Category Archives: Eats

Review: The Performance Paleo Cookbook by Steph Gaudreau

The Performance Paleo Cookbook |

When I started to really focus on a less-processed way of eating and stumbled across the paleo movement, Stupid Easy Paleo was one of the websites I scraped for recipe ideas and learnt so much from. I’ve followed its creator, Steph Gaudreau, around the interwebs ever since and was so pumped when I heard she was releasing a real hold-in-your-hand cookbook chock-full of her signature speedy, simple & delicious recipes.

So full disclosure: here I am just hangin’ out with Steph in Thailand last year on a Culinary Adventure. While I don’t know her well, what I have got to know about her is that she’s incredibly passionate about helping people live healthier, more balanced and effective lives. And because she’s a life-long athlete herself, Steph has a special interest in forging paleo-fueled sports superstars.

Just hanging out | When in Chiang Mai: Elephants & Ziplining |

The Performance Paleo Cookbook is written “for anyone who is passionate about performance” but alongside the recipes for pre-workout protein hits, shakes and post-workout carbs, you’ll also find recipes like Apple Fennel Slow Cooker Chicken and Blackened Fish Soft Tacos with Mango Slaw. And they are hardly worth hiding from the more casual athletes amongst us!

My most favourite recipe in the book would have to be the Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. My dad would occasionally roast us up a batch of white potato hasselbacks and while they were delicious, I think the sweet potatoes are a much more impressive vehicle for hasselbackin’. They take a while in the oven but I reckon it’s totally worth the effort.

Hasselback sweet potatoes | Performance Paleo |

One thing I love about Steph’s recipes is that she rarely uses where-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-buy-that ingredients. Relying on the beauty of natural flavour combinations and herbs & spices, Steph still churns out deceptively simple, dinner party-worthy feasts like Mocha-Rubbed Slow Cooker Pot Roast and Honey Garlic Lemon Chicken Wings. And if you don’t have a particular ingredient in the house, or you want to switch your proteins or veggies around, it’s all pretty foolproof in most cases. Which is pretty much what I did with the below custards.

Using the recipe for the Lemon Vanilla Custard with Blueberry Sauce, I hacked my way to a Jaffa Custard – oranges instead of lemons, a scoop of cacao and a cacao & coconut oil topping instead of the blueberry sauce. Gotta love a successful experiment!

Jaffa custard |

Athletes – and that’s anyone from weekend warriors to full-on sports wonders – will get the most out of The Performance Paleo Cookbook, regardless of whether you’d normally identify as “paleo”. While the book is targeted at active types, don’t think you’ll have to feed your visiting grandmother from a different tome. My granny would be happily all up on the majority of the dinner options!

If you’re a fan of Steph’s recipes from the Stupid Easy Paleo website, or you have her e-book, The Paleo Athlete, this cookbook is well worth the investment.

x Liz

Reef Restaurant, Terrigal

Reef Restaurant, Terrigal |

This last Sunday, we joined our friends Pete & Lee for a beautiful feast at Terrigal’s Reef Restaurant.

With sparkling seaside views, it won’t be a surprise to hear that the Reef specialises in seafood. We had a set Mother’s Day menu to select from on the day but this gave us enough variety to see what the Reef had to offer.

Mother's Day | Reef Restaurant |

For my entree, I went for the King prawn crab tian and coddled quail egg with poppy twist (bottom left in the first image) while Michael and Pete opted for the below Apple wood cold smoked salmon terrine with seared scallop and gazpacho. Lee went for the Risotto with duck, truffle, asparagus, portobello mushroom and shaved pecorino.

By all accounts, these were all perfectly cooked and highly delicious. The plating of the dishes was also striking – I think some restaurants underestimate how much of a difference a delightfully served meal makes. It will never cover up for something poorly cooked but it most definitely adds to the experience.

We matched our entrees with a glass of something french and sparkling, darling.

