On a gorgeously hot and humid September day, Executive Chef Damri and I started our food adventure with a tuk tuk ride (my first!) to a local and authentic market. That in itself was a hoot and I've got the video to show it!
Part 1: Curated Visit to the Local Market
Arriving to the market, Chef Damri smartly selected the produce section to start our tour. Picking up a bunch of herbs, he'd ask me if I knew what this or that was. It was a fun way of learning and I knew more than I thought I did. As we proceeded to the fish area, we passed a stall with hanging intestines and other meat. It was gross (animal lover here!) but still interesting since most of us in the West are completely separated from the butchering process. The fish area - oh my! - had all sorts of squiggly, mystery things - some identifiable like squid and eels - and things I had never seen before. There were pastes and curries that we past and a man working hard to extract the water from coconuts. Yes, the floors had mucky water and fish heads were being chopped off but the authenticity (with no American or other tourists to be seen) made the visit all the more special. This was a remarkable first-hand look at what is perhaps akin to our Farmer's Market. Before departing I spotted a vendor selling coconut dessert, ordered 6 to share with the staff and headed back The Siam a happy camper.
Part 2: The Siam's Urban Garden
The Siam Kitchen Garden began 5 months and grows vegetables and herbs and is conveniently located in the backyard of the Siam Kitchen with easy access for the Chef to access. Plants from the Kitchen Garden are used for Thai soups, curries, stir fried, wok fried, and side dishes as well as for garnishes for plated meal such as Phad Krapraow Beef and Crisp Fried Eggs, Below are a list of plants currently cultivated at The Siam Kitchen Garden:
· Holy Basil
· Sweet Basil
· Bird Chili
· Betal leaves
· Kaffir Lime tree
· Butterfly Peas
· Vietnamese Mint
· Issan Laab Leave / Saw Tooth Coriander
Why mention this? Urban gardens are beneficial to guests, property and planet. Growing flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables contributes to the guest experience, giving an added boost to serving up the freshest and tastiest of meals. For hotels and restaurants, urban gardens are a brand booster and can help with the bottom line. Grown onsite minimizes the costs of shipping produce and plants improve air quality, which is especially helpful to reducing city smog. I personally respect a restaurant/hotel that actively sources locally grown ingredients and shows concern for the environment while serving up delicious, eco-licous cuisine.
Part2: Private Cooking Class
Let's cook! With only two cooking stations, this was a truly private and intimate experience. The kitchen has been prepped with a big beautiful basket of fresh produce, gas cooking stations, pots, mortar and pestle and all the ingredients and cooking tools needed to prepare the three dishes I chose. The setting was GORGEOUS overlooking the river. The cooking school is in a charming (and small) authentic Thai house. The Siam's F & B Manager arrived to give us a warm welcome and as I donned on my apron, I noticed in the adjacent restaurant there was a live jazz band playing for the Sunday brunch crowd. HEAVEN! Bantering with Chef Damri was easy and our conversation flowed about food as love, cooking with a smile, the right ingredients make all the difference to knife skills and more technical instruction.
While I can't say I mastered Thai cuisine, this was a happy and memorable experience where I enjoyed exotic aromas in a historical setting. listening to live jazz, overlooking the soothing water of the Chao Praya River and reveling in the total experience.
Tips for Booking:
Typically there is a 2 person minimum for each class but this was an exception. Lucky me! Seating is for 2-4 people. Space is limited of course so its best to make arrangements in advance although The Siam Hotel offers this daily upon request. For more information visit www.thesiamhotel.com
Check out our 1 minute video on the The Siam Cook School here.