It is official - I have had the best meal of my life. A meal that surpasses my previous best meal - which was a home-made pasta dish served with fresh lobster on the Mediteranean Coast in Naples, Italy. I forever thought that meal was un-beatable, but hidden on the side of the road in Chiang Mai, Thailand is a secret gem just waiting to be found - Pasta & Basta. And yes - Pasta & Basta is now definitely the best meal I have ever had.
I love Thai food, but I do find after a few days travelling in Asia I am ready for a break. Kris and I had just completed the Sameong Loop on our motorbike (a well known, day long road trip around Northern Thailand near Chiang Mai) and at the end of the loop we saw Pasta & Basta on the side of the road. We pulled in for a late lunch.
We were greeted with a warm smile by Matteo - an Italian expat hailing from Milan, Italy. Matteo had a smile that was infectious, as he proudly handed us thick menus and explained that in his new restaurant (they have only been open for six months), most everything is made fresh. Pasta, mozzarella cheese, sausage, bread.... you name it, its probably fresh. After a pitcher of refreshing ice water we looked over the menu. There were so many delicious sounding options... how to decide?
I opted for a vegetarian mushroom, cream based sauce and Kris went for a standard vegetarian marinara with fresh basil on spinach pasta. After tantalizing smells teased us from the kitchen for a quick 15 minutes, our plates of fresh made pasta were delivered to our table. Oh.My.Word. How do I describe the heaven that was poured onto this plate. My savoury, creamy, mushroom and fresh gorgonzola pasta was divine... but it couldn't hold a candle to Kris' simple marinara. The tart marinara sauce combined with the chewy texture of al dente, savoury spinach pasta, pulled together with the fresh taste of basil was a pure culinary miracle. As we chewed, swallowed, and moaned in a hypnotic dining daze, Matteo quietly brought us a basket of warm bread he had just pulled out of the oven. Crumbly, fresh, simply spiced warm bread to sop up our pasta sauce. Yessss.
We literally had tears when we had our last bites. It was so good. But... thankfully the experience wasn't over. Matteo's beautiful wife snuck into the kitchen to make us a small pancake and a cup of coffee - free dessert for anyone coming into the shop. The pancake was thin, slightly sweet, and perfect texture. Delicious.
We told Matteo we had to come back the next day to capture and share with our readers this miracle of epic food proportions. Really we just wanted more pasta. Morning came and I was frantically checking my watch throughout the day... anxiously awaiting lunch time so I could try out another dish on the menu. When we arrived, I asked Matteo what would be Vegan friendly since my dish the day before was definitely dairy-heavy. He brought me a DELICIOUS olive-pate pasta dish. It was salty, chewy, fresh and delicious.
Kris opted for a simple butter and spice macaroni with fresh mozzarella (oh my). It was better than sex. Incredible.
This visit we got a chance to ask Matteo what it was like being an Italian expat in Thailand. He explained that in Italy, he ran a trucking business for many years and was never home. He loved the weather and the lifestyle in Chiang Mai - and we can't blame him! His wife and young daughter are able to be with him all day long - a luxury that more people should be able to enjoy. We asked Matteo what his family in Milan thought when he decided to make the move to South East Asia. "They said - good luck!" he explained with a laugh.
Matteo gave us a tour of his pristine, white kitchen - showing us his pasta making equipment brought in from Italy and explaining that he had woken up early that morning to make fresh sausage for his happy customers. After the tour we finished another round of delicious pancake and coffee and with a heavy heart said goodbye to sweet Matteo and his amazing Italian food - though with any luck it won't be goodbye forever.
Has anyone else visited Pasta & Basta in Chiang Mai? Please share your thoughts and/or let us know what the best meal you have ever had is, we would love to hear about it!