Ah, VeganMoFo. Convincing me to reflect and scroll through my digital photos, page by page, memory by memory. During the preparation for my much-referenced but seldom documented hiatus last winter, I felt a pull towards Cambodia (especially after pouring over this) so strong that I decided to spend the holidays there, by myself. It’s difficult for me to put a lot, and even a little, of those travels and experiences and reflections into words – and it’s been nearly a year now, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
I’ve spent the past few years doing a lot of versatile event planning on a fairly non-stop basis (on top of that whole long-running, soul-sucking office job I had then), and it was time to take a break and let my inner whimsy run free, nearly every day. I had studied abroad in college a decade before, with some now nearly-forgotten wandering across Europe, but nothing like this.
Anyhow, as for an experience I can document, at the recommendation of my wonderful friend Bahar, who I was fortunate enough to literally run into on the streets of Bangkok (I knew she was there, but still!), I made sure to stop by Peace Cafe when I was in Siem Reap, a vegetarian cafe, bakery, juice bar and community center all-in-one, for one of their hands-on, personal cooking classes. I made a long afternoon out of things, starting with a vibrant juice, learning about Cambodian vegetarian cuisine, enjoying what was likely the most generous meal of my entire trip, and finishing, appropriately, with a mug of cold Angkor beer. I couldn’t get enough of that beer. Or amok. Or Cambodia. Or traveling – but I digress.
Photos, dishes and more below.
Siem Reap River
Downtown bicycle parking
I was partial to hopping on the backs of motorbikes whenever I could put my giant backpack down…
A note from the staff at my guesthouse
Shadow of Angkor I: one of the nicest guesthouses I stayed in on my travels
Siem Reap River
On the right path
The amazing menu cover at Peace Cafe
Fresh juice to start
After three weeks of traveling, it was so fun to use a kitchen again.
Green Papaya Salad
The first step of any real Cambodian amok, making your own curry paste:
The second, using grown-on-site ingredients:
On the stove..
Traditional Cambodian amok features fish steamed in banana leaves with a curried sauce – the vegetarian (and all dishes at the class were vegan) take, which I enjoyed variations of elsewhere in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, as well, often included tofu, peppers, eggplant, coconut milk, homemade curry paste (which you see being created above), fresh herbs and greens.
I love this dish.
Served with brown rice and sliced cucumber
My lovely instructor:
Yeah, I want this in my living room.
One cannot consume enough fresh mango when it is local:
After the class, I sat down to my feast and…
Siem Reap temple
From Angkor Wat….
With half of MoFo ahead, I just may share some more from my time in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Otres Beach, in addition to Thailand and Laos, with even more delicious amok from Chamkar and Treez, to name a couple.