วันเสาร์ที่ 27 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2553


Juice,pepper and salt, washed down with an ice cold beer rates as an all-time favourite on my top 10 beach food list.With handy chunks of fresh baguette to soak up the remainder of the tangy sauce,the snack’s place on my list was confirmed The tase was unbeatable but sand between the toes and a fresh sea breeze most certamly boosted the rating.
This memory has created a challenge for each subsequent beach trip to fine and equivalent if not better,dish.After all isn’t the menu as essential to a beach holiday as the beach itself? Exotic fiavours and famitrar favourites are eaggrly anticipated after the sun sets on another long day of dorng very little.Koh lanta yai was the destination for my latest search,the
44 Sawasdee June 2005thought being that tropical Thailand would surely reveal some worthy challengers. According to Chef Francois Desmidt at the island's Pimalai Resort and Spa, it's the "variety of fresh flavours and low calories" that make the Kingdom's renowned cuisine ideal beach food. I also like to think of it as impact food, full of vivid combinations of clean flavours that simply cannot be ignored, even when you're doing nothing.Possibly the best place to start is the Pimalai, a five-star resort on the island nestled in tropical gardens overlooking Kan Tiang Bay. The beach restaurant Rak Talay recognises the simple decadence of barefoot dining, especially in thatched pavilions surrounded by pandanus palms on a quiet cove. High-backed chairs combined with hanging bamboo lanterns add to the beachcomber-chic feel, while a large central table wouldn't look amiss on a Survivor set, ideal for a winning team's reward after a hard-fought challenge. But I digress. It was the food I was after.
A light but satisfying grilled sea bass, infused with a coriander and garlic stuffing, came first. In hindsight it didn't need the accompanying, pepper sauce but if it was put before me it had to be tried. A serve of suitably crunchy stir-fried vegetables in oyster sauce then rounded out the meal and as if on cue the live entertainment kicked in. Fortunately it wasn't a cheesy resort band clad in clashing Hawaiian shirts. Instead, fire twirlers on the hill across the cove provided a flickering display. Poolside at the Pimalai — a little bit of five-star decadence never hurt with your meal. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Catching a ride in Saladan; reminde.rs of how far away the real world is; fried seafood at Viewpoint; arid Thai food to go at the local market.
Dinner at Baan Pimalai, the resort's main restaurant involved a lot more food. Often guilty of over-ordering, I couldn't have predicted the generous portions to come. Extremely generous in fact. Tuna carpaccio wasn't ate expected thin slivers layered around an oversized plate. Instead the tasty appetiser was a main-sized serving of thick slices sprinkled with parmesan. The quick-marinated snapper was equally generous. Slivers of the raw fish tossed in a ginger-and-garlic marinade still make my mouth water a few weeks after the visit. Deep-fried red shallots added contrasting crisp and, undoubtedly, it was this layering of fantastic textures and full flavours that made such a vivid impression.
KOH LAftt'a DU!ETER TRAIN OTHER MORE FAMOUS Thai islands. Directions are also much simpler. "If you don't slow down you'll drive straight through it" warned one resident. We complied and pulled up just over the crest of the hill on the cross-island road at the Viewpoint restaurant. Pleasantly music-free, cicadas and bird-life provide the soundtrack to a spectacular vista overlooking the eastern side of the island and the lime-green waters beyond. An added bonus was the sunset call to prayer that got underway during our initial visit but, unlike the tiny mosques that are visible all over the predominantly Muslim island, this one was obscured by the lush foliage below.
"Playboy salad" leapt off the pages of a menu crowded with standard fare. The explanation went something like this: "Playboys have many ladies and this salad has chicken, squid and prawn. All mixed up." So was I. The analogy was a tough leap but Ja, the owner, went on to describe it as a stir fry with red onion, fresh chilli for added fire, lemon, fish sauce, some sugar and cashew nuts tossed in at the last minute. Satisfied with a thirst-quenching lime soda for the moment, my interest was peaked enough to return the next day.
