Saturday, 27 August 2011

[Event - Fair] Glutton for Punishment? Certain as Thai; Amazing Thailand Festival at Secrett's of Milford

Location - Secretts Garden Centre of Milford, Surrey [UK]

Little more than two weeks after the dessert-based destruction of physique I had submitted myself to following a Thai Festival, here I am again perhaps in an all too familiar case of Deja vu', retrospects' delinquent relative. At a Thai Festival. Having experienced back then seemingly an entire chapter of the oceanic expanse that is Thai Cuisine's repertoire, I ventured forth onto this potential coronary event with considerably less culinary obfuscation. Or rather, less complete ignorance. As well as approaching with another motive. I must now, expand. Not physically [well, not of my choosing at least], but figuratively, expanding what I had experienced then. I would also learn, to use the freezer for impulse purchases to avoid the glucose onslaught of the previous occasion. One small step for man and all.
So I departed, soon after having my mid-morning salad in a vain attempt to at least imbue my digestive system with a modicum of fibre to facilitate the expulsion of the calorific blockade of Thai delicacies that would soon start flooding in. I affronted this latest of events with particular optimism, assuming that in being based within the grounds of a garden centre that space, and thus choice, would be limited. As will shortly be evident, that was a rather foolish presumption to make. The fair, was essentially a Food Fair. With a mere couple of diverging stalls. Much in complete about-face to the previous one. My streak of relentless succumbing to temptation was going to be severely tested.

The procession blocking my path to gastronomic annihilation. The rudeness.
Miscellaneous prettily arrayed foods

A literal endless road of food stalls. This wreaked havoc on my notions of restraint.

Walking across the central pathway, I was rather suddenly daunted by just how many food stalls there were. The more I walked, the more they appeared, seemingly never ending. Even looking away from the pathway, food stalls crept into view just about anywhere the eye cared to rest. This was not good. Yet again, my hopeless attempt at restraint consisting of camera in hand in the providing of some respite of food catapulting into the bin receptacle of a mouth lasted only three pictures before I came across a temptation that rendered any attempts at establishing my ludicrously inept willpower, effete.

  • Khanom Buang [ขนมเบื้อง] - Sweet Crepes with Meringue & Assorted Filling

I came across these, and as simply as that, all notions of persisting until "lunch" were immediately vanquished. What solace I tried grabbing was in their minute size, and once sampling them [rather promptly], I had to get the hell out of there. They were delicious - delightfully petite and as thin as paper, yet whilst initially being crunchy gave way to a soft and chewy centre with the filling. The taste was peculiar, sweet but not overly so and I have no recollection of what the toppings were. Before I skedaddled though, I thought it opportune to purchase a little box of Sticky-rice based Khanoms. There is no need to explain the actions of the purchasing of sticky rice. It is a requisite.

The next purchased item was a bit of a dubious one at this point in time.
  • Gluay Kaek [กล้วยแขก] - Sweet Banana Fritters

Just got here and straight for dessert? Hath I no shame?! I don't, just copious building reserves of flat that should make me ashamed, but no. These were for later. Despite the deviously high glycaemic load of bananas. There is no sense in gorging, but at least I gorge smartly! Sense the clear delusion. Quickly getting the hell away from that stall before temptation dealt me a cardiac event, I was yet again stopped in my footsteps, this time by a particular morsel that instantly spoke to me. 
  • Khanom Krok [ขนมครก] - Coconut Rice Mini-pancake Dumplings

Coconut. DONE. Everything else included in the description was inconsequential. These mini-pancakes were being churned out freshly, and despite still being an hour or so early before I would duly be "hungry", I caved in yet again. Particular restraint was required not to devour the vendors' arm either. Immediately after sampling them, I was overcome with bliss - a delicate cup of coconut pancake was filled with an absolutely decadent and rich coconut cream. Being just made, it was extremely fresh and natural tasting. The highlight came with the variety of toppings, from corn, to..I forget. They added that salty, earthy note that, which I've mentioned a plethora of times before and shall do so again, instantly adds a dose of epic. Just as quickly as they had appeared into my life, they had also been vanquished. At this rate I may as well have just considered an "Italian Lunch", lasting for the rest of the day. Off again to inevitably more temptations. I had not even drawn any money out at this point, subsisting on the coinage from the cars' coin tray collection.

