It seems a bit mean of me to tell you about a wonderful festival that has been and gone and only happens every two years. To show you delicious photos of food you can’t easily obtain, while relating how scrumptious things were. It’s almost as if I am rubbing it in your face…
I’m not, I swear! If anything I am tormenting myself.
The Amazing Thailand Festival is held every two years at Secretts in Milford, Surrey. H and I have been 3 or 4 times before, and enjoyed every visit (even while blanching quietly at some of the prices).
This was the first one we had been to since our extended trip to Thailand, and for me it was all about trying to find those foods that you don’t usually encounter in UK Thai restaurants and making the most of them. There is music, combat and dancing displays, lots of stalls selling items, massages and more, but I was all about the food (although it was lovely to hear a multitude of Thai voices).
On arriving, we did an immediate stall walk, and at the very last stall (which annoyingly was unnamed) they were serving khanom krok (pictured above). So good! We had a couple of boxes over the day (sharing some with friends) but I’m heaving a big sigh at the thought of not having them again for the foreseeable future (to such a degree that I might buy a special pan and make them myself!).
There were all the traditional favourites (curries, noodle stir fries, fried starters) in abundance, and I did have some classic som tam and grilled pork.
I went for two chillis after some indecision, and it was just the right amount of heat for me. Bordering on too much, but not quite there. I also tried to use a little Thai here and there to be polite (and if I’m honest, to show off that, yep, I knew what I was talking about!) which met with the response I usually get, where it is immediately repeated by the listener with a slightly bemused smile.
The pork was sugary and barbecued, and I loved it!
The stall with all these delights also had another favourite, lod chong.
Served in a cup with a fat straw, the sweetened coconut milk laden with squiggly green noodles was a very pleasant taste memory, although this version was a bit less sweet than the one I remembered from Thailand. We found a takeaway bowl at another stall with the noodles and liquid separate, and shared it a couple of days later. The noodles were a bit soft, but the coconut milk was much sweeter.
The last treat I have a picture of (though not the last we ate) was something I never thought to find. The stall in question had two ends. There was a sign above one end advertising chicken gizzards and other parts being grilled, plus a list of items purely in Thai. The other end of the stall had a collection of ingredients but no clue as to what they made.
I happened to be walking past when the lady in charge was assembling a dish, and screeched to a halt. It was yum nam khao tod, without the sausages (there looked to be some uncooked sausage meat on the stall, but neither of us mentioned it).
I couldn’t remember the Thai name but she confirmed it was a rice salad, and I eagerly ordered a portion and carried it triumphantly back to H. I should have asked for more chilli (I asked for a bit and could barely taste it). The broken up fried rice balls and accompaniments were a happy reminder of our time in Thailand.
Some friends joined us partway through the day and their little ‘uns were all over the satay sticks. We also had fleets of iced drinks (watermelon crush – yay – you can see it hiding behind the som tam in a pic above) and some chewy deep-fried sweet potato treats of unknown name.
Research indicates there is a stall selling khanom krok at Borough Market in London these days, so that’s one to try out some time, and I’ll let you know if I come across lod chong or yum nam khao tod (which the internet suggests is Laotian in origin) in the UK, if you’ll let me know…