Lao Horror

From what I have seen, Mattie Do is quirky, funny and rather pretty!.

Mattie is a talented young film director, she´s also Lao, and did I mention, pretty?

She is shooting her second horror film,  ນ້ອງຮັກ (Nong Hak), or in English, DEAREST SISTER. Her first film Chanthaly was shot two years ago (amazingly for under USD5000!) Chanthaly became the first Lao film to screen in major festivals outside of Southeast Asia. It had its American premiere at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. After that, the film screened all over the world!

Personally I´m not really in to horror movies, for the sole purpose that they scare the shit out of me! (Mattie seems to love blood!). What brings this film to my attention is the fact that it´s a Lao film, made in Laos by a Laotian!

The majority of the funding for the film was the result of her online campaign to raise money for the project, sadly this post comes a little too late as I think the campaign has ended (today, July 2nd), however if you want to see what perks were available head over to here, and who knows?, you may still be able to donate something and be a part of Lao film making!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Recipes of Laos

Traditional-Recipes

What is it?

It´s a cookbook from the manuscripts of the late Phia Sing that have been reproduced in facsimile and furnished with English translations.

Why are there two different covers?

The bilingual book was originally published in 1981 (left) and has just been republished last month (right).

Who was Phia Sing?

Chaleunsilp Phia Sing (c. 1898-1967) was for many years the Master of Ceremonies and Chef at the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang.

Phia-Sing

So he wrote a Lao Cookbook?

Not actually. Before he passed away in 1967 he wrote down his recipes in two French gridded notebooks. These notes were passed on to the Crown Prince by Sing´s widow, who in turn loaned them to the late Alan Davidson in 1974.

 Alan Davidson?

Alan Eaton Davidson (1924 – 2003) was the British Ambassador to Laos from 1973 – 1975. Above all, he was perhaps the ultimate “foodie” of his generation. He was also responsible for the mammoth Oxford Companion to Food, illustrated by Soun Vannithone and a “must have” reference guide for anyone interested in foods. He also published various other culinary books, including Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos, it was during his research for this book that he encountered the manuscripts of Phia Sing.

Soun Vannithone?

Laotian Thao Soun Vannithone is an artist and his work adorns these books as well as the Oxford Companion to Food, Fish and Fish Dishes of Laos and many other books. He is also related by marriage to my family, so I was lucky enough to get my 1981 publication signed by him!

He was featured in the 2010 BBC documentary called “The Man Who Ate Everything, The Story of  Alan Davidson”.

So the book is just a translation of the Lao recipes?

No, it´s much, much more than that.

It´s a facsimile of the notebooks that have been meticulously reproduced, translated, edited and illustrated by Davidson and his team, (Phouangphet Vannithone, Boon Song Klausner, Jennifer Davidson and Soun Vannithone).

Phia Sing´s beautiful ancient script are mirrored with English translations.

There is a wonderful introduction that is 50 pages long and covers:

  • The life of Phia Sing.
  • Lao eating habits and attitudes to food.
  • Lao culinary terms and culinary equipment.
  • Lao ingredients.

The recipes occupy 250 pages and there is a supplement of 10 pages with recipes for Lao desserts (which were not covered by Phia Sing’s notebooks).

The section on Lao Culinary Terms and Equipment will bring a smile to Lao readers and offer a fascinating insight to others.

The Ingredients and Other Practical Information for the Cook section is a great reference guide to what foodstuff is used and how it is used.

Very helpfully the ingredient names have been translated to include their Lao pronunciation and at times their scientific names, as well as information, history and other details. Very informative, much like Davidson´s Oxford Companion to Food, but in this case a whole section on ingredients used in Lao cuisines.

Lao cooks do not often use precise measurements, preferring to rely on experience or judge by eye. But there are Lao measures and Phia Sing uses them in his recipes, in the book these have been converted to English, Imperial and Metric.

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The Table Has Turned

On my Facebook page, under “information” it reads, “A Lao cook in Spain! Ole!”.

What if I told you that I stumbled upon a “Spanish cook in Laos! Ole!”.

Pimentón Restaurant is based in Vientiane. Browsing through their Facebook page I can clearly see that they are offering a very good range of tapas and other dishes. From their photos apparently it´s not only a Spanish restaurant, it´s also a Steakhouse that has an open grill, so you can see and smell your choice meats being cooked! Just the way I like it!

But back to the tapas.

TapasTapas menu from the Pimentón Facebook page

I am pleasantly shocked that you can now get these ingredients in Laos. The last time I visited Vientiane was in 2007, and I don´t recall seeing such an international dining scene then, okay, I confess to seeing an Italian, French and Indian restaurant. But you know what I mean.

Looking at their black board, you would think that the photo was taken in a local bar here in Andalucia, until you see that the prices are in Lao Kip!

WindowCured Meats from the Pimentón Facebook page

A further surprise was the photo of their cured meats! Ole! You can now get Chorizo, Salchichón, Caña de Lomo and even Jamón in Laos!

