Penang

Phil's Asian Feasts

Penang

Right on time Sungkom (my butler one of three on my far east journey) knocks and brings in my coffee tray. Coffee hot pastries hot, but could not force down the Cornflakes. I’m loving the service by the way. We alight the train at Wang Po or very near, Nigel tried to befriend a puppy but he’s having none of it. We head off to the river Kwai, it takes about 40 minutes in a small mini bus. It’s a bright morning, the sun is low but its already very warm.
At the Felix resort we are met by the staff who have set up a cooking station right on the river. We too and fro as the sun is moving all the time and decide which area would be the best place to film. It overlooks the infamous bridge. I stand and stare at this trophy to extreme suffering and think about the film…. Its quite a moving moment. I think of the thousands of lives that were lost in the making of this railway. In fact they say that for every sleeper laid, it represents a life lost. I can’t help but think about the famous film with Alec Guinness and loose myself for a few moments. I struggle with the enormity of the whole job and how human’s can be so cruel to each other.

With this still in my mind I quietly and quickly I set up and we are ready to film my Thai Congee breakfast cookery slot. Yannis, love him, had prepared for me some congee, a sort of rice gruel. Its eaten all over Asia for breakfast. Its made by simply boiling rice in water or stock until it falls apart. Its then flavoured with various bits and pieces. These can range from sliced hot chilli and garlic oil, to peanuts and fresh Thai basil, coriander root and crispy onions. I start by sautéing the very lean pork I had bought in the market in Bangkok for a few seconds then adding a little fresh garlic.
I added that to the broth along with the pan juices and then garnished with 3 herbs, peanuts, cashew nuts and a little Nam Prik, a powerful fish paste. It was quick 12 minutes to be precise and looked great on camera. It had to be because the train was arriving in 20 minutes. So we hopped onto 2 tail motorboats. Basically thin canoe type craft that have reconditioned truck engines in them, they are mad!!!!! The lads who drive them are very proud of them, and pimp them up by chroming various covers and housings. They really do fly.

We get onto the bridge at the right time and train rolls into view. Everyone goes a little quiet and the engine carefully and slowly rolls onto the bridge. There are a lot of people taking photos and another film crew from Japan are near us. It stops right on the bridge and our fellow passengers get off and go for a river cruise. We film underneath and on the bridge once the train and moved on to Kanchanaburi station where we will get back on. We finally get all the shots we need and get back into the bus. It’s a welcome respite from the heat. Once on the train I shower and have a quick nap, then write up a few notes before lunch. We pass through small towns, open fields and lush vegetation; Thailand certainly is a beautiful place.

Lunch again was in the Rosaline restaurant and we were on the second sitting at 1.30. The restaurant is light and airy and has the smell and feel of a lovely old country house hotel. The smiling staff bring a wonderful array of breads and we are poured chilled water. The view outside is turning more tropical, with banana trees and fish farms springing up everywhere. Even large mountains start to appear. Back to lunch, Yannis pops out to see us and we film up buying ingredients with him tomorrow at the market and also for his cooking demonstration on board the train.

Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background

We start with seared scallops with Calamansi chilli on green papaya and pomelo salad, a light-refreshing starter, its very nice. Next a chicken roll with masala spices on a lemongrass risotto. Finally a pineapple tarte tatin with ice cream and pink candyfloss. The kitchen really does pump out some lovely food.

After lunch its back to the filming and we do a couple of pieces to camera stopping at Hua Hin. After an hour or two we start to see the sea from the train, and the terrain changes somewhat. After that we head into my room for more filming, the outside on the viewing deck for a final piece whilst the sun sets below the palm trees.
A gin and tonic later I’m back in the room to write some more before our dinner at 9.15 sharp.
Dinner is good again with lovely breads to start with. This evening we are dining in the Adisorn restaurant car some 8 coaches away from my own. A lovely taster of we had to start; sadly I cannot find it in my notes anywhere swiftly followed by a really delicate twice-baked cheese soufflé with a lovely shellfish sauce. The soufflé not too heavy on the cheese, the sauce spiked with tiny rounds of vegetables.

I had Thai fish curry, with rice and Asian vegetables. The fish delicately poached in a wonderful spicy broth, probably the best sauce I have had on my trip so far. Rice and a fried vegetable to accompany were again just perfect.
Yannis pops out and we re-schedule our cooking to 9 not 8 as we are travelling over the border into Malaysia and the customs guys get on and go through the whole train, even checking his kitchens. This pleases Lynsey, as she has to check all the kit through as well.
I bid goodnight to everyone and head back to my cabin, Sungkom has it already for me. The blinds are drawn and the bed is perfectly made.

 

Seriously Good! Gluten-Free products