What's better than going to a world-renowned food market in Bangkok?
Going to said market with a local chef by your side.
Luckily, my hotel was keen on making my foodie dreams come true and the Lebua's Thai Chef de Cuisine Prayong Khundongling graciously escorted me to Or Tor Kor Market, guiding me through colorful aisles filled with pristine produce, dried fish and seafood piled high like jewels, bags of every type of rice imaginable...
...stalls packed with mangosteens and Thai rose apples, bottles of freshly pressed sugarcane juice, tray after tray of just-laid and pink preserved eggs...
...whole roasted ducks and chickens, bowls overflowing with dried chili peppers, and enough platters of Thai specialities to keep anyone happily grazing for days...
And, as if that wasn't enough to get my foodie on, Chef Khundongling whisked me away from the market and back to the hotel kitchen to teach me how to make a few regional dishes, including Gaeng Kiew Wan Khae (Thai Green Curry with Lamb), and Yam-Sam O (Pomelo Salad with Prawns)...
It made for a swoon-worthy lunch.
I followed that up with an all-important local tradition - Thai massage.
Two-hours of brilliant stretching and pummeling later and I was ready for another hard-hitting session of relaxing by the pool with a G&T in hand.
And, after all that, a final dinner in Bangkok meant hailing a cab and heading over to one of the most popular restaurants in town - Issaya Siamese Club. Just off a small side street, the restaurant is the flagship of famed Thai chef, cookbook author, and TV personality Ian Kittichai. Hidden from view until you walk through its gates, Issaya ushers guests through a lush garden, onto a magical terrace, and into an exquisite dining room brimming with tropical flowers and a mix of Thai and Moroccan antiques.
Oh, and then there's the meal. What a meal!
A blur of beautiful plating, intoxicating aromas, and intense flavors, I had a hard time not moaning at my table, especially when tucking into dishes such as a fork-tender Australian Veal Cheek Simmered in House Blended Spices, served with a generous drizzling of coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves.
Okay, I may have moaned a little. And, yes, it might have gotten me a bit of attention.
But, at least some of that attention was from Chef Kittichai himself, just returned from snagging number 21 at the 2017 Awards for the Top 50 Restaurants in Asia. He was utterly charming and I was delighted to thank him for such an amazing dinner. He smiled and thought it wise to send me off with a special opportunity to continue my Bangkok foodgasm at home...
...presenting me with a signed copy of his Issaya Siamese Club Cookbook.
So, I may be back in Brooklyn, but New York has plenty of Thai groceries available, and I'm armed with some mighty fine recipes.
There's no reason for this foodgasm to stop now - or ever.