PHUKET: When we organized our visit to The Grill at Regent Cape Panwa, the newest luxury resort on the cape, I was intrigued by general manager Brice Borin’s offer to show us the “Regent experience” as he put it.
Later that week, sipping a cool drink at the open-air rooftop bar, watching a cruise liner sail off towards the horizon on the Andaman Sea, I was beginning to get a sense of what such an experience might entail.
When he sat to join us, we asked Brice to elaborate on what exactly he meant. “Take these prawn crackers for example” he said, gesturing to the spicy, crisp yellow crackers served with a rich satay sauce, that we had already started snacking on, “we make them ourselves, with our own mix of prawn and spices. In fact, we make our own jam, mustard and ice-cream… even our own bacon”. We were impressed, but it turns out that these are not the only individual components of the menu to be made from scratch, dozens of usually pre-ordered items, such as bacon, smoked salmon, even dried muscatel grapes, are all prepared from fresh ingredients in The Grill’s kitchen.
This dedication to sourcing the best ingredients, and allowing the quality of the food to speak for itself, is the hallmark of executive chef Justin Baziuk. Hailing from New Zealand, Justin has worked in top restaurants in Australia, China and Dubai, and it seems as if the Regent has let him off the leash, so to speak, when it comes to stocking his larder. The cuisine Justin is producing is simple, not overcomplicated in terms of flavor, and his main aim is to showcase the ingredients and allow them to be the stars of the show.
Soon, we moved down to the lower dining level, where Justin greeted us and began to take us through the menu. Within minutes, it became clear that he has an abiding passion for meat – good meat. He deftly explained to us some of the intricacies of Angus/Tajima crossbreeds, marble scores and grain fed versus pasture fed cattle.
“Coming out of Black Creek in Western Australia, I’ve got a Black Angus/Tajima Wagyu cross, which is pasture fed for 14 months and finished on grain for 450 days.
“To find a piece of meat that is finished on grain for that long is not that common and gives it that ultimate marbling,” he said. After that, the only question left to us was whether the cow was black or white, and in all likely hood, he could have told us.
We decided to leave ourselves in Justin’s capable hands when he offered to create a selection plate showcasing some of his champion ingredients. For starters, was a tasting platter of seared foie gras, raw eye tuna slices stuffed with blue swimmer crab and topped with caviar, Spanish white anchovies with shaved fennel and whiskey cured Tasmanian salmon (cured in-house, naturally). As we savored these fresh flavors, I spoke to Brice about the concept of The Grill restaurant as part of the Regent’s approach to hospitality.
“It’s what I call a fine dining experience, but still in a very casual way, ” he said.
The Grill has a extensive menu, but each of the ‘main’ ingredients can be prepared in a variety of cooking styles, so you can choose your meat and seafood and then specify how you would like it prepared.
“We do this so people can come to the same restaurant one night and have Western style and the next night have Asian style and the next Indian style and so on.”
By providing this exacting quality of food and service, Brice hopes his guests can enjoy a complete and relaxing holiday experience without ever having to leave the resort.
“I’m a hotelier, what I mean by that is, that I’m in the hotel business, I’m not in the business of hotels, if you have that [approach], business will come.
“My guests are coming and they enjoy it. We have guests that come and never leave the hotel. That’s what I want people to talk about, the experience.”
As we continued to talk, Justin returned to introduce the highlight of the evening. Sitting on the rectangular platter where several juicy morsels of meat, cooked to pink perfection. A sirloin of purebred Tajima, tenderloin from Tasmania’s Cape Grim, salt bush-fed Bultarra lamb “you can’t go past that” and finally a succulent rib eye of black Angus/Tajima beef. The incredibly tender meat truly did speak for itself, needing nothing but a drop of jus to accentuate its incredible flavors. Side dishes for this carnivore’s delight included, asparagus in truffle hollandaise, chips with shaved truffle and Parmesan, and finally, some delectable grilled portobello mushrooms.
Almost full to bursting after our main course, and some well-chosen wines from the extensive and reasonably priced wine list, we allowed Justin to persuade us to taste a selection of his decadent desserts. Chocolate was definitely the theme here, with fondant, ganache and ice-cream, all crafted with deep and deliciously rich 70 per cent Verona chocolate. The chocolate fondant with Bailey’s ice-cream was devilishly good, particularly for that oh-so-satisfying moment when the you crack it open to watch the lava-like filling flow onto the plate.
At this point, I was convinced of the pleasures of the ‘Regent experience’ and our appetites were utterly sated as we sat conversing, the taste of chocolate lingering on our tongues. We asked Brice what he liked most about Phuket since he moved here to run the Regent.
“I really love the Panwa area, it’s like Phuket 20 years ago, it keeps the true charm of Phuket,” he said. He lamented that so many of Phuket’s residents rarely venture to Cape Panwa and told us about an offer he has created to help attract locals. For the rest of June, when you come to enjoy dinner at The Grill, you only need to spend 5000 baht and you can turn your wonderful evening into a wonderful night by staying in a luxury room from only 2500 baht. What’s more, you get a sumptuous buffet breakfast the following morning.
“We want to attract the locals, so they don’t have an excuse not to come, like it’s too far, I say, now you have no excuse, you can stay the night,” said Brice with a grin.
So if your looking to indulge yourself, be sure to book a table at The Grill and enjoy your own Regent experience.
— Mark Knowles
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.
From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.
The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.
One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.
There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.
This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.
This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest
Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.
The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.
The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.
According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.
“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”
In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.
The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.
“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”
SOURCE: The ASEAN Post
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.
She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.
She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.
Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.
“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”
This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.
The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.
The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.
SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum
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