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Phuket Food: Discover the delights of durian

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Food: Discover the delights of durian | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The ineffable flavor of the durian has been a source of intense debate among locals and visitors to Southeast Asia for centuries. There have been countless attempts at describing the fruit’s pungent smell and unique taste; it has been likened to roast almonds, rotten onions, old gym socks and even turpentine.

While everyone has a different way of describing it – all seem to agree that there is nothing else quite like a durian. Its fans call it the ‘King of Fruits’; its detractors say it’s revolting and akin to “eating sweet strawberry blancmange in a lavatory”. Love it or hate it, tasting this exotic wonder-fruit is an essential experience for anyone who comes to Thailand.

Phuket’s second annual Durian Festival, being held at Thanyapura’s DiVine Restaurant, is a celebration of the beloved fruit and a tribute to its many culinary qualities. The festival is the brainchild of DiVine Restaurant Food and Beverage Manager Sereymony Or, who first struck upon the idea of showcasing durian dishes to guests while he was working at a hotel in Cambodia.

“When we did it there, we only had durian in a few dishes, but now we are using durian in almost all our dishes. The chef is very creative,” he said.

“When I came to Phuket, I saw that no other restaurants where using durian, so I saw the opportunity to show people the quality of Thai durian.”

Mr Sereymony said that many chefs are intimidated by the fruit’s reputation and fearful that guests will avoid dishes that incorporate it.

“We want to try to make everybody understand its not that bad to eat durian. It’s not a difficult food to eat.”

“Traditionally, people believe that durian can only be used for dessert, but we wanted to show that it can be used in many different ways,” he said.

DiVine Restaurant Director of Kitchen Operations, Sathaporn Boodmeechai, is a durian-lover and wants to banish any negative perceptions that surround its consumption – his inventive and extensive festival menu aims to do just that.

When Mr Seremony suggested the idea of the Durian festival, Chef Sathaporn immediately took up the challenge and began experimenting with new ways to integrate durian into a range of dishes.

In order to minimize the strong smell of the fruit, Chef Sathaporn came up with the novel idea of using it unripened. In its unripe state, it has a much milder taste and can be used in a similar way to traditional ingredients like potato, green papaya and eggplant.

To incorporate the infamous taste of ripe durian, without overpowering the other ingredients, small amounts of the ripe flesh has been blended into drinks, sauces and vinaigrettes to create subtle new flavors.

“We tried many types of durian, some were very sweet and some less sweet. For many of our dishes we used the less sweet variety and selected ones that were not too young, but also not too ripe,” said Chef Sathaporn.

The Phuket Gazette visited DaVine Restaurant recently to sample some of chef Sathaporn’s creations, which fuse high-quality ingredients with in a multitude of forms of the fruit, to put a twist on some of the restaurant’s classic dishes.

Upon arrival, we were served an infused soda, a refreshing introduction to the complex taste of the ripe fruit, before we moving on the much more subtly flavored dishes. Next came a plethora of delicious starters, including chili shrimp tacos with durian salsa, Thai style salad with durian, and crisp, spicy durian samosas with papaya chutney.

The highlight of the starters is the tuna tartar with durian, roasted capsicum and coriander salsa. The melt-in-the-mouth cubes of raw tuna are perfectly married with the coriander and contrasted by the crunchy-fresh texture of finely cut fruit and vegetable salsa.

Soon, a series of impeccably presented Thai and western style dishes arrived, running the full gamut of meat varieties including duck, beef, chicken, crab, scallops and fish. The pan-fried sardine stuffed with durian and pineapple with sweet chili sauce is a delight, the oily sardine flesh is perfectly cut by the sweetness of the stuffing, creating a perfect balance.

The roasted duck curry with young durian, longan, apple and basil highlighted our champion ingredient’s potato-like properties, but when you bite in to a piece, you can still detect a hint of the creamy texture that ripe flesh is famous for.

The durian gnocchi with scallops and durian scented mushroom cream was the perfect combination of ingredients, covered in a rich and creamy sauce to make a hearty dish.

After grazing on the many plates on offer, all so inviting that it is impossible not to try each one, it’s time for dessert. This is where the taste of the ripe fruit shines, in a selection of crepes, tarts, cakes, puddings, and even macaroons, all featuring the sweet, complex, rich and more-ish flavor of durian. The durian ice-cream is to die for; it has a hint of coconut, and perfectly compliments any of the delicious desserts.

