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

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families 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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Chef du jour: Villa Jia at Jivana Villas

in Destinations/Dining by

Villa Jia, part of the exclusive Jivana Beach Villas estate, is a luxurious fully staffed beachfront villa located on the pristine white sands of Natai Beach in rural Phang Nga, just 25 minutes from Phuket International Airport. With six ensuite bedrooms strewn across vast lawns, coupled with sweeping views of the Andaman Sea, Villa Jia is the perfect escape for those who appreciate aesthetic design paired with stunning natural beauty.

In Villa Jia’s impressive kitchen at Jivana Beach Villas, Chef Koong cooks up a simple but super tasty Thai-style wonton or เกี๊ยวทอด, Kiao Tod in Thai.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Koong: My cooking knowledge comes from on-the-job experience and I have learnt an array of new techniques from other chefs that I have worked with. I didn’t go to cooking school but I’ve learnt from my work experience and through trainings at the workplace.

EH: What do you think makes a good chef/cook?

CK: Fresh ingredients, hygiene and the most important factor would be the taste of food. A good chef must be fascinated with the art of cooking, always seeking to improve, using new techniques.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us today?

CK: Villa guests always remark that they are the best wontons they’ve ever had.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

CK: Guests who are impressed with our food, will spread the word to their friends and family. My goal is for guests to feel compelled to come back and stay with us at the villa, allured by the flavours of my food.

EH: What should guests expect from you when you cook for them?

CK: Taste, great presentation, and food served on time.

Chef Koong’s Fried Wontons with Chicken

Only takes 20 mins to make, including wrapping. Super crispy and yummy.

Makes 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 500g ground chicken
  • ½ tsp Sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Wonton wrappers
  • 3 Pandan leaves cut into thin strips
  • Water for sealing
  • Oil for frying
  • Thai Sweet chili sauce

Directions

Step 1: In a bowl,

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Chef du jour: Villa Amarelo

in Culture/Dining/Families by

At Elite Havens, each villa’s menu showcases an extensive range of Asian and western delights to cater to every guest’s tastes, but of course each chef has his or her own specialties that shouldn’t be missed. 

The stylish six-bedroom escape Villa Amarelo, part of the Sava Beach Villas estate, seamlessly melts into the white sands of Natai Beach, less than half an hour’s drive north of Phuket airport. Featuring a 25-metre pool, a garden gazebo, private chef and large indoor and outdoor living areas, Villa Amarelo makes for a memorable holiday and wedding destination on the shores of the Andaman Sea, the ideal spot for a family holiday, dream wedding or group soiree.

In the kitchen at Villa Amarelo, which has stunning views of the swimming pool and the beautiful Natai Beach, Chef Lek cooks up a traditional Thai starter Goong Sarong, ‘wrapped prawns’. It looks great and tastes even better.

Elite Havens: What is your cooking background?

Chef Lek: I worked as a housekeeping attendant at Villa Saanti, but the villa didn’t provide a chef. Therefore, I needed to learn cooking to help out the owner. Later on, I worked as a comis chef at Akyra Hotel for a year and a half. There, I learnt how to cook many kinds of western dishes.

EH: What do you think makes a good cook?

CL: Ensuring that all the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. A good eye for detail and being able to adapt to different styles and requests from guests.

EH: What did you cook for us today?

CL: Goong Sarong, which is whole prawns wrapped in rice noodles.

EH: Why did you choose to make this dish for us?

CL: Thailand, especially the south, produces amazing fresh seafood, and the prawns are a must-try if you visit Phuket. Local prawns and local Phuket noodles together make a great-tasting and wonderful-looking dish.

EH: What is your specialty dish or the flavors you like to cook with?

CL: I love local Southern Thai food. It has such amazing flavors. I really love to cook Southern Thai Red Curry with beef.

EH: Can you tell us how your cooking adds to the villa?

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Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn Just Crowned

in Culture/News by

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn was crowned Saturday, May 4, 2019.

“I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever,” the King announced.

66-year old King Vajiralongkorn assumed the throne 2 years ago. On Saturday, during a televised ritual from the Grand Palace, he took his crown from the country’s chief Brahmin, a Hindu priest. The ceremony was a mixed Buddhist-Hindu ceremony, observing the country’s main religions.

 
 
 
 
 
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#ขอพระองค์ทรงพระเจริญ

A post shared by Lan-laCafe.rimtang (@ls.nookie) on May 4, 2019 at 5:18pm PDT

King Vajiralongkorn became Crown Prince and heir apparent in 1972. He studied in Australia and the UK. He has two daughters and five sons. Last week, the king wed his new queen, General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya.

 
 
 
 
 
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#ขอพระองค์ทรงพระเจริญ ???#เรารักสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์ไทย??

A post shared by Duangjun Phunniam (@phunniam) on May 5, 2019 at 8:52am PDT

We are honoured to join the kingdom of Thailand in celebrating the auspicious occasion of the royal coronation of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Long live the King.

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Splendid Samui for the Whole Family

in Destinations/Families/Recreation/Tips by
elite havens official launching party - 18-03-2018 (229)

It is astonishing how much the charming tropical Thai island of Koh Samui has changed just over the last 10 years.  Expansion of the airport and direct flights from cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore have transformed the island from a backpackers’ haven to a sophisticated and vibrant resort island with leading international 5-star resorts, fabulous restaurants, and a wide choice of private holiday villas all over the island.

Holidaymakers looking to rent a villa in Samui are spoiled for choice by the Elite Havens collection which offers a superb range of luxury beachfront residences on some of the islands most beautiful beaches, spectacular hillside retreats with jaw-dropping views and palatial pleasure palaces with every  imaginable luxury, available for rent.      

There’s nothing quite like a villa stay for those who want to relax and be themselves among friends and family, where you have the flexibility and total freedom you never quite get in a hotel. 

In Samui, whichever villa you decide on, the relatively small island – you can drive around it in just over an hour –  means you are never very far from anywhere.

It’s an easy island to explore and fall in love with.    

Villa Neung is a chic designer villa with beachfront access to the idyllic Laem Noi Beach – an unspoiled white sandy stretch on the north-west coast, fringed by coconut palms and washed by a shallow blue sea. 

Designed for luxury tropical living, the villa has its own 15-metre beachfront pool, three ensuite double bedrooms and an airy, open-plan living and dining pavilion with stylish Thai-inspired interiors, making it an appealing beach holiday escape for families or small groups of friends.

Villa Nueng - Stylish villa facadeVilla Neung

The villa’s own staff will take care of absolutely everything, preparing delicious Thai and western meals to order, booking spa therapists, organizing tours and activities, perhaps setting up a picnic or candlelit dinner on the beach, and even watching over the young ones while you take a break.

For a change of scenery, a number of rustic beachside restaurants and bars are just a stroll along the beach and it’s only 20-30  minutes’ drive to the chic boutiques, trendy restaurants and nightlife of Maenam, Fisherman’s Village in Bophut and Chaweng.

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