I’m back but still mentally on holiday in Thailand. What a wonderful country: friendly people, fabulous sites, and the food is to Thai for. This is the first time in years I’ve not had access to a computer (highly recommended.) With batteries recharged, a stronger back after cures of Thai massage, enjoy a taster of Thailand.
On arrival at Koh Samui, Thailand’s 3rd largest island, the girls were presented with the most beautiful orchids. Surrounded by such lushness of coconut trees, frangipani and hibiscus plants, we were instantly struck by the heat and humidity: not the best climate for making macarons I dare say. But, I was on holiday and the ‘M’ word was strictly forbidden for at least two weeks; no guesses that I must drive the family completely mad.
After a few days at Bophut in the north of the island, our next home -from-home was in the south at Ban Sairee, the most idyllic location with a beach more-or-less to ourselves. We even discovered we had our own Gecko – these lizards are actually cute: not only great for making the mosquitos disappear but they make such an amazing song, too.
Smoothly run by Jul, all the staff were so attentive to detail. One of the most wonderful luxuries was having our own cook: meet chef Ton. Always with an amazing smile, he let me into his kitchen to show how to whip up tasty Thai dishes in no time: 2-3 dishes took him just 30 minutes.
It was funny to see the table set here with fork and spoon. No knives are needed, as everything is served in convenient bite-sizes. Apparently this is a custom that dates back to the royal court of Rama IV in the 19th Century. We had just taken it for granted and continued to eat with our fork. What’s wrong with that? Well let me tell you, in Thailand it’s the Western equivalent of licking your knife at the table! The fork is just used in the left hand to position your food on the plate and you eat with the spoon. Just to warn you on your next trip.
One of our most memorable dishes was a simple green mango salad. With the most fragrant of local ingredients, notably lemongrass, this was no normal mango salad.
Normally a red chili is added but it was omitted for the children (especially after Julie had eaten a chili flower one evening as it looked so pretty – you can imagine her surprise.) The other secret addition was tamarind sauce, something that is used often in Thai cooking – I must find this in Paris this afternoon. I’m in mango salad denial!
We could easily have eaten this every day but Chef Ton had so many other dishes for us to thai.
As in other Thai dishes we’d seen, they are really into decoration in a mind-blowing way. This bird was a beautiful addition to a plate of prawn and vegetable tempura, for example. Then another of Chef Ton’s creations was his papaya salad. I’ve now posted the recipe, but with my version back home in Paris: Papaya Nests, Prawns and Skinny Sweet Potato Fries.
I’ll share these over the next couple of weeks on the bonus recipe pages. These satay prawns didn’t just have a tomato rose but look at that fish decor!
For Lucie’s birthday, Ton carved out her favourite watermelon. A plate of tropical fruits was always a simple but refreshing dessert. The mango here is just so sumptiously sweet.
Another main ingredient in Thai cooking doesn’t come as a surprise: coconut milk. With over 4 million coconut trees on the island and with tourism being their biggest economy, there’s a real monkey business going on to protect the tourists’ heads.
Monkeys are trained to climb the trees and force-fall the coconuts who could land on roofs or unsuspecting heads below. The trainers below shout instructions to them and pull at their cord, as the monkeys look like little men upside down, turning the coconuts until they fall in a controlled manner. What an impressive sight!
After watching this spectacle, we managed to pull the children away for a steep walk to visit a few Buddahs and the view of the island. En route, we just about bumped into a monk (they are dressed in orange.) Beware, women. You are strictly forbidden to touch a monk or even bump into one by accident. This one, however, didn’t seem to even notice: he was too busy walking and answering emails on his i-Phone!
Offerings are left normally at each statue. This one looks uncannily like a glass of Guinness. Just so you know, food is incredibly cheap but spirits here are rather expensive – especially wine. It brought me back to drinking Gin and Tonics – great for mosquitos with the quinine content (my excuse, anyway.)
Speaking of spirits, you’ll see Spirit Houses dotted all over the island. These are built on properties to keep the spirits happy on your land and again, they normally have offerings on them. Here there were 2 houses, so no doubt that kept them happy here. Other Spirit Houses could be much more elaborate with gold and many flower garlands.
I’ve blethered more than enough for one day so why not join me in a refreshing gin and tonic with something a bit different to chill out?
Thai red curry macarons. If you think this is completely insane, then you should try them. They’re knock-out with plenty heat! (Turn to page 105 of the book for the recipe for Thai Green Curry Macarons.)
Next stop, Bangkok. Fasten your seat belts – it’s a different pace from island life.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. This was our private family holiday but I wanted to share the experience we had.