Finally, we are invited outside, where fresh durians of many varieties are cut open and served to complete this ultimate durian experience.

Experience the unique taste of Asia’s ‘King of Fruits’ at the Durian festival at DiVine restaurant, Thanyapura, May 25-31 from 6:30 to 10pm. Food is served buffet style and the cost is 780 ++ baht per person.

Keep checking our Phuket Lifestyle pages for the latest happenings from across the island. Join our Facebook fan page or follow us at @PhuketGazette.

— Mark Knowles

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS – University of California, Berkeley | The Thaiger

PHOTO: BTS members posing with South Korean President Moon Jae In

400 million views, 500 million, 600 million. Just scroll through the group’s songbook on YouTube from the past five years and you will be watching music history in the making – a success built on a new pop genre, new ‘music business’ model and seven young South Koreans hell-bent on succeeding in the music world, beyond South Korea.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

Now, the global success of K-pop act BTS lies at the core of an academic course launched at the University of California, Berkeley. The student-run course has been announced on the university’s website as part of UC Berkeley’s Democratic Education at Cal program.

The group – consisting RM, J-Hope, Suga, V, Jungkook, Jimin and Jin – have amassed a social media following (called ARMY), ignited live audiences with their happier sharp choreography and won international awards. It hasn’t all been easy and their story, from seven teenagers living in one dorm in Seoul, to international music stars has lessons for all interested in modern pop music.

On the course “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” students will learn about the K-pop boy band’s growing global impact, which led to their immense success.

Now you can study the success of K-pop band BTS - University of California, Berkeley | News by The Thaiger

The DeCal program allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of subjects, as reported by Yonhap. The BTS class is an option for media students at UC Berkeley and will be offered for the first time in spring.

The course outline for “Next Generation Leaders: BTS” on the school’s website reads: “This course will focus on Korean boy group BTS and their global impact. We will attempt to explore the group’s history, artistry, philanthropy, and many other aspects in order to analyze their growing impact in society as well as their international success.”

It would also dive into the intricate world known as ‘Bangtan Universe’ that the group has created through its album concepts and videos. Media articles and interviews would be utilized as well, and students would come up with theories about the group’s success.

The orientation session for the course was held on Feb. 5, and a Twitter account has been dedicated to the course. A photo on Twitter showed the enrolled students watching a video of BTS’ acclaimed speech during a United Nations General Assembly session in September. BTS fans expressed their support for the program on Twitter.

BTS attended this year’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and made history as the first K-pop presenters at the event. The group’s album Love yourself: Tearwas nominated in the Best Recording Package category. They made history in 2018 with two Number One albums on the Billboard Top 200 charts.

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Thai Life

Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019)

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Top 10 news sources in Thailand (2019) | The Thaiger

…in English, in no particular order.

This post is mainly for newbies, tourists and people-interested-in-Thailand. Locals already have their home favorite news sources. But all these Top 10 do it well, in their own way. All are trying to navigate their way through the labyrinth of modern media, some better than others, whilst punching out daily news. We think they’re all stars because doing media in Thailand, in English, is a tough gig.

These are all news and information sources and the list doesn’t include the myriad of excellent blogs around – a topic for another Top 10.

1. Bangkok Post

Traditional news, still delivered as a daily newspaper, but with an expansive and thorough website. It’s been going since 1946 and reported on a coup or two, or three. As far as making the move into digital media is concerned, Bangkok Post is doing it better than most. Editorially it has has taken a, mostly, neutral political stance with a few exceptions. But, as newspapers go, it walks down the middle fairly reliably.

2. The Nation

The other major daily coming out of Bangkok is a lot newer than Bangkok Post, starting up in 1971. As the two broadsheets battle it out, The Nation has occasionally taken a more partisan line, famously turning its editorial voice against PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Recently the paper has been struggling with circulation and was taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News. At this stage there appears to be no impact on The Nation’s editorial stance but it’s falling circulation and advertising revenues are impacting its bottomline.

3. The Thaiger

Please indulge us as we put our own website and news in the Top 10. The Thaiger, only running as a national website since April 2018, is the fastest growing English-speaking online-only news and information site in the Kingdom (according to the ‘stats’).

The Thaiger are the new kids in town with everything to prove. The Thaiger curates the news and chooses topics it believes will be interesting, important or newsworthy, in English and Thai. The Thaiger bought out the Phuket Gazette’s digital assets in August 2017 but now has a national and regional focus, whilst continuing to pay homage to its home turf in Phuket. Currently has the third highest readership of any English-speaking news website in Thailand.

