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Holiday Heaven Samui’s a popular summer holiday destination, for many good reasons. August has arrived, and this is the time when top holiday destinations around the world receive an influx of families from northern hemisphere countries whilst their children are on a long summer break. And here on Samui it’s no different, with a large number of visitors, particularly Italians, choosing to spend their vacation on our wonderful little tropical island. But whoever you are, you’ll be made to feel most welcome by the locals with their renowned hospitality and you’re all guaranteed to have a great time. The fact that you’ve picked up this newspaper either means that you’re genuinely interested in what Samui has to offer in the wining and dining arena or that you’re stuck in a waiting room of some sort with nothing else to do! Either way, you’re sure to have a good read as you find out

all about the island’s vibrant culinary scene. And, who knows, if you’ve had no interest in food before (other than filling your stomach with it a various times throughout the day) you might just discover some particular featured restaurant which takes your eye and converts you into a ‘foodie’ like the rest of us. Yes, August’s a great time to be here on Samui, and especially so if you love eating out in some of the world’s finest restaurants at a fraction of the price you’d be paying back home.

Romantic Dining at Chaweng Beach

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1st _ 31st AUGUST 2013

Sareeraya Villas & Suites Call + 66 (0) 77 914 333 www.sareeraya.com


SAMUI

Graeme Malley Editor

Angkanang Somwang (Peung) Graphic Designer

Ugrit Komlue (Grit) Photographer

Seksak Kerdkanno (Klauy) Webmaster

Rob De Wet Feature Writer

Rosanne Turner Feature Writer

Colleen Setchell Feature Writer

Peter James Feature Writer

Johnny Paterson Feature Writer

Nipawan Chuaysagul (Ning) Sales & Marketing Director ning@siammap.com Tel: 0 898 783 891

Henrik Bjørk Managing Director

Siam Map Company Ltd. 52/6, Samui Ring Road, Moo 3, Bo Phut, Samui, 84320 Thailand Tel: (66) 0 7742 2201 Fax: (66) 0 7741 3523 email: info@siammap.com www.siammap.com All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or pictorial content in any manner is prohibited without written permission from Siam Map Company Ltd. Whilst every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Siam Map Company Ltd. assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. c Siam Map Company Ltd. 2013

Distribution at Bangkok Airport courtesy of Bangkok Airways. Reservation Center: 1771 Samui Chaweng Office: 0 7760 1300 www.bangkokair.com

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Catch of th The amazing abalone. Introducing … the abalone. Heard of it? Do you even know what it looks like? Well, before we give you the details about how to prepare and cook them in delicious recipes, let’s first tell you a bit about them. The abalone is a snail that belongs to the phylum mollusca (a group which includes clams, scallops, sea slugs, octopus and squid) and is part of the Haliotidae family. Depending on which country you’re from, you’ll know it by several other names, including ear-shells or sea-ears. In Australia they’re known as muttonfish, in Great Britain they are ormer, while in South Africa they are called perlemoen or venus’ ears. The various species come in different sizes starting from 20mm but rarely going over 200mm. From smallest to largest, there are black, green, pink and red abalone. The inside of the shell has a spiral structure and the inner layer is made of strikingly beautiful mother-of-pearl which, of course, makes the shells themselves very attractive to use decoratively or as jewellery. The shell is made up of layers of calcium carbonate and proteins which make it incredibly strong. Inside is a soft edible body surrounded by a mantle, an anterior head and a large muscular

foot. It has no obvious brain structure, but does have a heart and blood which flows through arteries and veins, assisted by the surrounding muscles. The foot is used to clamp them tightly to rocky surfaces, although their main predator, the otter, has mastered the art of removing them for daily snacks. The abalone, along with many other species, is fast becoming one of the ocean’s most endangered creatures. They have been fished, often illegally, at a rapidly increasing rate since the late 20th century in order to feed demand in Asia. Regulations do exist to protect them, but because they bring in such high prices, these are often ignored. Because stocks in the wild are declining rapidly, China, Taiwan, Japan and several other countries, have begun farming abalone. Others, such as Australia, Chile, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States are still developing significant aquaculture industries. Phuket Abalone Farm Co. Ltd. is Thailand's first and only fully integrated abalone farm. The main species of abalone raised at the farm is Haliotis diversicolor, also known as the Taiwan abalone. This company is serious about doing

their bit to prevent the extinction of this interesting little snail. Okay, so now you know what we’re talking about, let’s get to the interesting bit. How do you eat it? It is not the body of the abalone, but the large, chewy, muscular foot that is eaten. It can be served raw, grilled, fried in batter or slow cooked. It is available canned, but of course fresh abalone is tastier (and more expensive). Nutritionally, it is rich is omega 3 fatty acids, iodine, iron and vitamin B. Its total fat content is similar to poultry or meat. It is a good source of magnesium, also essential for the production of sexual hormones, and contains B12 vitamins which can be helpful in raising metabolism. To extract the flesh, open the piece between the abalone meat and the shell by working a wooden spatula between the non-attached flesh and the shell until you reach the muscle that’s attached to the shell. Work the spatula around and along between the muscle and the shell until the abalone detaches. In Chinese cooking, abalone is normally stewed with meat such as ham or roasted goose. The cooking process is long and tedious as it is

soaked, cooked, boiled, rinsed and then finally stewed. In Japanese culture, it is usually cooked by sake steaming. To enjoy tender abalone steaks, you need to pound them … gently - the thinner the better. Pounding breaks down the meat fibres making it easier to chew. Abalone is at its most tender when it is either braised slow and low or cooked quickly over high heat. To bread and sauté them, lightly season breadcrumbs or flour with a dash of lemon, pepper, onion powder (which apparently goes very well with abalone) and allspice. Dip in beaten egg, then in the seasoned mixture, before placing in a sauté pan with good dollop of melted butter. Cook for 45 seconds on each side - quick, easy and delicious. They can also be slow-cooked in a medium oven for up to four hours, in chicken broth with oxtail and fennel. Make sure it doesn’t boil or the abalone will toughen. So, not only is abalone a tasty food but its striking iridescent shells have been used in carvings and in the making of jewellery for centuries. The shell displays iridescent colours reminiscent of the ocean in blues, greens, aquas and purples. It is often used alongside precious

Discover authentic

Indian Cuisine Samui Noori India Restaurant - Chaweng Centerr Chaweng Beach Road, opp. Chaweng Buri Noori India Restaurant - Chaweng South at Chaweng Cove Resort outh Noori India Cooking Center - Chaweng South Soi Colibri, opp. Centara Grand Beach Resort ort For reservations (English) - 0 867 407 873 or 0 7741 3108 For reservations (Thai) - 0 813 960 283 E-mail: nooriindia_samui@yahoo.com www.nooriindiasamui.com

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e Day gemstones not only for its look but also for supposed healing properties. Because of its flattened, oval shape, it was used by the American Indians as a natural vessel for cleansing, offerings and prayers. A disc of abalone shell is worn on the forehead of Apache girls as they greet the sun on the morning of their initiation into womanhood. In Chinese homeopathy, the shell is often ground to powder and used as an aphrodisiac boost. Across the Far East, people believe it is good luck to eat abalone, but to the rest of the world, it is the flavour, which has been described as richer than scallops and with a firm texture similar to calamari, which is the draw. So all in all, this small, seemingly insignificant sea snail is clearly, more than just a pretty face. If you haven’t yet tried it, get yourself out there and give it a try.

Colleen Setchell

Romantic views, soothing sounds and classic Italian fare with a modern approach combine to please the most discerning diner. Olivio - a must for visitors and locals alike.

Olivio ~ beachfront at Baan Haad Ngam Boutique Resort Chaweng Beach. Free round trip transfer from Chaweng, Bophut and Choeng Mon. For reservation please call 0 7723 1500 www.siamwininganddining.com

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If you enjoy a tipple of the ‘water of life’ you don’t have to go to Scotland. In fact ‘whisky’ is made in dozens of countries. Usually with Scottish malt blended with a local grain spirit. Needless to say, the ‘malt’ content can vary! Thailand imports many brands of Scotch for both visitors and local drinkers. And, of course, you may have come across one or two bottles that people refer to as Thai whisky. Depends on your definition of whisky really! Thai whiskies are wholly or partly rice-based and, strange as it may sound, have a history reaching much further back than Celtic whiskies. There are 10th century records of Siamese spirits distilled from rice being matured in casks that were treated on the inside with the smoke of burning sandalwood. A common sight in many bars around the island is Sang Som. It’s a sweet rum-like concoction, often mistaken for whisky, usually drowned with coke. But any resemblance to centuries-old distilling methods involving spring water and oak barrels was literally exploded a few years ago. At a chemical plant in Nakhon Pathom, a powerful blast ripped through the factory. One of 24 identical tanks measuring 60 metres high and 36 metres in diameter showered steel over hundreds of square metres. Luckily no-one was killed, but if it hadn’t exploded, the alcohol in the faulty tank would have ended up in Sang Som bottles. A not-so-traditional blend of industrial ethanol created in a chemical factory!

blended-liqueur and also John Master whisky. Coming in at a reasonable 190 – 250 Baht per bottle there are imported blended spirits such as Crown 99, Master Blend and Golden Knight. And I suspect it would shortly be good-night if you drank a few of these! There are several brands described as 100% Scotch whisky, produced and bottled in Scotland. Braemar. Spey Royal and 100 Pipers retail between 300 and 400 Baht and are probably drinkable – for effect if not the greatest flavour. Bars will often stock Johnnie Walker Red and Black, and they’ll retail in the shops at 600 Baht and 1200 Baht respectively. A Chivas Regal 12 year-old is also about 1,200 Baht. All decent enough and if you are a whisky drinker you’ll be familiar with them. Strictly speaking there are no native Thai whiskies as we know them. But there are several potent brews that can be of mischievous interest. And the good thing is that if you are drinking alone, the voices in your head can keep you company!

