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A weekend of Thai food and more

by on August 29, 2009

My Pad thai

The red thread this weekend was Thai in the whole fabric of food that was M’s visit. My friend, M. My darling friend who says ‘Food is a form of expression’ – so you can guess what the rest of the weekend involved!

We were at university together in Liverpool a decade ago. We were such good friends that one night we went out clubbing (my hey days, before husband, kids and peace) just before the Millenium celebration (1999/2000). A few days later, everyone went home and I went to London. On New year’s eve, I was out in Leicester square with about a million other people and who did I bump into – M. Can you beat that? So when people tell you the world is a small place, believe them. Don’t be like my husband…even though I’m slowly proving him wrong!

Anyway, we hadn’t seen each other in 7 years but still we ‘flowed’ like little pebbles coursing down a gushing stream. Even then we were united by food and friendship…young as we were.  We lost touch for a couple of years (when I moved to the Netherlands from Nigeria) but thanks to Google, I found her back! Thank you G. One invitation, one acceptance and the weekend finally arrived, with M in tow. She came laden with Jammie dodgers, Brighton rock and her Thai cookbook (from a cookery course on her Asian travels, several years ago).

I thought we hadn’t seen each other since Uni but she reminded me of a visit I made to see her and her hubby in London…when I fixed her kitchen sink. You didn’t know I had plumbing skills now did you? Move on over, here I come, I am not going to lie, I actually got help from a plumber in melbourne, VIC

It was wonderful to have her here. First of all, she reminded me of how delicious pancakes could taste with lemon juice and sugar (for M) or maple syrup (for me – last time I did that was 3-4 years ago in Nigeria).

Mariam squeezing a lemon IMG_2998 IMG_3013

We spent the weekend catching up and touring the sights of part of the Randstad. We wandered the streets of The Hague, browsed in the Kitchen stores, including DOK and marvelled at Strawberry-flavoured Marzipan. We ended the day sipping tea with cookies – of the ginger-bread kind, for which the Dutch are famous. Light crisp cookies topped with choquette type sugar crystals and flaked almonds, well M had a Heineken and marveled at how different it tasted from what she got in the UK. For all your needs…go to the source! Moral of the story. And that was the end of the 1st day.

Star speckled cookie

Start, day 2. The weather was heerlijk (one word above fantastic on the measurring scales) – sunny, bright with a gentle breeze…crucial elements for a day out in Leiden. Especially to see the blades of the Van der Valk windmill turn. Even more exciting close-up. We went up to tour the museum and see some of Leiden from its height. It was exhilarating being on top and a little bit very scary coming down the very narrow stairs and I’m mighty glad we made it.

IMG_3288 Walls and blades Through the planks A view of the windmills steering wheel

In the museum we also got to see prehistoric tools like funny-shaped rolling pins, a fishing basket, an old-style Aga type cooker, a coat hanger amongst others. We also peered through little cracks in the floor too!

Aga type cooker Coat hanger IMG_3382 IMG_3348 Looking down a gaping hole

The most interesting thing was to see loads and loads of millstones…hanging. I now understand why the Bible talks about how it would be better to have a millstone round your neck than cause someone to sin. And that will not be my fate – with anything I cook or share 🙂

Millstone round....

We continued on through the city centre and happened upon a summer antique market. Needless to say we didn’t come away empty-handed. Antique spoons, A Wilton Christmas tree pan (in excellent condition for 2 euros, only), a bag and a hand-held blender – those were things that followed us home. Purely as an side, my husband loves when I get a good deal on something. He absolutely hates it when I stress the price of the purchase. He thinks good is good, leave it at that. It’s not a better good because it was cheaper.

IMG_3442 IMG_3417 IMG_3409IMG_3423 Cards et alIMG_3425 IMG_3420IMG_3438 IMG_3437IMG_3400 IMG_3427IMG_3406 IMG_3433 IMG_3441

A hand-held blender, a bag, and we came away happy. Sated. Somewhat shopped out.

Then we had lunch at a delightful Thai restaurant called Buddhas on the Botermarkt where the regular Leiden Market is held.  I had the Chicken Pad Thai and M had a chicken salad. Both arrived with colour and crunch and adorned with pretty girly flowers…apparently common in Thailand.

My Pad thai M's salad

It was nice to sit down, sip some tea and just relax!

Chai.. IMG_3516Tea bag Tea to go

And then we began to tuck in. Sweet, sour, hot, spicy, tender, vibrant, delightful, fragant, delicious. I ran out of words. Quickly. I stopped thinking and started eating.  We did break for a few minutes to have out photo taken by a passer-by – I guess the looks on our faces – stuffed mouths and all were priceless! You didn’t think I’d show a photo of that here, did you??? Ha. To be honest, I don’t have one…that’s why.

My Pad thai My Pad thaiDelicious rice In the beginning

I also paused long enough to remark on the absolute tenderness of the chicken and to make the link that it was probably related to it being sliced across the grain.

Tender chicken Inside the resturant

M requested for some extra chilli sauce while I continued to marvel at my flower…wondering if to eat it.

Chilli sauce Flower power

But I didn’t! A truly wonderful resturant.

Almost empty plates

We wandered in to Dille & Kamille where we had a great laugh because M had mistaken a bar of soap (shaped like a massage brush) for a massage brush. The results were amusing.

We stopped by the Asian food stall in the Market, and M educated me on the art of Basil – which was what and which would go into our dinner – as I had Thai green curry on the menu. I unearthed ‘the address book’ – my catalogue of ab fab recipes like my Greek salad, Fish balls in Green curry, Wonderberry compote and more. All from the past. And using a recipe from M’s Thai cookbook tried to make an authentic green curry.

Green curry served up

Hours later, stuffed with lemongrass-scented rice and fish balls, I set my heart to trying out a Tarte Tatin and succeeded.

Finished Tarte Tatin

It was a delightful weekend. One which I enjoyed tremendously. Thanks again Google. And thanks M, we miss you!