MTT Travel: The Food of Thailand

Thai food

You’d better believe that when I first sat down to write about the epicness that is North East Thailand the first word that leapt out of my fingers was FOOD.

Have we met? My name’s Alice and I’m a food addict. 

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I went to Thailand with a fairly open mind about what I’d find there food-wise. I’m not that well-versed in the culinary offerings of Thailand save for a slight obsession with chicken satay; my go-to takeaway when I’m at home is Indian and though living on the wildbeautyworld.com Kingsland Road in the late 2000s gave me a fairly good Vietnamese food education I hadn’t ventured further through Indochina to Thailand (Banana Tree doesn’t count). I was excited to see what I’d discover.

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The very first bit of Thai food to cross my lips was post-massage. It was 9am, I’d arrived at our hotel three hours earlier, had snoozed for 30 minutes and been whisked off to the spa of the amazing Grande Center Point Terminal 21. After the most amazing pummeling I’ve ever had we were greeted back at the reception of the spa area with this plate of deliciousness – fresh mango with rice cooked in coconut milk, served with a cup of jasmine tea. I’ve already tried to re-create it and while it was not quite as pretty it was very very delicious.

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IMG_2823The Thais are big fans of nose-to-tail eating, making sure they use each and every part of the animal (quite rightly!). Yet while at home I will happily munch my way through black pudding for breakfast, eat chicken liver pate for lunch and pop bone marrow in my evening stew there were some things here that were just a bit too real for me. Like the delicious beef curry you can see up there with added gelatinous… bits. Deliciously beefy for sure but the texture was something I was quite unused to. Or the green curry in the picture immediately above , which came with cubes of cooked chickens blood that were the opencredo.com texture of liver. Kind of freaked me out. It’s funny, what we’re used to!

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You can’t deny this way of cooking brings so much more flavour to the Thai dishes, though. They’re huge fans of using bones and fat in the cooking of their meat recipes, as well as shells and lovelovefilms.com heads in the fish ones. The result is an array of beautiful dishes that surpass anything, literally anything I’ve tasted in this country. Well worth the odd crunch of bone if you ask me ;) If you haven’t picked fish bones out of your teeth mid-chew, you haven’t lived. And you can quote me on that.

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Thai cooks do two things exceptionally well in my opinion. Firstly, the deep fried food. Both of my absolute favourite dishes were deep fried and they were all so light and healthy-tasting. Every fried dish comes with a counterpart salad (mostly a spicy green mango salad) which, when paired with the fried meat or fish cuts beautifully through. My absolute favourite was the deep-fried catfish which is kind of ‘spun’ to create an incredibly light batter. Absolutely beautiful, I could eat it for every meal. My second favourite was the Thai ‘chicken nuggets’ (you can take the girl out of England…) which were cooked in a light, almost tempura-like batter and served with a super-spicy sweet chilli sauce.

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The second dish we all adored (and ate at almost every meal) were the creamy, spicy broth-based soups. Served at the table bubbling away on a flame they very often still contained prawn shells, lemongrass, herbs or bones, which led to the soup having the most wonderful depth of flavour.
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Speaking of flavour, let me tell you a little bit about SPICE. I am not a spice or chilli girl, not at all, and historically anything hotter than a Chicken Tikka Masala would have me making a fuss. But something seemed to happen to my taste buds in Thailand and they did a massive 360 – not only did I eat the food that was so spicy it could blow my head off, I really bloody enjoyed almost having my head blown off. Because the http://purplemum.com/viagra-pills-canadian thing is, the food we ate had such depth of flavour that it was so easy to appreciate the spice and chilli as a part of that depth. In my very favourite duck red curry for example (you can see my replication here, for which I gave myself a massive pat on the back ;) there were just about a million flavours. Duck, tomato, lemon grass, kaffir lime, coriander, garlic, galangal, pineapple, coconut, chilli… and you could taste them ALL!