Salmon terrine | Reef Restaurant |

For our mains, the Smoked lamb rack with eggplant caviar, toasted almonds and broccolini, as pictured on the top right of the first image, was hard to beat. I thought it best to maintain my ladylike composure and stick to using my cutlery, even though I would’ve loved to have nibbled the rest of the lamb from the bones.

I’m always a sucker for a glass of pinot noir and happily matched my lamb with a 2012 NZ option.

Chocolate tart | Reef Restaurant |

While everyone else at the table fell victim to the allure of the above Swiss chocolate tart with almond cream and raspberry jells, I thought I’d strike out on my own and try the below Pear and apple custard apple fool served with lychee granita. I was not disappointed!

Apple pear fool | Reef Restaurant |

The Reef Restaurant is certainly not a cheap experience but it’s a case of getting what you pay for: quality service, good wine, faultless food and a stunning setting make for a location worthy of special occasion celebrations.

x Liz

Photo note: All photos taken on my iPhone.

Review: The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry

The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

Plenty of cookbooks have great recipes, sweet anecdotes and pretty pictures. Fewer cookbooks are worthy of a spot on the top shelf for regular inclusion in the meal planning process. And fewer cookbooks still are capable of inspiring a new way of eating and preparing food. 

Up there with my favourites Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar For Life and Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed 1 & 2, Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook has had me shopping differently, preparing food differently and even rethinking my meal components.

Zucchini Fritters| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

I’ve rediscovered dill, and not just for pairing with fish. I’ve simplified weeknight dinners without sacrificing flavour. I’m having messier, less Insta-pretty meals but getting bucketloads of nutrients.

Between recipes like the zucchini fritters and my favourite, Crispy salmon and kale mix-up with avocado and dill, Lola gets her holistic health coach hat on with mini wellness tutorials on topics like sleep, biophilia (the healing power of nature, fyi) and mindfulness.

Crispy salmon & kale| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |
Another favourite discovery in The Happy Cookbook has been the Superfood Bircher. I often make a full batch and leave it in a covered bowl in the fridge – it gives us both a timesaving breakfast for 3 days straight. Gotta love that! I also occasionally make smaller serves of it in grab-and-go recycled juice jars.

Superfood Bircher| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

If you’re looking for a cookbook that you won’t want to put away, Lola’s new one is just the ticket. While there are recipes to impress special guests (hello Paleo ganache chocolate birthday cake!), primarily The Happy Cookbook will keep you and your farmer’s market haul happily feasting all throughout the week.

x Liz

Recipe: Thai pumpkin soup

Thai style pumpkin soup recipe |

When Granny hands you a massive pumpkin, fresh out of her garden, you’re in no position to refuse her generosity. You are in a position however, to make a deliciously warming Thai-style pumpkin soup!

In season: Pumpkin |

Recipe: Thai-style pumpkin soup

Serves 6 | Give yourself an hour or so to make this one happen

  • 1.2kg of peeled pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, sliced or diced
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1L stock (chicken or veggie)
  • 2-3 tblsp red curry paste (Look for one without added sugar & other nonsense. Or make your own)
  • 1-2 tblsp minced ginger
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • To serve: Chopped herbs, spinach, leftover cooked protein & toasted pumpkin seeds

Chop your pumpkin into even 1-inch cubes. It doesn’t have to be perfectly pretty but evenly sized cubes will make life easier for you. Now, you can either steam or roast your pumpkin: I think optimal deliciousness is always found from within your roasting tray but if you’re short on time, feel free to get a boil up. Either way, cook your pumpkin until it’s soft when poked with a fork. This will take up to 30 minutes, depending on your method & the size of your cubes.

When the pumpkin is approaching the pointy end of done, add a splash of oil and your curry paste to a cold stock pot. As it warms to a medium heat, combine in your ginger, onion and a pinch of salt. Once the onion starts to soften, add your cooked pumpkin, stock, fish sauce and squeeze of lemon and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and stir through, continuing to simmer for around 10 minutes.

