Tom Yum Gai is a delicious hot and spicy chicken soup, and is one of the classic dishes of Thailand. "Tom Yum" ("hot soup") consists of a watery broth, as opposed to "Tom Kha" ("coconut soup") whose liquidy substance consists mainly of coconut milk. Either can be prepared with "Gai" ("chicken"), or with various other meats / seafoods, such as "Goong" ("shrimp" / "prawns"). The dish is amazingly quick and easy to prepare, and it tastes divine — especially when you add lots of chili! This was the first dish that I cooked during today's cooking class.
Back in South America, I lived on the stuff. In "filled with artificial preservatives", "packaged and sealed three months ago and four countries away" Europe, it was nowhere to be seen. But now that I'm in Thailand, ever-present and ever-delicious fresh tropical juice is back! Banana, mango, coconut, orange, papaya and watermelon are just some of the varieties to be found on every street corner around here. Sadly, neither Ecuador's trademark jugo de mora ("blackberry juice") nor Brazil's sumptuous açaí are available — but the selection is nevertheless nothing to complain about. My "fresh juice twice or more daily" diet is once again in full swing, and life couldn't be better.
I met him a long time ago in Mexico. I saw him again in Peru, and ended up travelling with him for two months straight (making him my only real travelling companion on this trip). And I last saw him four months ago, back in Argentina. Today, I had yet another reunion with my buddy Chris: only this time, it was here in London, on his home soil; and since we're both going to opposite sides of the world very soon (and staying on those respective sides indefinitely), today's reunion really was our last (I'm serious this time — I swear). But before we parted for good, Chris and I had time for one last lunch. And since the food was some of London's finest Indian cuisine, there really wasn't anything sad about it at all.
For my third foray into the delicious world of Spanish tapas, today I decided to try a dish called Pimientos del Padron. It's quite a simple one, really: just baby green peppers (i.e. capsicum) lightly pan-fried, and served with a sprinkling of salt. Reasonably filling, and quite tasty; although not the best value-for-money I've ever come across. But then again, value is a rare find indeed, here in Barcelona.
My first proper meal for 2008 was about as Spanish as it gets: paella! The classic dish paella is best described as an "everything you can fit in the pan" stir-fry: it generally consists at least of rice, egg, vegetables, numerous seafoods (e.g. prawns, oyster, lobster — sorry G-d), and chicken. For a very late lunch today (late by normal standards, although on-time by Spanish standards), Miguel, Emmanuelle, an Aussie Indian girl and myself found a great-value restaurant: 3 courses (paella was entrée) and wine, for just €8. Filled us up, woke us up, and tasted tip-top.
For my second-ever taste of tapas (after yesterday's patatas bravas), today I tried a little dish called boquerones en vinagre (lit: "anchovies in vinegar"). Very tasty: a plateful of the teeny fish are soaked in vinegar juice, and served to you fresh and cold. Spain is well-known for its good seafood, and I was quite impressed by this little introduction to the world thereof. More fish awaits!
Patatas bravas is a simple dish of boiled potatoes, chopped into pieces and covered in a hot chili sauce called salsa brava. This evening, patatas bravas became the first tapas dish that I've ever tried in my life — it may be one of the more common and ordinary of tapas, but boy do them potatoes taste good! I tried the dish at a place in central Madrid called Las Bravas, which is a crazy tapas bar that's crowded to the hilt, and where the only way to order is to push your way to the front, and to scream the name of your dish out over the cacophony. Highly recommended as an introduction to Spain.
Back in Oz, we feel like Chicken Tonight; but here in Austria, they feel like Uncle Ben's. Tonight's dinner was quick, cheap and easy: with a bit of rice, a bit of vegies, and a bit of Uncle Ben's stir-fry curry mix, I had me a delicious (and enormous) serving of curry, courtesy of the Snowbunnys kitchen. Now that Craig, Sarah and Kade have buggered off, I'm back to my usual big, unoriginal and economical cooking tricks — but hey, it floats my boat. And everyone said that it smelled great, too.
If you think Alpine Austria, and you don't think enchiladas, then think again. This evening, Jake and Mitch showed Kade, Margaret and myself a Mexican restaurant here in Kitzbühel, called "La Fonda" (no, all you Napoleon Dynamite fans, not LaFawnduh :P). They serve up a mean portion of enchiladas here: the best I've eaten outside of Mexico. Next time you're in Kitzbühel, don't miss out on the famous Austrian tradition of Kitzbühelerenchiladen — chorizo ist gut, ja!
Christmas lunch was cancelled today, on account of having better things to do; but we made up for it this evening, with a fine dinner of roast chicken. Craig, Sarah, Kade and myself feasted on chicken breast (originally frozen — they were out of fresh chook), crispy potatoes, corn cobs and various vegies — with a side of seasonal cranberry sauce. Sadly, the roast (as roasts do) took much longer than expected to cook, so we were bloody starving by the time it was ready. Shots of Jäger and several card games comprised dessert.