Johnny Paterson

Still, it’s a big seller enjoyed by many people and it has its merits. Another is Mekong (pronounced Mae-khong), again rice-based, it has its fans. I don’t know any personally, but it seems to sell well. And if you’re already prone to hallucinating and hearing imaginary voices then this probably can’t do you any more harm. Give it a try, you’ve nothing to lose! In certain parts of Thailand a brew known as ‘yaa dong’ has been made for centuries. It’s a ‘whisky’ to which herbs and other ingredients are added to make medicinal tonics. In rural areas of the North it’s very popular. The reason whisky is used is that it acts as a solvent and keeps the herbs from spoiling. In addition, whisky raises the blood helping it to circulate more quickly. With the right quantity, the whisky can be a kind of medicine in itself. I’m just not sure what the right quantity might be. Keep drinking until the pain goes away? It is said that the practice of mixing medicines with whisky originated in temples. Possibly this had to do with the desire of the monks themselves to drink whisky. There is a rule that limits the amount of whisky that can be offered to a monk by pouring it into his bowl. It can’t be any deeper in the bowl than the interval between the fingertip and the first joint. Since taking medicine is different from drinking whisky, no rules were broken if this amount was exceeded with yaa dong! Of course, all the bars will stock imported Scotch, and some will have a few decent malts. All will be quite a bit more expensive than local brews, starting at around 150 – 200 Baht a shot. If you look around the supermarkets you’ll find quite a range. Starting with bottles labeled only in Thai, they retail at around 80 Baht and loosely translate as ‘white spirits’. But it would be an insult to a paintbrush to clean it with this stuff! Slightly more expensive, at around 120 Baht, you’ll find some bottles described as 28 degrees or 30 degrees white spirit. Your paintbrush might not be insulted by this, but will likely be in a mood for a while. At around 180 Baht there’s Varinthip, marketed as a Thai

Events @ the beach front Bistro Monday, Wednesday and Saturday: Live music. Tuesday: Thai night with live Thai music and dancing Thursday: Lobster night Friday: Rustichella pasta night Saturday: All day tapas Sunday: International BBQ night with a live cabaret show.

Probably the most beautiful Restaurant on the island. Dine outside in the lush gardens by the pool or inside the open air ‘dining room’. The exceptional Aziz and his team present a modern take on Classical French Cuisine.

4 www.siamwininganddining.com

The Water of Life

Whisky lovers on Samui are not forgotten – but is there a real Thai whisky?


Kitchen King Exotic kitchen magic at The Sea Koh Samui, thanks to Executive Chef, Khun Jack.

Ha you any idea how many times a week I am Have asked to recommend a restaurant? Odd as acquaintances, people in pubs – they all want to ac know. Maybe I need to start wearing thick kn glasses and a beard. It’s like being asked, “what’s gl the best car to buy”. Who knows! Personally my th idea of a really good restaurant is fabulous food id and reasonable prices. And this ‘yardstick’, this an standard for judging eateries most certainly sta applies to ‘The Sea’ in Bang Po. And for that, we ap p have ha a to thank Chef Jack. Khun Kh h Ronnalit Meunsripron – more usually known simply by his nickname of ‘Chef Jack’ – kn n has ha a been the executive chef here for a while now. It’s always a gamble when you first try out no a new restaurant, as for all you know the ‘chef’s’ last job might have been tossing beef burgers la somewhere. Chef Jack is youthful but serious, so and his marginally intense public interface is an based on the fact that he’s fanatical about food. ba He’s currently working with one day and two H days off every other week (one day’s break this da week, two days off next week) and guess what w he does in his spare time? Food. Reads about it. Watches YouTube videos on it. Checks the TV programs about it. Experiments with it, tries new combinations of it and generally fiddles about to see what Thai ingredients best complement Euro-style dishes. The cynical among you will no doubt be nodding and muttering “. . . mmm, ’cos he’s a burger cook who’s trying to learn the ropes.” But in a moment I’ll go into his history and tell you some of the internationally renowned chefs he’s already served his time with. But suffice it to say that this is a driven man. Food is his life – but it wasn’t always as profound as this.

Khun Jack started working under Executive Chef Walter (Wally) Andreini. And Khun Jack is a very quick learner. He stayed with Chef Wally for four years, by which time he rose to be second in the department – executive sous chef. And then he moved on to The Sea as executive chef in his own right. The Sea is a lovely little boutique resort, situated on the main ring-road in Bang Po, between Maenam and the big hill where you’ll find Four Seasons Resort. The restaurant, Café Lebay, is actually at the front of the resort, but many prefer to dine at the tables on the beach or the nearby terrace. The menu here is a superb example of ‘delicate fusion’: a sensitive merging of European cuisine with complementary Thai ingredients – Chef Jack really seems to have mastered this approach. But, like all competent chefs, he’s in the process of revising the existing menu to contain his own creations. And they’re impressive. Chef Jack has a knack of finding Thai beans and pulses and then making his own light sauces to enhance them in combination with the more-usual steak, chicken or fish dishes. His cuisine is lean and healthy, yet draws on the Euro French and Italian heritage – with a unique twist. He’s had a hard time getting where he is, but now it’s full steam ahead. There are many kitchen workers on Samui, but there are not so many kings in the kitchen – Chef Jack is one of them!

Rob De Wet For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7796 0567. www.theseasamui.com

Khun Jack was born in Khon Kaen, a depressed farming area in the northeast of Thailand. Even before he had left school, he realised that he wanted to get away, to move to where there was more opportunity. This logically meant somewhere where there were tourist dollars. And the arena to serve this was the hospitality industry. He’s not the only Issan kid to have had this dream. But whereas others had friends already in the business, he didn’t. He had nobody to give him a leg up and he had to do things the hard way. He left school early and managed to get a job working locally as a restaurant cook-helper. It was a foot on the ladder and, a year later, he secured a position as a steward in Bangkok’s Orchid Moon Restaurant. But it wasn’t until 2005 that he realised he was in a rut. He gripped the bull by the horns and, quite out of the blue, headed for Samui. He’d seen several features on TV about our island – seemingly, one aspect of Samui is that it has a ton of restaurants! He knew nobody here and there were no friends or family here to help him. But, murmuring prayers against ghosts and gripping his good luck charms, he got on a bus in Bangkok and when it stopped, Khun Jack found himself in Nathon. The first year here was depressing, and many others in his place would have given up. His English wasn’t good, he had no school certificate and there were no friends to put in a good word. He found a job as a junior technician in a company that serviced air conditioners, mostly around the island’s hotels and resorts. And this exposure to the local resorts gave him an opening as a kitchen helper in SALA Samui Resort in Choeng Mon. This gave him the experience to step-up to a big resort in Chaweng. Then came his break. Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa is one of the small handful of Samui’s top family-owned resorts. It’s 5-star quality and has always prided itself on featuring world-class cuisine, with a top international chef to match. Thus it was that

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Ingrid Bergman

Martha Stewart

Happy Birthday Mila Kunis

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Here are some events that have made it into August foodie history 1st - We kick off the month with ‘World Breastfeeding Week’, a healthy cause to support. Perhaps less healthy, but hard to resist, is the Mars Bar – which was introduced on this day in 1932.

8th – On this day, in 2006, Krispy Kreme donuts opened its first Asian outlet in Hong Kong. It’s also National Frozen Custard Day in the USA. 9th – France ends price controls on bread in 1978. Anyone fancy a baguette?

2nd - From babies’ beverages to big-boy drinks. Today is International Beer Day. So head down to your local pub and order a brew in support.

10 – This marks St Lawrence of Rome Day – patron saint of cooks and protector of vineyards.

3rd - This day marks the birthday of Martha Stewart – entertaining advisor, cookbook author and, well, celebrity ex-convict. She was born in 1941.

11th – This is a bit of a ‘raspberry day’ as, in 1949, Eric Carmen of the music group ‘The Raspberries’ was born, and this marks National Raspberry Bombe Day in the USA.

4th – Dom Perignon discovers the process for making Champagne on this day, in 1693, and proclaimed, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”

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12th – Chocoholics will have good cause for celebration today as, in 1801, John Cadbury, founder of the Cadbury Chocolate Company, was born.

15th – On this day, in 1914, The Panama Canal was officially opened when a ship sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. This greatly increased the opportunities for food import and export. 16th – In 1888, on this day, John Styth Pemberton died. He was the pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola only three years prior to his death. 17th – In the USA, this marks National Honey Bee Day. 18th – A date of bizarre events – in 1953 four cows in Stearns County, Minnesota, were picked up by a tornado and set down unharmed. So that’s how milkshakes are made! And on the same day in 2004, it was reported that it rained fish at about 2:30 pm in Shropshire, Western England.

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5 – If you are in Australia on this day, you’ll be celebrating National Picnic Day. 6th – The legendary Savoy Hotel opened in London, with Cesar Ritz and Escoffier on this day, in 1889. 7th – On this day, in 1792, Andreas Sigismund Marggraf died. He was a German chemist who discovered beet sugar, which led to the development of the modern sugar industry – and therefore the need for gyms and fitness clubs.

13th – This is International Lefthanders Day. Just a thought - if the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa, then only left-handed people are in their right minds? (Yes, both the writer and editor are left-handed, and the fact that this has nothing to do with food is contradictory to this point.)

19th – In the USA, ‘Hot and Spicy Food Day’ is recognised on this day. We have no shortage of suitable dishes here, so put on a brave face and give it your best shot.

14th – This day marks St Werenfrid’s Day, patron of vegetable gardens, so head to you nearest garden centre, buy a packet of seeds and start digging.

21st – This day honours St Bernard Tolomeo, patron saint of olive growers.

20th – 1966 – The Beatles are pelted with rotten fruit at a concert in Memphis.

