Café de Thaan Aoan- Chiangmai, Thailand

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Whilst cycling through Chiangmai, where I discovered an entirely new method of preparing ice cream sandwiches (see my previous post where I dubbed these special scooped treats ChiangMa-Ice-cream sandwiches), I came across this amazing café shortly after. It was a hot day, and I fancied a little relief from the baking afternoon sun along with something to top up my energy levels for the rest of the cycling scheduled for the looonng day ahead …

I peeped in, the cafe looked extremely inviting. Cane furniture, carved three seater benches around dark wooden tables  sat upon a rustic tiled floor. I walked in, and sat down on the carved bench. I set down my camera bag, super touristy straw hat (don’t judge, they’re awesome!), and lens cap  beside me and perused their menu.

I really wanted a cold drink- so naturally I decided on a Thai Iced Tea : cold, sweet, tea with a strangely pleasant caramel aftertaste…
But then I also wanted a meal that didn’t require much effort to eat, so I could sit, rest and re-fuel in the cool oasis that was this beautiful café… the but stems from the fact that mixing hot food and a cold drink isn’t exactly the best thing for your digestion… but I didn’t care… I ordered a street food favorite : a pork meatball and noodle soup ( I think it was called Yum woonsen sai mu ).

While waiting for my food to arrive, I perused their bookshelf- which was filled with Cordon Bleu cookbooks, coffee table books on Thailand’s rich history and murder mystery novels. It seems the proprietors were persons of many pursuits… my kind of people! I chose to flick through a book of desserts by the famous macaronier (yes that’s my word) Pierre Hermé. I found myself memorising combinations of ingredients for future experiments and trying to control my salivating mouth…  needed to distract myself.

They had free wifi, so I jumped at the chance to send out a message or two to my close friends via Facebook. Lo and behold, my lunch had arrived.

I picked up my spoon and chopsticks and tucked into the steaming bowl of noodle soup, generously garnished with fresh spring onions. The stock in which the pork and noodles floated was incredible. It was meaty, infused with shallots, a touch of fish sauce and a hint of lemon and palm sugar… or so my palate could detect. The meatballs were made of coarsely ground pork- which I appreciated, as other versions tend to favour a smoother grind of meat. The texture and naturally rich, fresh flavour of the meat meant the meatballs didn’t need much attention- I think they just added a little garlic and salt and let the meat speak for itself…. I was more than happy to listen.

I sat and ate, slowly and silently. I relished the crunchy spring onions against the bites of meatball, noodle and stock. There is a great deal of sophistication in this simple soup. It may be served in stalls and by the roadside… but there is a reason for its popularity. It’s satisfying, well seasoned, and carries with each mouthful a wealth of flavour.

My sister and I decided we would sample a slice of their large lemon meringue pie, which was calling our names from its refrigerator.
It arrived in small dessert plate, with a flourish of whipped cream and honey on the side. The pastry was baked until golden brown and the layers of lemon curd and meringue were in perfect proportion. I was full, but the sight of this delightful dessert was too much to resist and I picked up the dainty dessert fork, loaded it up with a little of each layer in one deft flick of the wrist.

Marshmallow. Marshmallow is how the fluffy meringue read on my tongue, followed by an exceptionally well balanced lemon curd and crisp crumbly crust. Fantastic is a word that doesn’t really do justice to the dessert… but technology hasn’t advanced so far as to assist in recreating the visceral experience … so this blog entry shall just have to suffice.

This place is definitely one I’d recommend – it’s close to Wat Chedi Luang in central downtown Chiangmai… so it’s easy to find.  🙂 They even have a website … http://www.cafedethaanaoan.com
The overall ratings:

Taste: 5/5
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Quality: 5/5

Experiencing a little moonshine by way of meringue pies: 5.5/5 

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