Not an early start for this trip, so it was nice to get up and say goodbye to the family in a civilized way. I had to pack a lot of gear, including a dinner jacket and smart white chefs jacket (more about this later) I normally pride myself with packing light, but not this time. As I was to be away for the best part of three weeks I had to pack three large bags. My boss on this trip, Lynsey, had told me that we were making 9 films in total, so to make sure I had at last one shirt per film plus trousers!! That alone nearly filled one bag. Boss, plus Nigel (sound) and Will (camera/researcher) left two days earlier to get GV’s prior to my arrival. Billy my driver picked me up and duly delivered me bang on time to terminal 3 London Heathrow.
Phil's Asian Feasts
As a chef I have travelled to many places in the world, but on this trip I will be travelling to Asia, home to some of the most exotic cuisine. Travelling on the Eastern & Oriental Express from Bangkok, to Singapore.
It may only be 7am but it is already warm and humid as we head off to film in a local floating market. We drive about 30 minutes north of Bangkok City and arrive as the market is still setting up and have a nice coffee. The stallholders are cutting, chopping and cooking. We film ladies gently frying quails eggs, huge vats of bubbling stock with all sorts of extremities simmering away. Banana leaves stuffed with meats, baby crabs or vegetables.
After being away for the best part of 3 weeks filming, I was really looking forward to relaxing and having a complete rest. This trip had taken me to Hong Kong for a week where we filmed Dim Sum, roast pork and tea. Next stop had been Bangkok to learn how to make the prefect Thai curry and finally pick up the train and cook on the Eastern & Oriental Express all the way through Malaysia to Singapore.
Dining on the Eastern & Oriental Express
I sleep better, but still trying to used to the rocking and rolling of the train. The occasional rattling of the whole carriage as it goes over the points wakes me, but soon drop off again. At 8am sharp Sungkom delivers breakfast (he’s good). This morning it’s a fresh fruit yogourt plus the normal pastries and juices. The sun is up already and I have coffee in bed whilst typing up all the notes from dinner last night. I have about an hour before we stop at the border, so try to make good use of it. I hate wasting time.
Eastern & Oriental Express
We get up early and have a nice breakfast right by the waters edge. A lovely view of the river. It's very hot and steamy. The breakfast offering is vast and very well cooked and presented; as I would expect staying at a 5 star hotel, but some I have stayed at have been very poor in comparison. The coffee was the best of the trip so far and I treat myself to a second cup. The crew are happy and in good spirits after our night out. Sam turns up and we head off out again to get the rest of the ingredients and the cooking utensils we need to cook on the River Kwai tomorrow.
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.
Up early, slept really well, bed was very comfortable fell really rested? It was probably the best night sleep of the trip so far. Mind you it did thunder a few times in the night.
I wander downstairs and into the breakfast room. I’m greeted warmly by all the staff and they show me to my table. I order off the local dish menu and have Nasi Lemak. It’s a dish of rice, small wing of fried chicken and cucumber. Alongside is a dish dried fried anchovies, peanuts and a sambal, fiery hot and sweet. On top of the rice is a fried egg. In my haste, I add a little too much sambal, wow…but once mixed in with the rice its all very nice. After a couple of cappuccino’s I sit back and start to think about the day.