I've just returned from northern Thailand and have seen many interesting things. But as we all know, a visit to Thailand revolves around the food.
Thai cuisine has a massive repertoire of dishes; no matter how often you visit, you're always encountering more.
Here are a few of the foodie highlights of my visit to the north...
1. Northern spice. This dish at the Doi Tung royal project came with a selection of northern dips as appetisers. Not quite as we expect Western dips to be, however - two of these were dry rather than wet:
2. Deconstructed fish. At the same meal we had this fish dish. I love the way Thais often cook fish in pieces then form it decoratively back into its original shape:
3. Village eats. Lunch the next day was cooked in this amazing kitchen - a traditonal hearth within the Kee Lek village way up on the hilltops past Chiang Rai (we had to take a truck up a steep mountain road for an hour just to get there from the nearest paved road). The visit was part of a new "Green Route" tour titled At the Cultural Crossroads, available via Wild Thailand at www.wildthailand.com.
4. Bon appetit. And here's the lunch we had in the village, eating while seated on the timber floor of the hut. A cat behind us was getting passed the occasional furtive scrap by a few of us...
5. Khao Soy road. This is Khao Soy, once a humble northern street dish but now becoming more widely served. It's basically an egg noodle dish served with beef or chicken, and then you add by hand the various condiments you can see around the platter here. Mine was the spicy version with beef, which was very good, eaten at the aptly-named Just Khao Soy restaurant in Chiang Mai:
6. DIY Thai. Finally, at the Suanthip Wana Resort between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, I turned my hand to creating my own Thai food as part of a basic cooking class. Here's my Pad Thai - not bad for a first attempt, I think!
Disclosure time... on this trip I'm being hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.