Eat Asia shows you ‘Splash and Spice’ festival thanks to TAT and Visa
Thailand’s ‘Splash and Spice Festival’ has been extended and to celebrate the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invited food-fanatic Natalie and Eat Asia to Pattaya to sample its best cuisine. Thailand’s focus on culture and culinary tourism got a boost between 1 March – 31 May, 2015, when the TAT and Visa International (VISA) organized a specialized food festival. In ‘Spice and splash’ specific restaurants in hotels in the four-to-five-star categories in Thailand’s six major tourist destinations (Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Samui) get to enjoy a ‘one price point menu.’
To sample some offerings in seaside town Pattaya the Eat Asia team left Bangkok early Saturday morning, presented with traditional lunchboxes filled with juicy pork slices, sticky rice, fresh vegetables and Rose Apples – a snack for the road! First stop was to Aco Bistro at Tsix 5 Hotel to be taught how to cook two traditional Thai dishes with their chefs. Grilled Pork in Red Curry was the first to be demonstrated – a creamy curry with the smokiness of the grilled meat in tact. Followed by Banana in Syrup – a deliciously simple yet addictive combination of stewed local bananas topped with sugar syrup and fresh coconut cream.
Next it was onto modern Cape Dara Resort and Radius Restaurant right on the oceanfront. A demonstration of their signature dish on the ‘Splash and Spice’ menu, Lemongrass-crusted Australian Lamb Rack, was given. Juicy lamb was cooked perfected medium and covered in a zingy crust, served on wasabi mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Natalie was the lucky chosen one to taste the dish, giving it her full seal of approval!
For something cultural, the group was taken to The Sanctuary of Truth – an exquisite entirely wooden temple located in Naklua. 34 years into its continuous construction, the hand-carved masterpiece is constantly evolving. And at 100m in height and 100m wide, it is a true sight to behold. Back to the delicious food – the tour stopped at Ruffino Italian restaurant in Centara Phratamnak. Sitting on the rooftop and with panoramic sea views, Natalie was served 2-year cured Italian Parma Ham and fresh Honeydew melon, topped with basil and balsamic reduction. Simply served yet complex in character, this dish is a classic for a reason.
As night was closing in the caravan of passionate foodies were taken to Glasshouse Restaurant – a huge Thai eatery by the beach. A huge seafood feast followed, with Natalie challenged to eat the spiciest dish on the whole menu! Did she survive? You will have to watch the video to find out.
The following morning was a 7am visit to the local fresh market – an extravaganza of fresh fruit, gleaming seafood, ready-to-eat delights and smiling vendors. Natalie was given a tip off that the local squid cooked in its own ink was a ‘must have’ so she snapped up some to try later, as well as freshly grilled squid. To inject some adventure, the group visited Cartoon Network Amazone – a cartoon themed water park filled with thrilling water slides. For families, locals and tourists alike – if you love the water you cannot miss this. They are currently building the world’s largest water slide of its type, opening around the middle of 2015, so watch this space. After fun in the sun, it was time to head back to Bangkok with the only fitting goodbye to a food trip of this kind – an extravagant seafood lunch. Prawns, squid, rock lobster, mussels – you name the crustacean and you would have found it! Back on the bus and straight into a perfect afternoon food-coma!