Toasted pumpkin seeds |

Turn the heat off and, using your immersion/stick blender (kitchen essential!), puree up your mixture. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may wish to add a little extra milk or stock as you blend. I love a good thick soup though.

I ladled my soup over a sliced up leftover chicken thigh and a handful of baby spinach and topped it with chopped fresh mint and toasted pumpkin seeds. And the best bit? There’s plenty leftover for work lunches!

Thai pumpkin soup |

I’d love to know if you make it!

x Liz

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched up with the ABM Actions.

Mid-week bake-off: Anzac bikkies

Anzac biscuits | Recipe from The Healthy Chef |

For a mother of two foodie kids, my mum is the first to admit she’s not that great at creative cooking, nor is she that interested in following wild recipes or just generally diving into unchartered culinary waters.

That said, she’s always got a sweet slice-of-the-moment to bring to a function, can whip up a perfect batch of scones to the family recipe and, every April, would mix up a tray of Anzac cookies for our ever-hungry young selves.

While the buttery, syrupy Women’s Weekly Beautiful Biscuits edition is no doubt delicious, there are some superb recipes doing the rounds at the moment that hardly sacrifice taste to get you an Anzac bikkie fix without wrecking your healthy wholefood eating goals.

The Merrymaker Sisters have a paleo Anzac recipe, as does Alice over at The Whole Daily. With a bag of rolled oats in the cupboard though, I went for a slightly more traditional option from The Healthy Chef.

How to make Anzac cookies |

Here’s the recipe I used: Version #1. They had the perfect balance of sweetness and crumbliness and not-too-hard-not-too-softness. I also already had all the ingredients in my pantry already – I hope you do too!

There’s some awful weather happening on the east coast of NSW at the moment: #newystorm and #sydneystorm streams on Twitter are full of fallen tree photos, assorted items which have blown into peoples’ yards and stories of people expecting to be without power for days. Plenty of businesses are closed, including schools and the university.

We’ve had sirens going constantly up and down the main road so it was greatly appreciated when the boss offered a work-from-home option. We’ve managed to keep our electricity flowing but the internet was out for most of the morning. Stay safe local people! Don’t leave your fortress unless you absolutely have to.

x Liz

P.s. Here’s some trivia for you: While it’s a commonly held belief that the Anzac biscuits got their name from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who devoured them, apparently they were mostly found at fundraising bake sales supporting the First World War effort. Myth busted!

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched up with the ABM Actions.

Latest eats: Weekend proteins & a brownie sandwich

This weekend’s out-and-about eats saw us trading in the newest hotspots (like Three Bears Kitchen) for some slightly more established venues. Friday lunch was a farewell for a colleague at The Lucky Hotel. I devoured this healthful & totally photogenic blackened fishy over cajun rice & topped with a scoop of herby goodness.

Blackened fish & cajun rice | The Lucky Hotel Newcastle |

On the walk from The Lucky back to the office, I may or may not have popped into Hello Naomi with a couple of the girls. Salted caramel & peanut butter brownie sandwich: can you blame us?? So worth it.

Brownie Sandwiches | Hello Naomi |

After a cracking session at Gritshed, I swung by home & collected Michael for brunch at Fortunate Son in Hamilton. I’ve been for a Friday night beverage and bar snack but after hearing great reviews, we still hadn’t made it in for a proper meal. This braised short rib hashbrown with rocket, tomato relish & poachies lived up to the hype and fuelled me up for a long walk around the beach.

Braised short rib hashbrown | Fortunate Son Hamilton |

Sunday mornings usually see Michael hit the yoga mat at Ashtanga Yoga Newcastle while I do the rounds at the farmers’ markets. I love getting in early and wandering about, picking out the best produce. It’s so much fresher, more delicious and doesn’t cost me any more than the often imported and not-so-great options at the supermarket.

