Nom Nom Paleo

Chiang Mai’s Friday Morning Market & Khao Soi Islam

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A quick photo-heavy recap of our day before I stumble into bed and pass out:

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We got off to a slow start this morning…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…but after downing some coffee…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a hearty breakfast of hot khai jiao (Thai omelets)…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…we were ready to venture out to the Friday morning market.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re incredible fortunate to have Mark Ritchie—founder of Chiang Mai’s International Sustainable Development Studies Institute and CrossFit Chiang Mai (and the guy who persuaded us to come halfway across the globe to northern Thailand!)—as our guide. 

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Henry and I love picking Mark’s brain. With his deep knowledge of Thai culture and language—and decades of experience living here in Chiang Mai—we have a rare opportunity to get a close look at the city around us, starting with the Friday morning market near the Night Bazaar.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Located near a prominent mosque, this open-air market is crammed with farmers and vendors offering everything from fresh produce and exotic fruits…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…to whole birds and wild honey.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(Yes, those are bees still in the honey. It’s that wild.)

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The bustling, vibrant market was a feast for all the senses. Everywhere we turned, we spotted something new, interesting, and delicious.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV)

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My co-pharmacist (a.k.a. Work Husband) is on vacation in Spain, so I had to deal drugs all by my lonesome last night after 2 am. I’m exhausted and hungry and sleepy, so rather than blathering on and on, I’m just going to post a bunch of photographs from our meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon when we were in Las Vegas last week for the 2013 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Geez. Was that really less than a week ago?

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves (mostly because I desperately need to pass out), but I’ll say two quick things about the experience:

Not surprisingly, the food and service were exceptional. This shouldn’t be a surprise; Chef Robuchon was named Chef of the Century by Gault Millau for good reason. Even though the kitchen is run by his Vegas team in his absence (I’m assuming the chef doesn’t spend much time out in the desert), the restaurant here (located in the MGM Grand) must make him proud.

It was a surprise, however, to see that the restaurant is situated right off the casino floor. The floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the restaurant reveal row after row of flashing slot machines, and the wafting odor of cigarette smoke seeps into the restaurant unless the host is diligent about sliding the glass door shut. As a diner, if you happen to sit facing the back of the restaurant, your view is of a sleek, dark, high-end eatery punctuated with vibrant bursts of color. If, on the other hand, you’re seated near the front of the restaurant and facing the gaming floor, your view is of people losing their money at slot machines and shuffling past the restaurant in search of the restrooms.

We ordered the Seasonal Discovery Menu, nine small tastes of L’Atelier’s signature dishes. You’ll see 10 dishes below, but that’s because you have a choice of quail or steak and we got one of each. Almost everything was gluten-free, except for the desserts and the soy sauce in the quail dish. It was definitely a splurge meal and we savored every bite.

Okay, I’ve written enough. Here are the pics:

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Dining Out: Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)

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Two weekends ago, Henry and I took a last-minute, 42-hour trip to Kansas City on clandestine Nom Nom Paleo business. (Don’t worry, all will be revealed in due course.) The few meals we had in KC were already planned, with the exception of Sunday brunch. I’m a firm believer that no meal should ever be wasted, especially in a new-to-me city.

Although we’d hoped to try the legendary barbecue at Oklahoma Joe’s, it’s not open on Sundays, so I polled my pals on Facebook and tweeted my favorite Kansas City homie for recs on the best brunch in town. After scrolling through the different options and checking out Zagat scores, Yelp reviews, and restaurant websites, I chose Bluestem.

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Bluestem is located in the historic Westport neighborhood, where the streets are dotted with bustling restaurants and funky boutiques. Chef Colby Garrelts has been nominated seven times for the Best Chef of the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation, and this year he won the coveted prize. (In your face, Susan Lucci!) His food has been described as “progressive American cuisine with seasonal selections and a bounty of local farmers and producers to showcase the best of Kansas City and the Midwest.”

