Tuesday 25 July 2023

New Banyan Tree Chef Presents the Art of Kaiseki to Koh Samui

After 25 years in Japanese restaurants, a Thai chef finally gets the chance to inaugurate his own rendition of Japan’s most regal meal

Inspired by the unique skill set of executive sous chef Warit Jadpratum, Banyan Tree Samui resort has launched a new “Samurai Dinner Set”, bringing the ancient Japanese culinary art of kaiseki to the beaches of Thailand.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Thai Folk Tales: Bullfrog Island

The islands, in the rivers of Thailand, come and go. When the rains cease in November, little islands appear. They are eagerly occupied by market gardeners and planted with vegetables. In June or July, the little islands vanish, save for a few unusually solid ones, which last from year to year; but even these seemingly permanent islands may be swept away during a heavy flood.

The island known as Bullfrog Island had been in existence for at least thirty or forty years. It was separated from the riverbank by a channel about fifty feet wide. In the dry season, this channel was a mere ditch, by the end of the rains a swiftly flowing stream, in flood-time a raging torrent.

For four or five years two men owned vegetable gardens on Bullfrog Island. Uncle Nuan was a man of fifty, a widower, known to all the neighbours as the meanest man for miles around. He shared the island with Noi Larn, a jolly young bachelor of twenty-three. There was little love lost between the two men. 

Noi Larn called his neighbour "Uncle Tightfist" and the older man retaliated with "Master Wastrel." Both were good gardeners and did well with their vegetables, but while Uncle Nuan had saved a tidy sum, Noi Larn never had a cent left over and had even borrowed a hundred bahts from his fellow islander.

One September morning a few years ago, Uncle Nuan awoke to find the south end of the island under water. It was the beginning of the biggest flood within living memory. The waters were already lapping the walls of his hut. He hurried to rouse Noi Larn. After a look around, the two men decided that there was nothing to be done but abandon the island. The channel between them and the riverbank was by this time a roaring whirlpool of water that was rapidly rising. There was a rough bridge, made of two bamboos, across the channel, but it was clear that this would soon be carried away by the torrent.

Uncle Nuan was terrified. "Nothing can save me," he wailed, "I cannot swim, and I dare not cross that bamboo bridge. The handrail is broken, and I shall fall into the river and be drowned." 

Noi Larn was not worried. He was a big, strong fellow, and a good swimmer. Though the rush of water was fierce, he felt quite capable of tackling a channel only fifty feet wide. However, he realised that his companion was in a tight spot, so he said: "Get onto my back, Uncle Tightfist, and I will carry you across the bridge. But you must stay perfectly still, or we shall both fall into the river."

The old man viewed with horror the prospect of being borne across a shaky bamboo bridge. But it was his only chance. So up he got onto Noi Larn's back. Then, slowly and gingerly, like Blondin crossing the rapids of Niagara, the young man bore his trembling companion across the raging stream.

When they reached the opposite bank, Uncle Nuan was profuse in his thanks. "My dear son Larn," he whimpered, "you have saved my life at the risk of your own. How can I ever reward you?"

"That's easy enough," replied Noi Larn. "Just let me off that hundred bahts I owe you, and we'll call it square." Uncle Nuan's face fell. "You are asking too much," said he. "A hundred bahts is a lot of money. But I do not want to seem ungrateful. I will let you off ten bahts. Pay me back ninety bahts, and we will call it a deal." "What!" cried the young man. "You mean old scoundrel.

If you only value your life at ten bahts, it is not worth bothering to save it!"

Then, lifting Uncle Nuan in his arms, he cried: "I am going to carry you back to the island. Stay still, or I will chuck you into the river."

Suiting the action to the words, he once more stepped upon the bamboo bridge and carried the miserable old fellow back to the island. At the moment when he set foot on land, the bridge collapsed.

"Here we are, Uncle Tightfist," said Noi Larn. "Now you can shift for yourself. But I do not want to be in your debt. Take this ring. It is worth more than a hundred bahts. So I am paying my debt in full, plus interest."

Then he plunged into the channel, and in a few minutes was safe on the opposite bank.

Half an hour later Bullfrog Island had vanished completely beneath the waters of the flood. As for Uncle Tightfist, nobody ever knew what happened to him. But he got the gold ring, anyhow.

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Praya Palazzo marks 100th birthday in delicious fashion

Set menu is the centerpiece of special package curated for anniversary of heritage hotel

PRAYA Palazzo, one of Bangkok’s most characterful riverside hotels, is mining Thailand’s rich culinary heritage as it launches its centenary celebrations this month.