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Chef du jour: Baan Paa Talee

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From its elevated position over Cape Amarin, Baan Paa Talee, a sensational nine-bedroom luxury villa estate, commands arresting views of the beautiful Andaman Sea between Kamala and Patong on Phuket’s west coast. Spilling down the hillside, the estate is built over multiple levels, affording privacy and a sense of space, while maximising on stunning vistas.

Guests staying at this unique private estate are treated to luxurious living and dining spaces, both indoors and out. Expect grand halls, high ceilings and outstanding facilities, including a 25-metre pool with an indulgent jacuzzi, a fully equipped gymnasium, relaxing spa, and a media and games room. With plenty of space, this estate is an excellent choice for groups of friends or large families, corporate meets, wellness retreats or special events like weddings.

Food being a major component of any vacation, the modern kitchen at Baan Paa Talee is at the heart of this magnificent luxury estate. We chatted with Chef Ann, as she not only shared her recipe but also cooked Spicy Beef Salad Taco, Thai style, especially for us.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?
Chef Ann: I was working at Kanok Buri Resort in Koh Samui as an assistant cook and my tenure there sparked a thirst for excellence. I wanted to learn the art of cooking and become proficient in it. Thus, I decided to enrol in cooking courses.

EH: Did you study cooking? If you did where did you study cooking?
CA: I worked in many kitchens as a assistant chef and then I went to a cooking school in Phuket, where I was trained specifically on how to become a skilled villa chef.

EH: What qualities should one have to be a chef/cook?
CA: A great chef should always be learning and improving, and is one who takes responsibility. However, the most important quality is a passion for cooking.

EH: What did you cook for us today?
CA: Taco Nam Tok Neua (Spicy beef salad taco)

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us?
CA: I like this dish because it’s a fusion of two of my favorite cuisines- Thai and Mexican.

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A Delicious Tale of Cooking, Learning and Feasting in Koh Samui

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families/Recreation by

It was a dinner to end all dinners – the perfect introduction to authentic Thai food, served with panache.

It began when our professional dinner host, Joe Sambataro , an American by way of Argentina, taught us how to make cocktails that would keep us happy for the rest of the evening. We started off by grinding limes using a muddler, a contraption resembling a mortar and pestle. “So, we just push and twist and get the juice out. But don’t push too hard because if you do that, you’ll break the skin and that will make your lime juice bitter. So think about something that makes you mad but not too mad, haha,” quipped Joe. We each got to choose our drinks; mine had rum and mango and tasted like a sunny day at the beach.

Joe then asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes to be. “Can I get a show of hands, who likes spicy food? Who likes mildly spicy food? Who doesn’t like spicy food at all?” he asked. “Do you know the best way to communicate your preferences to the staff at a restaurant? I’m going to help you out here. I’m going to teach you some very important phrases that will come in handy. If you don’t like spicy food, you should order your food ‘mai phet’ which means not spicy. Don’t forget to copy my rising intonation! That’s very important!

And if you are okay with a little bit of spice, you can say ‘phet nit noy’ which means mildly spicy. If you want your food medium spicy, you can say ‘kon kaang phet’. And if you like your food very, very spicy, you can order your food ‘phet maak maak’ which loosely translates as spicy very very.” He also cautioned us when we were making our own sauce, “With Thai chilies, take it easy. If you don’t like spice, don’t add spice. If you like a little bit of spice, start with two pieces and try it first. If you like mild, go with four. If you like a whole lot, add as much as you want, but just remember today it’s all fun, but tomorrow, ring of fire!” he added cheekily.

The dinner commenced with three starters, based on traditional Thai recipes.

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Mammoth Fun in Exotic Phuket

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Phuket has long been known for its vibrant nightlife and unparalleled party-scene. But there is another side to the island that few take the time to discover. With lush rainforests climbing over mountains and spilling onto white-sand beaches, Phuket holds treasures just waiting to be discovered.

On your next trip here, why not leave aside the tickmarked must-do list and go beyond the obvious? Discover the Phuket that few know, a land that takes time to open up to strangers like a shy neighbour. But when it does, you will be enamoured by the experiences it holds.

“Phuket island offers so much more than stunning beaches, amazing sunrise and sunsets,” shares Femke Beekers, Elite Havens Country Head, Thailand. “Let us take you to a deserted island nearby to discover the mysterious underwater world, or allow us to showcase the different cultures on the island, visiting the amazing melt of our Buddhist, Chinese descent and Muslim tribes. Phuket has so much to offer, this merely scratches the surface.”

