Tag Archives: food

Ain’t No Party Like a Thai Food Party

Because its my 42nd Birthday and you know…food always goes well with birthdays!

Night food market, Bangkok

Boiled hanging chicken, anyone?

Hmm. How about the farang favorite, fried chicken and rice?

Menu for our favorite corner restaurant in Chiang Mai

And the restaurant itself. Jip, the proprietrix, did not want her picture taken.

Vietnamese noodle soup and pad thai with egg

Spicy mango salad.

Pineapple banana shake…oh em gee

Steamed bun place in Chiang Mai

Green tea and Thai tea steamed buns.

Night market restaurant in Chiang Mai

Veggie spring rolls from night market food court

Um. Random gelatinous forms in sweetened water-milk. Two bites and done,

Banana and Nutella roti

Some kind of pork and beef stew. A northern specialty. Flavors? Tasty. Texture of meat? GROSS.


This is what Thai people think western people like for breakfast.

Instant coffee. This seems to be the norm.

When homesickness wins out.

Fresh squeezed orange juice.

Food cart in Chiang Mai's Chinatown.

More food cart, more Chinatown, Lunar New Year!

Are you hungry yet?

Soft shell crabs.

Pad Thai made to order.


More sausages than Wisconsin.

Enoki mushrooms wrapped in ham and grilled.

Sticky rice crackers drying before being deep fried.

Finished rice cracker treat. Sweet, savory, salty; delicious.

Bags of Thai caramel. Not caramel as the west knows it, but flavored concoctions of palm sugar sticky rice flour. Flavors: coconut, strawberry, Thai herb, durian, green tea, sesame.

Gelatinous dessert in plastic bag.

Market fish and sausage.

Pork rinds, Thai style.

Chicken deep frying in a locals' market.

Fresh papaya juice.

Fried mushroom cakes.

Citrus sesame cucumber dipping sauce.

Fried wide rice noodles with egg, vegetables, and banana blossom.

More Pad Thai. It's like the macaroni and cheese of Thailand.

Penang currylicious.

Another western style breakfast. Yes, that is a hot dog.

Lemon tea. My favorite beverage so far.

Pad See Ew made with egg noodles.

Iced espresso with condensed milk.


Bangkok, Day 2

Second day and already things are starting to seem almost normal. The wide-eyed, stunned stare of the newly arrived has started to fade and we're already beginning to etch a tiny bit of routine into the fractal chaos of Bangkok. We've even begun using what rudimentary Thai that we've learned from our guidebooks and (of course) a recently purchased dictionary app: Sawasdee krap! Khap khun krap! Nam kheng saa at mai?

Leaving the hotel on a bustling Friday night and successfully navigating our way to Tomsam Nua in the heart of Siam Square gave us a tremendous amount of confidence. We rode the Sky Train, found the restaurant, ordered successfully — all with the help of smiles and hand gestures — and when we left, we were swept up into the magnificent excess and grime and sparkliness and decadence that is Bangkok. Thousands of people filing past street market stalls, laughing and eating. Thousands of people driving scooters and cars and taxis under the massive concrete columns supporting the Sky Train. Thousands of people dressed to the nines, wandering through shopping malls so extravagant that they seem out of science fiction. When I first entered the Paragon Center, I was so stunned and amazed that I forgot to take any pictures (which if you know me, is truly remarkable). Imagine the most enormous cruise ship, lined with every luxury store you can think of. Imagine a food court with everything from dim sum to ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, from high end Italian to deep fried whole fish, from McDonald's and Au Bon Pain to ramen joints, bibimbop, and Indian curries. Now add in an underground Sea World-type theme park and a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum featuring the usual suspects — Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith — to the completely unrecognizable — little smirking Asian kid, stolid soccer player. Don't forget the ubiquitous couplings of old, fat white men and beautiful brown young people. Families, herds of uber-trendy Asians with anime hair, expatriates, euro trash, elaborately veiled women, and sunburnt, flip-flopped backpackers all caught up in the swirl and flow of a Bangkok weekend. Dancing fountains, video-feed stage shows, millions of lights, deafening noise.

By the time we returned to our hotel room, we were stuffed with food, wide-eyed with wonder, and I, at least, had fallen completely under Bangkok's spell.