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22nd – 1965 - Ellen n Ch C Church hurch died (born Sept 22, 1904). Her claim to fame the fi firstt f me was being b i th airline stewardess. She showed others how to smile and say, ‘chicken or fish’. 23rd – On a positive note, and a step in the right direction in counteracting modern health issues, in 2004 the French parliament passed a bill to combat obesity among French youth. The bill bans junk food and soft drink vending machines in French schools, and requires health warnings or an alternate tax on snack food and soft drink commercials. 24th – 1976, and two Soviet cosmonauts return to Earth after 48 days in orbit in a space laboratory. That’s a long time to eat freeze-dried food. 25th – On this day, in 1810, Peter Durand was granted the first patent for preserving food in tin cans. And so bachelors learnt to ‘fend for themselves’ and have beans on toast for dinner. 26th – This is the day of food-inspired songs hitting the charts. In 1972 ‘Coconut’ by Nilsson reached number eight, and in 1978, Frankie Valli's ‘Grease’ reached number one on the charts.

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28thh – One of the world’s biggest food fights takes place l annually ll in i Spain S i - ‘La ‘L Tomatina’ T ti ’ or the th Fight, which happens in Bunol Bunol, Valencia Valencia. Tomato Fight 30,000 people throw over 100 tonnes of tomatoes at each other. 29th – Swedish actress, Ingrid Bergman, was born and died on this day. (29th August 1915 – 29th August 1982). She was most famous for her lead role in the iconic movie, Casablanca. Now while this has nothing to do with food, some men found her quite delicious so to speak. 30th – In 2007, on this day, Michael Jackson, a leading beer critic, died at the age of 65. He was the author of ‘The World Guide to Beer’ (1977), and wrote articles for various newspapers and food magazines. No, we’re not referring to the moon-walking pop icon. 31st – This day, in 1900, marks the first sale of Coca-Cola in Britain. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Rosanne Turner

27th – Feminists won’t be celebrating today’s event – The Feast of St Monica, patron saint of homemakers and housewives.

THAILAND TOURISM STANDARD 2012 - 2014 RESORT STANDARD

Take your culinary skills to new heights,Take the flavors back Home! For private Thai Cooking lessons, please call 077 447 275 Facebook/samuiburi E-mail: info@samuiburi.com www.samuiburi.com 6 www.siamwininganddining.com


Come into my Parlour You’re on a trip out for the evening to look round the shops. You’re planning to eat later, so you’re nice. keeping an eye out for a place that looks nice You’re taking your time, wandering, shopping, comparing prices and enjoying a haggle. You’ve spotted several really nice looking little eateries and added them to a list. You’ve strolled in a circle and by now are getting hungry. And so it’s time to eat. Thus, immediately, you’ve got a problem, ’though you might not know it. Few people actually stop to ponder on what makes up a good dining experience. It’s one thing to fill a gap and grab a sandwich when you’re busy. But on holiday you don’t want this. You want a leisurely meal in attractive surroundings – but that’s just a part of it. If you were to sit and make a list it would also include quality food with a good range of choices, individual attention, friendly and attentive service, a beachside location, your own bubble of privacy, realistic and affordable prices and a good overall atmosphere. Diminish any one of these and the feel-good factor lessens. And picking a restaurant just because it looks pretty from the outside rarely allows you to tick all these boxes. Fisherman’s Village is one place on Samui that almost everyone visits during their stay, and nearly everyone goes there at night. There are perhaps 20 or so eateries in that one long street and all of them are appealing. Thus, logically, you have a moderate chance of being disappointed! But there are a handful of restaurants here which are first class in every respect. It’s just that you need to know which ones to go for. We can help you with this – one of them is Il Salotto. Il Salotto isn’t what it seems at first glance. It looks like an Italian restaurant – which it is. It looks small and cosy – it is, but it’s bigger than it appears. It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of staff – there aren’t. But they all speak excellent English and have been handpicked, having been trained and previously worked at 4-and 5-star hotels – most unusual for a small restaurant. Some of the food-stops around here are surprisingly pricey – this one isn’t. And a few don’t even overlook the sea, or even have a view at all. This does. And that’s not counting all the positive points behind the scenes, things you

can’t see or know, which when taken together make this place a bit of a gem. One of the key elements at Il Salotto you’ll often not see at all. And that’s the man behind it all, long-time Samui resident, personality, and food-fanatic, Chef Luigi Fadda. He’s not only a highly experienced chef, having worked in top hotels all over Asia for the best part of 30 years, but also has the distinction of being a member of that elite group of gourmets known as ‘Chain De Rotisserie’. Wherever he has been in residence he’s attracted hordes of ‘people in the know’, many of them also Italian and in search of authentic southern-Italian cuisine. In his pursuit of culinary perfection, over the years Luigi’s established a chain of regular supplies of real Italian specialities which he imports every month, such as black truffles, St. Peter’s fish, Parma ham, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, cheeses, creams, herbs and spices. Talk to him about using similar items from Thai importers and he’ll burst into streams of rapid Italian, go red and start jumping up and down. Another of the key elements here is Khun Nui, the lively restaurant manager. She speaks excellent English and has a pedigree almost as impressive as Luigi, having previously worked in several 4-and 5-star restaurants, including, most-recently, Samui’s prestigious Nora Buri Resort & Spa. Plus the fact that she seems to have been Luigi’s floor manager partner, working in parallel with him, at several venues over the years. They were teamed at Olivio in Chaweng, Punnpreeda Hip Resort in Bangrak, and then finally here at Il Salotto. “The quality of the service is just as important as the quality of the food,” she explained to me, “they complement each other. We usually don’t take new staff unless they are already established, and then I spend quite a while overseeing them and helping them fit in.” You’ll notice that so far I’ve talked about the people here, simply because it’s the calibre of the staff which makes everything come together. But it’s food that people come here for, not résumés. Thus you’ll discover that the menu is sectioned into the usual appetisers, soups and salads, noodle and pasta dishes, seafood items, pizza and

desserts. The pasta is made in-house, fresh every morning and the fish and seafood is brought in time. Pizzas are from the market at the same time made on the spot in the wood-fired oven and are wonderfully thin and crispy. The classic lasagne Bolognaise is virtually a signature dish here, as is the ‘ravioli with ricotta and spinach in tomato and cream’ (costing just 200 baht and 220 baht respectively!). The wine list is modest, but varied and affordable, with eight labels coming in at well under 1,000 baht. But be prepared for the desserts. The superb tiramisu is Italian-style and almost like a cheesecake. However, the gorgeous hot chocolate cake occasionally disappoints. Why? Because it’s cooked on the spot, takes 20 minutes, and sometimes people don’t want to sit around waiting. Order it at the same time as your mains!

Revealing the secrets of Il Salotto – Village. a hidden gem in Fisherman’s Village

Actually, there are times when you’ll see the unforgettable silhouette of Chef Luigi. And that’s on Fridays, when the village comes alive with all the fun of the weekly Walking Street. He’ll haul his cookware out onto the street in front, in order to lure you inside, and onto the broad back deck that overlooks the sea. Overall, the dining experience here is about as good as it gets outside of a gourmet eatery. And if you still have any niggling doubts, then take a look at the comments on TripAdvisor. This year Il Salotto was awarded a winner’s Certificate of Excellence, which makes it a gem in anyone’s book. One final word. Il Salotto is on the smaller, secondary street of Fisherman’s Village and not right on the main strip – the street to the right that isn’t as long. It’s impossible to miss. It looks just like someone’s living room or parlour. Which, oddly enough, just happens to be the translation of the Italian phrase, ‘il salotto’!

Rob De Wet For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 7088. www.samuirestaurant.com

Located in the beautiful Fisherman’s Village on Bophut Beach, our experienced chefs proudly present authentic Thai cuisine and Southern Thai dishes. Fresh seafood is a must with great quality at reasonable prices. Enjoy the tranquility of the beach, the twinkling stars and the whispering waves along with the

(Fisherman’s Village) 16/16 Moo 1, Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84320 Tel: 077 430 030, 077 245 035 Free Parking!! Opposite the restaurant

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Tropical Pick August’s fruit of the month – the longan

There are small ones and there are big ones – some are even as big as your head. They come in lots of different shapes, too. Some of them look really weird, like something from another planet. Others – well, you’d probably not even notice if they were on the table in front of you. And, in Thailand, they’re everywhere you look. But they’ve all got one thing in common. Each and every one are fabulous to eat. It’s probably true to say that tropical fruit is generally much sweeter than its cousins from colder climes. And there’s far more variety in the tropics, too – and they can grow to much bigger sizes. But, as already mentioned, not all of them are big or gaudy. The longan, in fact, is very plain looking – a dull, matt beige colour. And it’s small, too: somewhere between half an inch and an inch across. And when you discover that this little, round fruit has a great big seed inside, it almost makes you wonder why people bother with it. I mean – by the time you’ve peeled it and pulled the seed out, there’s nothing like as much flesh as

