Chiang Mai in Food (March 2013)

There is plenty of amazing food in Chiang Mai, it can be hard to pick out favourites, especially when you love to eat as much as I do. During my recent work trip to Chiang Mai I got to try many delicious restaurants. Here are my favourite foodie pictures from the trip.

Now all I need to do is work out how I can move there…

Dada Kafé – Chiang Mai

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There is no café I adore more in Chiang Mai than Dada Kafé. Opened three years ago by Khun Da it’s the perfect place to get healthy food that not only tastes delicious but is also well-priced. During our last trip we begged them to consider opening a branch in Bangkok so we can get a daily smoothie hit. They also have free wi-fi so I could email food pictures as I went, hooray.

It’s situated on Ratmakka Road, which is around five minutes walk from the Tha Pae Gate. It stands out on a shabby row of buildings, gleaming green and surrounded by plants and flowers. You feel healthier just sitting in the place, especially if like me you spend most of your time dodging traffic in Bangkok. There is space to sit both inside and out, although at night there can be some mozzies so take some spray just in case. Food wise, it’s super tasty and mostly healthy. I went back regularly just to ensure I could give a full picture of the menu.

Breakfast

Try the large bowls of porridge with mango or mixed fruits. They hit the spot if you are planning to explore, you’ll get all the energy you need to last you until lunchtime from one of these. Boost your vitamin intake with one of the juices or smoothies; fresh apple and ginger juice has a real kick to it, or if you are feeling low try one of their pick-me-ups which the owners told us can help with all kinds of ailments from bad eyes to digestion. For the hardcore there are even shots of wheat grass (no thank you). For those out there who don’t like sweet things at every meal there are plenty of egg dishes, or my personal favourite: toast with avocado, lime and tomato.

Lunch and Dinner

There is so much salad in Dada’s sandwiches (you can pick from three different types of bread) they can be hard to fit it in your mouth. Chose from a variety of fillings including some quality chicken and juicy bacon. Whilst the vegetable burger wasn’t perfect, I couldn’t get enough of their chicken burger with sour yoghurt cucumber  salad. The food isn’t all western style, they offer a great range of Asian dishes including a very comforting rice soup, the hearty broth was jam-packed with veggies; and some spicy massaman curry and brown rice. Wash all this down with a peanut butter smoothie, slightly more sinful than the morning smoothies. They also serve a range of beer and wine.

Sweet treats

There is a time to be healthy and a time to indulge. Dada has a short but sinful list of desserts including German cheesecake, pancakes and handmade chocolates. In the name of research we worked our way through them all, and I even tried the pancakes with honey and mango twice. A slice of tiramisu balanced the coffee and cream notes perfectly and German cheesecake is light, fluffy and not too sugary. Get a pot of fresh ginger tea to accompany those delectable dark chocolates.

Address:Ratmakka Rd 20/1 | Phra Singh, Chiang Mai, 50200
Tel: 053-449718 
Open: From 9am till 9pm except on Sundays, where they close at 4pm

Horse riding in Chiang Mai – not like riding a bike

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When I was younger I used to have horse riding lessons. I  really enjoyed them because my riding instructor was only a few years older than me and I thought she was extremely cool. She made me a beautiful certificate to show my parents they were getting their money’s worth and I fell off every time Black (who was in fact white) and I tried to jump anything higher than 50 centimetres. I have been riding a few times since then, but it must have been at least ten years since I last got on a horse.

Because I have fond memories of horse riding I was really keen to try it again – it even appears on my list of things to do before I turn thirty (Number 12: Ride a horse along the beach). I wrote the list two years ago and I haven’t even ticked off half the things on it, but I figure moving to Thailand equals around 25 of them, and I am struggling enough with learning basic Thai without taking on Russian (Number 34).

We set off very early to Mae Rim for our ride. The driver who took us there was also the owner of Travel Shoppe near the Thae Pae Gate. He had excellent English and was very willing to discuss politics and education in Thailand, very unusual and very welcome! It is sometimes hard to gauge what is suitable to talk about, but always interesting to try and find out more about what people really think rather than walking around in the ex-pat bubbles as some people do.

They hadn’t told us is that it was on an Army base, which felt rather odd at first. The horses are used for ceremonial events, but there was also a big field of mules (for carting stuff around?). I’ve since read online that you if you are experienced and want to ride regularly they are always looking for riders to exercise the horses for free. They don’t speak good English though, so once we were on our trek we had to rely on our very limited Thai – not so good if you are a novice.

I felt like a complete beginner when I got on the pony. He was very jittery and could feel my nerves which did not lead to a joyful first fifteen minutes. I was desperately trying to unscramble my reins and he was desperately trying to not go anywhere, and sometimes even wanted to go backwards. After a horse swap with my friend we finally got away from the stables. The land you trek on is all owned by the army but is very beautiful and wild.

The trek lasted about two hours and we really got back to nature in the overgrown jungle – I have the thorn scratches to prove it. We also went down some pretty steep hills which my pony liked even less than trotting. He was determined to do everything in his power to ensure he did not break into a sweat. Despite many squeezes, the odd kick and some stern words in my best teacher voice we were always trailing behind the rest of the group.

Overall the trip was great fun, but it could have done with some better organising and perhaps a slightly friendlier guide. It was great to get back in the saddle, even though my thighs hurt so much the next day that walking up stairs was a challenge.

Booked via Travel Shoppe Ltd. 2/2 Chaiyapoom Rd, Thapae Gate
Tel: +6653-874091, 874280, 232352