The second day brought us to the famous Chatuchak weekend market, to the north of the city. Now old hats at navigating the Sky Train, we made it without incident and not sure what to expect. All of the guide books make it a point of saying that anything and everything can be found at the Chatuchak Market, but that does little to prepare you for the endless maze of stalls selling glass wares, silk,flowers, Buddhist sculptures, locally designed clothing, transformers, padlocks, furniture, vintage American shoes, jewelry, foot massages, spring rolls, leather bags, blue jeans, fine art, Havaianas, remote control cars, shwarma, belts, coconut water, popsicles, and crocheted hats. This is the looking glass version of the Paragon Center, just as overwhelming, just as over-the-top, just as beautiful.


Phrom Pong Sky Train Stop

View from the Mo Chit Station

Sky Train and Skyline

Chatuchak Market

Interior of Chatuchak Market


Silk Flowers


Buddhist Art and Mao Tse Tung

Cowboy Boots, Why Not?


Soy Milk with Assorted Goodies



Pad Se Eiw at a Food Stall



Roof of the Food Stall


Assorted Condiments

After Chatuchak, we wandered around a nearby park. After the constant hustle of overheated human bodies, its wide open expanses and open planes felt grounding and delicious. Space, not easy access to global cuisine or Issey Miyake Bao Bao bags, is the true luxury in Bangkok.

Fancy Bangkok Squirrel!

Chatuchak Park

These Birds Have a Pretty Song

From there, we were off to the Hua Lamphong train station to get our tickets to Chang Mai. Rather than the Sky Train, we took Bangkok's Subway, what the guidebooks call a “miracle” that no one believed would be built. Again, compared to the jam-packed chaos of Bangkok's streets and the Chatuchak market, the subway's clean, empty spaces felt idyllic and calm.

Subway Entrance

Waiting for the Train

Subway Riders



green chile mac and cheese ~ comfort food plus

you know you want some

there are millions of variants of mac and cheese and many of them suffer from one or more of the following defects:

1. too dry ~ take a perfectly delicious looking, creamy mac and cheese and toss it in the oven for 45 minutes and you end up with a dry rind of a thing.
2. boring taste profile ~ i, like most americans, am a firm believer in the power of cheese. this is no excuse to rely solely on cheese to give this dish its oomph.
3. too too too ~ in the desire to differentiate one mac and cheese recipe from all the rest, people often succumb to the lure fanciness. white truffle oil or morel mushrooms or other such pretentious nonsense are absurd.

this recipe is my attempt to make a mac and cheese that addresses all of these concerns. it is at once creamy, and full of distinct, humble and complementary flavors. if you have the mac and cheese itch, this recipe has a delicious and satisfying scratch.

middlebrow green chile mac and cheese

16 oz. of rigatoni
4T butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
7 oz. cream cheese
2T flour
1/4 C roasted green chiles
1/3 C cilantro, finely chopped
2t grated lemon zest
8 oz. muenster cheese
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
salt to taste
additional 1-1 1/2 C of milk


1. boil rigatoni (or some other pasta big enough to withstand the dairy onslaught) until al dente. drain, rinse with cold water.
2. while pasta boils, sauté chopped onion in butter over low/medium heat until it becomes translucent and aromatic and the butter becomes clear, about 10 min.
3. add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. add milk and stir.
5. add cream cheese and muenster cheese. add chopped green chile heat without boiling until cheese melts and the sauce is creamy.
6. add cilantro and lemon zest, stir and remove from heat.


add cooked pasta to sauce and mix until evenly distributed. at this point, if you would like a creamier mac and cheese you may add up to 1 C milk and stir to incorporate. you want it creamy, not watery, so go slowly.
pour pasta and sauce into casserole dish and top with grated cheddar cheese. if you’d like, sprinkle with paprika or cayenne pepper.

place dish under broiler and turn oven to broil. watch carefully. wait until cheddar cheese has melted and formed a golden brown crust. remove and serve hot.

yummy! the crispy/chewy/cheesy crust contrasts nicely with the creamy sauce and with the slight toothiness of the rigatoni. broiling, rather than baking, preserves the moisture and fullness of the sauce.

each of the supporting flavors enhance and complement the essential cheesiness; the roasted green chile adding depth and the lemon zest providing a lightness that keeps this dish from feeling overly rich or greasy. the cilantro plays nicely with the rest of the flavors sometimes in the background, sometimes front and center. and despite the richness and complexity, it still manages to be pure mac and cheese; comfort food at its absolute best.

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