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you thought you were going to get. But the answer to this one’s simple. It’s deliciously sweet, and mouth-wateringly juicy. It may surprise you to know that Thailand has very few fruits that were actually born and bred here. In fact, this is true of many countries. But in the late 16th century, European explorers began to travel the world – and new fruit trees and seeds were one of the things traded from one region to another. The longan was originally found growing in China, along with the lychee, which, once peeled, it closely resembles. And, 400 years ago, it found its way across to India and down to Indochina (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). It continued its travels to Hawaii, but, curiously, came to a halt, short of the Mexican border. No, nothing to do with bandits, but more with the hurricane season in the Florida region – longans just hate wind and rain. And it’s odd that it didn’t take kindly to South America, either – most

tropical fruits thrive in the warmer, northern countries. And one other strange thing - it grows very happily in Malaysia, but for some reason, completely refuses to bear any fruit there! One of the reasons that they are so popular in Thailand is that, (unlike the lychee) longans thrive in this climate, and produce prolific crops. In fact, the shabby little longan is Thailand's leading fruit export, beating even the durian and pommelo with the income that it generates. Although one of the names it’s known by in English is ‘dragon eye’, you’ll be much better understood in Thailand if you ask for it with its Thai name – lamyai pa. Or you could just point and smile – that usually works quite well. To go about eating one of these tropical delights, there’s no special technique. Simply peel it and nibble! Although experienced longan-eaters have mastered the art of tearing the leathery skin (with a fingernail) at the stem end, and then, by squeezing the opposite end firmly, popping-out

the whole fruit straight into their mouths. As with most fruits, the seeds are not eaten. And in this case, you wouldn’t want to – they’re so big! They’re actually very pretty – jet-black, round and shiny, and with a circular white spot at the base. It looks not unlike an eyeball – hence the name ‘dragon eye’. In the last few years, there’s been a growing awareness that many tropical plants contain substances that are curative or restorative. For example, dragon fruit contains lycopene. This is a natural anti-oxidant and it’s been proved to combat cancer, allay heart disease and lower blood pressure; mangosteens also contain a similar agent. And the bark, sap, or roots of many of the tropical fruit trees contain tannin and can be used to produce medicines, dyestuffs or perfumes. In the case of the longan it has been found to produce – nothing. You can eat it, and it’s great in a fruit salad – but that’s it. Although I did read somewhere that, in Vietnam, if you get

bitten by a snake, it is traditional to press the white eye of the seed against the puncture. On Samui, you’ll come across a fruit stall on just about every street. And it’s great fun to sample the local fruits, many of which you may not have seen outside a tin before. And, anyway, fruit tastes far better fresh, with no preservatives or additives. But don’t forget that fruit doesn’t have to be flashy to taste good. And it doesn’t have to be big, either. In fact, many exciting things come in small, brown packages!

Rob De Wet


Cultivating a Coffee Nation

Making the most of Thailand’s coffee beans with Boncafe. When you think of Thailand, what do you think of? Palm trees and coconuts? Beaches and cocktails? Diving and elephants? Do you think of coffee? No? Actually, demand for coffee beans is on the increase here in Thailand. According to government statistics, the total coffee plantation area in 1960 produced just 750 tons of coffee, and Thailand still had to import coffee to meet demands. Later, the Thai government started a campaign to promote coffee growth in Thailand and by 1976, Thailand had officially became a coffee exporting nation, selling more than 850 tons of coffee internationally. Statistics show that, in 2012, there was a 10% increase in the volume of coffee beans produced by Thailand compared to 2011. This is expected to rise to 12% in 2013. Statistics on coffee production in ASEAN countries in the 2011/2012 production year show that Thailand came third in terms of Robusta output, accounting for 1.7 percent of the global production. Not bad for a country famous for its beaches, food and coconuts! So with the industry thriving, who better to encourage and support its growth, but Boncafe, a Thai-Swiss, roast and ground gourmet coffee manufacturer. We spoke to Khun Thasanee

Thepwong, the Samui branch manager, and found out how Boncafe grow and produce their own coffees, and import, sell and service coffee machines. They offer a complete package of coffee equipment, technical after-sales service and coffee products to hotels, hospitals, restaurants, fast-food chains, clubs, golf courses and staff canteens. They have a roasting factory in Chonburi and foreign investments in both Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates. And they aren’t just passionate about coffee but are also a major producer of various types of powdered mixes, teas, fruit juice concentrates and dessert sauces. It doesn’t stop there either, Boncafe are also the official authorised distributor in Thailand for Torani syrups. With its headquarters in Bangkok, Boncafe has 12 branches all over Thailand, from Hat Yai in the south all the way to Chiang Mai in the north. Samui is lucky enough to have its own branch, which has just been renovated. As soon as you walk through the door, you smell the comforting aroma of freshly ground coffee. As you look around at the crisp, modern decor, you’ll see it’s a perfect match for all the shiny, silver coffee machines, percolators, espresso machines, grinders and cappuccinatores that are on display around the shop. These machines are all imported from Switzerland, and are the perfect match to

Boncafe’s various coffee blends, ensuring you end up with that perfect cup of your favourite brew. They also produce and sell coffee pods and coffee capsules for use in these machines. If you’re not a coffee connoisseur, then let’s start from the beginning. Coffee comes from the Coffea plant. Coffea is a genus of flowering plant whose seeds are the coffee beans that we know and love. The plant is native to tropical and southern Africa and Asia. There are two main plant species grown in the coffee industry Arabica and Robusta. Arabica accounts for roughly 75% of the world’s coffee while Robusta accounts for only 20%. The plants produce fruit called ‘cherries’ and it is inside these cherries that we find the magical coffee beans. Both Robusta and Arabica are grown commercially in Thailand for consumption. The Robusta variety thrives in lowland areas in the south and is easy to grow. It has a high caffeine content but no depth of flavour and for this reason, it is used primarily for instant or blended coffee. The Arabica variety is grown on the highlands in the north, as part of a government program to stamp out the opium crops. Here it thrives where the weather is cool, in comparison with the rest of the country. The best coffee is usually produced from Arabica beans, which is

roasted and made into fresh coffee. The coffee plant grows best at high elevations and cannot thrive in freezing temperatures. The two beans are mixed in different combinations to create different blends. Boncafe produce premium bean blends, classic bean blends and a catering blend. The blends come in bean form or as ready ground coffee. The roasting strength of these blends range from ‘very dark & strong’ to ‘very light’ and everything in between. They’ve managed to cater for almost every single coffee taste and you’re sure to find something that appeals to you (they even have decaffeinated coffees). If your tastes lie more with tea, don’t despair, they have a range of teas called ‘Bontea’ too. English breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, mint and even Rooibos from South Africa are all available. If chocolate is more to your taste, they’ve got that covered too.

Even though Thailand’s hot, sticky, weather is more conducive to iced coffees, with the ever-increasing western influence, demand for steaming hot lattes and cappuccinos is on the increase. But even while coffee production is increasing, the coffee industry itself in Thailand is still quite young with coffee consumption being less than half a kilo per person per year. So while you might not think of Thailand as a coffee producing nation, with Boncafe’s passion and expertise, more and more people will discover that coffee from Thailand can both surprise and satisfy them.

Colleen Setchell For further information, telephone 0 7742 7486-7 www.boncafe.co.th

Boncafe supply to restaurants and hotels but anyone can buy directly from the shop. All shops have a coffee bar attached where you can enjoy one of their many selections of coffee, tea or chocolate drinks. Or visit them just to check out their incredible latte art. Try their caramel latte with caramel syrup - it’s to die for!

Oyster Sunday Brunch Every week from Noon until 4 pm With it’s breathtaking views and unrivalled ambiance, RockPool is by far one of the most beautiful dining locations on Koh Samui. Resting on the rocks just two meters above the ocean, RockPool brings you the ultimate seaside dining experience. Sit back and enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon brunch or award winning tapas from British Chef David Lloyd’s decadent a la carte menu, while listening to the waves gently lapping the rocks below. This is one of the absolute “must do” dining experiences on the island, and is open for beautiful breakfasts, gourmet lunches and romantic dinners.

RESIDENCES SAMUI

Located between Chaweng and Choeng Mon.

Location in Thai: ÌҹÍÒËÒÃÃçͤ¾ÙÅ

µÑé§ÍÂÙ‹ÃÐËÇ‹Ò§ËÒ´à©Ç§áÅÐËÒ´àªÔ§Á¹

www.kandaresidences.com Reservations: 077 234 500 Free pick up on request www.siamwininganddining.com

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What ’s new at R Rocky’s show that you can improve a winning formula.

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Rocky’s? When you walk through the grounds at Rocky’s in Lamai, you can see they have a winning formula. Friendly, attentive staff; beautifully manicured gardens; pretty lanterns on the ground or hanging from the trees to light your path at night; an incredible beachside location and two wonderful restaurants. So why change anything? Because at Rocky’s, they are continually reviewing everything to make sure they provide the best for their guests. And clearly this has worked for them, because they won the ‘Traveller’s Choice 2013’ award from TripAdvisor. Rocky’s recently made the radical decision to swap their two restaurants around. Yes, it does sound major but in the end, each dining area has the decor and location better suited to the type of dining it provides. The restaurant down on the beach, with its relaxed ambiance, is better equipped to deal with the many themed nights the resort provides for their guests, and the restaurant higher up the resort with its modern, classy decor and poolside location is better placed for Rocky’s fine dining experience. The two restaurants at Rocky’s are The Bistro and The Dining Room. The names themselves conjure up images of what type of dining and cuisine can be enjoyed at each place.

Let’s start with The Bistro, located right on the beach and reaching out onto the famous rocks. This beautifully furnished restaurant, with its high ceilings and dark wood furniture, has a traditional Thai decor that is strongly influenced by Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Red glasses and candle vases dot the tables, and in the evenings the restaurant has a wonderful warm ambiance.

which is the ideal time to experience traditional Thai dancing and flavoursome Thai cuisine. If you enjoy seafood, come along on a Thursday to enjoy ‘Lobster Night’. Fridays are ‘Rustichella Pasta Night’ (I’ve heard that you can sample chocolate pasta - I’ve made a mental note). On Saturdays you can indulge in all day tapas and on Sunday, you’ll be treated to an ‘International BBQ Night’ with a cabaret show.

Lush green plants and small trees dotted around give the feeling that you’re still outside in the garden. You can also sit outside on the rocks and look out across a tranquil, private cove while a gentle sea breeze keeps you cool, and the waves ripple beside you. Beautiful fresh flowers are everywhere, on the tables, at the bar or in huge water-filled vats placed around the dining and outside pool area. The high ceiling gives the dining area a wonderful spacious feeling, while the decor, candles and lanterns keep it warm, relaxed and comfortable.