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Admittedly, I’m a bicoastal food snob who was wary about Midwestern cuisine (outside of Chicago). Bluestem might be good for Missouri, but it can’t be better than what I’ve eaten in San Fracisco or New York, right?

Wrong! Our meal at Bluestem may have been one of my favorite brunches of all time.

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I Left My Heart in Texas (Last Two Days in Austin, TX)

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I know what you’re thinking: What the FEENA FOO?!?! (BTW, that’s Lil-O’s favorite made-up curse phrase of the moment.) Wasn’t your trip to Austin over TWO weeks ago?

Yes, grasshopper, your observation skills are very strong indeed. But I did tell you that I was gonna milk this trip for as many blog posts as possible. Before the gull wing doors lock on this modified DeLorean, gulp down a chill pill ‘cause we’re talking one last trip to Austin.

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Bright and early Easter morning, our posse met up with Melicious

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….her hubby Dave….

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….and Danielle for brunch at 24 Diner. See? We do eat several meals at this restaurant every time we’re in Austin. As luck would have it, a bunch of other like-minded Paleo food bloggers had the same idea and we ended up dining in a booth next to Julie, Charles, and baby Scott…

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…and waving out the window at a whole mess of other Paleo pals brunching al fresco.

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Eating Out: Barley Swine & Lick Ice Cream (Austin, TX)

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It’s been over a week since we left Austin, but in my mind, I’m still there, eating my way through the city with my friends.

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Want to see what we ate for dinner — just a few hours after finishing up our fantastic lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe? Then let’s grab some plutonium and fire up the flux capacitor. Hop into my DeLorean, and we’ll travel twelve days back in time to relive my dinner at Barley Swine and dessert at Lick Ice Cream. (No, it wasn’t perfectly Paleo, but neither am I.)

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Ready to accelerate to 88 miles an hour?

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Eating Out: Elizabeth Street Cafe (Austin, TX)

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Despite the full slate of speakers, discussion panels, and cooking demos at PaleoFX, I attended only a few Saturday morning presentations before heading back to our bungalow in Austin to hang with my family. It was hard to sit still when I knew my boys were having fun without me.

Diana and Cathy joined us, and we all took a stroll down to Elizabeth Street Cafe for lunch. 

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You wouldn’t know it from its name, but Elizabeth Street Cafe serves up tasty Vietnamese fare. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Vietnamese food; the dishes always have the perfect balance of savory, sweet, tang, and crunch. Blending Chinese and French influences, the cuisine of Vietnam is pure alchemy, combining flavors, textures, and temperatures to create unique, surprising dishes that really pop.

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I’ve had my fair share of terrific Vietnamese grub, but as soon as we sat down, I knew this place was gonna be good. Why? Because there were bottles of homemade sriracha AND Red Boat Fish Sauce on every table. And you know how much I love both.

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Read on to see our chow!

**Spoiler alert: Continuing with the Paleo People Gone Wild theme, we ate some non-Paleo foods (Rice noodles! Rice wrappers! Sugar!), so skip this post if you don’t want your eyes to explode and melt off your face.**

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Deep in the Heart of Texas: Days 1 & 2

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Guess what we did for spring break! Nope, we didn’t pile into an RV bound for a booze-soaked Florida beach to shed our inhibitions, clothing, and sobriety. Instead, we hightailed it to Austin so that I could attend (and do a couple of cooking demos at) PaleoFX — and where Henry and the kids could roam around town doing whatever it is that boys do.

On Wednesday, after hurriedly chucking some clothes and toiletries into our luggage and hustling our children out the door, we caught a flight for Austin.

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Zenbelly Paleo Popup

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Back when we lived in San Francisco — and before we had kids — the vast majority of our meals were eaten in restaurants around town. Henry and I voraciously ate our way through the city, slimming our wallets and fattening our bellies.

These days, restaurant meals are the exception and not the rule, so when we manage to escape for a night out on the town, I try to pick places with insanely great eats — even if the food isn’t always Paleo-compliant. 