After we finish our activities, we head out for breakfast. This is the Savoury Mince at The Edwards. Most morning visits to The Edwards involve the are-you-getting-the-mince-or-can-I discussion. I won out this time with Michael enjoying the eggs & baked beans instead.

Savoury mince | The Edwards  Newcastle |

It was a delicious weekend! What were you feasting on?

x Liz


Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone

The 8 essential tools for a wholefoods kitchen

Wholefood Kitchen Essentials |

While a sharp knife and a chopping board will get you a long way, carefully investing in a handful of small kitchen gadgets will really help amp up your wholefood home-cooking game.

Here are my always-in-the-sink kitchen essentials:

1. Stick/immersion blender

Making mayonnaise, smoothies, tahini, dips, soups and anything else you ever wanted in puree form, a stick blender is the easy-clean brother of the blender and the petit cousin of the food processor. It’ll struggle making nut milks but it’ll happily make a smooth and creamy choc-avo mousse. Keep an eye out for units with interchangeable fittings – mine plugs into a mini food processor and has a whisk attachment. Handy!

2. Proper knives

Yeah, random cheapo knives will do a decent job of dicing your chicken and roughly chopping your carrots but what about a speedy chiffonade of coriander? Or thinly sliced beef? Sharp, fancy knives may seem intimidating but the truth is blunt knives are more dangerous: have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes trying to hack into a bigger-than-your-average sweet potato with a knife that would struggle to cut butter? Practice doesn’t make 100% perfect (the wounds my chef little bro has had over the years prove that) but it certainly will help.

3. Measuring cups

Eye-balling a scoop of this & a scoop of that is all well & good for a casual cook up but good luck getting a delicious raw creation to turn out dinner party-ready without keeping track of your cacao butter to rice malt syrup ratios. These ones are live-forever Tupperware.

4. Kitchen scissors

Traditionally used to spatchcock a chook, I use my kitchen scissors for plenty beyond chicken! An easy snip-the-tip for beans (get the kids involved) and a less scary way to finely slice your leafy herbs, scissors are also handy for plain old packet opening.

5. Garlic press

Squish cloves of garlic in a single squeeze! No need to get fiddly with your knives and attempt a fine slice, a decent garlic press can even cope if you leave the skin on. A tip: Rinse it out as soon as you’re done otherwise the dried up garlic is a treat to clean off when you finally get around to doing the dishes.

6. Measuring spoons

I’ll admit, I thought these were an unnecessary addition to the kitchen when they first debuted. Now though, I use this little tablespoon daily. Ultimate nerd out: try and make a morning smoothie without needing to wash it between ingredients – start with dry items and then work through to the messier goodies. I go chia seeds, then a scoop of maca powder, honey and then nut butter!

7. Julienne peeler

This is what you need to deliver the majestic zoodle (zucchini noodle) to your table. Like a vegetable peeler/grater hybrid, this little guy makes long, thin strips out of your veg. Once you get the hang of it, make these Comfort Noodles.

8. Microplane grater

Moving into a house that my aforementioned chef brother moved out of had its advantages: abandoned utensils. This grater was one such acquisition and I don’t think I’d be able to efficiently add ginger to meals or zest fruits without it. Super sharp (I’ve copped a couple of forced manicures), your Microplane needs that straight-away rinse after use too.

So does that cover off the most used items in your kitchen drawers? What did I miss? I’ll post about my essential appliances and bigger kitchen gadgets soon. FYI, it’s a Thermomix-free zone. I’m still not convinced those things are worth the coin!

x Liz


Photo note: Image by me on my trusty iPhone with a little polish via the ABM Actions.

Three Bears Kitchen, Newcastle

It seems like every week there’s a new eatery springing up in and around Newcastle. I’m not complaining! Three Bears Kitchen is the latest cab off the rank and from all signs so far, it is juuuust right. (Sorry, Three Bears reference, you know.)