In contrast to the casual but lively atmosphere you’ll find in The Bistro, when you head up to The Dining Room, you’ll find a quieter, more elegant, serene atmosphere, conducive to fine dining. Situated next to a beautiful pool, you can relax in the outside bar area and perhaps enjoy one of the many cocktails or drinks on offer, while you wait to dine. If you’re curious about how your food is prepared, they have an open kitchen area here where you can view exactly what is going on ‘behind the scenes’. Watch the chef work his magic or how the staff prepare the ornately cut vegetables.

Each night they have a different theme in The Bistro so the guests can sit back, enjoy their meal and take in a variety of different foods, music, entertainment and atmosphere. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, they can enjoy live music. Tuesday nights are ‘Thai Night’

The classic, modern decor here is very different to The Bistro downstairs. Simple, clean cut, contemporary designs - there are no shows here, no cabaret, and no themed nights. Just fine dining.

Rocky’s is also fast establishing itself as a prime location for weddings. If you search on the web for ‘weddings Samui’, Rocky’s will come up in one of the top positions. As soon as you’ve booked, their wedding co-ordinator will look after everything for you. They are able to conduct Christian, non-secular or Buddhist-style weddings, each completely customisable because after all, this is your day - they know that and want to make it as special as possible. Rocky’s can cater for up to 60 guests in their banqueting room but if you have a bigger party, they will also utilise The Bistro restaurant just for you and your party. Their wedding packages include the ceremony, full decoration, bouquets, buttonholes, floral arches, sparkling wine and canapés for guests. The honeymoon suite, ideally located in the quiet, far corner of the resort will be decorated with flowers, candles and a bottle of sparkling wine. Here you’ll have a beach wedding with a difference. It won’t be on a public beach with people tanning nearby. No, you have a beautifully secluded private patch of beach, around the side of the resort, partly surrounded by huge granite rocks. It has a view of the stunning azure seas of the Gulf of Thailand which makes this the ideal spot to exchange vows with your loved one. The whole area will

be completely transformed - soft material draped over chairs, a walkway, hearts in the sand made from flower petals, a floral arch anything to create just the magical setting that you want. Due to the ever-increasing popularity of this spot, make sure you do book well in advance to avoid any disappointment. They say when you’re at Rocky’s, you’re family and it’s so easy to see why. The resort offers a wonderful escape from reality, and the staff truly looks after you. That’s why so many people return. They’re not just returning to visit a hotel they liked, they’re returning to catch up with family.

Colleen Setchell For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7723 3020 www.rockyresort.com

Pure Asian Experience

Monday Beach Barbeque Held in front of Chom Dao beach restaurant, the buffet comprises a wonderful selection of fresh seafood such as prawns, fish and squid, as well as grilled and roasted meat including New Zealand Lamb and Australian Beef, plus sushi, salads, main dishes and delicious desserts. Only 1,100 THB per person. Children under 12 half price. Children under 6 free.

178/2 Moo 1, Tambon Bophut, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand, 84320 Tel: +66 (0) 7724 5795 www.bandarasamui.com E-mail: stay@bandarasamui.com Hotline reservation 089-653-6199, 084-357-9597

www.siamwininganddining.com 11


Dining From Your

Beach Towel You’ll never go hungry at the beach on Samui.

You’ve been counting down the days, ticking off each one, getting closer to your tropical island holiday. Finally, it arrived and today has been declared your ‘do nothing but lie on a beach towel’ day. Can you really do nothing but lie on your towel all day? Won’t you get hungry? Well, let’s find out. During the day, most beaches are full of various beach vendors selling everything from beach balls to grilled chicken. Eating from these vendors is not for those who are looking for sophisticated or fancy cuisine. This food is simple, carefully and sometimes cleverly prepared, and always very tasty. You might not like the smell of grilled chicken alongside the smell of coconut sun tan oil, but for these vendors this is their livelihood and probably their only source of income, so do give them a chance. A quick check for cleanliness will ensure you don’t end up wasting a day of your holiday ‘confined to your quarters’. After you’ve set up on the beach, you won’t have

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away from you on the sand. She has chicken pieces on sticks grilling on a small barbecue in one of her baskets. She has a little dish of sticky brown marinade and is basting the chicken using a small paintbrush. She must be a regular on this beach judging from the queue of people already forming.

to wait long to notice the food vendors. Covered from head to toe in long clothes and large hats with neck coverings to protect them from their day-long sun exposure, they carry their suspended double-baskets attached to a long pole over their shoulders with practised ease. And you’ll be surprised what you can find in those baskets!

But the sun takes its toll and after a while you’re thirsty. Sitting up you realise you have a huge choice of vendors. The hot weather ensures that these guys have booming businesses. Do you go for a standard fizzy drink, a beer or enjoy the tropical island specialty of chilled coconut juice from an actual coconut? Hey, you’re on holiday, go for all three!

Where do you begin? How about some fresh, ripe mango and juicy pineapple? One of most popular things sold on the beaches is fresh fruit. Often pineapples in one basket and mangoes, a container for the skins, knives and a chopping board in the other basket. The vendor will peel and chop your pineapple quicker than you can slice an apple, and you’ll have the option of a chilli/salt/sugar mix to go with it. Your mango will be peeled, sliced and placed in a plastic bag with lightning speed. Now you can lie back and relax and continue to top up your tan knowing you’re well on your way to consuming your ‘five-a-day’.

As you lie back down, the unmistakable smell of grilled corn-on-the-cob wafts your way. You sip your coconut juice as you scan the beach for the source and finally you find it. A woman with one basket full of ears of corn and a complete barbecue (yes, really!) in the other, smouldering coals and all. This is worth leaving your towel for. You wander over and order not one but two deliciously sweet, golden, grilled corn-on-the-cobs.

A young man walks past with dried squid draped over a grid. You decide to pass on that for today. A woman selling small donuts catches your eye and you smile. How can you not eat donuts? After buying a few, she grins and wishes you a nice day and she’s off again already smiling at her next customer. The donuts are sweet and delicious, and while you are enjoying these, another vendor with chicken satay strolls past and is stopped by a group of people that rush over to him - must be another regular.

Back at your towel, you’re happily munching on your corn when another delicious smell stops you. Is that barbecued chicken? Another older lady, with a huge smile, has set up a few metres

Looking for something spicy after the donut, you discover an old lady selling traditional Thai spicy green papaya salad (som tam). Finely sliced green papaya, green beans and cherry tomatoes

covered with a mashed juice of garlic, chillies, brown sugar and lime juice. She has all the ingredients in her two baskets, the knives, the containers full of grated papaya and even the pestle and mortar. Finally to finish off a rather strenuous day, you call over a young boy selling ice creams. His English is really good and he chats away asking where you’re from and how long you’re staying. He attends school during the week and makes money selling ice-creams on the weekend. How different life is here. So we now know. It’s impossible to go hungry on the beach unless you are a vegetarian with a fruit and vegetable allergy! Don’t miss out, support these friendly vendors and enjoy some true tastes of Thailand.

Colleen Setchell


Style and taste on the same plate

Enjoy some playful plating at RockPool.

Perched on huge rocks right on the edge of the beautiful blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, sits the spacious decking of RockPool restaurant. It is found in Kanda Residences, which is just a five minute drive north of Chaweng. ‘Kanda’ in Native American means ‘magical powers’, in Hindu it means ‘wise person’. It’s even been translated as ‘godly, heavenly peace’. In Thai, it means ‘beloved’. Whichever translation you choose, there is something very special about this beautiful location. The private beach is lit up at night and white fairy lights are strung around the railings on the decking. Whether you sit here or further up inside the actual restaurant overlooking the pool and bay, is up to you. In either location, you’ll be able to indulge in some good, honest food that not only tastes great, but looks stylish too. The person with this seemingly huge responsibility is David Lloyd, Executive Chef at RockPool. David was thrown in at the deep end when he started in mid-December last year, just before the Christmas rush. But, bringing with him a wealth of experience from his many years working in kitchens all over Europe and Australia (as well as three different Michelin-starred restaurants), David sailed through the busy festive season and settled into his new home with the minimum of fuss. David’s experience of being a chef and running his own London-based catering company meant

he had experience of dealing with high volumes of people. 2,000 festival-goers has been his biggest event so far. But soon he sought to have his own restaurant, and started researching places and options, spending time trying to find the right place to make his mark. As fate would have it, he and his family were holidaying on Samui and were enjoying lunch at RockPool. They ended up chatting to the chef who was moving on and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. RockPool already had a great reputation so David didn’t change much but some tweaking and updating were required in order for him to stamp his personal style on the restaurant and kitchen. He has a kitchen team of 12 who have accepted him and his new way of doing things, and they are continuously developing together into the great team that you’ll find there today. David has a very relaxed way of running his restaurant. He is humble and modest, even with his impressive past experience. He is always keen for guests to understand where the food has come from and perhaps why a particular dish has been combined in a certain manner. He is very open to feedback, and happily interacts with the customers and encourages discussions about food and wine. He even replies to comments on TripAdvisor, with an honest, open approach. He also makes sure all his staff understand the

ingredients and tastes involved with his dishes so they can explain, if need be, to the guests how eat them. For instance, the different ingredients making up the ‘Miang Trio’ on the dinner menu need to be eaten together to fully appreciate the layers of flavour. If you were to taste just one ingredient on its own, you’d be confused and disappointed. Taste them together and your mouth will be forever grateful. Smoking at the table is not permitted in most areas of the restaurant, unless you order the Scottish salmon starter, which is served in a glass bowl filled with applewood smoke. The waiter serves the dish by releasing the smoke from the bowl revealing wild rocket, pickled mushrooms and slices of home cured salmon. David was born and raised in England, and admits that even though he is fascinated with the Thai people’s obvious love of food, he does sometimes miss the comfort foods of his home country. And you can sometimes see it sneaking through in various dishes on the daily featured dishes menu. Dishes such as Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese with black truffle, crispy pork belly and if you’re a fan of Scotch eggs back home, you’ll find a slight variation of them here with Thai curry paste and lime leaf mixed into the sausage meat. If lamb is something you crave, grilled lamb chops are part of the tapas menu, which means you can sample other dishes too. Cooked pink to

perfection, tender and tasty, with mint, yoghurt and pomegranate molasses. Delicious! David is very passionate about his cooking and the food he serves. He appreciates style and flair in both cooking and serving, but is adamant that this has to be backed up by good flavours. What good is a dish that looks fancy but disappoints after the first mouthful? He loves playing with textures, and this shows through in some of the meals on offer. A signature dish, ‘Crackle Prawns’ found on the tapas menu, is king prawns covered in dehydrated pork skin which has been grated and used as a coating instead of the usual breadcrumbs. When this dish is brought to your table, if you listen carefully, you can actually hear the crackling sound. Your first bite will be a savoury, crispy crunch followed by a tender, succulent prawn. The yuzu mayonnaise served on the side adds a creamy element which complements the crunchy prawns perfectly. Other items on the dinner menu have great colours and textures which bring the dishes to life. Pickled purple shallots, Parma ham wafer crisps, potato tubes and even ice globes are used to present the dishes.

