Noi, our landlady at Apple Retreat Guest House and proprietor of the Blue Rice Restaurant and Cooking School across the road from the accommodation, took us to the main market to explain basic Thai ingredients and offer her views on the health benefits of the Thai diet. Some of her views might not stand up to scientific scrutiny, but the emphasis on fresh herbs and vegetables makes sense.
Back at the restaurant we paired up (me with Harold) and started to cook. In addition to the training kitchen, there was a very large and well-appointed prep kitchen, which seemed to have as many staff as we were students. Indeed, Noi often seemed to spend more time instructing her staff loudly in Thai than she did us, firmly but rather more gently, in perfect English.
We cooked a number of dishes, of which (for me, at least), the fish souffle was the standout. It’s definitely going on a dinner party menu at home. There was some issue with the jungle curry recipe (provided, will all recipes for the week, in a well-produced booklet from Soon and Intrepid) and Noi’s crew cooked a fresh batch from scratch. Noi made a point of getting us to adjust our seasonings to our own taste, which I did, and I preferred my jungle curry, authentic or not, to the kitchen’s version.
After lunch we had some free time, so Harold and I visited the War Cemetery and Thailand-Burma Railway Museum in the centre of town, while the Aussie ladies went kayaking on the river. For dinner, Soon took us to a local restaurant (with a real table and chairs and a roof, unlike the previous two nights when we perched on street corners in the open air) and ordered up another range of stunning dishes including the ‘fish floss’ – fish minced then deep fried so it resembles sugar candy, but tastes so much better.