Shakshuka | Three Bears Kitchen |

I find it hard to go past a Shakshuka, especially one that is labelled as such rather than the more generic “baked eggs and tomatoes”. It holds more promise, I think. This was superb with just the right amount of heat, without feeling like I was sweating off my freshly applied make up.

Breakfast with friends | Three Bears Kitchen |

I’ve been to Three Bears Kitchen twice now – the above snap was a “Stop! Nobody touch anything til I take a photo!” moment with my Ladies’ Breakfast crew. Yes, I’m that guy girl. Bottom left was my porridge (don’t worry, you’ll get the close up below); the two top dishes are the Bacon Butty filled with endless barbecue sauce, apparently; and the other one was the Green Machine: Poachies, avo, greens and sprouts.

Porridge | Three Bears Kitchen |

When in a cafe named Three Bears Kitchen, one cannot avoid the porridge on the menu; here it is a totally modern mix of red rice and quinoa with almond milk, rhubarb, berries, figs & pistachios.

The coffee was on point too – I enjoyed a couple of long blacks and no complaints were made by the milk coffee drinkers.

I didn’t take a snap of the interior – can’t photo, eating – but it’s obvious that the people behind the beautifully-decorated Rustica had a hand in the striking, faux-broken down industrial stylings.

Welcome to Newcastle, Three Bears Kitchen!

x Liz

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched by ABM Actions.

Week of eats: Crackers, cafes & tasty event tucker

So let me just join everyone in saying: how on earth is it now February?! The year is flying already! In between the daily grind and getting stuck into wedding plans, there have been a few foods of note.

After making the seed crackers from Lorna Jane Clarkson’s Nourish over Christmas, I couldn’t wait to get another batch on the go (for those playing at home, I use buckwheat flour instead of spelt & mix in dried herbies). Accompanying the crackers for a happening happy hour is a cheeky wedge of blue cheese and some fresh fruit.

Cheeseboard  |  Latest Eats |

The Edwards is an all-day dining cafe/restaurant/bar which, not too long ago, was an industrial laundry. Serving deliciously home-style food, this place is a regular haunt of mine for brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee… Any time really! This is the Savoury Mince (sans toast) and it is both a delicious brunch and a foolproof hangover cure.

Savoury Mince at The Edwards |

A forever favourite, One Penny Black is a coffee-obsessed cafe with excellent eats. I’ve raved about them before (and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably know the extent of my fandom) but this Thai Beef Salad was a simple and delicious weekend lunch, especially when washed down with an iced long black.

Thai Beef Salad at One Penny Black |

I’m always surprised when food from a festival or a big event is actually good. This rice salad (with dried fruit & fresh herbs) was an unexpectedly tasty carb-up I had while waiting for Eddie Izzard to take the stage on the Sydney Opera House steps. He. Was. Hilarious. And given plenty of people gave me blank stares when I mentioned his name, if you don’t know who he is, go watch this and this and give him a good Google.

Rice salad  | Latest Eats |

The next morning, we schlepped up to Pablo & Rusty’s for breakfast and coffees. I settled on this toasted granola with sheep’s milk yogurt, truffled honey and vanilla poached strawberries. Michael went for the epic Rusty’s Breakfast Brioche, which was stuffed with organic free range bacon, banana jam, labneh, sorrel & dulce de leche. Craziness!

Granola at Pablo & Rusty's |

Here’s to a delicious February!

Week of Eats: New Year’s cheer in Melbourne

Before we get into the ins and outs of the eats, I have an exciting announcement to make following our Melbourne trip…

We're getting married |

Yay! Michael proposed as we were strolling around Melbourne’s King’s Domain Gardens and I excitedly accepted! Stay tuned for further developments & planning 🙂 For now though, back to your regular scheduled programming.


While we still made it to our favourites, our eats in Melbourne on this trip took us to a couple of new spots. One of the standout new-to-us eateries was BARRY. A short tram or taxi ride (we recommend tram if your taxi driver smells anything like ours did *shudder*) away in hip Northcote, BARRY has a creative menu full of inspiring food and drinks which are well worth the 20-minute wait for a table.