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It was a bit of a revelation for me, to have this big flavour door opened by some chilli and herbs. On return to the UK I participated in the traditional UK welcome home ceremony of Fish and cialis from canadian pharmacy Chip Friday at the pub and my food just tasted terribly bland. Which, funnily enough, is something that cropped up over and over again when the Thai people I met who had visited England discussed British food.

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The very next day I ran out to my local Asian supermarket, bought a big bottle of Sriracha and have been sticking it on my scrambled eggs ever since.

Another favourite of mine was the ‘sun-dried’ meats. We had pork and beef served this way which almost surprised me – I assumed most meats would come in curries. The meat had been marinated in herbs and spices and then dried for an extended period of time and agp.qc.ca much like the fried foods served with a light salad. Just awesome.

Oh and FYI the Thais go in for Pork Scratchings as a snack as much as we do but beat us hands-down in a taste test.

 

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I think my favourite meal was the one cooked for us at the Ban Arlue village – a 1000 year old settlement. There they cooked for us dried chicken (YUM!), egg omelette, cauliflower in oyster sauce, chicken broth,  mango salad, sticky rice and rice with banana wrapped in banana leaf.

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I might be crazy but I loved eating a really spicy curry for breakfast. Nothing wakes you up like getting a chilli sweat on pre-8am with the only downside being that I always inevitably ended up spilling the curry sauce down myself. Other options for breakfast (above) included a wet rice dish with options of toppings like ginger and spring onions and tons of fruit, and western options like toast, ham and cheese for us tourists.

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Pudding was pretty much always a beautifully carved platter of fruit: watermelon, pineapple, mango, papaya, guava. We were always so full up on curries and soups that some light fruit was welcome.

 

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Supermarket fast food in Thailand is that little bit cooler than England. It’s so uniformly teeny tiny and colourful! Also – Collon and fertilityroad.com Big Sheet. LOL.

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There was a large supermarket close to our hotel in Bangkok which was gorgeous – a lot like Whole Foods over here. But the real fun came from the 7-11s that can be found absolutely EVERYWHERE. It was so colourful and friendly. Funnily enough Tesco can also be found all over Thailand (it’s ‘Tesco Lotus’ over there) and is Tesco’s second largest international business. You literally can’t escape it.

IMG_3057I have to admit to eating a McDonald’s on my last night in Bangkok with Laura. You know how it goes, you have a few beers, spend the apefluff.com evening putting the world to rights and all of a sudden you’ve ran out of time for dinner. And so we headed for the golden arches and it was AMAZING. My double cheeseburger was so much tastier than in the UK’s version (I put it down to more flavourful beef and an extra slice of cheese) and the chips were tastier, too. Sorry, taste buds.

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Needless to say I’ve been totally obsessed with Thai food since I returned home. I’ve cooked a couple of curries from scratch plus a pretty good Pad Thai and though it’s not quite as good, I think I’m nearly there. Speaking to some of our Thai translators on our travels I was wondering why the green and red curries at home taste no-where close to those in Thailand. According to her we just don’t use the right ingredients and best online viagra there’s definitely something in that – you will never re-create the many layers of flavour using a manufactured curry paste and that where’s the taste lives.

My local Asian supermarket has been amazing in terms of the ingredients they offer and I’ve been researching authentic recipes to get a real handle on how to make Thai curries. My cupboards are now bursting with palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and sweet Thai basil. So delicious.

I feel like discovering the we use it food of Thailand has been a real journey for me; it doesn’t end here. Next on my bucket list will be a cookery course somewhere in Thailand so I can come home really knowing how to re-create these incredible dishes.

I travelled to Thailand courtesy of TAT. 

Why The Dream Bathroom Is Important

Bathrooms are my favourite. They really are! Think about it – when you get up in the morning and start your day you may not see your bedroom again until that evening, but you’re always using your bathroom. Especially if you’re like me and often working from home.  Bathrooms are important – if I see it six times a day I want it to be nice!

