Four Seasons Farming in Chiang Mai: Part I

We love food and we are aspiring farmers, so with the anniversary of our civil wedding coming up on August 2 and having just found out about the Thai Royal Projects focused on organic farming as an alternative to opium production and which the Four Seasons Chiang Mai worked closely with… naturally, I reached out to the Four Seasons to explain our interest and book a table for dinner to celebrate our (belated) honeymoon.

The Four Seasons Chiang Mai feels like a hidden piece of paradise, combining modern amenities with a rustic charm emphasized by the lotus covered pond surrounded by rice paddies. After sunset, torches softly light the paths between bungalows and to the dining terrace.

Our table had a great view and was marked as the honeymooner spot by rose petals. As we decided on the Thai tasting menu, we were welcomed by the director of food and beverage and the restaurant manager as well as the Thai chef. What a treat! Every dish that came out was impeccably presented, a wonderful series of subtle flavors dancing around on our taste buds. I have never had such an incredible coconut soup, a seemingly simple recipe which can evidently be turned into magic in the right hands. Even the wine, Monsoon Valley Shiraz from the South of Thailand, was delicious and a perfect match to the food.

Right when we thought the meal could not get any better, the French Chef, Stephane Calvet, came out to say hello. With decades of experience in Paris, Tokyo, and Bangkok, hearing him describe how he went on the road on his motorbike to find reliable providers of the best organic ingredients for his kitchen – often linked to the Thai Royal Projects – was mesmerizing. Not only that but we were invited to come back for a visit of the vegetable garden he started at the Four Seasons.

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Close up of a fruit from the Buddha’s Fingers sapling

As you can imagine, we took him up on the offer and were back a few days later, on our way to visit farms up north (see Part II). During a tour of the property, we learned about Chef Stephane’s vision for the Four Seasons Chiang Mai – the cooking school that will also serve as a Chef’s Table, the updated open kitchens so guests can see the magic happen, the new barbeque pit area that will be fitted with a stone table made of a single slab and airlifted in by helicopter, and the English gardens being developed as a perfect spot for high tea. We also found out about Buddha’s Fingers, the fruit used in the perfume industry for its citrus base and which can be used for cooking as well.

We left with stars in our eyes and many new ideas on what we might aspire to in the future, at our bed & breakfast slash ecolodge slash agro tourism project (stay tuned for more about that as soon as we ourselves figure things out!).

Read about our visits to permaculture projects north of Chiang Mai here.