Coconut cold brew | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

Living in the coffee hub of Newcastle, it takes some impressive bean work to get us excited but this coconut cold brew was a winner. With an accompanying bottle of coconut milk for a dash to taste, it’s a refreshing take on caffeine.

It’s not all about the coffee here though: once the food landed on the table, it’s easy to see why this place is packed to the rafters at brunch o’clock.

Eggs benedict | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

Benedict eggs, slow braised free range ham hock, apple cider hollandaise and granny smith apple on a potato hash brown; don’t mind if I scrape every last morsel of it from my plate! Anyone cafe can do an eggs benny but this one was next level – creativity and quality produce are a killer combination.

Cumulus Inc is a long-standing breakfast favourite of ours in Melbourne but, while we’d sampled the wine list in the classy-but-cosy bar upstairs, we hadn’t been in for a dinner service. With no room at the inn downstairs, Cumulus Up had four stools free at the bar overlooking the kitchen for us and our two friends – jackpot!

Duck waffle | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

Now I know how much I love duck waffle, foie gras and prune. We feasted on most of the menu – including (but definitely not limited to) the steak tartare, the ricotta dumplings, the roast potatoes – and loved every mouthful.

Another favourite is, of course, Movida. It was lovely to share dinner there with our uninitiated friends. We revisited a couple of dishes (the menu doesn’t change a whole lot over time) but this Ajoarriero – salted cod roe with potato and piquillo pepper – was a delicious tapa I hadn’t tried before. And you can bet I kept it all to myself.

Salted cod roe | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

We totally indulged with the dessert menu too. I managed to post the almond parfait with lemon curd ice cream on Instagram before we forked in.

Fun fact: Aussie model Abbey Lee Kershaw was dining with us at Movida. Sure, she was at another table, but we knew who she wished she was chowing down with.

Late breakfasts and deluxe dinners resulted in low key lunches most days. A picnic of (bun-less) Grill’d is always an easy option, especially when you’re trying to find food in bustling St Kilda on a sunny day! Mmm sweet potato fries…

Grilld Melbourne | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

And sneaking in as the last entry in this round of Week of Eats, we have takeaway long blacks from Brother Baba Budan (left) and Cup of Truth (right).

Melbourne coffees | Week of Eats: Melbourne |

Both coffees were quality but bonus points go to Cup of Truth for the hidden location – I had no idea where Michael was taking me when we were getting to it! It’s tucked away in the Degraves Street subway station so don’t rely on your GPS knowing where the devil it is.

Hope you had a fabulous festive season!

Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson

It’s becoming increasingly apparent, through whatever wholefood-focused eating plan you follow, that low-fat dairy, wheat-based filler and low-calorie pre-packaged snacks are old news. Nourish champions a movement for less dairy, meat and simple carbs and more veggies, fish and healthful fats like coconut, avocado and olive oil.

Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson|

While it’s not groundbreaking stuff for those who’ve spent some time moseying around a paleo-inspired path, it’s a promising sign that young girls looking up to the designer of their tights and crop tops will fill up on more than just air and apples.

No regrets | Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson |

Proving she’s got the chops for much more than dreaming up tank top designs and fitspo slogans Lorna Jane Clarkson’s recipes are mighty tasty and most are simple and quick to whip up. I’ve had this book for quite a few months now and it is a top shelf favourite.

Assuming you’re down with chia seeds, all up on gluten-free whole grains and hip to your nut “mylks”, Nourish is a totally accessible cookbook and healthy living manifesto which goes well beyond green smoothies and salads.

Breakfast smoothie | Review: Nourish by Lorna |

The recipes on the highest rotation are the frittatas and the Breakfast Smoothie (don’t tell Sarah Wilson what’s in it though – hello banana, honey & mango!). That smoothie gets varied depending on what’s in the fridge (I’ve subbed the banana & spinach for avocado & it worked a treat) and we usually eat a couple of eggs with it for added protein too.

