Monday, April 18, 2011

Thai-One-On: The Food in Thailand

This will be the first of several Thailand posts. I first need to admit that I actually saw very little of actual Thailand. We stayed at the JW Marriott Resort, in Phuket, about 45 minutes north of Patong (a main town in Phuket). We only ventured out of the resort two or three times in town. The first night, which is a total blur (pictures and stories to come on that), a day for the water festival and to attend a cooking class I had booked, and then we went to Phuket Town to experience the night market. The JW Marriott in Phuket is an amazing self-contained resort with access to a private beach, 7 restaurants, daily activities, 4 pools, gorgeous spacious rooms, and amazing views. This was quite the change from our usual "roughing it" vacations.

I was very excited about Thai Food, as I love Thai Food in North America. I was a little concerned, after my disappointment in the Greek Food in Greece. Every meal I had became my new favorite and I became a hog who could only fantasize about my next rendezvous with a new Thai Dish. Total food whore, I am one. I may have come home with a new tattoo stating "PadThai4Life".

Thai Iced Tea- My day couldn't start or end without a nice icey class of this tea. I would throw a mental toddler-like fit if it looked like this wasn't happening. I am very disappointed in my behavior, but one glass of this and you will understand. I ended up having the kitchen staff at the resort sell me an industrial size bag of the tea leaves to take home (which was only about $10!). Basically it is a strong mixture of black tea, star anise, tamarind, sweetened with sugar, and topped with evaporated milk. I am now armed with the big bag of tea and a recipe. Now I only need to find a tea strainer, a pitcher, and condensed milk. Should be no problem right? Ha. I live in Moscow, land of never finding anything you need when you need it. My love will persevere.

Vodka Red Bull Bucket- I do not believe this drink originates in Thailand, but I need to issue a warning that it is served up quickly and cheaply in Patong. You are given two options while walking down the street, Red Bull/Vodka bucket or Ping-Pong show. This is a dirty trick on their part, because you can't tell me that they don't realize that after enough of these buckets you will end up at a Ping Pong Show. Or you may end up like this:

You need to be warned about both.

BBQ Pork Ramen- This was not the Ramen of my college days. I was a college-level-hangover that day and would have been opened to the hungover eating of the hard dry brick of ramen, but luckily for me, that wasn't an option, and I was served of this bowl of delicious-ness. It was a meaty broth, with curly ramen noodles, all sorts of strange mushrooms, bok choy, tofu, and topped with BBQ pork. I could eat this daily.

Phuket Town Night Market

On the word of Happy Hour waitress at the hotel, we cabbed over to the Phuket Town Night Market on Sunday night (about 30-40 minutes from out hotel). There wasn't too much I was interested in buying, which was a big disappointment  on my behalf, there also wasn't much I was interested in eating, because I am not Anthony Zimmerman and I do not risk eating balls. Ever. There was a lot of food and culture buzzing around, however, and I was very interested to see that.

I think this is the food interpretation of Ursula from Disney's The Little Mermaid. I can't be sure though, because I didn't really know the Thai people really were so into the Little Mermaid.

No idea what sort of eggs they are or why you would eat so many of them. I didn't plan for a Thai-Hospital trip though, and learned my lesson in Panama about ruining my life with street food, so I abstained.

Nothing overtly gross here, but really, what natural food have you ever seen these colors?

This adorable little pusher couldn't tell me what food that is on the stick either. I didn't see him eat one.

I used to see these Horse-Shoe crabs wash up on the beach in Florida. Never knew they were edible. Still not convinced of this.

These next couple pictures, the same rules apply as for swimming, do not look at them if you have eaten within the past hour or are currently eating. Or really do whatever you want, I assume you are an adult.

These are pictures of things I used to call Terminix about when I lived in Florida. Here at the market, it was toough to get a picture because the tray kept emptying. I was getting elbowed out of the way while taking these pictures, because people were concerned they'd miss their portion or crickets and larva. Add this to the list, right under balls, of things I am worried I will accidently eat.

We did our first cooking school while we were in Budapest and enjoyed it so much that I booked one for our Thailand trip. Based on TripAdvisor reviews, we picked Pum's. Absolutely great experience. Everyone at the school was so friendly, the cooking was fun and the eating was better. The school also let us come early for our 6pm class and leave our stuff locked up so we could walk around Patong unencumbered. We only did the Mini-Me class which allowed us each to choose 2 dishes to cook and go home with a cookbook. Because we had a group of 4, we were able to have a private class, which was a big improvement over our Budapest class which was infiltrated by American sneaker-wearing tourists who told us that night before they said "oh fuck it, we are going to Burger King".

Fresh ingredients used at the school.

I am a total mess. Why am I slouching like this? Who knows. Buzzed cooking at its finest. This is a big step up from the mess I was searching for an hour for the spa I had told our friends we would meet them at for our 4pm appointments.

 Ignore my hair in these pictures; I will explain later what the deal is with the white powder. 

Beach Shack Food

Down the beach from our hotel was a beach shack that offered plastic table sea-side dining and 1 hour massages for under $15USD. The food was fantastic, despite me never once getting what I actually ordered. This seemed to be a problem only I was having, so I am not sure where the breakdown was, but I liked everything I had, and for $3 a dish, who could complain?

I ordered Green Curry and this seemed to be a Sweet and Sour Prawn dish, that I can't wait to try and replicate in my kitchen.

 I ordered Pad Thai and ended up with a vegetable soup with strange mushrooms. I think this shack cook knows me better than I know myself, because I loved this soup.

Resort Food

I didn't take a lot of resort food pictures, due to being too hungry or too many Pina Coladas in by the time we ate to take many. But I do have this. One resort dinner, my husband ordered shrimp and soup and then liked to spend the rest of the night saying he was still hungry because after all he "only had a shrimp for dinner". Does this look like any shrimp you have ever seen?

Shrimp Before

Shrimp After

I enjoyed ending every beach day with a fresh Pina Colada by the pool, overlooking the beach. Life couldn't get better than this. Well maybe if I had bothered to ever blow dry my hair or put makeup on. But you know, other than that.


  1. Sounds like you had a blast. The farthest I've been out of the US is Vancouver BC, which is really only about a 4 hour drive from my house, and I didn't even need a passport at the time.

  2. Marisa, there are so beautiful places to see in the US too! I had visited nearly every state before I moved overseas!

  3. WOW! What an amazing time! That's definitely my kind of hotel and holy shnikeys... I'd like a bucket drink right about now :-)

  4. Sara I am never drinking again. Vowed. Haha, unless the wine while I am in France this summer is as good as everyone says of course.

  5. Robin! I'm such an ass, by the time I realized I hadn't responded to your email, you were already back with this post. Looks like you had a great time though, and hurrah for not having to spend anytime in the hospital! I'm jealous you got tea leaves, I'm going to have to ask my relatives to hoard some over next time they come to the U.S. Looking forward to your other posts! And that white powder--baby powder for keeping cool right? I've seen it plastered all over little kid's faces, and well, after seeing one too many pictures of Lindsay Lohan, you forget that it could be something as innocent as baby powder!