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XII No.2 - Sunday January 27 - Saturday february 9, 2013


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EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
 

La Tavernetta

Authentic Italian cuisine in an elegant setting

By Brian Baxter
The chef/proprietor of this high class restaurant, which opened in December, claims with considerable justification that he offers ‘a corner of Italy’ in Chiang Mai. He is an enthusiast for good food with a vast experience of cooking in top restaurants in London, Italy and France among other countries. Whether this city can offer a clientele to match his dedication we shall see over the coming months.
La Tavernetta is based on the third floor of the burgeoning Kantary Terrace on Nimmenhaemin Road. (Take the lift – it’s easier than finding your way through the complex of shops etc.). It offers a cool, smart environment with white walls, tiled floor and good sized tables with immaculate table cloths and shining table ware and comfortable chairs. Its aim is to offer high class dining and in that it succeeds admirably – unsurprisingly at a cost. This is not your average Italian trattoria or pizza parlour.
The menu is relatively short with a range of starters, pastas and main courses plus delicious puddings and imported coffee. In fact all of the ingredients are imported from Italy with the obvious exception of vegetables, the beef (from Canada) and the lamb (from New Zealand). The pasta, bread and puddings are also made fresh every day and everything is cooked to order in a glass fronted kitchen. There are also two set menus and these are selections from the main menu, offering six courses including the strong coffee and biscotti and a mini sorbet. My companion and I opted for the menus – each selecting one. With the food we had an excellent, full bodied red wine (Italian naturally) from a very small selection. The wine was 1000 baht, with the white offered at 900 baht. Water is served liberally in carafes though you can opt for Italian bottled water at extra cost.
Our meal was formidable, with each course presented elegantly and freshly prepared. A highlight was a starter comprising a chef’s fantasy with marinated tuna with other dishes to the side and a small roll of olive bread. The pastas came with fresh salmon and for main courses we enjoyed superbly cooked octopus and lamb chops respectively. The desserts were a sacher torte and for me a moist apple cake. Quality of the food and its execution were faultless.
Choosing from the a la carte menu one could of course have any combination or a more simple one or two course dinner. The starters averaged about 250 baht and the pastas around 400 with main courses rather more. The service was very attentive and friendly but so far a little inexperienced. The ambiance was as said very comfortable with no music and plenty of light. The menu is a model of clarity. There is a pleasant dining space directly outside the restaurant with a view over the Kantary complex. There are about 20 covers and they do not accept credit cards.
And here’s the rub. This fine food comes, as mentioned at the beginning, at a price. One taster menu was 1750 baht and the other 1800 including tax. So far, from your casual eatery and not an everyday experience for most of us. However if you love Italian food, freshly prepared and elegantly served in pleasant surroundings then this is a treat. And if you wish to impress visitors with what top end dining can offer outside of grand hotels then head for Nimmenhaemin Road….. any evening except Monday when Tavernetta is closed. You can find them on the main road in front of the Kantary Hotel and there is parking on the ground level (turn right into the soi and turn right again immediately after Bangkok Airways) with the ticket being validated when you use one of the restaurants. Phone number for La Tavernetta is 085 527 7803. Open evenings only.


 

RECIPES BY NOI: Kang Phak Khi Siad

During January - February after the harvest season, even though it’s still in cold season but the rice fields are already turn brown and dry because the last rain of the year is normally in November or December. Nothing can grow but there’s a very high useful vegetable which can grow in such a place.
Phak Khi Siad (old people call it “Phak Khi Kiad or frog’s poop vegetable” because the shape of the leaves) is the size of a dish and flat and to me it looks more like spider web. It has a bitter taste and grows in rice fields when the other plants can’t. According to it’s bitter taste, it helps to reduce fever and some people boil it in clean water and shower with the water to remedy skin diseases such as ringworm and dermatitis and rash.
Actually it’s (good) weed but nowadays people use a lot of different fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides so Phak Khi Siad is in danger but hopefully it’s gene of being a weed is strong!
Nothing is more perfect than Phak Khi Siad curry with dry fish. All the small fish that we caught during the last rainy season were preserved in salt (Pla Ra) or Sun dried. Fish is a very cheap protein source and easy to find especially in the rainy season.
Kang Phak Khi Siad is as easy as other Northern food. All we need are just chili paste (dry chilies, garlic and shrimp paste), Phak Khi Siad, dry fish and clean water. First add the chili paste to clean water and let it boil. Add dry fish and Phak Khi Siad at the very last because it cooks quickly. After add salt or fish sauce.
Only at this period of the year that we will have Phak Khi Siad, it is very cheap because for this meal I paid nothing. I went to pick the vegetable by myself and have dry fish from home. Of course there’s no rice field in the city but everyone can buy in any local market. 10-20 Baht and you’ll have at least 2 bowls of the curry.


 
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EATING OUT

RECIPES BY NOI

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