Thai vegetable decorations using cucumbers and tomato

Destination Samui Island Thailand and Menus to Thai For

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.

Typical Thai teak villas at Ban Sairee

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.

Chef Ton’s Thai Homecooking at Ban Sairee

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.

Fork and spoon? Watch your table manners.

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!

Mango salad with Lemongrass

We could easily have eaten this every day but Chef Ton had so many other dishes for us to thai.

A Penang Chicken Curry to Thai for

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.

Flown away with the Thai edible decorations on the plate

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.

You would soon know if one of these hit you!

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!

A real monkey business

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 at each monument

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.

A Thai Spirit House

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. Fab with a G&T

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.

 

47 replies
  1. parisbreakfast
    parisbreakfast says:

    WOWZA!
    It looks simply gorgeous there..
    I haven’t taken a real R&R type vacations since I don’t know when…
    It sounds like your back is just fine these days after that heavenly delight.
    mon dieu

    Reply
  2. elisabeth@foodandthrift
    elisabeth@foodandthrift says:

    Jill-Such a wonderful post! Those dishes look so scrumptious and delicious!
    Love, love…absolutely love your photos of Thailand!
    What a fabulous trip you had, the beautiful scenery and the most amazing foods:DDD
    The Thai sure know how to do the most amazing food decorations, that blows you away.
    In our local “mom and pop” Thai restaurant, the Chef/owner does all his decorations for every plate. You just want to take it home, and keep it for a souvenir…so lovely!
    Thanks for you compliment, an sweet comment on my blog!
    Hugs,

    Reply
  3. June S
    June S says:

    I definitely want to go NOW. Thailand is less of a mystery. I shouldn’t have read this blog before lunch as I just want to eat and eat. I think you definitely deserved your own chef while on holiday after all the wonderful meals you cook. Thanks so much for the travelogue. Looking forward very much to the next instalment.

    Reply
  4. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
    Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says:

    Jill, what an amazing place. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. You are really selling the place! Chef Ton sounds like a great person to meet. Thanks for the etiquette tip. I will definitely need to know that as you make me want to book my plane ticket right now!

    To Thai for is right! 🙂 x

    Reply
  5. Manu
    Manu says:

    Ohhh this sounds like the perfect holiday Jill! I have never been to Thailand and would love to go! Just waiting for the little one to grow up a little so she won’t be too bothered by the heat and humidity! That mango salads sounds delicious! How great to have your own cook!!!! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Jacqueline
    Jacqueline says:

    How lovely! And what a great excuse for a G&T 😉
    I love Thai food – it is so flavoursome and inspires lots of tasty dishes. When we were in Koh Samui we did some snorkelling and scuba diving did you manage to find the time to do any when you were there?

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      The kids loved snorkelling. On the other hand, I was more in the spa getting the knots out the back! Will just have to return, don’t you think? 🙂

      Reply
  7. valerie cortade
    valerie cortade says:

    Qu’elles merveilleuses vacances !
    j’espere que toute la famille c’est régaléee, tu nous reviens avec des images extraordinaires, des plats qui font saliver et qui sont d’une grande qualité esthétique, as-tu appris à présenter de la même façon ?je veux gouter !!!!
    BISES A VOUS TOUS

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Je veux bien présenter comme ça. Pour l’instant c’est juste la rose en tomate – l’oiseau va prendre plus de temps ! Mais venez vite pour déguster : on peut s’entraîner ensemble 😉

      Reply
  8. Amy
    Amy says:

    Hi Jill! I love the idea of Thai red curry macaroons! Sweets with spice are my favorite and these are so beautiful! I am always excited to see what new type of macaroon you have created :)!

    Reply
  9. Biren @ Roti n Rice
    Biren @ Roti n Rice says:

    Yes, the table in that part of the world is always set with fork and spoon unless you are having a steak where a knife is needed to cut that large piece of meat. I guess the spoon is more practically when eating rice as it can be used to scoop up the fluffy and separated grains more easily. The edge of the spoon can be used to cut food into smaller pieces when necessary. The fork like you explained is used as a “helper”. It just struck me as I was looking at my own post of Hainanese chicken rice set with a fork and spoon. I know this may seem a little strange with western cultures but it is an instinctive thing, having grown up with it. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks so much for the explanation, Biren. It did seem strange at first but it’s logical. So much that now back home we ended up eating a rice dish with a spoon! It makes so much sense.