Moseying on I thus attempted to achieve what I had originally sought to do and scout, with out putting something in my mouth, the remaining food stalls in order to form some form of structured plan for my eventual lunch. At this point it was all semantics as I had blown that notion a couple of food inhalations ago, but I figured the thought would count. A lot of the stalls offered the same dishes, with few offering notable variances, figuring that consuming industrial amounts of the identical dishes would be a wasted effort. Achievable, but certainly wasted. I soon came across some familiar sights, including the abominable bane of my waistline that was the Rumwong Stall from the last festival whose Khanom Wans I destroyed. I rather speedily sidestepped away this trap. Whereupon I came across another familiarity. This was essentially the same stall and set-up of that I first encountered at Danson Park. With epic Sticky-rice Lady at the front again. Who promptly recognised me and issued me with the ubiquitous handful of epicrice. She also had new stocks on her table. Drats.

They were also Takoh, one of my favourite of the desserts I sampled last time. This time made by Sticky-rice Lady. And she had two variations. Damnations. Last of the coins handed over, this time the meals being reserved later, get the hell out of there. Not before I was recognised by another of the ladies, who promptly issued me a handful of Barbequed pork. Argh! My gluttony, it has benefits but its also haunting me! Yet again I promptly had to plan an escape before consuming humans, finishing the round of that same stall of the previous fair, fulfilling my inquisitional deliberations of my quest for Durian by sampling a taster of Durian Ice-cream [rather nice] and making a mental note of destroying some later, I crested my way towards the back of The Stall Road directing towards the last of the observed food stalls. Meandering towards a tent, with a sign denoting of "Healthy" foods, much in that at this point any notion of healthy eating were largely facetious, I figured no further harm can be done. Lunch was just an ideal at this point, of what could have been had I had a backbone. Immediately displayed were an assortment of weird, wonderful, and not that mysterious fruit, ranging from rambutans, to guava, mangosteen and dragonfruit. Alas, I had run out of my taxi fare collection. 

The fruit was free. YAY/BOO! It's all fibre anyway, I'll be fine. Encouraged by the chirpy attendant girl, first off I sampled was the rambutan, which rather astonishingly when looking and feeling like lychee, also tasted like lychee. Unlike lychee however, the seed was soft, and I promptly made a mess and consumed half of it. The guava was uninteresting, tasting like a bland, sour apple, then I came to the mangosteen. Which became my newest object of desire. What a peculiarly composed fruit, and what a deliciously different flavour. Fruit in general are lovely, and refreshing, imparting a sweetness which is enjoyable rather than lusty-worthy. As much as I love mangoes and the like however, this was incredible. Deeply sweet with hints of honey and awesome and more unbelievable things, it was unlike anything I had ever tasted. I immediately fell in love. Yet, some had to be left for the other thousands of visitors so I promptly left, vowing to purchase some from one of the stalls - not before sampling some dragonfruit which tasted as per the one I purchased a month earlier, of water. Ironically, most of these fruit are a common site in Saudi Arabia, only now have I been enlightened to their awesomeness. So essentially, 25 years wasted. All I say to that is, at least its not 26 years, or more. HAH. Optimism. It's delusional. 

Deciding that the last final stalls behind the Road of Dieters' Worst Nightmare were not worth much, I made a final recognition tour through the pathway, largely to give an overview of what I should try when I had money in hand, so as to not fund their children's college funds with overindulgent spending. That did not last long, for after drawing the money I was confronted with a quaint little ice-cream stand, away from all the Thai based festivities, nothing of interest I thought to myself.