locally, he is somewhat limited living on an island. He needs to import some ingredients, ensuring guests get the best produce available and uses local markets when he can. He does however, use the sea vegetables and edible flowers from the gardens around the restaurant you can’t get much more local than that. So if you’re after stylish food which is full of flavours and textures, but without being pretentious, head over to RockPool, book your table, sit back and relax and enjoy your meal. Unless it’s his day off, David is sure to pop over and say hello!

Colleen Setchell For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7723 4500 www.rockpoolsamui.com

RockPool is open from 7:00 am and last orders in the restaurant are taken at 10:00 pm. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner here - classic, simple dishes made from quality ingredients. As much as David would like to source everything

Enjoy your lunch or spectacular sunset dinner at the open air Pavilion restaurant overlooking the sea and the intimate atmosphere of a small luxury villa resort. Authentic Thai and international cuisine and wines. Join us for a relaxed and unforgetable dining experience!

Open daily from 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. (ask for free pick-up service) Santi Beach – Lipanoi Tel: 077-420008 – Fax: 077-420009 e-mail: samui@siamresidence.com www.siamresidence.com

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Skin Flicks

To dress or not to dress? Just how easy-going are Samui’s shops and restaurants? It’s all a matter of perception. We’re walking a thin line here. A step to one side and everything’s okay. But go the other way and sirens sound and whistles blow (occasionally the ones attached to policemen). And nothing’s ever simple – especially when it comes to matters of good taste and acceptability. Plus, on top of all this, there are several more twists. One is the fact that on Samui we’re walking around in a culture that’s not our own. Another is that what’s disgusting to a pensioner might not rate a second glance from his/her grandchild. The easy way is to shrug and mutter that it’s ‘horses for courses’. But, when it comes down to it, it’s all really about attitude – combined with a degree of general awareness. In other words, are you the sort of person who couldn’t care less about dining in your swimwear?

I said it wasn’t simple. Because that’s equally true about going shopping, too. Or walking about in public, say, along Chaweng Beach Road. In virtually what amounts to your underwear. Or does it? You see there’s another set of concepts woven into this. Underwear is . . . well, underwear! It’s personal and intimate. A bikini is not. You’ll cheerfully wear it in public. And yet both display the same amount of skin. So what’s the difference?

As I said, it’s all a matter of perspective. To illustrate this, take a parallel example (although one you won’t often see on Samui). Women who like to sunbathe topless. A woman goes to the beach modestly attired. She then sits on a towel and takes off her top. She pops into the water to cool off, topless, walking across a crowded beach to do so, and returns topless to her towel. After a while she gets up and goes for a drink in the nearby beach café, just ten feet away. But she puts her bikini top on to do this. When she’s done she then moves ten feet away back to the sand and takes her top off again in full view of the café and all its customers. And when the sun starts to set she covers herself before she leaves the beach to go back to her resort. Why does this happen? What’s the code? Where can I get a look at the rules?

I still don’t actually know the answer to that one. It’s puzzled me for decades. I’d love to project a wise and all-knowing persona but I’m still struggling. Maybe it’s a male/female thing, genetically coded and connected to subliminal messages. Who knows? (My wife was never able to explain the workings to me.) And that’s just keeping things nice and neat, and within a

culture where this is accepted. If the same woman were to do this on a beach in a Muslim country . . . even a one-piece swimsuit would quickly attract a circle of panting, yet angry and derisive, males – but that’s another story. The whole thing is really quite complex.

So let’s try to dumb it down a bit and keep it as simple as possible – Samui-wise. And let’s pop in another amusing parallel – that of smelly fruit. The durian is a fruit which “. . . tastes like heaven yet stinks like a boatload of dead mermaids”. You might adore durian. You may well carry some with you everywhere you go, just for nibbles. But it stinks. It’s on a par with my grandad’s breath before he had his teeth done. And it would be equally as unpleasant to have a conversation next to grandad George at the bar in a pub as it would be to spend 30 seconds in a lift (elevator) with a durian lover. Which is why hotels in durian growing countries ban them from the premises. And – keeping two concepts going at the same time – it’s also why Samui’s big wholesale supermarket, Makro, is now displaying notices everywhere telling everyone to please dress appropriately. And if you’re not quite sure what this means, there’s a big X over the image of a bikini on the poster.

A Unique Koh Samui Experience at The Farmer Th Farmer Restaurant & Bar is the only restaurant on Samui offering a unique The na natural ambience, set amid paddy fields and green meadows. It is perfect for a re relaxed lunch, or dinner under the twinkling stars.

Brownie points for Makro. I’m sick of going shopping and jostling with tattooed 6-pack skinheads and healthy blonde couples and big momma wobble bottoms in their ‘underwear’ next to me at the checkout. Or swimwear. It’s the same thing when it comes to attitude. (My wife disagrees, although she’d never go shopping in either.) Yes – this is a laid-back-beach-resort destination. Yes – it’s an everyday thing to sit in a beach bar and snack and sip in your swimwear. But going shopping in your Speedos? Going dining in your doo-doos? Come on! Tune in and get with it! As soon as you get to that crumbly-concrete bit of the path that joins the smooth tarmac of the main road, change your clothes – hopefully before. A nun in a church is nice. A naked nun in a church is not nice. Can I parallel it any better?

It’s nothing at all to do with aesthetics. A muscular hunk or toned tanned blonde will attract admiring glances on the beach, in the same way a natty nun will in a cathedral. But shift them into a different context and all becomes not well. And then you have to add to that the very tolerant, yet sensitive, sensibilities of the Thai people. The temples won’t abide uncovered flesh. It’s

disrespectful. The government offices and banks won’t accept it - it’s not only inappropriate, it’s rude! And even on the street I’ve seen grown men on motorbikes drive into trees, rubbernecking at sauntering bikinis. It’s simply the wrong place for it, dammit! I have to say, though, that this kind of thing never happens in good restaurants. And by that I mean the quality ones. Not the beach places where you’re in and out of the sea and the restaurant – not even the 5-star ones. But, come sundown, people automatically adjust and then seem to like to take a pride in presenting themselves in a different light. They shower-off the sun cream and slip on the glad-rags. It’s somehow instinctive. (Would you dream of going to the office wearing beachwear?) There are people who will disagree. But to them I’d say just this – didn’t your parents teach you any better? The way you’re walking around, you might as well be in a skin flick!

Rob De Wet

k k Duc Duc .1 Tasty s ’ r e s No

Farm Samui’ ed Vot

Vis Visit The Farmer and experience the real meaning of “Back to Nature” whilst en enjoying the best of local Thai, Western and seafood dishes.

Farmer’s Duck

Exclusive Lunch Promotion at The Farmer

Pizza Margherita

Crispy fried duck served with herb sauce, rice, gourd soup, fresh tropical fruit, 1 bottle of water. 299 Baht

12:00-15:00 daily

1 scoop ice cream, 1 bottle of water. 250 Baht

The Farmer Restaurant & Bar 1/26 Moo 4, Maenam, Koh Samui Tel: 077 447 222, 077 247 979, 083 092 2632 www.thefarmerrestaurantsamui.com email: info@thefarmerrestaurantsamui.com Free transfer for dinner guests Nathon - Maenam - Bophut. Other areas 300 Baht return. Для гостей из районов Nathon - Maenam - Bophut - трансфер бесплатный. Гостям из других районов острова мы возвращаем 300 батт от стоимости такси. 14 www.siamwininganddining.com

TOP TEN 2011 www.tripadvisor.com


Master Class Samui Buri offers cooking classes in a unique setting.

