This was a lot of fun, and fulfilled our expectations, perhaps even more so. We booked for the late afternoon-evening session. We were picked up at our hotel by their mini van, which then picked up another four people. In total, our group numbered eight. We were given a card with six "food groups" but in fact two were already "penciled" in -- making a curry and the accompanying dish. Of the remaining four -- Appetizers, Soups, Stir Fries and Deserts -- we were told we could only select two. The sense of the group quickly chose stir fry -- which included Pad Thai -- and appetizers -- which included spring rolls. At first I was miffed at this, feeling it was sort of a bait and switch. Then, as the afternoon turned to evening, I realized that there was no way they could offer instruction in all categories in four+ hours. Within each group, there were several choices that one could pick. That is, you could choose to make Spring Rolls or Papaya Salad or Glass Noodle Salad. You could pick Pad Thai, but also two or three other stir fried dishes.
First, our instructor, a young woman named Gas (as in Gas station, she pointed out), had us put together a small snack of tiny pieces of lime, fresh green chile (only took a tiny bit of this), shredded toasted coconut (again little bits), peanuts all placed in a piece of lettuce, doused with sweet oil and eaten in a single bite. That was just to break the ice, and probably give Gas some idea of how adventurous a crew we all were.
Then we were given a tour of their herb garden, and instructed on the differences between, for example, Thai ginger and ginger we are more familiar with. From there, we walked a few streets over to the open market, where Gas showed us how different ingredients come packaged and sold. Very instructive.
A word about the facility: they had three different groups going at once. Each group had its own dining area and its own set of stoves and individual woks for cooking. The facilities would never pass muster in the states, but this is Thailand and it was just fine. Don't sweat the small stuff.
To save time, a good deal of pre-prep was done for us, depending on the dishes you chose to cook. We were given clear instructions on how to us the wok stoves (turn the knob to 7 o'clock for low heat; 9 o'clock for high heat), how to hold the wok, use the chopping knife, the mortar and pestle. How many spoons of this or that, etc.
After cooking your dish, you returned to the dining table and ate it. Then we moved on to the next food group. Our group started with stir fries, moved on to appetizers, then closed with preparing our curry pastes and preparing entrée dishes. In all, an awful lot of food. Instead of accepting their ride back to the hotel, we walked.
Costs: 800 baht/person. Probably a good idea to book ahead by a couple of days if you can.
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