No idea why I bought it. Actually, I do. I was guilted. Guilted by the vendor with Alopecia and his slightly camp ways. Groan. It was nice though, the bits of ginger especially so, it is however, very much beyond the point.

Awash with incredulous hate of my ineffective power of will, I gingerly [infused by the ice-cream, obviously] made my way back to the gates of the fair. With its myriad of bustling, devious, delicious calorie traps. Firstly requiring a drink to quench my...well, not thirst, as I think its now academic to claim that I consume by need, I headed towards the first of my restraint downfall enabling stalls for something that had caught my eye. 
  • Lod Chong [ลอดช่อง] - Jackfruit & Pandanus Noodles in Coconut Milk
Essentially the same as the drink I had tried at the last fair, this one however included Jackfruit - enough variation to warrant sampling, if any excuse were needed. This was unfortunately rather mediocre, tasting oddly of barbecue lighter fuel blocks more than anything, which was perhaps slightly ironic as some Health & Safety minions were interrogating the stall when I was ordering. Which distracted the per son serving me from including any of the pandanus noodles. The predominance of ice cubes also robbing away much inclusion of any coconut milk, in stark reminder of University bar serving mannerisms of drinks. Yet I would return back to them later on.

After my gasoline infused beverage however, I was still left particularly parched, so I descended upon an area of previous interest, that had escaped my former round of scouring by dint of my squandering of my coinage. Not content with buying normal, mundane, drinks, I chose what sounded the most enticing/least likely to induce diabetic epilepsy.
  • Nam Grajiab [น้ำกระเจี๊ยบ] - Roselle Tea

Served in a small plastic bag with a straw inside, I was rather intrigued, and also slightly perplexed at the practicality of this serving method, instantly giving up all thought of taking its picture, settling for just the container. Drinking away, I found it rather quite ok; refreshing, and not overtly sweet. It had a slight tannic [really, from TEA?!!], almost hibiscus-like quality to it. A quick search on Wikipedia would also verify that Rosella/Roselle is a genus of the hibiscus family. And now I know. Quite a subtly pleasing drink, and only noticing now that it really did quench the thirst. Apparently it rejuvenates body and mind. Both lost causes in my case.

This latest of purchases thus signalled my official, though largely meaningless at this point, pursuing of lunch. Which promptly began with this.
  •  Sai Krok Naem [ไส้กรอกแหนม] - Slightly-fermented Thai Sausage

Beginning with the "starters", I initiated with these Isaarn Sausages, which I believe to be slightly fermented, a notion enforced by the vendors noting that they are "slightly sour". And they were. Other than that, there was nothing particularly outstanding about them. They certainly will not ward off vampires like the sausage from the last fair. A case in point evidenced later in the day, when there was a group of happy, black leather clad individuals that did not vaporise as I walked past them. Regardless, they were inoffensive enough, and so I progressed along the line of stalls.

Before I lost further focus, I progressed further to appease this initial stage of this abominable feast, struggling for choice and attempting to restrict ultimate volume somewhat. Not helped by the fact that several stalls had decided to group their starters in an appeal to cause a chain of gastrointestinal explosions no doubt. Being denied with this fact of breaded crab claws, I came across this following morsel.
  • Tao Hou Tod Sod Sai Moo [] - Deep-fried Bean Curd stuffed with Minced Pork

Generally in the past I had avoided any form of tofu, passing it off as hippy food [well, rightfully so] and essentially tasteless and not worthy of my consumption. Obviously a rather well informed and open-minded individual at that point, not basing opinions on the treacherously bland and inane variants of tofu included in cheap Asian food. Never. However, in a quest to de-ignorant myself, I have lately broadened on this notion, starting with a delectable Tofu dish at Tombo at the Sake Tasting of Destiny. And this. It was deep-fried. Therefore, viable. In saying that though, beyond adding crunch the tofu itself did not add much to the pork filling, but it was pleasant nevertheless, in essence being similar to a spring roll, but crunchier and without the slight doughy taste of the pastry. Which is a shame, as I heart doughs and pastries. I loathe the starch though. 

