Now we are in the grip of the long, dark dreich winter nights of the north-east the yearning for a bit of warmth, sunshine and exotic food really kicks in.
But we can’t just head to the airport and jet off to some our culinary bucket lists spots – like Thailand – can we?
However, there is a way to find authentic Thai cuisine without the need to travel thousands of miles, although you do have to negotiate the still tricky flagstones of the Castlegate.
It is worth risking your ankle though when the destination is Siam Cottage – a bright and friendly oasis on the dreichest of dreich Aberdeen streets.
You are always guaranteed a friendly greeting when you walk through the door of this bijou eatery – all glittering chandeliers and images of Thailand – but not always guaranteed a table. Top tip, book ahead. It’s popular.
And it is popular for a reason, the food is always something to rave about.
It’s been a while since my wife and I popped in for supper at Siam Cottage and I think the menu has upped its game a bit. I seem to recall that it was a mix of Chinese and Thai dishes before, but it is very much Thai to the fore now and none the worse for it.
Now, we have a quick way of solving the “who wants what” debate on the starters front – go for a platter.
In this case it was the Silom iteration that caught our eye. It was a heady mix of everything we like to get an Asian meal properly underway.
The Thai spring rolls had just the right crunch to them and were free of grease. However, they were also a bit light on the flavour front and needed the chilli dipping sauce to make their presence felt.
No such problem with the chicken satay, though. Coated in a spicy, peanut sauce these were tender and tasty and vanished fairly quickly.
We also really enjoyed the BBQ ribs, which were meaty and dry, with not a hint of fat about them. The five spice in the coating was yummy.
The real star of the starters show was the honey pork. Tender and juicy it was Hoisin infused and had pleasant liquorice notes to pique our tastebuds.
In between times we tucked into the crispy seaweed, with the fried dry cabbage adding crunch and salt.
We both appreciated that while the platter had many elements, it was still a manageable portion that left us with plenty of room for the mains to come.
Both Mrs B and I had decided to go full Thai for the next course, a chicken red curry for her and a pad kee mao talay (seafood noodles) for me.
The curry arrived in a bowl, brimming with broth and full of chicken and vey, from onions to peppers, water chestnuts to courgette.
It had a lovely earthy flavour, but with sweet notes shining through. On the spice front it was flavoursome rather than fierce and tingled the tastebuds rather than wasted them. The boiled rice was just a perfect base for soaking up the sauce to create a winter-warmer delight.
Meanwhile, my noodles had come from the “street food” section of the menu, as befitted its rustic look, all broad noodles, soaked in soy and spice. I was delighted to see the amount of seafood that was involved, with king prawns, mussels and squid all vying for my attention.
I scooped a mouthful in and sat back to see if it merited the chilli icon on the menu. Yes. Yes it did. In fact, the initial blast of heat called for a swig of beer to settle things down. But once I was underway, the spice hit diminished and the tender seafood did the rest of the talking, along with crunchy green beans and the peppery berries that crop up in Thai cooking.
There was also a nice wee amuse bouche on the side with diced carrot and chilli nestling on a lettuce leaf with a dash of salty Thai salad dressing splashed over.
By the time we had finished our meal, we were both full and satisfied. Once again, Siam Cottage had delivered the goods in terms of authentic cuisine, made with care and attention and served with friendly smiles and attention to detail.
We were well chuffed when we left, ready to once again brave the cold winter night – and those mantrap flagstones on the Castlegate.
Address: 13 Castle Street Aberdeen AB11 5BQ