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Thailand’s Sweet Indulgences

in Culture/Dining/News/Shops/Tips by
Chocolate

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”

– Katharine Hepburn

Thailand is world-renowned for its amazing street food, exotic tropical fruits, and delicious sweet desserts. But for those visiting Thailand who need their chocolate fix, there is one artisan chef in Phuket who is the go-to guy when it comes to anything dark, milky or white.

Thailand does not have a rich history of chocolate unlike some of its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Indonesia, which grew almost no cocoa before the early 1980s when production took off like a rocket. Now, Indonesia is the world’s third leading producer of cocoa beans. Cocoa production in Thailand fell out of favour decades ago for rubber, but lately there has been a resurgence with a small number of growers and producers emerging in northern and western Thailand.

Thai cocoa is finally getting the recognition it deserves, with two Thai chocolate producers placed high in the 2018 International Chocolate Awards show.

Paradai brand took silver for their Belize dark milk 63% bar in the ‘dark milk chocolate’ category and Kad Kokoa won bronze in the ‘plain dark chocolate bar’ category for their Chiang Mai single origin bar. They also opened Bangkok’s first bean-to-bar café in Sathorn earlier this year, offering all things chocolatey, from desserts and hot chocolate to cocoa butter soap.

English award-winning Pastry Chef Peter Webber trained at School Le Notre in Paris to study pastry and chocolate and started work at The Inn on The Park, London and The Savoy Hotel, where he gained his first Executive Pastry Chef position and was honoured by being sent to do promotions at The Okura Hotel in Tokyo and The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok. He was also involved in many special events and competitions in Europe.

Chef Peter moved to Asia to the famed Oriental Hotel, Bangkok as the Executive Pastry Chef where he would stay for more than a decade, even pleasing the taste buds of the Queen of England during official state visits at The Grand Palace.

Chef Peter now owns and creates chocolate masterpieces at his patisserie, Les Diables, inspiring and serving a loyal clientele with the utmost attention to taste and detail. They specialise in cakes for special occasions,

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Chocolate Heaven in Bali

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It’s Easter this Sunday, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to get your hands on the most delicious chocolates to celebrate the holiday. Chocolates are definitely a “Bali thing,” as evidenced from the number of shops that offer them. The chocolate industry in Bali boomed in the early 1990’s. You’ll find everything from local convenience-store varieties to high-end imported brands. The most flavorful ones we’ve tried here, however, are both homegrown and posh. They’re also all organic and ethically-sourced. From vegan to creamy-smooth varieties, here are the top four.

1) Pod

Easter Chocolate - Pod

Known as one of Indonesia’s best chocolate brands, Pod is the creation of Toby Garritt, who hails from Adelaide, Australia. During his studies in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Garritt met his future wife Inda, an Indonesian princess. Fast forward several years and the couple have made Bali their home. It was here that Garritt first thought of creating a chocolate that could rival European ones in flavor and quality. In 2013, the first Pod chocolate was created using Balinese cacao and European machines and processes.

Pod is proud of using locally-and-ethically-sourced ingredients that are sustainable. The brand helps local communities remain relevant in the making of high-quality, delicious chocolates.

Our analysis? The Café Mocha variety gives off a pleasant coffee smell. The chocolate itself has a perfect creamy texture and an excellent sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor. An added bonus is a coffee-bean crunch with each bite.

The Michelin Guide has hailed Pod “a small band of chocolate makers turning the $100 billion chocolate industry on its head.”

2) Elevated Cacao

Easter Chocolate - Elevated Cacao

Like it’s name suggests, Elevated Cacao goes above and beyond your typical chocolate brand. The label, which hails from Ubud, has a deep appreciation for chocolate, which it claims lifts moods, makes people feel better and, simply, “smile.” Raw, vegan and absolutely ethically-sourced, Elevated Cacao is the brainchild of foreigners Amanda and Paul, who met in Yoga Teacher Training in 2015. Paul was an experienced chocolatier and taught Amanda the business of raw chocolate-making. The two focus their time on creating only the healthiest and purest forms of chocolates.

One of the brands initiatives?

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Chef du Jour: Villa 1880

in Dining by

Entering Villa 1880, you are transported back in time. Set on a lot in Bali surrounded by palm trees large enough to cover its 8-foot high surrounding fence, Villa 1880 is reminiscent of a colonial plantation. Owned by an interior designer and a vintage store owner, the tastefully decorated villa includes among its decor a large boulder on sand, a giant stuffed peacock, and china from a shipwreck. Other modern touches are seen in upholstery from Hermès and clusters of modern hanging lamps. Whimsical and unique, Villa 1880 is full of little details.