But they’re often the room to be overlooked. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom as shiny and lovely as a hotel bathroom (dream big, eh?) and I work hard to make mine as special as possible. Fancy loo roll, good storage, lovely handwash. It’s important to me!

My bathroom is a work-in-progress. I’m always discovering new bits and sunamuna.com bobs for it, coming across an incredible tap polisher (really) or debating the colour of my bath mat. And with two splashy little so-and-so’s bathing in there every evening I seem to be cleaning it an awful lot, too!

Now, everybody’s dream bathroom seems to start with a freestanding bath and mine is no different (am I right, ladies? I’ll take the Kensington from JL Bathrooms, please). Here’s what else I’m thinking about for the bathroom of my dreams:

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JL Freestanding bath / IKEA storage / pegs, towels and stool from John Lewis / woven basket from my friends at The Basket Room / biggest shower in the world / John Lewis country bathroom window.

What’s your dream bathroom?

 

 

 

A Bit Of Bling: Diamonds By Vashi

I love diamonds. What’s not to love about a beautiful diamond?

When I got engaged I found a whole appreciation for the world of diamonds. Cut, clarity, colour… I think there is something just so amazing about them and other precious stones – both in engagement rings and other jewellery that you can pass down through generations. I’m still planning on eventually transforming my engagement diamond into a beautiful piece that I can give to Elfie one day.

Despite now not wearing a diamond on that finger anymore I still love to appreciate the beauty of a gorgeous diamond ring. I follow both The Cut London and StoneFox Brides just because sometimes it’s fun to look at gorgeous jewellery. And it’s for this same reason I was really happy to take a look at Vashi Dominguez, diamond expert extraordinaire.

Vashi and his team select only 1 in 10 of the gorgeous diamonds they see to bring you a ring with maximum sparkle and http://siliconloons.com/natural-viagra-pills beauty. Together the experts will use this beautiful diamond to create an engagement ring just for you that you will cherish for a lifetime.

Now, I should probably have a boyfriend before I start thinking engagement rings but looking can’t hurt, right? Here are my favourites made at the talented hands of Vashi, and see more gorgeous rings in situ click through to Vashi Moments:

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Halo

In my opinion you can’t go far wrong with a gorgeous halo ring and this is my absolute favourite – 0.78 carats of stunning beauty (£2,120).

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Sapphire

I kind of love this Kate Middleton-esque sapphire engagement ring. Pick this for something a little bit different… (£1,287)

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Side Stones

I think I might love this ring a little bit more than I should. You just know this VVS1 clarity is going to produce some almighty sparkle… I’ll take it, please future boyfriend! (£3,906)

Now, there’s nothing I love more than looking at engagement rings than hearing proposal stories. Tell me yours in the comments!

Thank-you Vashi for introducing me to your lovely diamonds! 

 

 

 

MTT Loves Thailand

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When it comes to my week in Thailand I’m not sure where to begin.

My pre-conceptions were all taken from Hollywood and tales of friends at beachside yoga retreats, but the reality was much more than I ever expected in so many ways.

I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to fly out for six days as part of their Thailand Academy Program. On phase three, this trip was to be all about traditional Thai textile production with a focus on cotton and silk for the UK delegates. I travelled to North East Thailand to a province called Surin to learn all about silk production and to experience an often undiscovered Thai way of life.

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Also along on the trip were designers from the UK and France and design students from Germany which would culminate in these designers producing original pieces from their respective countries in the traditional Thai fabrics and, as it would turn out, in traditional Thai summer 42 degree heat. As the Thais say there are three seasons in Thailand: hot, hotter and hottest. We arrived in the hottest season and I got sweaty in areas I didn’t even know could get sweaty. It was glorious (the weather, not the sweating)!