Leaving the stall behind, I ventured out for perhaps another starter or two, before I create an intestinal blockage for the main course. 

I then came across this vendor, ready to devour some shrimp. Then I decided that I had already finished my starters after consuming the metric tonnage seen above and walked on.
  • Tao Hou Tod [] - Deep-fried Tofu
That notion did not last terribly wrong, happening upon the ebullient barbecue pork lady. I figured it would be rude to not at least ingratiate her recognition with another purchase, so I went with something different. Moar tofu. Whilst ordering, I also noticed that she gave me an extra tofu block, though for the price, almost rightly so [/end ingratitude]. Pleased, and into the mouth. Where again, a nice crunchiness gave way to a nicely springy texture of. Not much. Perhaps a little earthiness, but inherently little else. Not to say it was devoid of any notion of interest, it is strange, it is a pleasure to eat more through its texture and obviously by dint of being deep fried, rather than of any spectacular notion of taste. Or even a hint of one. With that swiftly devoured, exclusive of the bamboo skewer - I have a modicum of standards - I figured now was as good as time as any to proceed to the main course. 

Not just a good time, a necessity. Or I would find other excuse to keep adding to my "starters". Ending with giving birth to a food monstrosity in the coming week. Which is where the issues came in. In comparison to the fair at Danson Park, this was far grander in scale, and quite contrarily to what I thought would be the case, offered much less choice. Almost all the stalls offered the usual ubiquitous curries, sides and rice dishes. Not a single place offered anything much distinct, no viscera soup anywhere! Though in saying that, one stall did have a variety of "meat" soups which seemed to contain parts rather than meat, though the vendor was being rather coy and shy and denying me of hunger gratification. Perhaps with the larger scale, the need to be more mainstream rather dullened the spirit of authenticity and adventure in the cookery. Despite this, the uttering of how particular dishes looked and smelled was noticeable, only serving to uphold the general narrow mindedness of the country. I am a fan n'est pas ^_^.

In the end my choice fell down to two - one stall offering a Catfish & Bamboo Shoot curry, as I had never tried catfish, and there was no mention of a traffic light curry listing, and another stall offering a yellow curry and thus falling back into choosing from the traffic light curry listing. The slight pessimism in that connotation should pave the way to my ultimate choice. 
  • Gaeng Som Plah [แกงส้มปลา] - Sour Yellow Fish (Catfish) Curry with Bamboo Shoots
[The Upper One]
Ruing the decision to go with rice immediately, in all its evil high GL glory, I took a moment to savour the aroma. It was. Interesting. Rather potent. Fragrant. Evocative of a fish market. Lovely. And attacking a spoonful of the bamboo shoot, I at once experienced, a facial implosion. It must be said that I had no idea that this was actually known to be a Sour Curry when choosing it. Holy Carp if that is a perfectly literal description. It was Deputy of sour. Almost caustic. Yet, almost additively so. Not sure what it is about sourness that just stokes my taste buds - perhaps this curry should be done with bitter melon, it could then be used as a weapon, or an industrial acid. Moving onto the fish, I was less impressed however, being filled with bones - yes, littlest violin playing to my quip - and providing some of that previously mentioned aroma to the palate. It was not atrocious, but as a whole the curry was perhaps rather less enjoyable than the divinity coconut-based curries. Though, I suppose it is another curry experienced and now noted. I have to seek what other variants exist, as I literally have not a clue of the variations, other than one [possibly yellow] being maybe peanut based. Hmm. 

Figuring I had been enough of a glutton thus far, and restricting myself to the one main course, it was obviously, time for a dessert. Or twelve. For now trying to keep the Rumwong stall out of mind. Not helped by the boxes of Khanom Wans left out on display, several of them new to the hoard I had previously purchased. Heathens. Not before however, I washed down the meals of Christmas Eatings just passed. So I returned once again to the stall that started it all. That initiated the incessant fire of greed in my belly. And who now were tied for a win and a lose from the prior two visits. 

