It might now be a good and healthy trend that a number of capable cooks are opening up their homes and serve their own delicious time-honoured recipes in remote areas around Thailand (as explained in See.Eat.Spa in Chiang Mai here). ร้าน The Ironwood แม่ริม เชียงใหม่
The Ironwood, tucked deep in the area of Mae Rim about 30-min drive from Chiang Mai city, is a place just that. Owned by two-three Bangkok natives who departed from their former professional lives in the capital to open their own ‘dreamy space’ in their own ‘dreamy location,’ materializing – for two years now – their own dreamy of an autonomy domain in Chiang Mai. The result – as anyone would dream of – is a lush, green space with food delicious and beautiful and the air clean and natural. A great escape from it all. Especially if you are from Bangkok and think that perhaps Chiang Mai city might be a little bit too jammed for your taste.
The Ironwood serves ‘slow food‘ in a small menu with a comforting balance of Thai and international dishes. In their small kitchen, the owners and their crew make almost everything from scratch. They also adapt some popular dishes by using local and seasonal ingredients. Below is a traditional Thai snack of ‘Pla Hang Tang Mo‘ (ปลาแห้งแตงโม Bt150) which is a summer snack or appetizer of chilled water melon served with dried fish condiment. Snakehead fish is typically used for this dish. Cooked and shredded before toasted until aromatic and crispy and then mixed with toasted shallot, salt and sugar. This ‘Pla Hang’ condiment is popular with fresh fruits. Apart from water melon, another good pairing would be fresh pineapple.
Onto yet another appetizer is crispy tofu crackers served with peanut-coconut sauce (ข้าวเกรียบเต้าหู้ หลนถั่ว, Bt180). A little bit on the salty side, but good for munching and just waiting for the main events to come.
Pak Good – ผักกูด or paco fern is another ubiquitous greens that has recently become a rage due to its natural benefits and slimy-yet-crunchy, clean, and refreshing tastes. The Ironwood – as part of their efforts to mingle and help local nearby farmers – procures their fresh stashes from nearby farms, slightly blanches them and put together a Thai-style salad dressed with limes, chilies, shallots, toasted dried shrimps and the beautiful yellow blossoms of choi sum. Yumm. This dish of Yum Pak Good (ยำผักกูด) is Bt180.
My favourite from the Ironwood is this ‘Khao Kluk Kapi Dok Mai’ (ข้าวคลุกกะปิดอกไม้, Bt200). Steamed rice is hand-mixed with toasted shrimp paste (kapi) from Trat province and stir-fried until aromatic and served with deep-fried dried shrimp, julienned omelet, shallot, green beans, cilantro, pomelo, choi sum blossoms and dok Asoke (Ashoka tree). The flower has been eaten as normal condiments in many Thai recipes. Deep-fried and served with Kanom Cheen Nam Prik (fresh and slightly fermented vermicelli with peanut-curry sauce called ‘Nam Prik) or add into Gaeng Som as part of the mixed veggies. Dok Asoke is fragrant with tannin components, and it blooms twice a year.
Below is my breakfast the day after. Its homemade French toasts served with diced ham and ladles of tomato ragu. A plate of fresh strawberry and a lovely cups of latte. Yes, The Ironwood does have a few cabins for simple boarding. In case you want to know what it actually feels like to be deep in the forest. In the middle of nowhere. Just surrounded by nature and the sonorous sounds of the happy cicadas. Serious coffees and baked items are also available.
In an effort to reduce wastes and environmental abuse from modern day’s convenience, The Ironwood is giving a Bt5 discount for those skipping plastic straws and charge Bt10 extra for to-go container and extra straws. Excellent.
The Ironwood, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai. Map. Daily: 09.00 – 19.00. T: (+66) 081-858-3555.