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I was really lucky to be travelling with some of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the fashion biz: corset maker Ian Wallace who is just one of the most warm-hearted people ever as well as being founder of atelier The Whitechapel Workhouse and chief costume designer for Immodesty Blaise. Bryde Gordon, whose hilarity literally had me laughing the whole trip and is definitely the headwear designer for my theoretical next wedding (her eye for floral headgear is exquisite). May Wong who was effortlessly chic, lovely and talented and does the most incredible things with upcycled textiles. And not forgetting our wonderful TAT representative Bee, who just made the whole trip for us all (and happily answered my millions of questions).

On the ‘cotton’ leg of the trip were designers and founders of wonderful Kenyan-based business The Basket Room Camilla and Holly, textile genius Rose Sharp Jones and fellow blogger Jessica.

It was brilliant to be surrounded by so much happiness and alcoholforum.org creativity for the week and definitely got me through the pain of travelling and jetlag.

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I didn’t ‘do’ the travelling thing when I was younger and it’s something I’ve learned I really love now I’m a little older. This trip was many things to me – we slept minimally but I came home with a head and heart full of knowledge, peace and love (I’m basically a hippy now) and I’m so thankful for TAT for choosing me to experience all these wonderful things. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Now we’re back and almost over this jet lag it’s my job to write about this wonderful country and http://nirvanaspa.co.uk/best-price-levitra I can’t wait to experience it all over again in my pictures and words. The food, the culture, the people, the history… Thailand, I will be back for you.

What I Packed For Thailand (PS: see you in a week!)

What to pack for Thailand

When you read this I will be in Thailand. THAILAND.

I’ve never been to Thailand before so when I had an email a few weeks ago from Tourism Thailand asking, “hey, fancy week in our beautiful country?” I said nothing but HELL TO THE YES. A trip to Malaysia with my parents 7 years ago still goes down in history as the best holiday EVER so I obviously jumped on the chance to go back to Asia. Because THAILAND.

And then I needed a  new passport which took forever (translation: 2.5 weeks), was away from the babies for a week and the chicken pox happened and it was so hard when I left them on Thursday. Elfie wept and wept as I walked out the door and Hux spent the day asking if he could come on my trip and ugh, those beauties.

But sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and in the interest of expanding my mind this week I have to take a trip to Thailand and come back a well-rounded, cultured and suntanned individual. They will adore the week with their grandparents and, you know what, spending time away from the kids when I’m not at home is about 80% easier than when I’m able to go into their bedroom and sniff their pillows (it happens, you get me).

What to pack for Thailand

Tourism Thailand are taking a small group of fashion designers and media (that’ll be me then) on a cultural journey, starting in Bangkok and going all the way up to North East Thailand, to Surin. We’re going on ‘The Silk Trail’ – discovering traditional Thai crafts including silk weaving and dyeing, visiting a Handicrafts village and seeing everything this beautiful region has to offer. It’s going to be fantastic and you can follow along over on Instagram and Twitter; we’ll be using the hashtags #DiscoverThainess and #ThaiAcademy3 (sorry in advance for the spam).

But northern Thailand means domestic flights, and domestic flights means a luggage limit of 15kg. I am the girl who couldn’t take less than seven pairs of shoes for three days in Amsterdam so packing light is something I’ve literally never achieved. But by god, this time I think I’ve got it.

I HATE packing, hate it. Nothing more boring than packing. But this time I’ve worked really hard on it; rather than chucking everything I own in a suitcase and hoping for the best I’ve decided to plan, plan, plan. I’ve stuck to a palette of mostly grey, blue, white and buying viagra in the us black so that everything matches, with colour from my new cross-body bag (John Lewis – the perfect size for phone/passport/money), some necklaces and a SCRUNCHIE (I’ll try everything once).

Enjoy your guided tour around my suitcase:

What to pack for Thailand

3x short dresses – mine are from GAP, Billabong and a great tie-dye number from ASOS. The weather is going to get up to 38 degrees when we’re there and with all the sightseeing we’ll be doing I think I’ll need dresses that are comfy.