  • Chao Kuai [เฉาก๊วย] - Grass Jelly Drink
Seemingly a pervasive sweet treat in a lot of South East Asia, grass jelly is something that has always perplexed me. In being made of grass, why is it not green? Why does literal breakdown of its name not figure? It does not compute, and when savouring the grass jelly "bubbles" from the Bobacha a few weeks ago, I did not note grass. Just a hint of something, "fresh". Maintenant, my curiosity was peaked, and I figured I should just go ahead and actually purchase everything this stall had to offer. It was a small stall, honest! Surprisingly, or maybe not, it seems the memory of my gluttony persists for weeks as evidenced by some of the vendors, the stall recognised me and promptly issued me the drink for free. Again. Gluttony. Merits. Word. Again, the drink was made of ice, and slurping away, I was met largely with what I met with the Bobacha pearls. Albeit sweeter. And in liquid form. I have a knack for this stating of the obvious. Which is to say it did not pose any surprises, and once the glacier's worth of ice was disposed of, the jelly noodles provided a touch of entertainment. "Thirst" quenched, focus redirected to shedding a limb or two through diabetreats! 

Again, ignoring the existence of the Rumwong stall of Khanom Win for now, no stall was actually offering up sweet treats, barring the couple. So it would make sense to test their wares and get into a seizure. The first stall I approached offered up two options, which were duly ordered. 

  • Khanom Krok [ขนมครก] - Coconut Rice Mini-pancake Dumplings
Yes, more of those delightful coconut-infused pancakes. I had reason this time round. These ones were green. Ordered amidst a litany of giggles at my foreigner-ravaged pronunciation [I never understand why pronunciation can be cause of such hysteria, I just find it tenuous. I'm not pride-hurt.], and denying the offending vendor of inclusion in the picture, I quickly devoured just the one whilst my second dessert was being readied. This one was slightly different in composition, being more of a pancake to the other ones' little pastry cup. As such it was immediately fuller in form, with a rather enticing prevalence of onion, creating a rather interesting melange of flavours. It was also more of an omelette type pancake, providing more substance and just being a different delight to the one sampled before. Thus, devouring, justified. Only the one however, I had already consumed five of the other. 

Following round to the side of the stall, I was then introduced to the second of my objects of desire. 

  • Roti [โรตี] - Southern Thai Flat Bread (with Taro filling)
Roti. I.e. flatbread. I've reached the zenith of adventurism. In a quest to administer some authenticity I also opted for the taro filling, which came in a rather delightful shade of lilac. Whilst not certainly being a complex dessert at all, it certainly was enjoyable. Especially so. It would only be obvious to state that I essentially inhaled this dessert too, struggling to be patient enough to place the plate down for the picture. Whilst not entirely sure if the roti was actually freshly made or reheated from a packet [not particularly caring], it was regardless lovely - just crunchy on the outside, whilst the inside was soft. The taro paste was lightly sweet, and a bit rich, like a sweet potato, which lent itself well to the lightly toasted flavour of the roti. Apparently roti's are quite a popular sight on Thai Streets, with vendors offering up myriad toppings, according to a random lady, perhaps working at the stall. 

Contented with the added sweetness to the growing intestinal blockage I had been creating throughout the day, I braved the prospect of returning to the Rumwong stall. For a purchase. Backbone, do not abandon me now. In saying that though, in the circa 4 dozen times I stalked, stared, and forced myself to walk on from the Rumwong stall, I noticed - gleefully! - that there were few new choices abound in their stock. Which made the drawing up to the stall a much more painless procedure, selecting the three treats that were new and untried as of yet, saying much about the destruction I wrought previously seeing as I could only find such a minimal number not yet experienced treats out of an entire stalls' inventory. With that purchase culminated, and walking past the same gargantuan of Ruam Mit casting its heinous, tempting aura, I emerged, painlessly. Surviving that, I felt confident for another hit of sugary sustenance and went to uphold a former promise, largely of substantiating ongoing waistline expansion construction works.

