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Thai Food that isn’t Pad Thai

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. In Thailand, we visited Lampang, Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon Mountain in Chom Thong District, and the capital city of Bangkok. We literally booked round-trip tickets within a week of watching the Thailand episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown featuring Andy Ricker of Pok Pok fame (even going to his favorite haunts in Chiang Mai). Through tasting preserved fish jerky to morning rice congee to Thai-iced tea to Dtam Som Oo (Thai Pomelo Salad), one constant that is obvious in almost all Thai cuisine are the vibrant colors.

Thailand’s flavor profiles and spices vary greatly in each region: this is due to many factors including palates of its own royal Ayutthaya or Lanna empires to Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Malaysian and Indian influence. Western impact, beginning in 1511 CE with the Portuguese, also brought now common crops like the chili pepper. At Santa Cruz Church on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburri district, Portuguese influence is apparent.  Narrow, winding passageways meander through the Kudeejeen Portuguese Village where a special bakery remains that conjures treats as they were enjoyed centuries ago.

Common flavors in Thai food come from garlic, galangal (Thai form of ginger), coriander, cilantro, lemongrass, shallots, pepper, and kaffir lime leaves. I could not stop consuming Pandanus (also known as Screwpine!) teas made from pandan leaves,  a tropical plant replete with tons of medicinal benefits.

Some of my favorite dishes and street snacks were the savory green papaya and salted crab salad (som tum pu pla raa), “dry” Kuaytiaw Sukhothai noodles, and the sweet Coconut Rice Pudding Cake with Scallion (kanom krok). As they say in Thai:

เสน่ห์ปลายจวักผัวรักจนตาย – “English version: The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” (Meaning: When a wife cooks well the husband will love her until the end of life.)

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My Week in Snapshots

What a gorgeous spring week we have been having in New York City. Although I am currently living off of allergy medications and the pollen is at an all time high, I cannot help but smile at the perfect weather. Here are a few photos taken straight from my iPhone so that you can see the city through mine own eyes.

1. Walking around the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village I was awestruck by the juxtaposition of Greek Revival Style townhouses, cherry blossoms, and industrial parking signs.

2. I grabbed a healthy and “oh-so-European” brunch at Le Pain Quotidian in Chelsea complete with fruit tarts, pan au chocolate, soft boiled eggs, ricotta, figs, and jam.

3. At 100 11th Avenue right near the West Side Highway and the water appears the luxury residential condominium located in New York City’s West Chelsea with architecture by Atelier Jean Nouvel. The sprawling, stunning, sun-drenched penthouses in the location each have unique window placements making cookie cutter apartments a thing of the past.

4. After a five hour spring meander through the streets of downtown NYC (and a brief jaunt to to Film Forum to see when The Graduate is playing), my boyfriend and I broke our no carbohydrate diet at Trattoria Toscana with a rich antipasti. Come for the handmade, homemade pasta, stay for the mascarpone cheesecake.

5. In The Rubin Museum of Art’s gift shop I learned about Buddhist chanting, the wheel of existence, Nepalese jewelry, and almost purchased these vintage ledgers from Thailand.

6. My local bodega is undertaking in its spring cleaning and signage fix-up.

7. The New York Police Department’s mounted officers — sometimes called “10-foot tall cops” by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly — belong to one of the biggest mounted units in the country. The officers were keeping the neighborhood safe during confusing construction routes in high trafficked areas.

8. Near the Cherry Lane Theater on Commerce Street, one feels as if she time warped into 1876. The architecture, streets, and quaint neighborhood feel transport me to another time. These just budding tulips were found on a resident’s perfectly manicured lawn.

9. The Garden of St. Luke in the Fields is hidden behind tall brick fences and facades. Originally built as a summer chapel for Trinity Church, this austere Federal Style building is the third oldest Church in New York. Named after St. Luke, the physician evangelist, in recognition of the Village’s role as a refuge from yellow fever epidemics, the Episcoal church was organized in 1820. Now the space is a lively, inclusive parish refusing to deny access based on gender, sexuality, culture, socio-economics, or special needs. The space’s garden is an urban respite and park.

10. A 24/7 Cuban diner called Coppelia has some of my favorite hot-weather drinks (poured with a heavy hand). On the left is the HEMINGWAY ROYAL (Ginger infused dark rum, mint, lime, Royale Combier, champagne with a lemongrass salted rim) and on the right is the MATADOR (Heradura Blanco tequila, lime juice, jalapeño cointreau, cucumber, mint) created by Alex Valencia. Cheers!