      Reply
  10. Biren @ Roti n Rice
    Biren @ Roti n Rice says:

    Welcome back Jill! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I am envious that you had your own chef and that mango salad is to “thai” for. It is one of my favorite Thai dishes. I remember I was thrilled as a kid when a monkey plucked coconuts for us in a village in Malaysia. 🙂 Just checked out page 105. That Thai green curry macaron is something else. 😉 Will have to try it out.

    Reply
  11. Anne@frommysweetheart
    Anne@frommysweetheart says:

    Jill…welcome back! It looks like you had a wonderful trip! I’ve always heard Thailand was beautiful and the people warm and welcoming. And the cuisine looks scrumptious. Funny about the fork thing…but personally, I’d have no trouble eating every delicious bite with a spoon! The macarons, of course, are beautiful and I must try them! And so glad your back is doing better! : )

    Reply
  12. visda
    visda says:

    Wow! Thai red curry macarons look amazing. I love chili in chocolate, but I can imagine spicy macarons are even way better. Also wonderful pictures from Thailand. I can totally imagine you would have rather stayed on vacation. Don’t we all?:-)

    Reply
  13. Shirley Winnitoba
    Shirley Winnitoba says:

    Jill thank you so much for sharing your wonderful holiday with us – your photos look amazing. The presentation of the Thai food looked too good to eat and Lucie’s watermelon was a delight. I look forward to trying the Red Curry Macarons. Good to have you back.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Why is the grass always greener? 🙂 Don’t think you’d really like it, Carolyn. Eldest starting up collège next week and I’m sensing a ton of French homework coming shortly…back to earth with a thud.

      Reply
  14. Liz
    Liz says:

    Wow, red curry macarons? You amaze me 🙂 And thanks for all the fabulous photos from your trip…I’m insanely jealous but will keep myself in check 😉

    Reply
  15. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Wht dreamy photos – I could go for that mango salad right now. Thailand always seems so exotic – and by the looks of it – it is! Love the title of this posting…

    Reply
  16. Ivy
    Ivy says:

    Welcome back Jill. I envy you (in a good sense!!). Everyone would dream of an exotic trip like this and thanks for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Oh my goodness you went to Koh Samui? My brother lives in a smaller island Koh Tao (another 2hr boat ride to south from Koh Samui) and we’re thinking of visiting him this December! Sounds like you really had a great vacation and thanks for sharing the pictures. I’ve been only to Phuket before but hopefully this year I can visit Bangkok, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao. Looking forward to hearing your next report! 🙂 Thai Red Curry Macarons? I want to try this!!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Isn’t that an amazing? What a lucky brother. Nami, you will have to tell me what Koh Tao is like. Too many places to visit! Your kids will also have so much fun.

      Reply
  18. Lora
    Lora says:

    I love Thailand. So glad you had what looks like a wonderful and relaxing trip. I’ve seen monks in many countries, even here in NYC on their cell phones and it always cracks me up. I cannot believe those Thai red curry macs. Wow!

    Reply
  19. Choclette
    Choclette says:

    Ha ha, you had to get some macarons in there somewhere and they sound magnificent too. Glad you had a great time, Thailand sounds fascinating and I do like Thai food. Had no idea about trained monkeys harvesting coconuts – how interesting.

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      I guess that what everyone expects? Don’t worry, I will be posting things without macs sometimes, too 😉
      The monkeys were definitely my highlight (well, I couldn’t get up on that elephant!)

      Reply
  20. Sue
    Sue says:

    Wow! What a fantastic holiday! No wonder you have come back so well and relaxed, I shouldn’t think you wanted to come back! We had planned a holiday to Thailand but cancelled when I became pregnant with my eldest (I am not good in the heat at the best of times) and somehow we have still never been. It always looks so amazing and to have your own cook too!

    Reply

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