Marshmallowing @ Mr Jones’ Cafe- Thong Lor and Siam Centre, Bangkok

 

This is a long overdue post about one of the many quirky cafés in Bangkok. Mr Jones’ opened up first in Thong Lor some time in December 2012 or very early in January 2013, sparking much curiosity by the public with its gabled wooden interior and enticing home-made cakes… The interior is all blonde wood, with walls being given the vintage découpage treatment with bits of old newspaper and old home remedies in places. Ashley Sutton, who designed Mr Jones (and Iron Fairies and Fat Gutz) seems to have lived out a childhood dream of creating a giant doll’s house filled with cake, toys and milkshakes!

All beverages and cakes are served on white enamel crockery with a blue line- very vintage- they also come with toy soldiers and racing cars to entertain you while you enjoy your order… if you can’t play with your food…  you can play with your food. Ha! I ordered a lemon meringue cake which was not bad at all0 the lemon curd and sponge were soft, and the meringue topping was light, chewy and not overly sweet. Everything was well balanced… if I hadn’t a full  stomach, I would have also tried their chocolate cake topped with M&Ms and edged with KitKat fingers!

I also ordered a dark hot chocolate which was deliciously rich… and came with a homemade marshmallow I can still remember. Unfortunately, I can now never have regular marshmallows… okay I can, but only when desperate… or with strawberries and dark chocolate…but I digress.

As I drank to the bottom, the cup bore a little message… “don’t forget to brush your teeth!” I would check it out for a journey into a weirdly vintage playground and good value cakes.

Dark Hot Chocolate served with a homemade marshmallow, dark chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa and plenty of toys!

Dark Hot Chocolate served with a homemade marshmallow, dark chocolate ganache dusted with cocoa and plenty of toys

The Ratings: 

Ambience- stellar! 5/5

Taste: 4/5

Value for Money: 4/5

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Recipe #22 The Happy Christmas Special

The festive season kind of delayed my posts – I’ve been rather caught up in a mass of wrapping paper, ribbons, food planning, plan execution and a lot of ashtanga and hatha yoga! So to make up for my lack of posting, here’s a two in one double whammy Xmas special post :) One recipe is pure veggie too -yay!

True to my fascination with Thailand’s local ingredients, I decided I would whip up something interesting for Christmas morning using green peppercorns (previously encountered in Thailand’s fiery Jungle Curries) and quail’s eggs which seem to be in abundance as components in street-side pancake/ Thai crêpe stalls. I also used enoki mushrooms, shimeiji mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and wild rocket produced by The Royal Project- an initiative by Thailand’s super awesome King and Queen to enable agricultural self-sufficiency in an ecologically sustainable manner.

After much pondering on how to use the ingredients to bring out their best flavours, and how the plate was to be presented, I ended up with this…

Quail’s eggs in a nest of sautéed shimeiji and enoki mushrooms, with a gourmet cheese and herb muffin. Served with a zingy tomato and green peppercorn relish and- every amateur cook’s best friend- a balsamic reduction taken one step further with a bit of locally produced palm sugar to add complexity to the final product.

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The recipe for the cheese muffins can be found by clicking here. It is a previous recipe of mine which I simply baked in cupcake cases… A little efficiency goes a long way ;)

For the balsamic reduction:

I combined 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan with 1 tbsp palm sugar at the start. I brought this to a boil and set to slowly simmer and reduce for 10 minutes. NB. If your reduction gets too thick, it will solidify! Not good! Luckily if you make a mistake, you can still thin the mixture while with some hot water to prevent you from falling at the first hurdle on your way to gourmet mastery… *This totally hasn’t happened to me before!!*

For the Tomato Relish:
3 tomatoes finely diced
1 small red onion finely diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
7-8 green pepper corns fresh
Salt
2 kaffir lime leaves finely chopped
1 medium hot chilli finely chopped/ minced
75 ml tomato juice
1.5 tsp butter
1tsp palm sugar
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar

Heat butter till golden brown and fry tomatoes and onions and chilli and pepper corns and garlic and kaffir lime leaves and chilli. Fry till soft. Add tomato juice, palm sugar, and salt. Fry on low heat for 20 mins.

Assembly:

Get your balsamic reduction and relish ready in advance.

Mix up the muffin batter and set to bake.

Wash the rocket and mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms and season with salt and pepper in the last few minutes if cooking.

Boil and peel 3 quail’s eggs per person. Whilst warm, roll in some salt and cracked black pepper to create the speckled eggs.

Whilst the eggs are boiling and muffins baking, go all out Pollock on the plate with the balsamic reduction. Place a nice round blob of relish at the top of the plate. Follow this up with a muffin and a small nest of hot mushrooms. Top with warm speckled eggs. Add a little ball of wild rocket at the side and serve!

