Bhutan II: More Organic Health and Happiness!

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Leaning into the pose (or out of it)

Now for this overview blog I shall stick with the foodie highlights that I embraced and leave the ten day detailed blog for my personal website. And what clean, green growing, cooking and eating are practiced here! Locals grow whatever they may at every elevation; semi-tropics have all the fruits of a Queensland and higher altitudes have buckwheat for pancakes (like Russian blinis) and more! All this organic simple lifestyle truly results in energy, health and wellness! I’m inspired enough to add another Bhutanese ‘elevation cuisine’ cookbook to my Wilder by the Dozen series!

I found the Matsu take's!

I found the Matsu take’s!

Now for this overview blog I shall stick with the foodie highlights that I embraced and leave the ten day detailed blog for my personal website. And what clean, green growing,
cooking and eating are practiced here! Locals grow whatever they may at every
elevation; semi-tropics have all the fruits of a Queensland and higher
altitudes have buckwheat for pancakes (like Russian blinis) and more! All this
organic simple lifestyle truly results in energy, health and wellness! I’m
inspired enough to add another Bhutanese ‘elevation cuisine’ cookbook to my
Wilder by the Dozen series!

One of my best times there was at the overnight farm stay at the Tshering home with other guests from Japan. It was a true garden (and cow) to table experience. We picked all the vegetables for dinner and even milked the cow and got together in the outside kitchen for a communal cook-up. I brought the famed and flavourful Matsu take mushrooms I found at a local market and being a teacher turned my part into a cooking demo-lecture.
Everyone, including guides and drivers helped with the prep and Om Tshering,
head food goddess had a few curries on the go too.

Chiles and seasonal vegetables

Chiles and seasonal vegetables

Mama Tshering and the National dish ~ Ema Datsi

Mama Tshering and the National dish ~ Ema Datsi

Chiles abound in a plethora of varieties just like the mushrooms. As a long time heat phreak,chilli head and mushroom forager I was in my element! Even the National dish is Ema Datsi or Chilli and Cheese with a mushroom (shamu) variation! As Sonam Phuntsho, managing director of Bhutan Nor Ter Adventures, explained at yet another delicious simple dinner, “If there are no chillies we don’t eat!”

Plate presentations and garnishes are not a part of this straight forward cuisine. All dishes are served separately in beautiful wooden or pottery bowls with guests helping themselves. Organic local red rice is the filler that locals heap high. Desserts don’t weigh in much, simply local fruits and it was apple season in August when I was there ~ yum!

Growing up, sort of, in Seattle my grandmother had a Golden Delicious apple tree that I loved to climb and find the first fruits. Here they were red, crisp and delicious. It was my cousins’ farm in Ferndale, Washington that I had my first carrots and potatoes from the earth and milked the cow, churning butter and making bread for twenty in a pot nearly as big as, I at the time.

Taking aim!

Taking aim!

Trying to hit my mouth with milk, just like Uncle Glen use to do!

This was the first time since then I got to milk a cow (if not a yak like Michael Palin) and it all came back to me! I tried to even squirt milk into my mouth but mostly hit my shoulders. Om even makes her own farmers cheese along with the butter and milk! The Japanese really enjoyed picking from the garden in the rain and we all shared cucumber slices for the first course.

In the garden for greens in the rains

In the garden for greens in the rains

Om’s eldest daughter, Thinley was the translator but between sign language and smiles we got the dinner onto all four burners just like my 30 Minute Meals. Another delicacy was fiddle head ferns that my father taught me to forage for in the Great North West camping and falling off logs. I hadn’t seen or tasted them for years!

3 Mushroom Varieties with Fiddlehead Ferns

3 Mushroom Varieties with Fiddlehead Ferns

Another exciting moment was at lunch in Punakha at Babee restaurant. They surprisingly served me a bowl full of golden Chanterelles that I use to hunt for too. I essentially leapt from the table with joy shouting “Chanterelles!”They were so pleased to see me so happy they gave me a second bowl full! That’s what I also came for, the mushroom festival in
Bumthang. I spotted many mushrooms in my own treks up mountains and down jungle
trails, so this was even more special.

My golden joy, red rice and fiddlehead ferns!Please don't make me dine alone!

My golden joy, red rice and fiddlehead ferns!Please don’t make me dine alone!

Through-out the trip I had the best of honest local dishes, unsophisticated perhaps but true earthy flavour with unadorned delectable tastes. I had the energy to trek up 900 meters to Tiger’s Nest and other temples doing yoga on the lawns too.

Always ready to share yoga for health as well as good food fun I taught the Japanese ladies and Thinley a yoga practice before dinner back at the farm house. Though thirty (or mayhap 40 years) older it was a quiet blessing to be more flexible and resilient than them.hehe Next year I hope to gather a (Wilder) dozen of yoga goddesses from Perth to share the impossible verdant beauty and peace of Bhutan!

For this evening, after stretches and a guided meditation we floated down and then up to dinner sitting on the floor round the central fireplace. For the complete menu with recipes you’ll have to await my new e book cookbook…folks! However I will feature one here and another freebie on my website!

ORGANIC RED RE-FRIED RICE

For now here are some highpoints from my 500+ photos. I have never taken so many pictures in my life!

Did I mention the hot stone bath?

Did I mention the hot stone bath?

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