or so I think, but if you are vegan it would pay to specify that. We had a soft tofu and vegetable soup, vegetable spring rolls, potato red curry (actually, a piece of tofu in this one would have gone down well, never mind), steamed vegetables, rice, and some strange sweet and spicy caramelized cereal balls, which I guess were more than a snack than anything, but they probably had to fill the sixth plate.
Dessert was fresh fruit and traditional Thai sweets. The pink one is Woon Krob, or crispy gelatin (a paradox!) I tasted it but then wasn't sure if it was made with agar agar or not so I left it there. The green one tasted dry and floury and I had not idea of what it was and then I found it here (Ahloa, or sweet jems!), and the yellow one is Kanom Foy Tong, and it is not suitable for Vegans as it is made of sugary strips of egg yolk (to be honest it was the best tasting out of the three!). On a different day I also tried Pandan Noodles (Lod Chong Nam Ka Ti), which are quite ... photogenic, and of course I forgot to take a photo, but you can have a look here. They were on a 'fruit salad' buffet and I also had water chestnuts and palm seeds, plus nata de coco, but everything was too syrupy for me. And of course there is mango and glutinous rice (like in the floating market photo) but I prefer my mango sans rice.
We then tried coconut ice cream (which had some pandan pieces in it and was ok) and a few other 'sweets', but I don't think that I will return to Thailand for dessert.
We had 3 more Thai meals in another of the hotel's restaurants, where they did have a vegetarian menu, but they offered just more spring rolls, fried noodles and fried rice (with eggs) so it got a bit tiring, but as we were sight-seeing most of the time, we were generally too tired to go and look for interesting eateries, and a couple of times we stayed put just to avoid torrential rain. For a break we had Indian, as we found a really nice Indian 100% vegetarian stall in the food court near the hotel (they even had veggie burgers, Indian style!). We ate there twice, and one evening we went to a nice Indian restaurant for a big meal of all the kids' favourite curries and naan bread. It may seem strange to have Indian food in Thailand, but it was easy with the kids who could even order the food by themselves: all Indian caterers spoke English (even in the food court, where most other locals didn't, once I ordered a green curry in the Thai Vegetarian stall and I got... fried noodles!). Of course there is more vegetarian food available, I remember this from when I first visited many years ago, but at that time we travelled there for a few weeks, we didn't have kids, we were young and more adventurous about street food or small hut restaurants by the beach. For mainstream eateries it may be difficult because fish sauce seems to be averywhere, even in salads. When we visited Ayutthaya (I will write about it later, wonderful place!) we discovered that the area is mostly patronized by Japanese tourists, and we ended up eating from a buffet where the chef informed us that all the food had fish sauce except for the.. vegetarian sushi and vegetable tempura! So lucky that the kids love Japanese food too!
What I have learned after all these years is that the vegetarian traveller has to adapt: yes it was great to have some vegetarian Thai cuisine, but when that wasn't available, well, other cuisines and foods were fine too. Mostly I enjoyed the tropical fruit, and the buzz of being in busy places where people seems to eat at any time of the day or night. We also drunk tons of watermelon juices, and I tasted fresh palm sugar (I saw it being made, I didn't know that it came from the collected nectar of palm' flowers, I wonder if it could be made with the New Zealand Nikau palms too!).
And now, completely off topic but I found this link today and wanted to share the news, I was happy to learn that Party Food for Girls has won the national rounds of the 2011 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Best Children’s and Family Cookbook category (in New Zealand), and apparently Arantxa is the most youthful recipient of the award! To be honest with you I have no idea of how many Children’s and Family Cookbook entries there were in NZ, which is quite a small country after all, nevertheless, it is all great for exposure for us, and it is always lovely to receive and award, so thank you Gourmand!