Bake and Bite: By Farrah Praisal

Delicious and decadent

Every person I meet who has left there homeland to settle in sunny Thailand has their list of the things they miss from home. I’m no exception. Embarrassingly high on my list were delicious, decadent baked goods. I had many a craving for hot cinnamon rolls, flaky croissants and moist muffins. Needless to say I was a happy man on that joyous day six years ago when I stumbled upon Bake & Bite in a little soi near Thapae Gate. Six years, two new branches and four waist sizes later I am still a regular customer.

Back then there was just the one little shop, hidden away at the back of Kotchasan Soi1 and I thought it was my little secret. Well, the secrets out! Today there are three Bake & Bites and they are still serving up the same high quality, taste tempting treats that I enjoyed then, only now the variety and selection are even greater.
For those of you who have been, and you are legion, you know that behind all the magic is a human dynamo named Gai. In addition to being one of the warmest, kindest and most friendly individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting in Chiang Mai, she is also a whirlwind of energy. She miraculously seems to be at whatever branch I happen to visit. In addition to being hands on in all three branches she also finds time to supply roughly 7 outside vendors with breads and bagels and caters everything up to and including full meals with your choice of Thai or western foods. Somehow she also manages to be cheerful and hospitable at the same time.
Khun Gai is a highly qualified baker and studied in both Australia and Michigan. She is keen on providing a healthy menu in addition to the sweets and one can opt for vegetarian or natural foods which are plentiful on the menu. Personally I have been on a diet for 5 years and all I’ve lost…is five years. Oh well!

Bake & Bite is well known locally for their very popular Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners every year as well as doing promotions throughout the year to celebrate whatever is fresh and in season. On my most recent visit I was thrilled to see the current avocado promotion and my stomach has fond memories of the recent California raisin promotion.
Bake & Bite #2 opened on Chiang Klan Road just past the night bazaar in 2004 and offers two air conditioned dining rooms as well as limited outdoor seating. The menu is extensive and features an abundance of breakfast treats like waffles, pancakes, French toast and biscuits and gravy. There are also plenty of traditional breakfast combinations to choose from and a “create your own breakfast” area. Lunchtime is chock full of sandwich, salad and soup choices and of course there is always plenty of cheese cakes, pies and other sweet treats for dessert. Bike & Bite offers an array of fresh juices, fruit shakes, milk shakes and teas.
This year Gai had a bit of free time so she opened Bake & Bite #3 on Nimmanheiman Soi 6. The latest outlet offers the complete menu and features more outdoor seating than the first two shops. The company seems to grow every three years or so and Gai has become the undisputed bakery queen of Chiang Mai. The company has grown from about 5 staff to over 20.
Bake & Bite caters outside events but is also available for in house functions at both the Changklan and Nimmanhemin branches. Orders can be placed by telephone at any branch. One days notice is required for cakes and small orders, and two days for large orders.
Thapae branch is closed on Sunday and open from 7 am to 5 pm the rest of the week. Call 053 285-185 for information.
Changklan branch is closed on Fridays and open from 7 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and 8 am until 3:30 pm on Sundays. Call 053 820-761 for information.
Nimmanheiman branch is closed on Wednesday and open from 7 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and 7 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday. Call 053 400-577 for information.

Creamy Oyster Bisque

While many people imagine that soups are a winter item only, this is incorrect. Soups can be a nourishing meal on their own or a wonderful starter for the evening meal. This recipe came from Australia and featured the world famous Sydney Rock Oysters, but any style will do and the recipe as presented calls for bottled oysters which makes it even easier. The recipe also mentions Guinness beer, but any of the heavy British brands will do which can be purchased in cans in Chiang Mai.

Cooking Method
Heat 2 tablespoons of the stock in a large saucepan and add the onion and celery. Cook over low heat until onion is transparent. Add the Guinness, remaining stock, potato and thyme and cook until potatoes are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a blender with half of the oysters, milk and pepper and puree until smooth. Bring back to the boil and serve immediately with a few oysters placed on top of each dish. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Ingredients                                        Serves 6
Bottled oysters (reserve the liquid)             24
Fish stock (including water                       1 cup
drained from bottled oysters)
Guinness                                                cup
Small white onion diced                            1
Celery, diced                                           1 stalk
Potato peeled and diced                           400gm
Thyme                                                    1 tspn
Low fat milk                                             cup
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish