Pum Thai Cooking School

Patong, Phuket, Thailand.

We stopped in at this cooking school on the main road through Patong (the back road, not the beach drag) because we had an hour and a half to kill before the movie we were going to see, and needed to get dinner anyway. Seeing as they had express classes, where you cook two dishes in 45 minutes, it was pretty serendipitous.

I have to say up front, the express classes probably aren’t the best, especially if you want to learn more than a process. All of the prep work is done for you, which speeds things up, but takes away the learning opportunities – asking questions about ingredients and learning prep tricks is half the fun of a cooking class I think – and it wasn’t much more than a hands-on version of watching a cooking show. That being said, it was still fun.

Mr N (seen above) cooked a green chicken curry, which was tasty, but a little too sweet for my liking. I should stress here that it wasn’t his fault, as you’re pretty much coached through exactly how much of each ingredient to use, so the result is pretty uniform. The recipes are just need some refining. The pad Thai Mr N also made was OK, but surprisingly had no tamarind in it at all, and the egg was fried separately to the rest of the dish, and not incorporated into the noodles. Weird. Mr N was also quite sure that the green curry was the source of his gastrointestinal problems for the next couple of days, but we ate a lot of stuff on holiday, so it’s hard to be sure.

I made the tom yum goong, which was pretty uninspired – we just used a tom yum paste, and the prawns weren’t of great quality – to the point I didn’t even take a photo of it. I also made a pad see-ewe, which was not bad, but again, I followed the recipe, and it was a bit too sweet for me.

I think that the longer classes would be more educational, as one includes a market visit, so I’d presume you get to do all the prep yourself. I think next time I do a Thai cooking class, I’m definitely going to learn to make curry paste from scratch.

Malina’s at Aspasia Resort

The Aspasia Phuket
1/3 Laem Sai Road, Kata Beach, Karon Sub-District,
Muang, Phuket 83100 – Thailand
Tel.: (66-76) 284 430, Fax: (66-76) 333 035

We stayed at this resort in Phuket a couple of weeks ago. Originally, we were booked in for three nights, after which we were thinking of going to another island, or over to Krabi, but the room and the service were just too good, so we extended our stay for another four nights. Tip: book through agoda.com for the best rate.

As part of our booking, we received a voucher for a free dinner at the hotel restaurant. Initially, I was a little skeptical, because hotel/resort restaurants aren’t always the greatest, and when you’re in Thailand, there are so many opportunities for great food to be had! But after a tiring day at the beach and by the pool (it’s a hard-knock life for us) we decided to be lazy and just eat at the resort. The free dinner was comprised of a three course set menu, which had pretty much everything on the a la carte menu anyway, and which allowed you to choose dishes from each of the Thai or Western menus for each course. So it wasn’t really a set menu, it was more of a restricted a la carte.

To start with, Mr N chose the spring rolls, which were tasty enough, but nothing to write home about. I chose a seafood soup from the Western menu, which was rather bland, and not even worth photographing.

For mains, I chose the Massaman chicken drumstick, served with a curious half-white, half-blue steamed rice. There didn’t really seem to be any flavour to the blue rice, so I’m not sure exactly what the point of it was. The chicken itself was well cooked, and the Massaman sauce (not a curry) was sweet with hints of anise and cloves. I’m not sure if Massaman is supposed to be like that, but it was very good.

Mr N chose the Phanaeng curry pork, which similarly came with the strange bi-coloured rice. The curry was creamily coconut-ty, and not too challenging on the spice-meter. In my esitmation, it was a little bland, but Mr N enjoyed it, which is the important thing.

For dessert, we stuck to the Thai menu again. I chose the banana fritter with vanilla ice cream, which came out in small banana chunks, as opposed to a whole banana. I think this might have been because they were using smaller lady finger bananas, which taste better anyway, so I was happy. I was also happy because this upped the batter-to-banana ratio! Mr N chose the mango with sticky rice option, which was great (mangoes were right in season then) though sticky rice was a little heavy for dessert after two courses.

All in all, the food was fine, but not amazing. We also revisited the restaurant many times for breakfast (included with the room) and the buffet spread was consistently great. I love an egg station which does eggs any style you like. I also love substituting croissants for toast; a little thing I do when on holidays!

What do you go for at a breakfast buffet?