But on Saturday night, a group of us nabbed spots at Simone Shifnadel’s Zenbelly Paleo Popup at Coffee Bar in San Francisco, where we dined on super-fresh, gluten/legume/dairy-free farm-to-table fare. Score!

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I first heard of Simone and her catering company, Zenbelly, when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a community gluten-free kitchen. Since then, we’ve tweeted back and forth and we finally met IRL at the Weston A. Price conference last November. We instantly bonded over our mutual love of food (and sarcasm).

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So when I learned about Simone’s popup dinner, I bought tickets right away. I was amazed at her ability to pull together a Paleo Popup in just a few short weeks, transforming a Potrero Hill coffee shop into a chic, glowing hotspot for Paleo eaters to congregate over a hearty yet refined five-course feast.

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The ambience was perfect and the service was friendly and professional; if it weren’t for the big red “Coffee Bar” sign out front, no one would’ve guessed that the place is ordinarily a coffee-and-sammitch joint.

Ready for a peek at the food?

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A Quick Trip to NYC

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My little cousin Jennifer has a bun in the oven! (Don’t worry: she’s now a bit older than she was in the photo below.)

When she asked if I’d attend her baby shower, the answer was obvious; after all, Jennifer’s always been more like a sister to me than a cousin. Along with my big sister Fiona, we were basically raised by our grandparents while our parents were at work. 

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Poor Jennifer. Because she was an only child starved for companionship, it was easy to cajole her into playing servant to my queen or shoe salesperson to my snobby shopper. I spent a large chunk of my formative years bossing Jennifer around. I’ve been trying to make it up to her ever since.

I couldn’t miss Jennifer’s baby shower. So bright and early on Friday morning, I kissed the kids and hubby goodbye, hopped on a plane, and flew to the opposite coast to help celebrate the little one’s impending arrival. 

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Dining Out: The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

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Last night, we zoomed up to Napa Valley to dine with our besties at The Restaurant at Meadowood. We had a lot of celebrating to do: This weekend marks Sidney’s and Jory’s tenth wedding anniversary. Plus, Henry and I are finally toasting our birthdays — albeit a month late.

As an unapologetic restaurant nerd, I couldn’t pass up the chance to dine at The Restaurant at Meadowood — especially since it’s only one of two establishments in California bestowed with three Michelin stars

Our experience at The Restaurant at Meadowood was reminiscent of our meals at Chicago’s Alinea and New York’s Eleven Madison Park. For starters, there’s no menu. Someone at the restaurant contacts you ahead of time to inquire about your food preferences, and then they craft a multicourse tasting menu from the items in their larder that match your picky tastebuds. I hate being a troublesome diner, but hey: they asked. So I told them that Henry and I would prefer a gluten- and legume-free menu. For the price we paid for dinner, I had no qualms about demanding “unique snowflake” treatment.

Here’s a peek at what we ate:

We started with an assortment of canapés…

…which led to whipped yogurt, black sesame, pickled plum, and shiso…

…sunchoke “granola,” sea lettuce, and oysters…

…pumpkin, molé, and ricotta…

…gluten-free bread…

…trout, forgotten herbs (like wormwood!), beets, and quince…

…coal-roasted sturgeon, fermented pear, bone marrow, and parsnip…

…bouillon of roasted meats…

…pheasant, pandan, mushrooms, leek, and prune…

…lamb, shabazi, and dates…

foglie di noce, walnut, and truffle…

…citrus snowball with verbena…

…Asian pear, frankincense, and warm sabayon…

…milk chocolate, potato(!), coffee, and passion fruit…

…frozen raspberry parfait…

…and we ended with an assortment of mignardises.

Afterwards, we were invited to tour the kitchen…

…and thanked the genius crew behind the curtain, including our attentive and charming server, Zion.

We all had a fantastic evening laughing and eating, but one of us had to grab a burger before heading to bed.

I’m such a pig. (Kidding. It wasn’t me.)