Thinking of trying a cooking class while on Samui? Well, there’s no better location than Samui Buri Beach Resort. This impressive resort, constructed in traditional Royal Thai architecture with a striking blood-red pitched roof, is set in manicured tropical gardens that lead down to a pristine beach at Maenam’s northern end. Class takes place next to a secluded sala in the garden, where Head Chef, Khun Suraporn Munyeun (Pon), guides wannabe chefs through the paces of cooking Thai food. Rather than being in the steamy kitchen, a table is set up outside where you’re cooled by the breeze as you learn the ins and outs of Thai cooking. Chef Pon has been working as head chef at Samui Buri since 2007, after starting his culinary career in 1979, working his way up, learning on the job and via mentors along the way. He’s now keen to pass on his extensive knowledge and passion of Thai food to Samui residents and visitors to the island, by way of his fun and laid-back, yet informative cooking classes. The intimate cooking classes can be set up for two to ten people, making a great way to pass the afternoon for a group of friends or family. In fact, PR Manager, Khun Nisa, says that they often have children cooking with their parents too. And of course, enjoying the fruits of your labour at the private dining table under the sala afterwards is very rewarding too. A portable cooking station is set up in the shade of large trees, and Chef Pon starts by explaining the Thai ingredients to his students. You’ll smell, taste and feel all the ingredients before you start cooking; enabling you to understand what makes Thai food so unique. It also makes finding the ingredients back home a lot easier, as you’ll be able to recognise them at Asian markets. This is by no means a demonstration, but rather an active class where the students participate as much as possible. Chef Pon will show you how to chop, slice and dice, but then it’s up to you to do. He encourages you to taste sauces as you go along, adding more spice, salt or stock as needed, so again, when you recreate the dish at home, you’ll know just what to do. Classes are generally held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a different four-dish menu each day. But they are flexible on this, and if a guest is only available on a different day, or prefers another menu – perhaps their favourite Thai dish – then Khun Nisa and Chef Pon will oblige. Monday’s menu consists of Thai fish cakes, spicy and sour soup with prawns (tom yum goong), chicken green curry and stir-fried beef with black pepper sauce. Chicken lovers may

prefer Wednesday’s menu of fried chicken with cashew nuts, chicken red curry, chicken and coconut milk soup (tom kha gai) and spicy papaya salad (som tum). Friday’s cooks make Thai favourites of phad Thai, chicken massaman curry, chicken satays and spicy glass-noodle salad. There’s no need to frantically take notes in order to be able to remember the many ingredients and how to prepare the dishes. At the end of the lesson, cooks are presented with a CD with recipes showing detailed instructions as well as photos, and even a reminder of what the ingredients are with pictures next to the local herbs and spices. And they also receive a certificate signed by the chef to proudly display in their kitchen when they get home. Chef Pon is a great teacher and explains each step as he goes along, and before you know it you’re feeling relaxed and enjoying cooking Thai food like an old pro. Although generally most Thai dishes are quick to make, the class lasts about an hour and a half as you’re doing all the prep work as well as the cooking. As the class starts at 2:00 pm, this means you’ll enjoy a late lunch in the garden under the sala, along with some chilled water and a complimentary glass of wine. There’s no rush, so you can make an afternoon of it and enjoy the solitude in this peaceful part of the garden. The best part is that classes are a mere 1,500 baht per person all inclusive – not bad considering you’re getting a four-course meal and a glass of wine with that. And if you’re the creative type and are interested in Thai arts and culture, a fruit and vegetable carving class is new to the list of activities on offer at Samui Buri. Here, simple fruit and vegetables such as watermelon, carrots and papaya are transformed into beautiful sculptures with a few flicks of the knife. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that – but with the guidance of a professional carver, you’ll learn a few tricks of the trade and be able to impress guests at your next dinner party. So if you’re looking for a great way to spend the afternoon, and want a lasting memory and skill to take home with you, why not give Chef Pon’s cooking class or the fruit and vegetable carving class a try. They say you’re never too old to learn – or too young for that matter!

Rosanne Turner For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7744 7275 www.samuiburi.com

Weddings, Celebrations, Parties & Honeymoons River Prawn Tom Yum

Rock Lobster

Sunset Dining in Spectacular Surrounds Enjoy breathtaking sunsets while discovering our culinary delights at The Terrace, one of Koh Samui’s best beachfront dining destinations. A holiday or a visit to The Passage would not be complete without sampling the food at The Terrace. Nestled on the beach, this majestic open-air restaurant affords diners a perfect view of the spectacular sunset over Laem Yai Bay and the distant islands.

Sea Food Taco

Lamb Chop

Beef Lasagna

Phuket Lobster Thermidor

Carbonara Pizza

This epicurean dining nirvana serves up the finest catches from the sea so our guests can feast like kings. Pay homage to our specialty – the royal triumvirate of lobster, tiger prawn and oysters. Engage your senses as Executive Chef Moo takes you on a culinary journey, and discover the flavours that resonate in Thai-European fusion cuisine.

The Passage is not just a resort. It’s also a great location for weddings and honeymoons. The resort offers specially designed packages to suit your personal style and budget. So come and experience the wedding of a lifetime at The Passage Koh Samui.

The Passage Samui Villas & Resort Laem Yai Beach Reservations 077 421 721 www.thepassagesamui.com www.siamwininganddining.com

15


Choosing to be Healthy

Rediscov ering the re al taste of food with Pura Organic. Would you willingly choose to eat chemicals? Do you really know what’s in the pesticides that are used on the crops that eventually end up on your dinner table? What if you had a choice? What if you could eat food that you knew hadn’t come into contact with anything synthetic or toxic, and that had been grown in a natural environment free from chemicals? The truth is you can - with Pura Organic. So what is ‘organic’? The term has been thrown around for many years, but do you know what it actually means? There are various definitions around but basically the term is used when referring to farming or food, and means that nothing synthetic, such as pesticides or chemical fertilisers have been used anywhere near that food. When your body isn’t trying to process, filter and eliminate chemicals, it’s better able to use the nutrients in that food. Ironically, the term ‘organic’ when used scientifically, refers to any class of molecules that contain carbon, so everything that is edible, including most pesticides and toxins, is also organic. Therefore the term is somewhat incorrectly applied to farming and food production, but is used nonetheless. It is a heavily regulated industry and most countries will require producers to obtain a special certification before labelling and marketing food as ‘organic’ within that country’s borders. Pura Organic Foods Ltd is located on Phuket and is managed by Martin Smetsers. Originally from Rotterdam, Martin grew up enjoying and appreciating organic produce from a local farm. He told us that organic food has had a place in his life ever since, and from his experience and knowledge it certainly sounds like Pura Organic is in very good hands. He is passionate about all things organic and will happily answer any questions you have or explain any concept you’re unfamiliar with. He talks about organic produce with obvious passion, “Eating organic eases the energy required for the digestive system, liver, kidneys

etc., allowing this energy to be used to heal and make you feel better.” Sounds good to me! Pura Organic started two and a half years ago. The first year and a half was spent sourcing the best possible products to fit in with their mission statement and ethos. They are now associated with a certified organic farm and resort, Thanyamundra in Khao Sok, and they buy the farms’ entire production. The farm itself started over six years ago and is now well-established. They produce organic vegetables, herbs and fruits and also organic chicken and therefore organic eggs. The chickens are all free-range, and only ready for consumption after six months when they are lean and an ideal weight for eating. You won’t find any growth hormones or antibiotics here - just 100% natural, tasty chicken. They also stock organic milk, yoghurts, unsalted butter and many super-foods which are normally very hard to come by in local supermarkets. Some of their bestselling organic products are their lettuce, wild rocket, tomatoes, passion fruit and eggs. They offer a home delivery service for private clients and deliver regularly to Samui in the form of a ‘Weekly Seasonal Fresh Organic Box’. You have a choice between medium and large boxes. Offered at a discount from the shop prices, these boxes are filled with a selection of seasonal organic produce such as vegetables, fruits and herbs and you even have the chance to add milk, yoghurt, chicken or eggs. During the high season, products are delivered by air and during the low season, all deliveries come by road. Understanding their customers and today’s focus on weight loss and detox, they have recently introduced a new range of juicers and blenders. This is an ideal way for everyone to introduce more fruits, herbs and vegetables into their diet. They offer a ‘Juice Box’ which is a slight variation on the vegetable and fruit boxes and contains products that work

particularly well for juicing. You might find some surprises in there when you read about pak choy, asparagus, sweet potato and radish! Pura Organic now has over 90 suppliers of both fresh and dried products and over 1,000 organic products in their database. They travel all over Thailand trying to discover dedicated organic farmers with an organic heart and mind to act as new suppliers. Because demand for organic produce is increasing in Thailand, Pura have a growing number of clients on Samui. Hotels, spas, health centres, health shops and restaurants that recognise the nutritional and health benefits of organic food, not to mention the taste, are starting to buy more and more. Even chefs are praising the taste, saying things like ‘it is like back home’. If an experienced chef can taste the difference, then you know it’s got to be good! Pura do regular business with ten major resorts on the island and are actively involved in promoting the health (and taste) benefits of organic food. They recently sponsored some events of the Samui Culinary Circle which gave more companies a chance to be introduced to their products. Why not give them a try and discover for yourself just how easy it is to enjoy quality organic food.

Colleen Setchell For further information, telephone 0 7631 3363 www.puraorganic.org

Authentic Thai Cuisine California Cuisine Succulent BBQ Seafood 16 www.siamwininganddining.com


Samui’s Own Wild West The Filipino band, sporting cowboy hats, boots and checked shirts, enthusiastically sings their rendition of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, as the crowd cheers them on. At the same time, delicious aromas of meat on the grill waft from the buffet, where the chefs are preparing beef, lamb, chicken and pork to order – cowboy style.

Nora Buri brings a touch of fun to Monday nights, with their Cowboy Steak Night.

Where is this? Well, Nora Buri Resort & Spa’s ‘The Barge’ restaurant takes on a Wild West theme on Monday evenings, adding a fun element to this fine-dining restaurant for both hotel residents and outside guests. The Barge is an impressive building, with its imposing angular roof looking like, as the name suggests, a barge ready to plough into the ocean. The restaurant is spread over three floors – on the first floor you’ll find the fine-dining restaurant and beachside dining, sprawled across the terrace overlooking the ocean, flowing onto the beach and around the pool. And this is where the themed evenings are held (if it rains, there’s a ‘plan B’). The second floor is reserved for special events and private functions and the top floor, the Rice Barge, serves authentic Thai cuisine. In-house guests won’t be bored at Nora Buri, with three different themed evenings each week. Aside from Monday’s Cowboy Steak Night (more on that shortly), there’s also a seafood barbecue on Wednesday evenings, with the full spectrum of both local and imported seafood on offer, and Thursdays celebrate a Thai-themed buffet. Chatting to General Manager, Khun Chanupong, and Director of Food and Beverage, Khun Chalermkiat, they revealed that it’s important to the Nora group of hotels that they showcase local culture to the guests. The four Nora hotels are owned by a Samui family, and the top managers are all Thai – proud of their heritage and culture, and keen to share it with guests. Nora means ‘beautiful dancer’ in Thai according to Khun Chanupong, and it refers to a Southern style of dancing. All themed evenings include an impressive show, with not only the hotel’s in-house

band, but also traditional Thai dancing as well as a cabaret show by ‘beauty boys’ – we dare you to try and guess which performers are lady boys (Thailand’s third gender), they’re so beautiful and gracious it’s nearly impossible to tell!

