Mi Casa: By Neil Robinson

Intriguing, appetizing Mediterranean food

Mi Casa has been open only about two and a half years, but has already attracted favourable mention in such national publications as The Nation newspaper, Sawasdee, Thai Airways inflight magazine, and Thailand Tatler, who chose it in 2007 as one of Thailand’s best restaurants. I have eaten there several times, and have always had reason to agree with these positive reviews. Mi Casa recently closed for a short vacation and a little renovation. Now they are back from their brief break, so I thought I should go and try their latest menu.
One of the things I like about Mi Casa is the outside terrace. In fact, I have never yet eaten inside. The restaurant is in a converted house and garden. The terrace is large, shaded by trees and covered with a clear roof. Above the roof, hanging from the trees, are three huge lanterns. The view of these at night through the roof, swinging in the breeze, adds to the charm of an already romantic setting. The background music is pleasant and soft enough to allow easy conversation. Judging by the number of couples I have seen dining on the terrace, I am not the only one who finds the atmosphere romantic.
Often, I try their tapas. This time though, I tried the Summer Promotion menu. It does change, so some of the dishes may be different when you try it. For vegetarians, note that this menu, and indeed also the main menu, do include vegetarian choices. The price, at 580 baht per person for four courses (really almost five, since you get two soups, one hot and one cold) and including a glass of Sangria, is very reasonable in view of the quality of the food.
I started with one of their speciality cocktails (130 baht). Annie, one of the couple who own Mi Casa (along with chef Kike, who is from the Basque area of northern Spain), recommended the Absolut vodka passion fruit and strawberry cocktail. I found it sweet and refreshing, with a clear fruit flavour. The sangria with the meal, a mix of wine, fruit and spices, is another drink they specialise in. Again, fruity and easy to drink.
The menu started with roasted tomatoes with goat cheese, topped with Caesar salad with anchovies and bacon. I am generally not a big fan of anchovies and did not have high expectations. However, this turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. The strong flavours of anchovies and roast tomatoes combined surprisingly well together with the milder flavour of the goat cheese.
The second course was two soups, one warm, green pea with bacon, and one cold, gazpacho. Unlike some pea soups, which can be thick and overwhelming in flavour, this was delicate and summery. The gazpacho was a little too acid for my taste. However, I suspect this is probably not a criticism of the soup, but rather of my taste - I know that vinegar is an important ingredient of authentic gazpacho.
For a main course I chose seared Atlantic salmon trout fillet on lentil and rocket with soya lemon butter sauce. The fish was cooked just right, to be both moist and flaky. The surprise of this dish was the lentils, savory from the sauce and mixed with roasted tomatoes and olives and topped with a little fennel - delicious.
My dining companion ordered, from the main menu, marinated duck breast coated with honey and black peppercorns and served with caramelized onions, green spinach and orange. He praised the delicate flavour and tender texture of the duck, and the flavours of the peppercorns and spinach.
The summer menu contains several choices of dessert. By this time though, I was too full to try anything other than an apple sorbet. I did not regret the choice however - fruity and light, it was a fine ending to the meal. The service, overseen by a very hospitable Annie, was friendly, attentive and efficient. The address is 60/2 Moo 14, Soi Wat Padaeng, Suthep Rd., Chiang Mai 50200. Tel: 053 810 088. Their website, with menus, maps etc. is www. micasachiangmai.com.
I’d like to hear from you on your experience of this restaurant. Please contact me at: [email protected]
Next week will be a move from the Mediterranean back home to Chiang Mai, to a dish which is special to northern Thailand - Khao Soi. I like to think that Chiang Mai, as the capital of the north, is also the capital of Khao Soi. I need your help in the search for the best in Chiang Mai, so please let me know your favourites!


Funghi al Olio e Limone

Go you like mushrooms? Do you like garlic? If so, this recipe is for you. It is Italian, but neither the olive oil nor the lemon is strong enough to overpower the taste of the mushrooms, yet each adds its unmistakable taste to the final outcome. Funghi al olio make a terrific addition to an antipasto, and if you can stop yourself from nibbling, you can make them in the morning for the evening meal.

Cooking Method
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat, then add the mushrooms. Sauté, shaking the pan vigorously from time to time, for about five minutes, until the mushrooms begin to exude some of their natural juices.
Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic and sauté for a couple of more minutes being careful that the garlic does not burn. Squeeze the lemon juice over the mushrooms and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Remove from the heat, pour into a glass or ceramic container and stir in the chopped parsley. Add enough additional olive oil to coat the mushrooms evenly. Serve at room temperature as part of an antipasto.

Olive oil                                       2 tbspns
Baby mushrooms no stems           500 gm
Garlic, peeled and finely chopped  3 cloves
Juice of                                       ˝ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian parsley, finely chopped       2 tbspns
Extra virgin olive oil                 2 - 4 tbspns