LBD – Ted Baker. For anything formal.

What to pack for Thailand

2x long dresses – for evenings or when I need to cover up more. Another tie-dye one from Primark and this current season lace detail maxidress from Forever 21.

2x jean shorts – There’s nothing I like more than a pair of denim shorts, and both of mine have been made by ex-favourite pairs of jeans, one Levis and one GAP. The secret is to use a pair that are a couple of sizes too big. Max comfort.

What to pack for Thailand

Vest tops – I have multiple versions from Zara, H&M, Aubin & Wills and American Apparel. Who doesn’t need a million vest tops?

Tshirts – One ‘boyfriend’ style (ASOS), one stripey top from H&M and a breton stripe from Boden because nobody does breton better.

Hat – obvs. This is from M&S men’s section.

Shoes – THREE PAIRS!! OK, four, as I’m wearing one. Birkinstocks and http://purplemum.com/cialis-online-store Havaianas, espadrilles as we’re visiting a couple of areas that require covered feet and my favourite go-with-everything wedges.

Trousers – I got these amazing ‘holiday trousers’ from Zara (my name, not theirs) and I love them. They’ll do me for night and evening.

What to pack for Thailand

What to pack for Thailand

Beauty-wise I’ve again gone really pared-down; miniature shampoo and conditioner (Soap and Glory is my favourite for these), and The Body Shop’s serum-in-oil and Vitamin E cream that will do me for morning and evening. A small bottle of Kiehl’s moisturiser to act as aftersun, Clinique moisturiser for my hand luggage and Bumble & Bumble’s sea salt spray to control my curly hair (I’ve left my GHD’s at home. PROUD). For make-up I’m going really simple with a Clinique foundation and concealer, bronzer, chubby eye stick, BeneFit’s They’re Real mascara, a brown eyeshadow, Clinique blusher, Rimmel eyebrow pencil and NARS lipstick.

After all this I literally felt like I might have a nervous breakdown but all this came to 11.6KG. BOOM! I’ve never gotten below 20 so for me this is momentous.

Packing: stressful or walk in the (holiday) park?

My 1st Years – Gifts For New Babies

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What’s one of the best bits about having babies?

The talcum powder smell, the love and joy they give you, the fun you have with them?

Noooo, one of the best bits about babies is shopping for them!

Unfortunately my two just keep growing and growing (grrr – but my gosh weren’t they gorgeous?!) so Baby Gap is no longer as exciting as it once was, but a girl can dream. I don’t think that ‘shopping’ is enough of a reason to have another child so luckily my friends have started re-creating, meaning I can indulge my baby shopping fantasies (thats shopping for items for babies, not shopping for actual babies) without being pregnant. Fun!

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I think that when you have a baby it’s wonderful to receive really special gifts for them. When my two were small my friends were incredibly generous and gifted us with a plethora of gorgeous items and I’m happy to carry that tradition on. Which is how I came across My 1st Years.

My 1st Years started with value, personalisation and quality in mind and discount viagra pills is growing to be one of the biggest personal baby gift companies in the UK. Their tagline is ‘Made With Love’ and the founders really enjoy seeing the pleasure and joy their products bring to new parents. I love a happy business story!

They offer a really wide range of products so I’ve picked out some of my favourites to show you. If you’re really struggling though I think a personalised baby blanket is always a lovely way to show someone you’re excited about their new arrival and my favourite is the cable knit. It’s truly a gift that will be treasured forever; I still have Elfie and Hux’s old baby blankets on their beds, and yes I nuzzle them on occasion. Weird things mums do, right?

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Clockwise, from top left: gingham dressing gown £25, limited edition gold throne £200, ditsy storage basket £35, soldier pyjamas £30, pack of two bibs £12.

Thank-you My 1st Years for supporting MTT!