Sunday, May 23, 2010
Spize Cafe and a Thai Cooking class!
Last Thursday Aditya and I attended a cooking class at our favorite pan-Asian restaurant, Spize Cafe in downtown Raleigh. Their super talented chef and owner Meechai showed us how to make lemongrass pork rolls, tom kha soup and tilapia in a panang curry. All of which, though I must admit I am a little too partial towards the tilapia, were amazing.
I had been meaning to write about restaurants in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area that I really like but never got around to doing so. This cooking class gave me the perfect opportunity to change this and no better place than to start this off than Spize!
Spize serves mostly pan-Asian flavors concentrating on Thai, reflecting chef Meechai's roots. Other than the delectable fare what attracts me to this place are the very hospitable owners, Meechai and his lovely wife Jacq. Meechai is a software engineer by day and chef by night and if that in itself is not commendable, then its definitely his passion for perfection. We learnt at the class that everything from the spice powders to the stocks to the bread is made from scratch. The difference this attention to detail makes is evident in the taste. His commitment also extends to being environmentally friendly, the marble tabletops are from reclaimed material and the tableware is from corn by-products.
Coming back to the cooking class, we learnt how to make the marinade for the succulent and delicately flavored lemongrass pork for the rice rolls, how to stuff the rolls and how to handle them delicately. We learnt how to make a mean Tom-kha soup, how to make the penang spice paste from scratch and how to wrap it around a crispy tilapia filet. We also learnt some valuable tips like store lemongrass (in a ziplock bag in the freezer), how to make your own chilli paste (soak the chillies, deseed and then grind) and how to treat your rice paper rolls (like a lady :)). And then we got to eat it all!
I wish I had better pictures to share but we were too busy enjoying ourselves. To see more pictures from the cooking class please see this link. I will not be sharing any recipes here because I really want you to go there, taste first and then attend their class if possible. If you do, I would highly recommend the open-faced Vietnamese sandwiches with spicy eggplant or thinly sliced, cumin chicken on the crusty baguettes and of course the spicy panang tilapia curry infused with kafir lime leaves. They also have an excellent hot-pot, a Thai fondue in which you can dip vegetables, tofu or meat, accompanied with some chile sauce and rice. These are my favorites but I am sure you will find yours.
p.s. Recipes to follow once we try these on our own!