  • Itim Thurien [ไอติมทุเรียน] - Durian Ice-Cream
Despite not being of the fresh variety, I was enamoured enough with the insight given by the previous tasting to give the ice-cream a try. Again, "convincing" is predominantly just for superficial value. I figured as well, should my quest for Durian become a bust, the ice-cream would at least provide a modicum of retribution. More delusions. In tasting, it was quite different. I am rather notoriously useless at articulating hints and nuances of flavours when sampling a drink or food, and this time is no difference. I could say the ice-cream was particularly creamy, and then confirm that water is also indeed wet. I cannot really pinpoint the flavour of the ice-cream, but it was regardless enjoyable. That's not just the sugar talking either. As to how indicative it is of the taste of durian, I do not quite know, as there was no putrid aroma to make me bow to my knees, and it was certainly not home-made, or at least I do not think it was. 

Walking along, enjoying the ice-cream, I walked past the epic Sticky Rice lady once again, this time with no actual intention of purchasing anything [I had already done so], whereupon she dragged me over and handed me yet another enormous handful of sticky rice, insisting to my feeble attempts at refusal - I was just being polite. Just like that, I then had. 
  • Khao Neow Ma-Itim Thurien [ข้าวเหนียวมะไอติมทุเรียน] - Durian Ice-Cream with Sticky Rice!
Mo' Sticky Rice. Mo' Better! The facepalmfull of stick rice quite obviously worked in divine harmony with the ice-cream, providing the added texture, slight coconut-nuance, and mixing-in of savoury hints the inevitably led to the concoction in palm meeting my face. Once again, despite being a cardinal sin, on this day, I have evidenced that gluttony, truly has its merits. Just keep me away from any mirrors. 

This brief insight into the growing obsession of durian was not enough though, and I needed the authentic article. I need to sample the most vile smelling of foods, and after having eaten viscera soup, I was more than confident of being able to stomach it. Unfortunately, the only stall selling wholesale fruits sold the durian as a whole. At £12. No thank you. No mangosteens either. I had that much money, but it could be important should I happen across an emergency dessert or other object of desire. As a last resort, I ventured towards the fruit tent of before in a hope that at least they would sell me some mangosteens. However, the fruit was not for sale, it was merely for giving out samples of, despite the towering boxes abound. In recognition of my audacious need to eat, and possibly fearing for her consumption though, the chirpy girl graciously handed me a couple of mangosteens as a gift. Need I mention. Merits. Etc. With that obtained, it was time for one last walk through the parade of broken stomachs, after buying a treat for a friend, before I departed from this most exaggerated of feasts. I did however, have an ulterior agenda. 

Seeing as how this festival was in relatively close proximity of one Rumwong Supermarket, the originator of the stall of destiny/death by dessert, I figured it would downright rude, if not opportune, to seek out perhaps a hidden Khanom Wan or twelve, straight from the source. Hopefully also stumble across some durian. Carpe Diem et al. Duly arriving but a mere 15 minutes later, I walked into the diminutive store, whereupon I instantly questioned the cashier - "Durian, WHERE?!". Tragedy struck when he clamoured that they had none in store, producing only a tube of durian paste as a frankly atrocious alternative. Undeterred however, I walked round the store to investigate for my other motive. There, I happened across a small bar fridge, wherein were stacked a few familiar boxes. Peering closer, slightly salivating, I was let down by the recognition of having already tried those desserts. I don't think I quite apprehend the scale of what I destroyed that first Thai Festival, as it would seem I would struggle to find something I did not consume. 

Questioning the well-spoken youth behind the counter, I came to find out that it was actually his mother than made the desserts. By hand. Each and every one. Specifically for the festivals. Instantly, admiration flew through. She basically subsisted my greed for two festivals in a row and created a beast of obsession. In between words I also noticed a few boxes in the refrigerator of that odd looking familiar yellow flesh - I did not need to creak open the box and faint to recognise that I was in the presence of durian. I will have to unleash some durian breath onto the cashier for attempting to sell me toothpaste. Professing my love/disdain for the individuals' mother, I confessed my burgeoning loving long-time of the shop, and its creation of a new stalker in me, before skipping away happily with my piece of stinkfruit. I will. Be back. I finally returned home, to bask now in the temptations of what I had brought back with me. 

