Seasons in Pai
While visiting Chiang Mai, you will sooner or later overhear someone considering or discussing taking an excursion to Pai. Located in Mae Hong Son Province of northern Thailand, this small town sits that it’s in a valley on the banks of the Pai River. It is known for its laid-back atmosphere, bohemian characteristic, and lovely scenic views.
Those who frequent Pai have to know its genius and adventurous gastronomic side. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful and prolific lands Thailand has to offer this area can produce high-quality ingredients. Mae Hong Son TAT has taking noticed and has been trying to promote the culinary attributes that Pai has to offer. Including the Go2askanne team, there were 12 members of the media present to experience what A Season in Pai has to offer.
On our first night in Pai, we were welcomed with a fantastic dinner at Reverie Siam’s Silhouette Bar. This dinner was a perfect example of the quality that Mae Hong Son TAT is trying to showcase. The menu for the evening was a Karen (hill tribe) inspired Chef’s Table. This awe-inspiring menu was put together elegantly by Silhouette’s Bar Team. A couple of the chefs on the team are Karen, and they drew inspiration from the foods they grew up consuming. Not only was the meal delicious but creatively put together.r.
The Herbal Fish Gazpacho was the one that stood out the most to us. Served in a martini glass, the soup itself was a bit bland but beforehand the Chef’s had mentioned getting the full flavors we needed to drink the soup along with drink provided. The drink was a Tom Yum infused vodka with triple arc and syrup lemonade. Needless to say, mixing the both was just an explosion of flavors and complimented each other perfectly. I am sincerely excited to see where these young chef’s head towards next they surely have a bright future ahead of them. They are in good hands with Reveries Siam as they seem always to attract and cultivate top-notch culinary talent.
Breakfast at the Lahu Village
The following morning we, along with the other media were escorted to a nearby Lahu Village that is just a bit outside of the town center of Pai. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the head of the village along with many young women dressed in traditional attire. This village is one of many of the Lahu People we were shown around and giving a brief rundown on what this village grows and cultivates. As we walked through the dirt roads we would see many of these shacks were garlic is being hung up to dry. This process usually takes anywhere from seven to fourteen days.
The breakfast setting was around the villages rubber tree plantation. It was a breathtaking sight to sit around these giant 200-year-old trees. I had an excellent breakfast provided by the Lahu community. The food provided was more than delicious. However, for me, the biggest standout was the Pork in bamboo. Cooked with bird eyes chilies and galangal it was tender, savory and best of all spicy. For those who are big fans of spicy foods, you can not miss out on the Lahu Chili Paste. Simply wonderful. This particular Lahu village recipe is one of a kind. Which is due to their economic standing.
Following our meal was completed, we were treated to local music and dance performance. Many of the media along with the owner of Reverie Siam could not help but partake and also take plenty of selfies. Finishing up the impromptu photo sessions, we went for a small hike through the Rubber tree plantation. A bbq was in session was in full swing when we reached the top. Our guide let us know that this was going to thank the gods for healing one of the villagers from an intense sickness. So multiple families had gathered around to help clean the butchered animal and help grill
Lunch with the Rice Master
After a small coffee break, we journeyed into the van to visit the Yindee Rice Farm. This farm is a leader in sustainable farming and also invest their time in educating local farmers. Mr. Yanyong Yadee has converted his residence and his rice field to a learning center for the community. He is trying to advance organic and sustainable agriculture in Pai and throughout the district of Mae Hong Son. Through our visit, he sat our group down and provided us a background on his farm. Mr. Yandee has dedicated his time studying all the rice species in Mae Hong Son. In Pai alone, there are around 221 types of rice species. He truly is a rice master.
While the main portion of the talk was just about to finish lunch was being stealthy setup. Provided by the Mae Na Tung Community a collective of Thai locals and Tai Yai; this lunch had an assortment of different foods. The food, aromatic, and it caused you to use all five senses. The meals served: Egg with spicy sauce, Herb Pork Meatballs, Spicy Chicken Soup, Spicy Mango Salad. Cooked with bean curd, turmeric, tomato, garlic, chili, and shrimp paste the Tofu paste was astounding. Another great meal provided in Pai!
Dinner by Chef May
The crown jewel in the third chapter of TAT Mae Hong Song’s A Season in Pai series was Chef May’s fabulous dinner. Held at the prestigious Revierie Siam Resort in Pai, this feast was everything and more. Chef May did an astounding job acclimating the locally sourced ingredients into her cuisine creating plenty of dishes that were visually and gastronomically delightful. Masterfully paired with wines by Winecitizen, it was an event that indeed luxuriated all senses.
Smoked Local Fish with Pai Rice Cracker and Sweet Tamarind Shrimp Paste Gel
Wine: Raventos 1 Blanc Blanc de Blanes Extra Brut 2116 Pales, Spain
The texture of rice cracker with the sweet tartness of the tamarind shrimp paste gel blended so well. The taste instantly attacked your palate with full flavors that pleased but also left you craving for more
Local Spring Salad with Pai Chicken Confit, Deep Fried Egg Yolk, and Citrus Dressing
Wine: G.D. Varia Luigi Baudana Dragon Langhe Bianco DOC, 2017 – Piedmont, Lalu
This salad in one word is “decadent.” Chicken confit and deep-fried egg yolk, the richness of this dish would have been overwhelming but being the great chef that she is Chef May choice of spring salad and citrus dress balanced this dish out entirely.
Black Pork Ricotta Ivy Gourd Tortellini with Shallot Compress, Hinlay Red Wine Sauce and Parmesan Tuile
Wine: Bibi Graetz Soffocone di Vincigliata IGT 2016 – Tuscany, Italy
For me, this was the stand out of the night. Contradicting textures from the crispy pork and Ricotta Ivy Gourd Tortellini. The mild but effective tartness of the shallot tartness with a bonus sharp and savory notes from the parmesan tuile. Oh my, I was enjoying this, and I hope to have it again.
Charcoal Grilled Berries Marinate Pork, Roasted Red Capsicum Chutney, Onion, and Caramelized Pumpkin
Wine: Château Gloria Saint-Julien 2012 Magnum – Bordeaux, France
I would say this was an excellent follow up to an intensely flavourful dish beforehand. I think this speaks towards the professionalism of Chef May in creating a wonderfully thoughtful dining experience. A tender cut of pork with the sweetness of the caramelized pumpkin was a perfect balance.
Pai Rice Gelato with Honey Perilla Seed Tuile and Local Fruit Compote
Wine: Château Filhot Gold Reserve Sauternes 1998 – Sauternes, France
Yes, you read that right. Chef May made gelato from rice. The texture of this gelato was interesting, but it did not melt as a typical serving would have. The Honey Perilla Seed Tuile and Local Fruit Compote were amazingly tasty. It was a sublime way to complete the evening.
A Season in Pai 3
On this journey, Mae Hong Son TAT showcased what Pai has to offer. This chilled bohemian getaway is turning in a culinary destination that foodie travelers should not miss. However, what is impressive is how the community is using organic and responsible farming. As a result of their efforts, they are creating a sustainable ecosystem. If interested in the activities you can contact TAT Mae Hong Son for more information.
Mae Hong Son Address: 4 Ratchathamphithak Road, Tambon Chong Kham, Amphoe Mueang, Mae Hong Son, 58000
Telephone :+66 5361 2982-3
Office Time: Monday – Friday 8:00 – 17.00 (closed on official holiday)