Samui Wining & Dining
Veggie Treat

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the vegetarian cuisine at Nora Buri Beach Resort.

 

14Nora Buri Beach Resort & Spa is one of the newest luxury resorts to open on Samui. Their 144 rooms, villas and suites are located on a spectacular hillside that rolls down to a secluded bay in the northern end of Chaweng. It overlooks the tiny island of Koh Matlang which you can walk out to when the tide is low.

 

Sitting proudly beside the beach is their stunning restaurant The Barge. It’s so called because its shape is based on old rice barges that used to frequent the island long before became a tourist destination. Built on three levels the ground floor houses ‘The Barge Fine-Dining’ restaurant, ‘The Barge Lounge’ is on the second floor and ‘The Barge Rice & Terrace’, which focuses on Thai cuisine, is on the third floor.

 

Since opening, Executive Chef Surachai, and his team have gained a reputation for innovative dishes that combine classic recipes with modern cooking techniques and presentation. And vegetarians will be pleased to know that they haven’t been forgotten. Whether you’re in the mood for Thai or International flavours you’ll find them here. Let’s start at the top as it were with Chef Surachai’s recommendations for a three-course Thai vegetarian meal.

 

First we have the appetizer – Poh pia pak tord – deep-fried vegetable spring rolls served with plum sauce. Spring rolls are a classic Asian starter and frying them gives a crispy bite. Dipped in a sweet and sour plum sauce they’re the perfect beginning to a Thai meal.

 

Follow that with one of the most popular main course dishes in the country – Gaeng kiaw waan pak ruam – green curry with mixed vegetables. The name ‘green’ derives from the colour of the dish and they tend to be as hot as red curries, however, green curries, regardless of heat, have a definite and desired sweetness that’s not usually associated with red curries. Ingredients in the sauce include: coconut milk, green curry paste, aubergine, sugar, soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil. Its consistency varies depending on the amount of coconut milk that’s used and the last two ingredients are usually added at the end of the cooking process for fragrance.

 

Then you can round off your meal with a traditional dessert – Fak thong sang-ka-ya – pumpkin custard with coconut cream.

Down on the ground floor you can sit right by the beach and simply take in the view as you savour some classic French and Italian inspired vegetarian creations from The Barge’s International menu. Again, here are some of Chef Surachai’s suggestions.

 

For an appetizer, there’s the Old-fashioned French Onion Soup served with cheese bread. French onion soup has ancient origins but the modern version appeared in 18th century restaurants in France. Caramelization of the onions is the key to its success and they are cooked slowly until the melting sugars approach burning temperature, becoming brown. Some recipes suggest half an hour of cooking time, but many chefs allow for hours of cooking to bring out the complex flavours of the onions’ sugars. Sweating the onions to draw out the liquid is an important step and this can be accomplished by tossing the onions in butter or olive oil, adding salt, and then covering the pot and letting the onions cook over a very low heat. The salt and heat draw the liquid out of the onions and in the final stages of cooking cognac or sherry is often used to enhance the caramelized onion flavour and to deglaze the pan.

 

And a light, low-fat and flavoursome Italian-inspired vegetarian main course of Spinach and Ricotta Roll baked with a broccoli sauce should set you up nicely for a wonderful classic dessert – Cherries Jubilee.

 

It gets its name because Escoffier, who headed the kitchen at London’s Savoy Hotel in the late-19th century, created it for the ‘Golden Jubilee’ 50th-anniversary celebration of Queen Victoria in 1887. The beloved monarch was known to adore cherries, so Escoffier elaborated on a long-held European tradition of preserving cherries with sugar and brandy, instead simmering the fresh fruit in syrup and then thickening the juices with arrowroot. He presented the cherries with the final flourish of a splash of liquor, showily ignited at the table. He immortalized the recipe in his cookbook ‘Le Guide Culinaire’, published in 1903, where it appeared as ‘Cerises Jubilee’. His original version lacked the vanilla ice-cream over which Escoffier himself later ladled the flaming cherries in his restaurant. Served this way, Cherries Jubilee became a staple of tableside cooking in good restaurants for more than half a century. And it’s a welcome addition to any serious menu today.

 

Vegetarian dishes aren’t the sole preserve of non-meat or fish eaters and any dish that is well prepared and presented deserves respect. The Barge is a wonderful location to enjoy a meal and either of the three-course meals will only cost around 550++ baht per person, which is incredible value-for-money in a fine-dining restaurant.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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