Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Three Elephant Cooking School

We had another busy planned for the next morning. My feet were really messed up but I was still excited to learn how to make (and get to eat) some Laos cooking. We chose a class through the Tamnak Lao Restaurant because the owner seemed really friendly and because a cookbook was included free with the class. We skipped breakfast because we were warned that it was going to be a pretty full day of eating. First we met our group (lots of Canadians, a couple British and Australian) and our teachers Leng Lee and Phia Yang and then we all jumped into a songtaew and went to the local market to pick up ingredients.

The market was such a busy and vibrant place. It was a bit off putting to see how they handle and store meat here but otherwise it was really cool. Phia explained about ingredients while Leng did the shopping. When we had everything we needed we headed back to the restaurant and had some tea while they set everything up.

Next they demonstrated how to cook two dishes: Luang Prabang salad and Feu Khua (fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables). It was a bit like watching Martha Stewart since they were so organized and had all the ingredients in individual little bowls. When they finished we got to try our hand at making them. I have to say, they turned out really great and then we got to eat them right away! Yum! Lunch is served!

Talk about service too- we had done most of our dishes before we went to eat but the staff there finished everything (and did all of the other groups dishes). If only cooking was always like this. After lunch we were shown how to make three dishes: chicken larp (a traditional salad), Kheua Sen Lon (vermicelli noodles with pork, veggies and mushrooms) and Oh Paedak (Lao pork casserole). Of these three dishes we chose two to make (we chose the first and third). After some clean up it was back to watch them create two more dishes: Khua Maak Kheua Gap Moo (fried eggplant with pork) and Geng Phet (chili casserole). They were both heavenly but we had to make the second one because it was sort of like a coconut curry. They also showed us how to make their traditional chili paste and then it was time to eat all of our creations. There was so much food!!! It was such a great day and I'm glad that we chose to go with this restaurant. The instructors were great and they are connected to a charity that supports a local orphanage (they also have a used bookstore that gives all its profits to the orphanage). Go here to see all the pictures.

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