Unfortunately, on the following two days Khun Ja was away and the chef on duty had not mastered her speciality. So while the playboy salad never materialised, other chicken dishes did. One version was fried with fragrant basil. The other was slightly oily with ginger but similarly a tasty mid-afternoon snack. Anyway the view certainly made repeat visits worthwhile.Initially, the food options on the rest of Koh Lanta didn't look promising. The island has seen busier times and most restaurants offered limited menus to cope with the recent downturn. However, the menu at Sonya's was a surprise in more ways than one. Abakery screams holiday decader tte and the sign in front held the promise of pain au chocolat and the aroma of brewing coffee. Those thoughts were soon dashed by Witoo, the proprietor, who announced shortly after our arrival that no bakery items were available. A look at the menu was in the offing. It turned out to be quite a read.
Not many restaurants have the food starting on the sixth page. The preceding pages at Sonya's are filled with Khun Witoo's musings on life. It's where this former business editor of The Nation, a Bangkok daily, explores a number of themes, from the inviting open-plan architecture of his restaurant to community values. It is all aimed in his own words "towards a healthy life of learning beyond stress and a greed-based information chaos". Selected quotes from Shakespeare, Hannibal, Aristotle and other historical notables are also peppered throughout the menu. Essentially, Sonya's specialises in soul food. The mango pancake wasn't bad either.
On the corner down the hit from the Pimalai sits the Drunken Sailor with bean bags on its verandah and reggae tunes drifting out into the street. b seems an odd choice of name for a café that's alcohol-free. "It's prohibited by our Muslim landlord" explains the owner. Her name? Sherry. The cafe title actually has a floral connection; a fragrant Thai flower that exudes its perfume at night. And coffee is the passion of this self-taught aficionado who, like Khun Witoo from Sonya's bakery, dropped out of the rat race and moved down from Bangkok.
48 Sawasdee June 2005The extensive espresso menu offers a variety of caffeine doses. Choose from ristretto, doppio, macchiato and con panne among others to get the day started or to keep it going. Baking ingredients and paraphernalia, including an impressive mixer, did lay idle though — yet another testament to busier times. More hungry diners are clearly needed.
as bustling as Lanta Yai gets but I was doubtful of finding great food, especially amongst the multiple souvenir stands, undoubtedly stocked directly from Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market. Dive shops seemed to be the other main industry. Surprisingly, however, the waterfront road crammed with restaurant piers did reveal a gem.
Turn right at the boat ramp — no maps are needed in this town — and ignore the generic clip-art menus that tend to over promise. You know the ones that make you feel you've read it a dozen times before. I also shy away from restaurants with plastic grapes and nautilus shells adorning a menu stand out front. #25 avoided all the obvious maritime kitsch, even with its name, and opted for a shaker chic feel instead. Smooth, solid planking underfoot, always reassuring, and spartan, unfussy decor indicated that food was the priority on this pier.The gaeng massaman gar (massaman chicken curry) was a rich, nutty mix of tender chicken, potato, juicy tomato chunks, onion and coconut cream. Meanwhile the torn yam hed (hot and sourmushroom soup) which had a refreshing homemade look was somewhat lighter but a whole lot spicier. As it turns out the fresh lime leaves, coriander, chillies and lemongrass used to create the perfectly fused flavours were all plucked from the potted garden on the pier next door. The neighbour happens to be the mother of #25's owner. The older sister operates Catfish, the restaurant on the other side and mom watches over proceedings on both.
The trip into Saladan was actually quite a food fest after all with a dessert stop at Abdul's Pancake street cart on the main drag. Here the banana roti is sweet and soft, yet slightly crunchy, but part of the simple joy of roti is always watching the show as the dough is kneaded, stretched, flung, pressed and folded into shape then fried in ghee. A sticky drizzle of sweetened condensed milk follows and precision wrapping is an artful finishing touch. In this case Abdul's deadpan expression throughout also added to the theatre.A glass of wine in hand, the shore on one side and the setting sun on the other made for a spectacular departure by speedboat from Koh Lanta. It also afforded some contemplation about how inland diversions had sidetracked the original mission of beach food on this trip. Sand was not always underfoot but the best dishes had still coincided with open-air settings and spectacular views of the water. It would be too predictable to say that I'd found a replacement beach-food favourite. Suffice it to say my priorities remain the same with the menu being as essential to the holiday as the beach itself.