To be perfectly honest, the glamour of discovering new food all the time has largely worn off, and I’m back to my default position of cooking simple meals during the week. But, of course, I still eat out socially – such as a huge meal at Mix Bar on Friday night. And, actually, I eat a bought lunch every day I’m at work. I wouldn’t mind bringing in my own lunch, but it would be antisocial of me and my Thai teacher reckons that people would think I was being a tight-ass. Though, she mused, maybe I could get away with it because I’m a farang, and farangs do weird things like bring in sandwiches from home. It’s strange to realise that I’m experiencing what essentially feels like peer pressure to eat! On top of our large lunches at the dining table downstairs, my colleagues like to have a substantial snack break in the afternoon – generally something unhealthy and delicious like iced coffee, cake or chips. Occasionally we’ll have fruit though, fresh or dried. But the other day we actually got our housekeeper to go out and buy some fried chicken! As much as I would like to live it up and just enjoy eating all the time, I’m finding this lifestyle way too excessive and I’ve already gained a little weight. So I’ve now joined the local gym, and ride my bike around a little…but really, who wants to hear me go on about going on a diet and going to the gym? Writing about food is much more interesting.
Yesterday we decided to go out for lunch and this time the recommendation was mine. Ever since I got here I had seen a place listed nearby on my Nancy Chandler map which sounded intriguing: ‘Cake Cottage’. The first time I sought it out it was dark and I couldn’t find it – but I came back again after work last week and realised that it’s only open during the days which is why I couldn’t find it the first time. I met the proprietor by the gate at 5.30pm that day and promised I’d be back – and when she greeted us yesterday she remembered me and laughed. “I promised I’d be back,” I said, “and I’ve brought friends as well.”
Cake Cottage is a charming place, a restaurant that’s situated in the open-air bottom level of an old wooden home. The restaurant is obviously popular with locals because lots of people came by either to eat in or to pick up food to take away with them. The restaurant specialises in cakes and sweet breads, but also have a small menu of mains. Gordon Ramsay would approve – restaurants don’t need big menus if they just focus on what they do best.
I had something I’ve only heard about up until now – pasta, Thai-style. Spaghetti pad pla khen means stir-fried spaghetti with salted dried fish. They also used chilli, garlic and Thai basil. You can’t really go wrong with a combination like that it and it was, not surprisingly, delicious. It actually looks super easy to make so I will give it a go. I just need to work out where to buy the dried fish, which tasted like cod.
But a visit to Cake Cottage would hardly have been complete without some cake. And the restaurant certainly lives up to its name – what they called their chocolate cheesecake was delicious, just how I like it. The chocolate sponge was moist, the cheese not too thick and the dried fruits and nuts were a nice touch. It’s not always easy to find great cake in Chiang Mai so I will definitely be back with my Aussie pals because I know they’ll love it too.