Garden Summer at Taste of Thailand
Early Sunday morning, sunny and warm. Hearty herbs are peaking and last night was rockin'. Lot's of regulars and a good number of new faces getting their first taste of Thailand. I'm crouched, weeding around the herbs. Noy emerges through the back kitchen door, coffees in hand, "How about some basil pork for breakfast, sound good?" One groggy swivel and I'm facing basil. We tend to plant the herbs helter skelter so there's always a good chance of finding some tasty choices within easy reach. "Want a little mint and sage with that too?" I ask, pinching. "Might be god". (I meant to type "good" just then but it appears that something higher momentarily took command of my fingers.) Actually it was a breakfast fit for the gods.
We enjoy eating from our garden and we know you will too. Ah, early summer, great in the garden and great at "the Taste". Everything is booming now. We plant in stages and layers to take advantage of limited space and sunlight. Right now we're in the midst of a radish boom; Scarlets and cherries for the Northern Yum dishes, white globes and icicles for the soups.
We Harvest, You Enjoy
Harvest for us is a constant process. We don't always wait for things mature. Thais use plants at every stage of development and we see evidence of that in our garden and in our dishes. Tender broccoli leaves, young green pumpkin, garlic buds, squash vines and cilantro seeds. Our garden always appears to be a little snipped up, but just taste what we do with those snips. The bursts of freshness that our dishes take on during the growing season...you gotta get in here soon.
You Might Get a Fresh Taste of:
- Herbs: Basil, Mint, Lemon Balm, Tarragon, Pak Pai, Garlic, Lemon Grass, Chives, Lovage, Cilantro, Sage, Garlic Chives, Dill.
- Leaves: Broccoli, Celery, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Pak Boong, Turnips, Garlic, Bok Choy. Don't pick too many from any one plant.
- Vines: Squash, Pumpkin.
- Blossoms: Squash, Pumpkin, Chives, Cilantro.
- Fruits: Berries, Peas, Tomatoes, green & ripe, Eggplant, Radishes, Peppers, Squash
- Seeds: Dill, Cilantro and Garlic. Cilantro leaves are truly delicious but let some plants go to seed.
You'll notice many forms of Garlic that in use. We utilize this plant throughout the season; mild early shoots in April, intensely juicy buds in July and heady cloves in late summer. We try to separate and replant garlic cloves in the Fall. Cloves left to winter over will sprout in early Spring and should be eaten on sight. Garlic can be difficult to keep up with. Those cloves keep sprouting. We often use it for borders in the garden. You can always stop in at the restaurant in April for a bunch of ready to plant sprouts. You too will be giving it away within a few years, but you’ll be glad to have it there when you need it.
While you'll taste the garden throughout the menu, its Noy's Northern "Yum" dishes that really reflect what's growing. The fresh picked herbs in our Yum Nua (Beef Salad), Yum Goong Yung (Grilled Jumbo Shrimp Salad), Garden Rolls or any of our other Northern specialties will transport you to Thailand via Noy's rural North.
At Home Garden Favorites
Roast chicken rubbed in dark soy sauce, crushed garlic buds, cilantro seeds and blossoms.
Jungle Curry with young green pumpkin.
Noodle soup with spinach and celery.
Fried basil pork with lemongrass.
Kow Tom rice soup with anything fresh and topped with fried garlic.
Can't say enough about good soil. We replenish the garden soil right from our restaurant kitchen. We create a ready supply of raw material to compost every day. Peelings from all the fresh vegetables we use, added to a few bags of eggshells, shrimp shells, coffee grounds and tea leaves and we get a pretty good mix. The pile shows its Thai side with bamboo and banana leaves along with a lot of mango peels. We also rely on a couple of steady sources of high powered manure to apply directly to the soil and to stoke the compost. There's a warmth that comes from seeing people enjoy food we've grown ourselves in a garden that has been enriched by scraps from the same kitchen that now provides that food.