Is Thailand A Good Place For Vegetarians?

Thailand is known for a great variety of delicious tropical fruits, and when you go to a Thai market, they are bursting with piles of colorful fruits and vegetables. But few vegetarians, if any, live off fruits alone. There is such a thing as a fruitarian, but this is on the extreme side of vegetarianism, and very few people try to follow such a diet for an extended period of time.

The availability of produce in Thailand is definitely a plus for vegetarians. However there is another side to the story. Although most people assume that all vegetarians are very health conscious, this is not necessarily so. India is one good example. There are many millions of vegetarians in India, but there is lots of white sugar, white rice, heavy milk products, sweets and deep fried food in their diet. Many Indian vegetarians are seriously overweight.

But let’s focus on health conscious vegetarians/vegans who prefer whole grains, nuts and seeds, avoid fried foods, and shun sugary foods. Here we run into our first challenge in Thailand. Unless you live in a major city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai, your choices are rather limited. Let’s say you like a variety of nuts and seeds and whole grains. In most parts of Thailand you will be limited to brown rice and cashew nuts.

If you go out to eat at a restaurant, you will have to fight a regular battle of telling the waiter that you don’t want MSG and fish sauce in your food. If you don’t mention it, you will get it in most dishes, guaranteed. Actually two of the first phrases I learned when I came to Thailand were “don’t put MSG in my food” and “don’t put fish sauce in my food”.

The other issue is that cooking vegetables in Thailand generally means to fry them in the cheapest oil available. Much of Thai food can be on the greasy side for health conscious vegetarians. If you look at any Thai menu, there is always a long list of fried foods. The alternative is a number of soups which often do not really correspond to our western idea of a real meal.

The Thais are very proud of their spicy food. Most dishes are liberally laced with hot chilis. If you ask a Thai waiter if the food is spicy, their usual answer is “a little bit”. The correct translation is that it might burn a hole in your tongue if you are not used to spicy food. Even if you tell a waiter that you don’t want any chili in your food at all, they will still put some in it since they cannot imagine cooking without it. Your “not spicy at all” request is interpreted as you wanting only half as much chili in your meal.

If you live in a major tourist center you will find restaurants with quite a few vegetarian options. The best city for vegetarians in Thailand is Chiang Mai which boasts dozens of vegetarian restaurants. Even most non-vegetarian restaurants will have a number of vegetarian options on the menu. Chiang Mai is the New Age capital of Thailand with lots of courses in various massage modalities, yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, Qigong, energy work and plenty of others.

The best island for vegetarians is Ko Phangan which has also developed into a major center for yoga, massage and various spiritual practices. Since a high percentage of the western visitors who practice yoga either are vegetarians or like to eat vegetarian meals, many restaurants on Ko Phangan have adapted to this trend and offer a good variety of veggie food.

But here is the challenge. If you are a health conscious vegetarian/vegan and you travel around in Thailand outside of the above mentioned places, you will often have a hard time finding decent vegetarian food. In many restaurants they will look at you incredulously and tell you that they cannot come up with any vegetarian food. But more often than not, they will tell you that they have vegetarian food. However it is always the same dish: white rice with fried vegetables.

This can get old very fast. Your main choices in most restaurants are white noodles with fried vegetables and white rice with fried vegetables, laced with MSG and fish sauce unless you make it clear that you don’t want it. Most Thai restaurants have endless pages of dishes on their menus, but the vegetarian choices are mostly limited to the above two items.

If you browse around in the markets, you can often find some vegetarian snacks or sweets. Markets can often be better choices than restaurants, but unless you speak some Thai it will often be impossible to determine what it is that you are looking at.

Eating well as a vegetarian in Thailand is easiest in places like the city of Chiang Mai or the island of Ko Phangan. If you travel or live outside of such places, you will not find it so easy as a health conscious vegetarian. But at least you will generally find lots of great fruits. One good word to know is the Thai word for “vegan”: it is “jeh”, pronounced somewhat like the English name “Jay”.

5 of the Very Best Restaurants in the World

There are many restaurants around the globe with Michelin Stars and Gault Millau points. Here we take a look at 5 of the very best that stand above the crowd due to their exceptional cuisine, atmosphere and the finest service.