~ Those which made it back ~

Moderate restraint - now with added fruit
  • Mangkhud [มังคุด] - Mangosteen

Immediately enamoured when I sampled them at the fair, ecstatic when I got a couple to savour back at home. Perfect timing for my afternoon fruit snack as well. Deliciously sweet, slightly floral, all awesome. 
  • Gluay Kaek [กล้วยแขก] - Sweet Banana Fritters

Despite being composed of banana, strangely enough, and thus being of high Glycaemic Load and all things evil and questionable manhood, I still figured it should be something that needed trying, considering especially its ubiquity. Not expecting much, seeing as beyond being a battered and fried piece of banana, there was not much else to it, I was pleasantly surprised. And disgusted as a result. Despite being a few hours away from purchase, they remained gloriously crisp, giving way to a sweet and soft banana filling [yes, the obvious, I state it] which was generously aromatic. Then the highlight - the little sesame seeds embedded into the batter combined their smoky, toasted flavouring to the whole ensemble, creating a delightful aroma. The sesame seeds seemingly lifted this beyond the merely nice, to the outright pleasant. The sesame seeds made this fritter disgustingly addictive.

Even several days after purchase now, they still remain crunchy. And hard to resist. My ruination, it is quite obvious. 
  • Khanom Krok [ขนมครก] - Coconut Rice Mini-pancake Dumplings

Nothing much more to add, other than them tasting just as delicious when cold and slightly aged. Perhaps maturing into a fine aged krok ^_^.
  • Khao Neow Ping Sai Puak [] - Steamed Taro-filled Sticky Rice Parcel in Banana Leaf

Not yet sampled, tentatively waiting in lieu of devouring in the freezer, though I'm fairly aware of what to expect. Sticky rice, therefore, awesome. Not a hasty judgement at all, just a premonition. 
  • Thurien [ทุเรียน] - Durian

*Gasp*. True story about the peculiarity of the smell of Durian. It smells dead. Which to an extent, it is. It also looks rather unborn. This was all expected however and undeterred, I sectioned off some of the oddly creamy flesh. This creaminess quite strangely continues on into the taste, with a peculiarly milky sensation. Unfortunately some of the "delightful" aroma carries on as you eat, the fruit right at the tail-end but not to a degree that makes you gag and faint. It is extremely rich, ever so slightly almost sickeningly so, no doubt bolstered by that fierce perfume, but in as well, almost decadent. Pinpointing a familiarity was difficult, perhaps a slight hint of mango in the tail flavours, but everything else is unique, in the creaminess and downright heavy richness.

Prospects much improved a couple of days later when most of the vicious smell had subsided, including the resultant aroma. This fruit is begging to be tried in fresher examples, and perhaps with sticky rice and coconut milk, to at once, add epic to the already creamy and rich fruit. 

  • Khao Niew Tua Dam [] - Black Soya Bean in Sweetened Coconut Milk with Glutinous Rice
Another of the new detainees from the Rumwinong stall, a not overtly elaborate dessert but certainly a very hearty one. Seeing as how it had leaked everywhere, the only sampling I got thus far was in the "clean-up", licking up the overspills. It. Was. Delectable. No more has to be said about sticky rice than what is already known, but the sweetened coconut milk this time steeped with black soya beans had gathered an altogether earthy, bean-quality, which made it a rather comforting sort of dessert. I am saving this one for a breakfast, as with all the carbohydrates and the added protein of the soya beans, it can only surmount as an epic morning meal. 

