With Roger van Damme in Northern Thailand (1)

The trip

Chef Roger van Damme – famous for this great restaurant Het Gebaar in Antwerp and recently crowned as ‘best pastry chef of the world’ is a big fan of the Thai kitchen. The country is one of Roger’s favourite destinations for both (culinary) travel and of course the delicious Thai cuisine. In the Njam! television program ‘Culinair Thailand’ one could already follow Roger last year in the ‘land of smiles’ and behind the (Thai) stove.

In March 2018, we travelled to Thailand together with Roger – this time to the beautiful North – for the shootings of the new series and a portion of (tasty) inspiration. An inspiring journey with an equally inspiring team! Here are some highlights of the first part of our trip:

Part 1: Chiang Mai

Night market in Chiang Mai

Thailand is known for the countless great day and night markets. Especially in the big cities these markets are a true experience and encounter with the local culture. In Chiang Mai, every Sunday from 4 pm, head to the Thapae Walking Street for a beautiful and extensive night market. You will find hundreds of dishes and ingredients, clothing, toys and numerous gift ideas. For Roger – and actually every chef – a dream destination…

Cooking Class ‘Thai Breakfast’

Early in the morning is the best time to film. And what is more fun to start with (filming) a nice Thai breakfast? Together with the Thai Chef Thongparn of the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort at the edge of the Ping River, Roger prepared a kind of coconut pancakes (kanom krok), a Thai omelet with fresh herbs, and ‘Morning Glory’ (a kind of spinach in the wok with garlic, chili, oyster and soy sauce). Now that is waking up with a kick!

Strawberries in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Province is also known for its strawberries. The weather in this region it is slightly fresher, which makes the strawberries grow better. Today, the strawberry farms are tourist attractions that attract many visitors. On the markets in this region, you will usually see the dried strawberries. These delicious delicacies are made by mixing sugar with fresh strawberries and letting them dry for two days. They are not too sweet with slightly acidic notes and a pleasantly sticky texture.


Planting your own rice in Chiang Mai

In the beautiful Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, you can enjoy a unique activity: self-cultivation of rice. For the activity you dress in a “mor hom” (a traditional Thai outfit) and you will actually plant the rice yourself. During the session, you will learn how the rice grows, how often one can harvest, how the baby shoots are planned and propagated, and how the rice is threshed. An unforgettable and instructive session about one of the main ingredients in Thailand.

The production process of crispy pork skin

Crispy pork skin is a famous snack and side dish of many dishes in Northern Thailand. It comes in different thicknesses and sizes. To make it, the pork skin is first burnt and cut and thereafter fried in pig oil. It is fried three times: a first time around 40 minutes at 40 to 55 degrees Celsius. After that, a marinade and tempura flower are added and it is dried for 24 hours. After drying it is baked a second time during 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius. Finally, it is fried until crispy for only a few minutes on 160-180 degrees Celsius. Let them swell until they are nicely crispy and enjoy!

On the road: from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

It is a lot of fun to drive through the hills from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by car or bus. You will come across several interesting sights:

Thaweesin Hotspring: a natural geyser and hotspring where you can rest your feet in the warm water, or cook your own eggs in the hotsprings. You buy small or large eggs from the locals and then cook them in small wooden baskets. Top them off with soy, and enjoy!

Wat Rong Khun (the white temple): a unique, completely white temple created by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. The project was initiated in 1997 but is far from finished! Make sure to take the time to discover the many beautiful forms and many creatures in and around the temple.

Your stay in Chiang Mai

The Anantara Chiang Mai Resort

Chiang Mai is located about 700 kilometres north of Bangkok, nestled between some of the greenest and highest mountains in the country. For a great stay in this beautiful city, The Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa is a splendid choice. The resort is located near the center of Chiang Mai but it is however an oasis of tranquillity.

The hotel considers gastronomy as a very important aspect and regularly invites top chefs for a workshop or to cook for the guests. Roger van Damme also worked in their kitchen several times already. The rooms of the hotel are decorated in a contemporary, warm style and the hotel is an ideal starting point for various excursions in the area.

Transport

Flying to Bangkok is possible directly from Brussels with Thai Airways, and that no less than 5 times a week! More information can be found on this website.

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