Part Deux:

Later on, I also improvised a cooked ham(pork shoulder joint as I couldn’t find any with the bone in), boiled in cider for 55 minutes, then baked at 150•c for an hour, coated in honey and spices and served with a spiced apple and raspberry chutney that I devised in my head whilst ingredient shopping the day before.

The ham was moist, well seasoned and not bad at all for a first attempt but it is need of refining further so that the flavour of the cider comes through more… I’m very proud of my chutney so here are a few pictures and it’s recipe!

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Apple and raspberry chutney:

1 jazz apple finely diced
2 small shallots finely diced
20 raspberries
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp palm sugar
6 cloves
2″ stick cinnamon
- boil fruit and spices and sugar in a small saucepan for 15 mins then add shallots. Stir and boil further for 15 mins till the juices lightly coat the back of the spoon.

This chutney also goes beautifully on a cheese board!

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Recipe #21 Sticky Ribs- Thai Style

What’s the best thing about cooking + eating in Thailand? The ingredients!!
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Today I decided to buy some freshly cleaned pork ribs, and a mix of thai herbs for a little meat craving I needed to satisfy…

I served them with a side of sautéed local spinach, shimeiji mushrooms and garlic. I made an omelette with fresh “dok sano” flowers, often seen in Thai street food, to encase a portion of germinated brown rice (known locally as Gaba Rice)

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The presentation isn’t amazing but it’s a very easily executable dish that’s packed with exotic flavours and hearty home made goodness.

For the pork ribs you’ll need:

300g pork ribs cut into small pieces
10 kaffir lime leaves
3 cloves garlic
1″ galangal
1/2″ ginger
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato purée( I had to use tomato juice as I couldn’t find a decent pack :s but it worked rather well!!)
1 tbsp good quality honey
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp salt
1tsp thai chilli paste with soybeans(nam prik pao)
A dash of balsamic vinegar to speed up tenderising meat during marination (about 1-2tbsp)

Method:

Wash your pork ribs and transfer them to a sandwich bag ( aka super efficient hygienic marination capsule!!)

Add salt, pepper, dark soy sauce, dash of vinegar, honey, chilli paste, tomato juice to the sandwich bagged pork.

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In a pestle and mortar, bash the ginger, garlic, galangal, lime leaves until fragrant and add this to the bag aswell.

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Seal the top, place in another bag, and massage the meat. Leave to marinate for about 1-2 hours in the fridge.

Cook in a cast iron pot on a low flame for 40-45 minutes until tender, and until the juices have come together to form a delicious sticky coating…. Very similar in taste to Chiangmai’s famous pork sausages.

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Sesame surprises at Kyo Roll En, Kyoto Lifestyle Café, multiple locations across Bangkok

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What do I say about Japanese desserts? They’re incredibly multi-faceted, they possess a sophisticated palate and they’re worth rolling the dice and exploring further…

Kyoto Lifestyle Cafe’s Goma Vanilla Sundae is quite possibly the most intriguing dessert I’ve tried in a long time. This cafe pops up in several locations across Bangkok, I visited their cafe in Gateway Ekamai Mall… Also home to my favourite yoga studio :)

The experience begins with a crisp black sesame and butter tuile firmly seated in a throne of black sesame and vanilla soft cream. I can only describe this as a subtly smoky, nutty, vanilla ice-cream minus the buttery richness of conventional ice-cream. The tuile is exceptionally crisp, and not too sweet so as to bring out the delicate flavour of black sesame seeds within the biscuit. As you dig deeper, your spoon reaches a granita of black sesame which crunches in a rather satisfying manner, as your foot would in a bed of fresh snow. It melts on the tongue almost instantly leaving an equally crisp layer of toasted black sesame seeds to munch through before your next bite.

The bottom layer contains chunks of either charcoal or Azuki (red bean) jelly, in a pool of subtly flavoured vanilla soft cream(?) It was a similar to a custard but again lighter and much smoother. The jelly, tasted kind of bean-y but sweetened.

NB. I’ve observed that the humble red bean makes its presence felt in a variety of baked goods, drinks (!), and desserts across the region… It’s a taste I have grown to acquire and appreciate as it forms a characteristic of Asian desserts, which sadly even adventurous tastebuds shy away from. I’m all for exploring local ingredients and their various iterations across the spectrum of courses and culinary categories.

The combination of layers, textures, and flavours of sesame, vanilla and Azuki/charcoal jelly was exceptionally refined. Never did one component speak out of turn nor offend the sensory experiences in each spoonful. Each successive scoop, sang to one another in perfect harmony.

This is a masterpiece that keeps one’s tongue on its toes!

As for the ratings -

Taste: 5/5
Texture: off the scale!
Innovation: 5/5
Ambience: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5

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