 

One of the most memorable things you can do on the island is plan a visit to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. The first and only ethical elephant sanctuary in Paklok, Phuket, it is a haven for elephants who have done their time in the logging trade or as part of the elephant trekking industry. Take a peek into the tough lives that these gentle beasts have led, often mistreated and denied basic rights and care. It is an eye-opener, to be exposed to their side of the story. Majestic animals that belong in the jungle, and not in towns, treated as a prop or an attraction.

At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, these retired and rescued elephants can live in their natural habitat and are treated with the utmost respect. It was founded as a partnership between Mr. Montri Todtane, ex-owner of an elephant camp in Phuket; world-renowned elephant rescuer and conservationist Lek Chailert, founder of Save Elephant Foundation; and Louise Rogerson, founder of EARS Asia.

Choose between the morning program or the afternoon program, where you can observe these grand animals from a respectful distance. Sit in the strategically placed observation salas and witness the elephants go about their natural daily routine –

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The Great Uluwatu: Nature’s Best Friend

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Uluwatu is part of a large limestone peninsula in southern Bali called ‘The Bukit’. Literally meaning ‘the hill’, The Bukit offers stunning clifftop ocean views, where you can visually feast on spectacular sunsets over the blue waters. “Glorious blue ocean, glistening white sandy beaches and dramatic clifftop vistas are inescapable in Uluwatu,” says Andy Grant, Head of Concierge at Elite Havens.

A Finely-Curated Tour of Uluwatu

Explore Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park

A special inclusion for guests staying at select villas in the region, our signature Uluwatu tour allows a relaxed start and begins with a stop at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. Look up and gaze in awe at a huge statue of Lord Vishnu riding his mount Garuda, standing at about 120 metres – taller than the Statue of Liberty. It is an unexpected surprise to find such a mammoth display hidden away on a tiny island in Indonesia.

The park includes an amphitheater, an exhibition hall, and a large area called the Lotus Pond, where many famous rock bands have performed in the past.  Your personal tour guide will be happy to capture this moment for you, should you want a photograph at the spot.

Enjoy Pandawa Beach

He can also give you the lowdown on the history of the park and of Pandawa Beach, a glistening spot a short drive away. “From start to finish, you are escorted by our experienced driver, who is also your guide for the day, sharing local knowledge and insights into each area,” says Andy.

Dine at Roosterfish Beach Club

Pandawa Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali; the fact that it’s also less crowded than Seminyak and Kuta adds to its draw. After some beach-time, you have the option of having lunch at Roosterfish Beach Club, where the smell of wood-fired oven pizzas and grilled local seafood wafts in the air. The beach club is right on the sand, so get ready to have some fun!

Watch a Kecak Fire Dance

The build-up is appropriate to set the tone for the most important stop of the day – the majestic Uluwatu Temple.

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Bali’s Cultural, Spiritual and Creative Centre: Ubud

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Ubud is in many ways Bali’s cultural, spiritual and creative centre. Just an hour’s drive north of the airport, it is home to one of Bali’s royal families who actively support the arts, leading to a thriving art scene. Along Ubud’s main street are galleries and stores selling antiques, woodcarvings, bright textiles and beautiful paintings.

An Expertly-Curated Tour of Ubud

As a special gesture to our guests staying in select villas in the region, Elite Havens is offering a luxurious signature cultural immersion tour, carefully curated by our Elite Concierge team. Embark on a journey into the heart of Ubud and get an insight into what makes it so delightfully unique. “We’ve chosen what we feel are the highlights of each location, so our guests can get a glimpse of the province over the course of a day, and it’s all wrapped it up in true Elite Havens style,” assures Andy Grant, Head of Concierge for Elite Havens.

Discover Batuan Village

Batuan, a village in Ubud noted for its artwork, is our first stop in the signature Elite Havens Ubud tour. It contains many cooperative art societies and galleries, which have all played a key role in promoting the local art of Batuan. Batuan is also a style of painting that originated in the village in the 1930s, and your Elite Havens guide will reveal further insights during the exclusive tour. “Expect to see true tropical jungles with vast ravines, and an abundance of local artisans working at their crafts, which have been passed down through generations,” Andy shares.

See Batuan Temple

You will be warmly welcomed into the home of a Balinese family, an unmissable opportunity where you can get a glimpse into the daily life of locals. Proceed from here to the stunning Batuan Temple, which is characterised by towering dark stones. Adorned with Balinese ornaments and elegant black roofs, the temple is known for housing ancient relics from prehistoric times. You will learn from your guide about the influence of Hindu culture in the region, and the origin of the statues on display.

Marvel at Art

We then take you to one of Ubud’s most prominent art galleries. Pause a while and take a look,

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