This was the start of our Rosa’s Road Trip.
Our road trip van came to a stop. I woke up and realised we had arrived at Lhom Sak Fresh Market in Petchabun province, Thailand.
The sun had just risen, but the market had been awake for a few hours already.
First there was a light whiff of typical fresh market odour mixed with the smell of exhaust fumes from delivery motor bikes.
A few more steps forward and we were greeted by the scent of greens and spices.
We then took a close look.
Ginger. Galangal. Holy Basil. Sweet Chilli. Coriander.
Bursts of colours.
Various shades of red, brown, green.
So vibrant, so refreshing.
All homegrown, organic.
At this early stage, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this food-oriented road trip, but I knew that we would constantly be cooking and eating. A lot. Our friend Saiphin who was in charge of everything here bought the ingredients we needed for the next few days then led us to her favourite Pad Thai vendor.
The more common type of Pad Thai that the majority of restaurants around the world offer is “Pad Thai Koong Sod”. This type of Pad Thai consists of more ingredients such as tamarind paste, prawns, dried shrimps, etc. Big prawns are added (“Koong” means prawns) and the dish tastes a little sour, due to the addition of tamarind paste. Pad Thai from this vendor, though, was a little different. People in upcountry are quite flexible most things, and a lot of time they like to make things simple. “Baan Nok” means rural or upcountry, and Saiphin explained that people have nicknamed this version of Pad Thai (which consisted of so much less ingredients) as “Pad Thai Baan Nok” due to the simplicity of it. The taste wasn’t quite mind-blowing, but it was definitely delicious, even at 6.30 in the morning.
We spent a few more minutes getting whatever we still needed. Lhom Sak Fresh Market, just like many other fresh markets in Asia, offers so much variety of fresh produce. Cabbages, laser galangal, sun dried fish, pig heads, pig feet, freshly skinned frogs, ants eggs, flower garlands, etc. I am glad to state here that we did not buy any pig heads or pig feet, though we did bring a good amount of ant eggs back to Saiphin’s home, as they were necessary for the “usual” soup dish which Saiphin made for breakfast the next morning…
Not long after we finished our morning grocery shopping (plus ant eggs) with beautiful flower garlands freshly made by hands of a friendly middle-aged lady, we reached our road trip van. It was only 7am, but all 5 of us were wide awake, excited to meet Saiphin’s friends and family.
We all looked forward to spending time with the locals and cooking like the locals in the next hours and few days to come.
WHY WERE WE THERE?
We were there to buy fresh ingredients which were used for our ultimate cooking sessions in Khao Kor District of Petchabun province. My very good friend Saiphin–also known as Superwoman Mrs. Saiphin Moore, co-founder of Rosa’s Thai Cafe–invited us to come along with her to her hometown, where she grew up in before moving to work in the restaurant industry in Hong Kong nearly 30 years ago. She intended to cook a feast (or two, or three) for her good friends and family as well as to document this trip for various purposes:
- an interview article for The Telegraph London Newspapers. Click HERE to view article.
- a featured column in Delicious Magazine UK
- Rosa’s Road Trip project
WHAT IS ROSA’S ROAD TRIP?
Rosa’s Road Trip is a blog project initiated in 2015 by the Rosa’s Thai Cafe team with the assistance of myself with the aims to introduce the audience to the culture and culinary world of East Asia, as well as to promote Saiphin’s best-selling recipe book “Rosa’s Thai Cafe: The Cookbook“. Having opened 6 branches of Rosa’s Thai Cafe in London’s most recognised areas, Saiphin continues to strengthen her bond with her previous homes Thailand and Hong Kong by traveling there multiple times each year to reconnect with her family, friends and colleagues in the restaurant industry. Since each time she makes trips to Asia she ends up cooking too much delicious food for half the people she encounters, we reckon it would be a waste not to document the moments and share with everyone!
Below is a sneak peek of Rosa’s Road Trip cooking session with the locals in Khao Kor District, Petchabun, Thailand.
More Rosa’s Road Trip video blog entries are available for viewing HERE. Stay tuned for upcoming detailed blog entries on my culinary exploration experiences on Rosa’s Road Trip!