Quick Update

Sitting waiting on my plane back to Wellington. Wanted to put together a quick update and say new words and photos are coming soon. Early morning street shots from the city, some evening shots from Auckland and some shots taken from a recent food photography course that I attended.

I learned so much, and met some great people so will be sharing these soon.

On the music front loads of new stuff hitting my ears and so certainly going to make an effort to put up some links.

Until then…

… a taste

The Restaurant you won’t find on Google

Tuesday Afternoon in the Old Phuket Town. The rain came in waves, the heat came in bigger waves as I walked the historic streets looking for photo opportunities and capturing the everyday hustle and bustle (photos can be seen from my walkabout in the photo projects section of my blog). Peaking through doorways and up alleys, there was life and colour in every corner. It was mid-afternoon, and so the school children were beginning to appear on the streets. Smart in their white shirts and blue shorts and skirts, they had a brightness to them found only in young people.  As they walked the streets they would stop at a roadside vendor to buy large ice-filled multi-coloured drinks, no doubt full of sugar but who cares, they certainly didn’t.

In my walking, I came across a restaurant. while looking through the window, my eyes were met with pseudo old world French furniture and walls adorned with the pictures of the late Thai King. This had to be the place to eat tonight. After meeting with Sandra again and being slightly drenched, we walked the street to where the location with the unknown name was situated and took our seats.

The menu was presented, looking much like a small graphic novel of 1 cm thick, and the wine list. Sandra knew what she wanted from the wine list, and so it only left this dossier of dishes. I ordered three starters which were beautiful and easy, but the main were so much harder. I think our frustrations were noticed by the waiter who was fantastic. He only walked over and said ‘for you Madame Crab Curry and you for you sir, the local pork stew’  Who were we to argue? We put our full trust in this man completely and wow he was so right, the crab curry was fantastic, delicious, tangy plentiful and a fabulous colour. The pork? Well, where do I start? The best pork I have eaten in a restaurant in a very long time, it fell away from the fork, was rich in sauce and flavor and was the perfect evening meal. The waiter later told me it was his favorite and was a local dish.

There was certainly no room left for anything else, so after a fantastic meal costing approx $30 NZD per head !!!! (food is so very cheap in Phuket) We wandered our way home through the rain soaked streets, and into the evening Phuket traffic, watching the locals buying their produce to take home for their evening meals, and dodging the crazy scooter riders on the wet roads.  This island is a bustling, fantastic and amazing place full of smiles and mopeds, all with a touch of Evil Kinevil.

The Kenny Rogers Chicken

Yes, you read right, we were no cowards of the county, Reuben James !! Who knew that Kenny Rogers had a chicken chain in Asia? Well, he started a chain in the USA, and it failed. However, it took off in Asia and lo and behold down the road we found it. In amongst the Pad Thai and Green Curry there it was. A little bit of country in the heart of Phuket. Plain simple rotisserie chicken, coleslaw and potatoe salad and all the Kenny you could listen to 🙂

We simply had to try it just to say we had. With The Gambler blasting out the fare was simple but nice and a change from the norm. The manager was a lovely guy who had just come back from three months of training at the Kenny Rogers HQ in Malaysia. He was so proud of his new restaurant and was happy to chat. Telling us all about the various outlets in Indonesia, Dubai and beyond.

So in a surreal setting, we sat and ate Kenny chicken, miles from Nashville supping on my multicolored passion beverage. Sometimes bizarre just has to be done!

A Breakfast Egg Discovery

While on this trip we have discovered and are putting to good use a great breakfast egg tip. Here are the steps to a great fried egg and bread breakfast.

  1. Get your bread and use a small glass to cut out the centre (keep for later)
  2. Heat your frying pan up throw in some bacon (optional) if not use butter.
  3. Once bacon is cooked or butter is melted throw in your bread with the hole
  4. Simply crack your egg into the centre of the bread
  5. Once you think it’s cooked on side A flip over to side B and also put the circle of bread you cut out into the pan to fry off a little
  6. Once both sides are done serve up and you have bacon, bread, and egg all nicely together and a great runny yoke in the middle

Job Done, a great start to the day 🙂

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The Blue Elephant…

 

The Blue Elephant Phuket

The Blue Elephant Restaurant and cooking school in old Phuket town does nothing but astound you as you walk up the drive to what used to be the Governers Mansion. This glorious building houses some amazing teaching kitchens, a wonderful gift shop and of course one of eight restaurants that can be found around the world. We were lucky enough to be the only two students booked on the course today and so this made the trip extra special. We were greeted by our host and head teaching chef who promptly made us feel special with a cold drink in the Blue Bar, an 18-metre long cocktail bar and lounge area. She outlined the day for us and told us we would be starting with a trip to the local market, the genuine article where the locals buy all their ingredients for their home cooked meals. With this announcement we were off into the old town, dodging the scooters, the utes, the SUV’s as the sun rose higher along with the temperature.

As we arrived the smells and colours of the market were something to behold. The hustle and bustle of everyday Thai life were there for all to see. The market flowed from an outside area into an amazing two story building. Along the route, we were introduced to all kinds of vegetables, paste’s and on the first floor the flowers. This was where the locals purchased various items to give to the Buddha, dependent on which one they prayed to. Some liked flowers, some liked red or orange soft drinks and others liked cigarets and alcohol, all of which could be purchased here. Taken from stall to stall we learned about the unique items that the Thai people cooked with every day, the various eggplants. Thai basil, Morning Glory (yes you read right) and so much more.

The Wet Market

After being asked if we wanted to go upstairs, and of course saying yes, we landed in the world of the ‘wet’market. The world of raw fish, chickens, pork, dried meats and things that I won’t go into here but needless to say it was an eye-opening experience. The dried fish stomachs certainly looked interesting and were very expensive. I guess all the work required to find it and dry was probably warranted. On the way back to the Blue Elephant we grabbed cold coconut juice and met this lovely old lady with most amazing hat, it just kind of floated on her head.

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Cooking Time

Back at the school, we were right into the thick of it. Four dishes to make, A traditional Green Curry, Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai Noodles and a Papaya Salad. Luckily all the ingredients had been pre-prepared and so we were watching the chef and then getting our fingers dirty (so to speak). The tricks of the trade were where we really learned from this amazing chef, for instance, don’t add all your coconut milk at once into a green curry, spoon it in, taste it, spoon more, taste more… taste taste taste all the way along. Moving to soup, add the chile jam, taste taste watch your lips melt of the front of your face, add more taste, taste, pass me the iced water to immerse my head into.

Onto the Pad Thai, Originally a dish forced upon the Thai people by the Royal house, due to the high cost of rice in the last century. This dish came from China originally but the Thai people found it to bland and so they added the Tamarin sauce and Pad Thai was born. Cooked in under 5 minutes, the ingredients must go into the pan in a correct order or they don’t work (I didn’t quite do this, but it still tasted great ) Finally the Salad, everything made in a mortar and pestle, crushed chillies, fish sauce, peanuts, TASTE… by this stage I could not feel my lips and just like that our four dishes were complete and on their way to the restaurant for us to eat.

And our morning had come to an end, in this idyllic, fabulous place, The Blue Elephant. After seeing where our ingredients came from and the everyday people of the area shopping, chatting and the general hustle and bustle, for me that made it all the better. If you ever come to Phuket then a trip to the Blue Elephant should be put on the agenda, maybe cooking is not your thing but if eating is then I am sure you will taste things that will simply delight you, surrounded by the loveliest of people.