4. ThaiVisa

The biggest and most popular news website in Thailand (in English). If ‘The Thaiger’ curates, ThaiVisa splashes EVERYTHING onto its front page. If it moves or breathes, you’ll find the story on ThaiVisa. It’s big, bold and an eyeful of news. It’s also famous, or infamous, for its hugely popular forums where keyboard warriors dispense their opinions and wisdom on everything, usually tearing things to shreds. It’s the biggest English-speaking news website in Thailand and has been for a decade. Recently had a makeover and now has a purple cut durian as its logo – go figure.

5. Khaosod English

Fresh, selective, well-written and a rising star in real Thai english-language journalism. An offshoot of it’s much bigger Thai-language sister. To the point, original stories with a modern journalistic spark. They tend to choose their stories and provide excellent insight when they do. Original and deserving of your daily read.

6. Coconuts

Most would agree that when Coconuts started it was the best and cheekiest news blog for its time. Actually covering all of South East Asia, it’s Bangkok blog was a daily log-on for most hip expats. In recent times they’ve taken the brave ‘paywall’ option (because people want to pay for good journalism) which hasn’t affected their web hits, yet. In our opinion it’s lost a bit of its verve but it’s still a healthy and reliable daily read, for Thailand and the region. Singapore it its most popular location, Thailand is third.

7. Thailand News

A shameless aggregator, they copy and paste headlines and a few paragraphs with a link to the original story. Designed to rank in Google, the site is still in its early days. To avoid any copyright issues, the stories usually include a photo library ‘look-a-like’, instead of the real photo from the story. For all we know the entire site could be run by cleverly-coded robots. There is no sign of a human touch anywhere. Rather than a contributor to the world of Thai journalism, the site is just a parasite using everyone else’s news. But, hey, it’s a viable business model I suppose. Bottomline, it’s nicely set up and has, well, most of the stories around Thailand, all in one neat package.

8. The Phuket News

Phuket-based and Phuket-focussed, the weekly newspaper took on the well-established Phuket Gazette (which had been running since 1993) and eventually became the island’s one and only weekly ‘newspaper’ (somewhat of an oxymoron these days). The paper has always employed some of the best editorial staff in Thailand, runs a lifestyle and travel section and, well, is about as good a local paper as a tropical island could hope for. Also has a Russian and Thai version.

9. All Pattaya media

Whilst the rest of Thailand does things one way, Pattaya does things differently, in every aspect, including its media. It’s quite saturated with farang media – websites, Facebook pages, radio and cable TV – but there’s no single, ‘outstanding’ Pattaya news source. For the local expats there’s plenty of choice. Problem is there’s TOO much choice and the many are eating out of the same small advertising revenue pie.

10. Thai PBS World

A government news agency but has demonstrated its independence over the years. As a website it’s had more face-lists than Joan Rivers but remains solid, reliable and surprisingly (especially with the military government) unbiased. Also tends to cover stories the other don’t.

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Thai Life

Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand?

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Amnesty for possession of cannabis in Thailand? | The Thaiger

The Government is looking at a plan to grant amnesty to those who have been using, or have, cannabis in their possession, But only if they report to authorities within a given time frame.

The Drug Committee approved three draft legislations for amnesty yesterday.

If the drafts become law even possessors of cannabis, who are not patients or research units, will be automatically pardoned, no questions asked.

The Food and Drug Administration secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong says… “We have already passed the draft regulations, but there are still many steps left. The FDA will have to put these drafts through public hearings and gather opinions for further review.”

He was speaking after chairing a meeting with the Drug Committee, during which the green light was given to several draft laws yesterday.

The approved drafts included three announcements designed to grant amnesty to government agencies, private firms, community enterprises, practitioners of traditional Thai medicine, research organisations, patients and everybody else who use or possess cannabis.

“They must report within 90 days once the announcement goes into effect,” Tares explained.

Under Thai law, cannabis is an illicit drug and possession or use of it is punishable by a fine and/or a jail term.

However, the Kingdom is currently in the process of allowing the use of medical marijuana, and several draft laws are being prepared to facilitate the enforcement.

According to the plan, patients who use marijuana for health reasons will be allowed to continue using the drug after they register themselves for amnesty and till the medical-marijuana system is introduced.

Marijuana is believed to be useful for patients battling Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, some stress conditions, chronic pain, and nausea related to chemotherapy.

SOURCE: The Nation

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