El Bulli in Spain is on our list of luxury dining experiences and is one not to be missed. The restaurant has been awarded “The Worlds Best Restaurant 2009” and “Best Restaurant in Europe”. The Chef also took the “Chef of the Decade” award in 2010. The food at El Bulli defies description and has to be tasted to do it justice. When it comes to fine dining in luxury at El Bulli, the dining rule book has been thrown out of the window.

You may wish to head over to Austria and visit Steirereck. This is one of Vienna’s very best restaurants. This is a must visit place for wine connoisseurs, there are over 35,000 superb bottles on the wine list. The restaurant serves modern Austrian cuisine with many of the ingredients coming from the restaurants own farm, and is located in one of the most stunning settings imaginable. Cheese lovers will also be in heaven here with 120 cheese varieties from more than 13 countries.

Italians are passionate about their food and one of the very best places to dine in luxury while enjoying a down to earth setting is Le Calandre. Le Calandre is a rustic three star restaurant where each and every guest gets a hearty welcome from the brothers who run it. Chef Massimiliano Alajmo takes credit for being the youngest Italian chef to be awarded three Michelin Stars. It is dishes such as glazed pigeon served with essence of red turnip that has won the chef the praise so rightfully deserved.

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck deserves to be on the list of the very best restaurants due to the fact that the menu is constantly being tweaked and refined to absolute perfection. The Fat Duck is a somewhat “quirky” choice and it is not for the faint hearted. On the menu you may see such as Roasted foie gras served with crab biscuit and Rhubarb braised in Konbu. The restaurant is associated with great theatrics and has a very fun approach when it comes to dining out. You may want to visit at least once during your lifetime, if for nothing else but the unique experience.

Finally but by no means the least is the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee. This restaurant is set in the luxury Paris hotel where guests are served by staff wearing designer uniforms and overhead hang 10,000 plus illuminated pendants. They say you only get what you pay for, and while the price is steep for a plate of beluga caviar and langoustines, it is well worth the extravagant cost. This is luxury dining at its very best, complete with an atmosphere that takes some beating, attention to detail that is rare, and some of the finest ingredients from all over the world.

A Guide to Choose the Best Hotel in Hertford

Hertford is a very famous county town of Hertfordshire in England. This place is in the East Hertfordshire district of the county and is extremely rich in natural beauty and exquisiteness. Thousands of visitors come to city from all around the world in order to experience the charm and wonder this place has to offer.

So, if you are also planning a trip to this magnificent place, you must choose the best hotels. I am sure the luxury hotels here would surely provide you the best facilities and amenities that money can buy. Some of the hotels that you can reserve here are stated below.

1. White Horse Hotel

This is a complete luxury hotel which has recently been renovated and now provides all the modern facilities of very high standard. All the bedrooms and suites in this hotel are very spacious and provide an attractive view of the garden where you can enjoy your lunch and dinner. The hotel is also very well known for the weddings and conferences that are held here. The bar and restaurant in this hotels services mouth watering food to the visitors.

2. The feathers Inn

This hotel is the best destination for leisure as well as business travelers. The main aim of the staff members is to provide the best possible stay to the visitors. This hotel is located in the appealing Hertfordshire village of Wadesmill. The hotels provides to various fully equipped rooms which are decorated lavishly. The restaurant and the bar here are popular meeting and eating places for visitors, business people and local residents. The hotels is surrounded by scenic landscapes and has many attractive locations just nearby.

3. Mulberry Lodge

This is magnificent country hotel where you can feel at home. The place is surrounded by lush green meadows which gives you a chance to relax in the peaceful environment. The mulberry lodge is fully furnished with elegant furnishings, lofty ceilings and inviting bedrooms. The pubs nearby to this place serve very good meals and drinks which you can enjoy with family and friends.

4. Country House Hotel

Country House Hotel is one of the best hotels of Hertfordshire which is magnificently decorated. Many high class weddings and parties are held here every year. This world class hotel has a grand presentation hall, spectacular gardens and a large quantity of crisply decorated bedrooms and a selection of premier suites which offers the best facilities and services to the guests.

In order to enjoy your vacations to the fullest in Hertford, you must surely choose the above mentioned hotels.