Thai cooking class at Banyan Village, Hua Hin, Thailand – Part 2

September 4, 2011

The cooking students in action

We were given aprons and chef hats and after a short introduction to the facilities, we were about to start.

Because of the special circumstances of our cooking class, we had only two flames for the four of us. As a consequence we had to do the cooking in turns. Margit and Charlotte were the first to start, followed by Lucy and me.

The ingredients: nicely assembled

The wok in action

The secret ingredient: Hua Tiao Jiu

Some intermediary products: fried fish

The results – four dishes

Proud students I

Proud students II

Thai green curry

Hot Thai soup: Tom yam kung

Chicken with cashew nuts

Sweet sour fish

The students feasting on the results of their efforts

Khun Ae did a very good job – thank you

Conclusion: This was a great experience. It seemed so easy to cook delicious Thai food. However, we were spared the laborious work in the preparation of the sauces and pastes needed for the dishes. Pestle and mortar work is especially hard in the tropical heat. And here the dosage is critical.

We were under no illusion that it needs much more practice to become a good cook, but a start was made. Every long journey starts with a first small step. We had taken it.

Thanks Khun Ae and your colleagues at the Banyan Village for making this cooking class possible.

I hope my esteemed readers are enticed to follow my path.


Food and wine pairing

March 31, 2010

Beautiful scrimps in garlic and olive oil

In the hot weather of March and April big meals are not very attractive. Alas, Thailand has a lot of choice in seafood and lighter dishes are the go. Some rice with tofu and green vegetables and plenty of scrimps are the right stuff for a light meal. The question is which wine to drink with it?

A simple “Chinese set” meal

There is a lot of choice actually. As far as white wines are concerned one could choose a Chenin Blanc from Gran Monte, Thailand, for instance. Or one could have a Pinot Grigio from Italy or Germany. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are other possible choices.

If the dish is spicy, and the above one was, the ‘Grande Signature de Rapatel’ by Gérard Eyraud, France, a blend of Roussanne and Bourboulenc, is a great choice. The wine is oily and thick and full of apricot flavour. It balances the spicyness of the food in a wonderful way. I never thought that a Roussanne could be such a good complement to Asian food. My tip of the day: try it.

PS: You can get bottles of this wine in Bangkok from Lake House and Comte de Sibour.


The ultimate Vietnamese cookery book

March 21, 2010

Unfortunately, during my recent visit to Hanoi and Saigon I had no opportunity to check out the various culinary highlights of these fabulous places. I was part of a large delegation and had no choice regarding the food, or almost no choice. Not that we had to eat bad food. However, I could not explore the local cuisine. There are some truly extraordinary places to be found, from traditional Vietnamese cuisine to all kinds of fusion cooking.

“The Songs of Sapa” is the title of a Vietnamese cookery book which is most amazing. Luke Nguyen an Australian from Sydney whose parents came as boat people and refugees, has produced a marvelous book summarizing his various travels to Vietnam. He collected many recipes and reproduced them in this book. The pictures are outstanding, really.

Luke is very well known in Australia. He runs Red Lantern, a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney. I would love to taste his cooking. For the time being I have to be content with the cookery book and because it is so magic, it will do for me here in Bangkok.


Restaurant review: Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920 in Jakarta

November 15, 2009

Shanghai Blue1

When discussing with my friends in Jakarta where to meet for dinner, Jasmin suggested “Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920” right in the center of Jakarta.

The restaurant belongs to the Tugu Hotel group, owned by the family of Anhar Setjadibrata, a famous art collector from Malang, East Java. The family has two more restaurants in Jakarta, “Dapur Baba” and “Lara Djonggrang”, both exotic places with wonderful decorations of Indonesian and other antiques where we had spent memorable evenings with family and friends while living in Jakarta.

“Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920” is no exception. The interior is just stunning. Apart from dining one can also listen to Jazz music which is performed on a large stage. It was my first visit, and I was in a nostalgic and elated mood: back in Jakarta and out with old friends.

We ordered a round of starters, in fact we ordered the whole menu of starters, followed by main courses. To say it from the outset: the starters were stunning, the main courses could not keep up with it and were mediocre at best. This did not prevent us from having a great time. We had a bottle of white wine from Western Australia. When selecting it together with my friend Flo, I thought that I would not forget the brand. Writing this blog entry a couple of days later, I must submit to the vagaries of life once again. Never assume the obvious. Memory will have its little victories. usually I take a photo of the wine bottles I consume, not this time. Maybe the reunion was just so much more important. Anyway, the started (see some in the pctures below) were wonderful and the wine was just right.

Shanghai Blue2

Shanghai Blue3

Shanghai Blue4

Shanghai Blue5

For us the evening ended in the Buddha Bar, a trendy hangout in Menteng. We were not deterred by a function for Cartier which occupied the interior of the bar but instead sat on the wide back-terrace with the garden view (also nice in the night).

I highly recommend to the casual traveler to visit the restaurants of Anhar Setjadibrata in Jakarta. The atmosphere in the three places – Waroeng Shanghai Blue 1920, Dapur Baba and Lara Djonggrang – is wonderful but unique, the exhibits are breathtaking, they bear witness to Java’s glorious past.

PS: I never stayed at one of the Tugu Hotels but friends of mine rave about the one in Malang. From the website www.tuguhotels.com you might get a glimpse what it might be all about. Breathtaking, spectacular come to mind. I promised myself that one day I will visit one of them and enjoy a night delving in Javas past and in a “Tugu bed”.

Address:
Warong Shanghai Blue 1920 Restaurant
Kebon Sirih Raya 79
Jakarta Pusat
DKI Jakarta – Indonesia
PH 1: +62-21-391-8690
PH 2: +62-21-7088-3366
www.tuguhotels.com


Asian Food and Riesling Wines

August 17, 2008

The Riesling wines I selected for Sunday lunch were just the right complement to the Asian food we were having for the last joint family lunch in our Jakarta home. Tomorrow our girls will be laving for Bangkok to attend the opening of the new school year at their new school.

The lunch consisted of a typical Indonesian composition of Kankung (a green water vegetable) with prawns. We ate it with rice using spoons and forks only as it is the custom in Indonesia. The wine we had with the meal was of course not an Asian invention but a Celtic one.

The semi-dry Riesling (“Feinherb” as the Germans say) from the Saar was a perfect match for the food. We had the last bottle of ‘2003 Wiltinger Gottesfuss Riesling Kabinett Feinherb’ , (alc. 11% vol.) from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in Trier (www.kesselstatt.com). The spicy food was just the right dish to have with this Riesling wine from my home region.

The sun was shining, my garden green and lush despite the dry season, and so 10 years came to a beautiful end for the four of us.

PS: As “dessert” we had a second bottle of German wine (which was also the last one in my possession), one coming from the Nahe wine region where my grandfather used to live, ‘2003 Sitzius Kreuznacher Rosenberg Spaetlese, Scheurebe’ (with only 9.5 alc./vol.) from Weingut Alfred Sitzius in Kreuznach-Bosenheim (www.weingut-sitzius.de). The variety is mainly found in Germany and Austria and produces highly aromatic wines often made into sweet wines but also available in its dry incarnation. It shows honey, blackcurrant and grapefruit flavors but retains also some of the Riesling character, though it is less acidic, in short beautiful wine can be produced from this grape variety.