The frittatas are a great way of using up leftovers too – an excess cooked chicken thigh, some sagging greens and scrapings of a forgotten jar of pesto have all made their way into this recipe. They’re those special recipes that, once you nail the basic format, you can choose your own adventure.

Frittata | Review: Nourish by Lorna |

This Christmas our young teenage nieces got a copy of this book. They’re at an age where the food they eat now will shape what kind of food they eat when they move out of home & have to fend for themselves. The girls are keen to learn about new foods and taste test different things so it’s a great time to get them excited about real foods.

The thing I like most about Nourish is, as the name suggests, the focus on nourishing your body – not on eating to a particular label or restricting anything in particular. By filling yourself up with good food and focusing on having things that your body needs, you can stay healthy without it becoming an obsession.

Lorna Jane is becoming a healthy living juggernaut but I couldn’t be happier with the message she’s peddling. Inspire away, LJ!

Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition

If ever there was a week of eats worthy of a Week of Eats post, this most definitely would have to be up there! So as I mentioned in my Chiang Mai cooking school post, some of the best food I ate was what I cooked for myself. But, lets be honest, that’s a big some in a very delicious week!

Street kitchen | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

I have a friend who is mortified by even the concept of a three-second rule and slathers hand sanitiser on religiously before meals. It is these friends that will struggle in Thailand. I took the above photo while waiting for the below food… and that pad thai was an absolute ripper.

Street kitchen pad thai | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

While it can feel a bit strange to eat food from a kitchen like this, if it’s good enough for the locals, it’ll be perfect for you. When I was in China for a few months in 2008, those of us that ate local food avoided any hint of an off belly. Others that tried to find western-style food for most of their meals were the ones who struggled to maintain their delicate digestive balance.

Fried rice | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

On our first night in Chiang Mai, we weren’t quite sure where everything was and we were quite keen to find whatever food was easiest so we could just go sleep away the plane trip. We found a busy street-side restaurant (busy with locals is the key to success!) and I chowed into this simple fried rice and a mango & coconut milk smoothie – it was heaven to our bleary eyed selves!

Free Bird Cafe | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

I’d looked up a few cafes before we left on the trip and one that kept coming up as a winner was Free Bird Cafe. A fundraising arm for the not-for-profit Thai Freedom House, this cafe had vegan treats, coconut milk smoothies and coffees. Everything was delicious & pretty creative too: Michael got a coconut that came with an espresso which you’re encouraged to tip into your coconut. He was impressed!

Tom kha gai at Inpoo Food Shop | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

The Inpoo Food Shop became the #PNTHAILAND14 headquarters by the end of the trip. It’s where we had day 2 of our cooking classes and was across the road from our accommodation. Som is one talented lady in the kitchen. We’ve since tracked a tom kha gai down at a Thai restaurant back here in Newcastle but it just makes us miss Som’s version.

Cherng Doi Roast Chicken | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

Another notable restaurant was Cherng Doi Roast Chicken. Recommended by Nom Nom Paleo, this restaurant was the host of an all-in culinary ninja feast. I think a lot of chicken was probably harmed in the feeding of our group. It went to a good place though, a good delicious place.

Street food sausages | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

Given we were in Chiang Mai at the same time as the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, we got the opportunity to sample even more street food than what would normally line the streets of downtown Chiang Mai. Meatballs, grilled chicken and sausages galore were all on offer and made for good dinner fare.

Grilled banana skewer | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition |

But my favourite of all the things on skewers in Chiang Mai was undoubtedly the grilled banana. Served with a take-it-or-leave-it creme anglais dressing, these bananas were fascinatingly tasty – not squishy, barely caramelised and not too sweet. Food van people of Australia: get on to these – I want to eat them when I wander the markets here too!