  • Khanom Chun? [] - Pandanus & Coconut Jelly
Not entirely sure what this dessert is, and in not trying it, have no judgement - likely exclusively appraising - on its nature. I believe the vendor girl mentioned that it is not made of rice flour like with khanom chun, and thus not as sticky, thereby leading me to think it could be a jelly variant. Nevertheless, its devouring is nigh. 

  • Khao Niew Sangkaya [ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา] - Sticky Rice with Custard Topping (plus two others with shrimp and onion toppings respectively)
One of my first purchases of the day, from the stall that would see me purchasing one of each of their entire inventory, and no doubt influenced by the epic variant of which I tried from the last fair, these cute little morsels had the added benefit of variance. More choice, more better. Trying all three however I was left perhaps somewhat disappointed. Maybe they were just too petite to impart too much of an indulgent lashing of flavour. Or perhaps they were just lacking, but not much was experienced from any. A slight sweetness of the rice met a rather bland custard in the sangkaya version, a slight onion hint with the black rice version, and not much in the yellow rice version topped with the shrimp. I will reserve verdict till I try them again, perhaps my tongue being overwhelmed by the gorging of other delectables at the time, but these were on the whole rather disappointingly unmoving. Meh.

  • Takoh [ตะโก้] - Coconut Cream Jelly (with Water Chestnut & Taro fillings respectively)

Epic Sticky Rice-Lady provideth again. This time she provided dessert. She over-provided. Not even dropping them and making a mess, and thus allowing scope for a sly pre-taste, could deter the treats from being absolutely spectacular. Much the same as the versions I tried from the Danson Fair from the Rumwong stall, these were a divine amalgamation of indulgently creamy coconut custard, giving way to a sweet, scented jelly. However, the differences came in the toppings. Whereas the previous versions included a few sporadic kernels of sweetcorn, these contained water chestnuts, and taro. Whilst the ultimate nature was not significantly altered, they did imbue their own character. The water chestnut takohs delivered that rather curious crunch from the water chestnut, with its slight bamboo shoot like taste/texture giving way to the same awesome of the takoh. Similar the taro-filled version replaced the crunch, with the chewiness of the taro, with its light starchy earthiness making for a sublime treat. Currently eating these one at a time with breakfast, it is as much as I can do to refrain from devouring them whole. 


So concludes yet another fair. Yet another enlightening experience. Yet another excessive indulgence. And for all its grander scale and content, this fair was perhaps a slight disappointment in regards to the eye-widening experience of a couple of weeks ago. Obviously you would not tell by the sheer volume consumed in my voracious scouring as depicted above, but I felt that as a broadening of the exploration of Thailand's cuisine, this event was perhaps more lacking. In its scale, it also seemed to cater more to the scale of the clientele - it was seemingly aimed at mainstream tastes and notions of what is known of Thailand's food. And as such, not much was found beyond the ubiquitous, the well known, and the generic. Granted, it was not exclusive as such, but for the sheer size of the event, I found there to be much less variance than the much smaller event at Danson Park. Surprisingly, this made obvious by the son of the epic-dessert lady of Rumwong, who clamoured when I questioned if any special or different treats were available, that they typically don't venture too far from the "normal" desserts, by dint of the customers not knowing what they are. And naturally, predominantly not trying - not everyone is as driven or greedy as I.

Perhaps this is a mixed blessing, as I know with the lack of restraint shown today, I certainly would have created an explosion large enough to create a gravitational void and a resultant black hole in my wake, had I been provided with variety. And whilst I did further some insight into the culinary scene of Thailand, albeit from the tenuous notions of aimless eating, and as an outsider, away from the country of origin, I still leave amidst a pang of disappointment. It is not all lost though. Au contraire. This just fuels my need to continue exploring, to continue venturing. To keep experiencing the multinational delights available. And whilst my waistline has suffered greatly at the hands of these fairs - and more directly, at my complete lack of restraint therein - it was also rather evident, that these greed, came with its merits, or fans as it were. I now require an extended absence of leave from these food fairs, disastrous as they are to enabling my lack of forceful restraint. Well. After tomorrow's Caribbean Carnival..

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