And somehow, no matter how full, there’s always space for dessert. Again the spread is fit for a ravenous cowboy, with ice-cream, cream brûlée, vanilla-cream filled puffs and plenty more to tempt a sweet tooth.

On Cowboy Steak Night, the music is upbeat, and the vibe festive. The show is also more light-hearted with a tongue-in-cheek approach, as the lady boys lip-synch to disco and country & western classics. And specially for the Korean guests, there’s a great cover of ‘Gangnam Style’! It’s hard not to get the shoulders lifting and feet tapping with the rest of the crowd, and even the staff!

Dinner starts at 7:00 pm, and stops when you are too full to manage any more! Don’t rush, stop and enjoy the entertainment between servings and let the food settle before heading back to the buffet to reload. As with all Nora Buri’s themed evenings, the cost is 1,190 baht per person net, not bad when you consider the spread, the setting and the entertainment.

As great as the atmosphere is on Cowboy Steak Night, it’s not just about a themed setting, and the food is worthy of mention too. Now cowboys generally aren’t big on salads, but this salad bar will tempt even the most wayward cowboy to eat their greens. Make up your own salad from an assortment of ingredients and dressings, and top it off with smoked salmon, chicken breast slivers, olives and cheeses. Or try the chef’s asparagus and egg salad, chicken curry and mayo salad, Caesar salad and potato salad, all accompanied by a selection of breads and crackers. But be sure to only line your stomach, as there’s a cowboys’ feast to follow… Heading to the grill, guests will find chefs manning the barbecue to cook meat to their liking. Choose from marinated chicken, kebabs, beef steaks, roast lamb and pork fillets, and there’s plenty to accompany that on the buffet too. Here you’ll find side dishes such as spiced rice, sautéed potatoes, grilled corn-on-the-cob and sautéed mixed vegetables in butter. Other specialities include king prawns prepared thermidor-style, pork loin with a mushroom sauce, and grilled fish fillet with a lemon and caper sauce. As if that’s not enough, move on to roast chicken in a barbecue sauce, a beef lasagne as well as braised beef goulash. And if there’s space, enjoy the soup of the day, or visit the pasta station.

The Barge’s location is spectacular – a small cove cocooned by boulders and secluded, as the only access is via the resort meaning guests and diners can enjoy privacy. The beach forms a stage, and the ocean with a small island in the bay is the perfect backdrop for the entertainment. And anyone looking for a romantic interlude to celebrate a special occasion can have a private table set up on the beach – they’ll only ever do one of these on a night, so you’re guaranteed to feel special. Choose from several set menus and dig your toes in the sand while watching the moon over the bay, enjoying a glass of wine and a delicious meal by candlelight. So if you’re after a different night out on Samui as well as a bit of fun, give The Barge a try on a Monday evening. Bring your cowboy appetite and a sense of humour for the entertainment. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, and as the cowboys say, “Grub’s up!”

Rosanne Turner For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7791 3555 www.noraburiresort.com

www.siamwininganddining.com

17


(Don’t) Put a Cork in it!

Why won’t wine corks die?

Most wine enthusiasts I know would agree that the cork-versus-screw-cap debate was settled long ago. Screw caps are undoubtedly superior to corks for keeping wine in good condition. Put simply, the screw cap’s seal is far more reliable and there is no danger of wine becoming corked, with the unpleasant musty taste, likened to wet dog, which is caused by tainted cork. However, it has just been announced that a new style of wine cork, which screws into the bottle, is being unveiled. The “Helix” as it’s to be called, is opened with just a twist of the hand. No corkscrew is necessary as the top of the bottle has a thread inside. I have to admit that my first reaction to this news was, why bother? And for me, it further raises the whole question of why the traditional kind of cork continues to dominate in much of the wine world anyway. Now I fully understand that the glass bottle and cork combination for wine is thought to have started in the 17th century, and is therefore steeped in tradition and history. But I believe it’s the wine inside the bottle that matters most, and newer materials exist today

that are better suited for sealing a bottle than cork. I can see an out-dated argument that the humble cork adds some glamour to the otherwise mundane act of opening a bottle of wine. But many traditionalists have an irrational, over-sentimental attachment to wine corks, which has hindered (what should have been) the smooth passage of the screw cap. Many people predicted that by 2015 screw caps would dominate the wine industry. But in Europe and the US the cork still stubbornly remains king, which is more than a little puzzling. Wine has become democratic and modern, with prices and drinking styles to suit everyone, so why hasn't the closure method evolved? One clue as to cork’s refusal to die, might well be that Portugal, where most of the world's corks are harvested, has been aggressively promoting its usage. And has successfully fought back against the chemical compound trichloroanisole (TCA), one of the most common causes of tainted corks. Also, there is the theory that more expensive wines age better with more oxygen, which cork closure provides. (Sometimes too much so, ruining the wine). But there is certainly no consensus of

opinion on this amongst wine experts. Some believe the supposition that the slow passage of air through the porous cork helps wine age, and develop a bouquet, is a myth. And in fact, screw-capped wine will still age well - the ullage (or air gap) takes care of that. After all, if twist offs are good enough for $200 bottles of Scotch whisky, then why not $20 bottles of wine? Progressive wine experts prefer the hermetic seal produced by screw caps precisely because it ensures the wine is not going to be faulty. If you really must have cork, and consider the Helix to be the answer, it’s worth remembering what it doesn't have - the suspenseful turning of the corkscrew followed by deft flick of the wrist (or undignified pull between the legs), and the ‘voila’ moment as cork comes free from bottle. Although, why should any knowledgeable person be remotely embarrassed about opening up a screw cap in front of guests. Indeed, why should any wine lover be ashamed of demonstrating that they really cared for their pleasure in the wine? Obviously for the old-school wine drinker, cultural expectations (and dare I say it… wine snobbery) are at play, and go a long way to

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explaining why big players in the wine industry would even contemplate producing a hand-screw cork. After all, the screw cap already exists. Somewhat amazingly, market research has shown that 90% of consumers in the US and 80% in France still prefer cork stoppers. The new Helix cork is similar to those found in sherry bottles, except without the plastic layer on top. The cork fits snuggly back into the bottle, unlike plastic stoppers or tougher less spongy corks. (But connoisseurs will know that the only way of keeping wine drinkable for the following day is to vacuum pump it.) The makers say it will be in European shops within two years, but also hope to grab a piece of the fast growing Chinese market, which has overtaken the UK to become the world's fifth biggest. Wine is all about tradition in China. French imports account for 50% of the Chinese market, and cork is what consumers expect.

does. The more money he spends, the more ritual he wants for his buck. And that includes the corkscrew ceremony. After splashing out on a bottle of Pomerol or St Emilion, some people can’t help but feel they have been robbed if it opens the same way as a large bottle of Coke. The crack of a screw top is just not the same as the pop of a wine cork. I suppose the cork does have one other trump card, it grows on trees. It fits with wine’s earthiness, of no two bottles being quite the same. The French use the word ‘terroir’ to sum up this almost spiritual sense of local distinctiveness. A metal top guarantees consistency. But for the traditionalist it will never offer the joy of sniffing a fragrant, tannin stained cork. Even if there is a one in ten chance of it having infected the contents with harmful bacteria, or even worse, allowed the wine to oxidize!

Peter James

Wine is still an enigma, full of character and romance. And this dubious Helix innovation shows there is more to wine than reliability. But I’m not sure it will meet the criteria of the wine romanticist any more than the screw cap

Free flow delicious THApas (Thai Fusion Tapas) paired with 2 glasses of fine wines

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T 077 960 567 E info@TheSeaSamui.com W TheSeaSamui.com TheSeaSamui 7/64 Moo 5, Bang Por, Mae Nam, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84330 Thailand 18 www.siamwininganddining.com


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Fine Beach & Hillside Dining at Samui's Newest Venue Quality Thai, Seafood & International Dishes The Ultimate Samui Dining Experience!

No visit to Samui is complete until you have dined at The Barge

The Barge Nora Buri's Signature Restaurant Chaweng North For Reservation Tel: 0 7791 3555 E-mail: thebarge@noraburiresort.com www.noraburiresort.com

Chaweng Beach Road Chaweng North Tel: 0 7742 9400 Fax: 0 7742 9498 E-mail: reservation@norabeachresort.com www.norabeachresort.com

It’s all happening at Nora Beach Resort & Spa Monday Night Buffet Dinner with South-East Asian Cuisine With live cooking Teppanyaki and entertainment by Flair Bartending Show Wednesday Night Enjoy our Beach BBQ with entertainment by Samui Dance & Fire Dance Show Saturday Night BBQ Seafood Buffet with entertainment by “The Beauty Cabaret Show” Daily Cooking Class & Fruit Carving Class Learn to cook 3 Thai dishes - Baht 1,500 net / person Fruit Carving Course - Baht 1,400 net / person Prices are inclusive of chef hat, apron and certificate Advance reservation required Happy Hour Buy 1 Get 1 Free at Pool Bar 3pm - 5pm & at Lobby Lounge 7pm - 8pm and 10pm - 11pm Private Romantic Dinner Only you and your loved one dining on the beach with private chef and waiter/waitress Available daily. Advance reservation required For further information please telephone 0 7742 9400

20 www.siamwininganddining.com


July 2013