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El Patio offers something new

By Heather Allen
I like tapas and usually really enjoy getting a more than a few of a little bit of somethings for dinner, it offers the opportunity to have many different flavours in one meal without having to eat a giant meal.
El Patio is probably one of the best know tapas bars around with a regularly changing and varied menu of little bites on offer. However, their new chef, a handsome and friendly Spaniard named Jesus (and no the J is not hard, it is pronounced Hay-soos- we don’t have the Second Coming in Chiang Mai just yet although some of the men living here may seem to think they are it). Jesus is whipping up some wonderful Spanish fare and one of the more controversial dishes may be the black rice. Jesus tells me that while some may call it black paella, in fact it really is black rice.
I love squid ink pasta so was excited to try squid ink rice. Loaded up with seafood the rice was uniquely textured. Most definitely different from regular paella, the rice had a slightly chewier texture, not in an uncooked way of course, but a rather difficult to describe texture that was different from regular paella.
In addition to the black rice dish, which was for me the absolute best meal I had in some time, there were tapas made from chorizo, lamb and other ingredients. But I heartily recommend that you put aside your fears and step into the breach and indulge your adventurous side and try the black rice.
Desserts are also on offer and with the abundance of mangoes this year the mango mousse was incredible. The dessert was sweet without being cloying, and satisfyingly refreshing on these hot summer evenings.
El Patio offers a wonderful outdoor ambiance and an excellent selection of wines. The affable host Chris is more than willing to offer suggestions based on his own expert knowledge as well. Located on Nimmanhaemin soi 11, El Patio is open every day but Tuesdays in the evening.

RECIPES BY NOI: Wild mango sticky rice

Mangoes at 10 Baht a kilo, is it a dream? This year there are a lot of mangoes for us to eat. Maybe it is temperature, rain, fertilizer or whatever that has made mango trees produce this much fruit this year. Once I was in Berlin in April craving mangoes and durians. Unfortunately there were no shops in my neighborhood with durians but I did find Thai mangoes. The price was almost 5 Euro instead of 2 Euro for a South African mango but it was worth it!
This year, I am in Thailand and there are mangoes everywhere! Before the start of the season they were 80 -90 baht per kilo but now they are 30 -40 per kilogram. If you don’t mind that they are not beautiful or big then you can buy them even at 10 to 20 baht per kilo.
The mango that everyone knows is called the Nam Dok Mai which is very common to find in any market. It’s sweet, big and has nice yellow fruit. The other popular mangoes are Ok Rong, Kiaw Sawei, Mahachanok, Keaw and Rad.
Also there are a lot of local mangoes in Thailand. Ku, Sampi and wild mango are the common 3 that we can find in my village.
Mamuang Sampi is long and slim and very sour when young and still a little bit sour when it’s ripe. Sampi means 3 years; many years ago we only grew plants by seed. Mamuang Sampi takes 3 years to give fruits but the other mango takes over 5 years. Mamuang Ku is rounded and fat. Sour when it’s young and sweet when it’s ripe.
Mamuang Pa or wild mango is very small and the seed is as big as the fruit. I’ve only seen 3 wild mango trees in my life. One was in my primary school which is now cut down already. And the other two are in the mountains and hopefully they are still there.
My auntie neighbor likes to go hiking. Even though she is now more than 60 years old she still goes hiking by herself and she is the owner of the recipe today. It’s a very easy way to make mango sticky rice with wild mango. She likes to go to the wild mango tree before noon to have lunch there. Then she picks fruit of a nice size, cuts around the head of the mango, opens it and takes the seed out. Stuff sticky rice in the mango and press it closed.
And there is your wild mango sticky rice!

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