You may not want to leave the 5-bedroom  (including an 8-kids-bunk-bedroom) villa, what with its impeccable service and design. But if you feel like taking a stroll, Batu Belig Beach is only 500 metres away. The villa is also a close drive to Seminyak and Canggu. This is Bali at its best, with food that lives up to expectations.

We interviewed Chef Adi Sutrisna, who shared with us his recipe for Lemon Butter Salmon with Couscous. Simple but flavorful, the dish was made with fresh vegetables and salmon. The couscous was freely dribbled with lemon butter sauce and vegetable stock. It had just the right mix of gritiness and mushiness.

Why do you like this dish? Why do you make this dish?

I like everything. I like making this dish because there are many Asian flavors and I like them all.

Ah, the different flavors. Why do you like them?

I think all food is essentially the same. There is no good food or bad food. Italian, Asian, they are all good.

Do your guests at the villa agree?

In the villa, we have guests from all over the world. They all like my flavours because I use all kinds, especially Asian.

What’s your main dish usually made of? Beef, pork, seafood?

I like salmon. Salmon is a nice fish.

How long have you been cooking?

I studied hospitality decades ago and I’ve been cooking since 2000.

What’s your favorite thing about being a chef?

I like to experiment with flavors. Western with Asian.

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Chef du Jour: Villa Pangi Gita

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Villa Pangi Gita sits in the heart of Canggu but might as well be nestled in the middle of the jungle. That’s what it feels like in the verdant areas filled with little houses designed to look like Balinese huts.

Each space – including the open-sided living room, the study and the bedrooms – is topped by iron-wood shingle roofs. In tandem with water features scattered throughout, you feel the traditional Bali vibe.

The food in this 3-bedroom villa complements its decor and architecture. Scrumptious with a clean flavor, it’s cooked up by Chef Gus, who’s skilled in Asian and European cuisine.

Chef, please tell me your name and what you do in the villa.

My name is Ida Bagus Adhi Kusuma. People call me Gus. I’ve been working in Pangi Gita since 2012. I started around 2005. 

What do you cook? Did you study cooking before?

Actually, I graduated from a tourism hospitality university. Diploma 1.  And then I worked in a big hotel.  

What is Diploma 1?

Diploma 1 is the one year program to go in University after senior year of high school. So I took a one-year program in the hospitality industry in food and beverage products. Then I worked in one of the biggest hotels in Bali. And then in the airport, in a catering company, and then some other villas. The latest is here. I’ve been here for about 9 years.

What kind of cuisine do you make?

I am able to cook Balinese food, Indonesian food and even European food. I can also make cakes. I used to work as a pastry chef in a hotel. We had a special request for carrot cake for one of our retreat guests and I made a special one.

How would you describe what you cook?

Cooking is an art. Cooking is also an hobby.  So if you have patience in cooking, you’ll able to deliver an excellent dish to your guests.

What are you making us tonight? What are you cooking tonight?

For starters, we will serve a salad, the prawn tuna salad.

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Spilling the beans – Chef Poo’s Pad Thai, Baan Bon Khao Phuket

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Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao

One of the highlights of staying at a private villa on your vacation is that you get to sample superb food prepared exclusively for you by skilled in-house chefs – many of whom have trained at internationally renowned restaurants. Elite Havens’ villa menus showcase an extensive range of Asian delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own particular specialties that shouldn’t be missed.
 
With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve persuaded some of our chefs to spill the beans and share their favourite recipes. In the Baan Bon Khao kitchen, Chef Poo cooks up a classic and much-loved Thai dish, Pad Thai with Prawns in an Egg Parcel.
 

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao 5

With spectacular sea and sunset views, Baan Bon Khao is an ideal getaway for families or groups.  Luxuriating on a hillside estate near Surin Beach, this four-bedroom villa features an infinity pool and stately living and dining pavilions.  Guests are well cared for by the villa manager, chef and personal driver.

Here’s an exclusive from the  Baan Bon Khao kitchen. 

Egg wrapped Pad Thai with Prawns Recipe
(Serves 2 – 4)

Spilling the beans Baan Bon Khao ingredients

Ingredients :

The sauce

  • 35 grams palm sugar, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp water

Pad Thai

  • 4 ounces dry rice noodles (choose one that is about 2mm wide)
  • 6 – 8 prawns, or as many as you’d like, peeled and deveined.
  • 1 small head shallot, thinly sliced, about 3 tbsp
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp, chopped
  • 1-piece of pressed tofu, cut into small pieces
  • ½ tsp of chili flakes, or to taste
  • 4 eggs – 2 for Pad Thai, 2 beaten for egg parcel
  • 5 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup garlic chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 lime

Directions :

The Sauce: Mix all together and set aside.

Step 1: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour, until the noodles turn from translucent to completely white and are very pliable.

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