Jamón de Bellota is the one of the top if not the best Spanish Cured Ham, it´s even difficult to find in the USA, but now its available in Vientiane!

It´s evident that they specially import their produce. That´s a sign of dedication for you! I have noticed that they even have Manchego Cheese and wines from Rioja!

It would be really interesting to see the current food scene in Vientiane, maybe I should start saving my €s for another trip “back home”.

For more information just browse to their Facebook page.

 

 

 

King Cook Daily

Spiced Rice Salad by King Cook Daily

Former Laocook chef and my younger brother kicks of his youtube channel with an entry for “Jamie Oliver’s search for a Food Tube Star with Uncle Ben’s Competition”.

King Cook Daily

It´s a Nhem Khao inspired recipe which King describes as “Rice, with rice, on rice”.

The full recipe can be found on youtube under the videos description.

http://www.instagram.com/kingcookdaily
http://www.twitter.com/kingcookdaily

Casa del Mar (1)

My Move. Checkmate!

There is a Beach Club called Ajedrez situated on the outskirts of Chipiona, nestled on the fine sands of the Tres Piedras Beach. Sounds lovely eh?

Why do I mention this? Well, it´s where I am going to be based from July until the end of the summer.

Casa del Mar (2)

Ajedrez Beach Club (Spanish for “Chess” and pronounced “ah-hay-dreth“), serves freshly caught seafood and other Spanish delicacies throughout the day.

Casa del Mar (3)

Clear blue sky, clear blue sea!

Casa del Mar (4)

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svq-mxp

Ciao!

Having left my job at the hotel I am now working in Milan, Italy.

It was sad to say goodbye to my team, not just the Lao and Thai cooks, but everyone concerned with the restaurants at the resort.

In Italy I am in charge of the Asiatic Kitchen that supplies meals for First Class and Business Class passengers on flights departing from Milan and arriving in Asia. It is a complete change from a 5 Star Hotel kitchen and restaurant!

However, I must say that it is nice to only work during the day and have the evenings free, and the added bonus of having 2 days off in a row!

I do travel back to Spain once every 5 to 6 weeks though, so at least I still get to see my wife and friends!

Due to the nature of my work (and a confidentiality agreement!) I will not be able to take photos of my work in the kitchen.

So for the time being, future posts will be more about home cooking and what I can conjure up in the confines of my apartment!

Ciao for now!

 

Beerlao

Bring on 2013!

“Goodbye 2012″ and “Hello 2013″!

I hope that you had a good festive period and enjoyed welcoming in 2013.

I am glad that 2012 is over. It wasn’t a particularly a good year for me. I lost someone very close to me, who also left a loving wife and three young children. I also decided to leave my job at the hotel after being employed for 12 years. But all that is in the past now! I have 2013 to look forward to!

Over the past few months I have been chillin´out in London and spending time with family and friends.

There is so much to do, see and eat in London, and I love it!

I also met up with the Lao-British fashionista twins Tida and Lisa Finch of Finchittida Finch.

Finch & Finch

The “About Finchittida Finch” page on their website describe the fun loving duo pretty clearly!

MISSION
Finchittida Finch fuse their traditional Lao culture and British eccentricity, creating distinctive designs for you to adore and be adored in.

Brand Overview

Fresh out of the University of the Arts London, Finchittida Finch are twin design duo – Tida and Lisa Finch. Based in South East London, inspired by South East Asia, the twins are turning heads with their statement designs.

They showcased their latest collection during December 2012 at the trendy Boxpark Pop-up Mall in Shoreditch which was sponsored by King and Laurene´s Thai & Lao Street Food and our friends at Beerlao UK.

 Finch Don Finch

Shoreditch is a cool place to hang out. It´s just around the corner from East London´s Brick Lane which is a hub of activity and home to a great concentration of street art.

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The Bittersweet

It´s a bittersweet moment for me. Yesterday I signed various papers that would result in me being the former Executive Chef at the hotel. I found myself in an untenable situation at work, and after months of contemplating, I decided to finally do what was right for me.

I have had a wonderful 12 years in my former post, at two different hotels for the same company. I have met, and become friends with some great people. I have taught cooks and I have learnt from them too.

There is no use in rambling on about the negative aspects and the reasons why I decided to leave, that´s all in the past now. It´s time for a fresh start and a new future.

But first a break! I want to spend some time with my family and friends back in the UK.

There are a few projects in the pipeline for 2013.

I will be back!

Concurso 8 Laocook (18)

Competition 8

Three main ingredients.

  • Squid
  • Shallots
  • Rice

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What can you come up with?

That was the question that I asked my cooks for the “Concurso 8″ (8th Competition).

Every now and again, I like to arrange an internal cooking competition, where any of my cooks can enter. The rules are simple, they have to come up with a dish that uses the three main ingredients, they can also use other ingredients, but the three main ingredients have to be prominent.

They need to present three dishes for a judging panel of 6. They are awarded a maximum of 50 points from each judge, 25 for the use and originality of the main ingredients, and 25 points for the presentation and gastronomic value (taste) of the dish.

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