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Mmm… cheese

By Heather Allen

I love cheese, it isn’t always easy to find in Chiang Mai and, let’s face it, never for the price that one could find in Paris or even London. However, when one has been away from quality cheese for quite some time then price does not always come into account. This, of course holds true for good wine. This is something that can be found at the new Aji Restaurant at the Rimping Supermarket in the new Maya Shopping Mall.
Some friends of mine who had eaten there said it felt a bit like dining in a fishbowl with the big windows looking out into the ground floor of the mall. However, as my dining companion pointed out, it was no different than sitting in the window of a restaurant on high street. I must say it didn’t really bother me and I didn’t actually feel that many eyes on me whilst we dined.
To the cheese, we ordered two of the smaller cheese plates, since we were only two and didn’t actually plan on eating a big meal, plus we shared the crab and fish croquettes for something more like food.
The cheese was delicious and whilst the house wine is incredibly affordable we ordered a bottle to share from the shop. The cheese was delicious and we received more bread as we asked for it. Be aware that most of the cheese plates seem designed for larger groups as they were not that small. The cheese is also not cheap but then it is cheese. Imported delicious cheeses will cost more and until we can talk to the Thai government to reduce tax on “luxury items” such as wine and cheese, all we can do is go without, or pay. We chose to pay. We enjoyed the raclette, which is a kind of melted or grilled cheese on a platter. It was very tasty with the fresh bread. We also had a wonderful cheese made out of buffalo milk, not quite a mozzarella and the lovely young man who came in to explain it all explained it quite well. Unfortunately, I had a few glasses by that time and can’t recall exactly how it was made but it was creamy on the inside.
The cheese dishes and croquettes came to about 800 baht for the two of us, whilst the cost of the wine will be of your choice.
One warning, the restaurant is quite cold. Wear a jumper! Located in the ground floor of the Maya Shopping Center at Huay Kaew Road and the Superhighway, the restaurant is open until 10 p.m. I believe.

RECIPES BY NOI: Kang Yuak Klouy

The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk

Foreigners might be amazed that we can eat banana stalks. As well as used to make krathongs in the Loy Krathong the banana tree is one of the most useful plants as all of its parts can be used. Many years ago, my grandparents would boil the trunk in clean water and drink it to clean up the digestive system, rope can be made from the dry, fibrous layers of the trunk, the leaves can be used for wrapping food to steam and can be used as containers even. The flower blossom makes a wonderful curry with chicken or pork. The dried leaves can be used to roll tobacco instead of paper; my grandmother was a big fan of using it instead of cigarette papers. My father was very proud of my grandmother’s giant cigarettes, saying no one’s was bigger than hers. People used to cut the young leaf and dry it for a few days but nowadays I don’t see people smoke them anymore. There is even a female ghost of a banana tree; Nang Tani, she lives in the Kluay Tani tree.
Back to the banana trunk curry, first you need to cut a young banana tree and then cut the core into small pieces about 2 cm long. Soak these pieces in water with some salt or lime juice to keep the trunk from turning black, and stir with a wooden spoon to get rid of the fibers. Stir fry chili paste (we’ve done this recipe before, its dried chilies, garlic, shallots, salt and shrimp paste pounded together) then add chicken or pork. Keep frying for a few minutes and then add water. Once the water boils add the banana trunk. Cook until tender and then turn off the heat. Add coriander, kaffir lime leaf, and spring onions.

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