We are happy to have a valued guest account of her love of Thai food and food experience during her visit to Villa Kalyana as a guest at a wedding.
*Our thanks to Stephanie Halpern for her glowing comments.
Mouth-Watering Delicious Dishes
Since first visiting Thailand in my university gap year, too many years ago to mention, I’ve been a huge fan of Thai food. I can still remember my first tastes of the magical flavours, intricate spices and countless textures. Coming from a culture where food tended to be pretty bland, tasting the excitement of Thai seasonings and aromas was just incredible. I wanted to try everything on the menus, so that put pay to my ideas of losing weight while traveling!
Home-cooking Thai Style
I dabbled in preparing a few simple dishes when I first returned home from Thailand and since then I’ve progressed to cooking a few more of my favourite Thai dishes. My very understanding partner and our children have always managed to be polite throughout my years of trial and error although I’m sure in the early days, once my back was turned, they must have shared a few eye-rolling glances. Luckily, Thai cuisine has become very popular in the UK, so it’s easier nowadays to get access to more exotic ingredients.
My Favourite Dishes
- Masuman Curry – A thick, Indian style curry with coconut milk, stewed beef or chicken.
- Laarb – a spicy and sour salad of minced meat like pork, chicken or duck, shallots or onions, lime juice, fish sauce, chillies, ground roasted rice and mint
- Pad Thai – Stir fried medium size rice noodles (sen lek) with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, ground peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives combined with pork, chicken, seafood, or tofu
- Green Curry – A coconut curry made with fresh green chillies and flavoured with Thai basil, usually with chicken or fish balls
Return to the Spicy Thai Island
So when it came to my attending a gorgeous wedding at Villa Kalyana it was a double celebration and vacation gift! It didn’t need to get better but once I began reading up on the reviews about Villa Kalyana and particularly comments on the delicious food coming out of the kitchen I reached another level of anticipation!
Tastiest Lunch Welcome Meal Ever…..!!
Our arrival at Villa Kalyana was just perfect, we were greeted with a welcome drink in the beautiful old wooden pavilion and shown to our rooms before gathering for a much longed-for lunch.
If you ever need to know how Thai food should be presented and should taste then let me recommend a trip to Villa Kalyana. Our lunch was in the main dining area on a superb one piece wooden dining table made from a single tree trunk. The meal was beautifully presented and with plenty of great dishes to feed a party of 36 hungry souls gathered from around the globe.
- Thai Prawn Cake with Sweet Chilli Dip and Cucumber Relish
- Sour Coconut Soup with Chicken
- Green Papaya Salad
Definitely delicious and really authentic, you’ll find the best Thai food on the island and served in such a wonderful location. Villa Kalyana has a lovely dining concept for bringing all the party guests together with their ‘family sharing’ meals. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that roguish relatives will be lifting your choice snapper fillet right from under your nose!
Family sharing means ‘communal’ eating where numerous dishes are placed on the table, duplicated plates set are along the table so you never have to reach far to help yourself or pass a plate on to a salivating friend. There was plenty of food and definitely some of the best Thai food I have ever eaten. The table was loaded with fresh, exquisite dishes of a quality that instantly brought back all my wonderful memories of tasting Thai food for the first time.
Choosing the Most Delicious Food
When it came to providing the amazing daily tasty meals for our very large group there was always great communication between the villa team and our party. Every day the lovely villa manager Sonja came to discuss the menu for lunch and dinner – what a delight! Sonja was just super with her politeness and really inspiring with meal suggestions. We could repeat dishes we loved, request desired meal menus, and try new options based on Sonja’s recommendations.
I should just mention that the kitchen produces the most delectable international food as well if you hanker for a taste other than Thai – not me! The chef is very talented and outdid himself on all occasions when delivering both cuisines to a hungry set of vacationers.
Tasty International Dishes
- Steamed Salmon Fillet with Caper-Garlic Sauce and Basil-Potato Puree
- Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Béarnaise Sauce
- Chicken Bolognaise
- Kalyana’s Pizza Special with Anchovy, Ruccola, and Roasted Eggplant
Amazing Wedding Menu
For the celebratory reception meal on the big wedding day, the set up in the gardens was just perfect. The fruit station was gorgeous, full of the cantaloupes and watermelons carved in unusual and amusing shapes with the wedding date and the names of the bride and groom. We had a beautiful selection of canapés, appetizers, mains and deserts. I know the bride and groom selected from a long list of options that were provided by Rebecca – the most marvellous wedding planner I have ever met! Once you have seen our wedding menu choices you know there’ll be much, much more on offer for you to choose from.
- Soy Marinated Fresh Tuna with Wasabi Sour Cream
- Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Bell Pepper Skewer
- Lemongrass Chicken Satay
- Fried Scallops and Parsley in Parma ham
- Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese with Capelin Roe Roll
- Marinated Beef Skewer
- Green Mango Salad with Crispy Shallot
- Prawns in Filo
- Fish Cakes
- Spicy Thai Mushroom Soup
- Sweet Potato & Eggplant Red Curry
- Stir-fried Squid with Garlic & Pepper
- Blue Swimming Crab Curry
- Steamed King Prawn & Tamarind sauce
- Roasted Barracuda Fillet with Caper-Garlic Butter Sauce
- Marinated Strawberry & Vanilla Coconut Mousse
- Coconut /Vanilla Panna Cotta & Mango Puree
Learning from a Master Chef
My curiosity was always going to lead me into the kitchen to watch Seree at work. I managed to arrange this with the Sonja and found a time when the kitchen wasn’t at full speed in preparation of yet another great meal. So notebook and phone camera in hand I went along to get a master-class. Chef Seree is wonderfully friendly, really humble and amazingly patient considering how much food he has to organize, prepare and present each day. Learning the little subtleties – a little sugar here, a touch of spring onion and a dash of soy there – was as much fun as seeing everything come together and presented as a zesty colourful plate of goodness. Every Thai kitchen is full of great herbs and spices and, when in the hands of a keen cook, the combination results in the four essential Thai tastes: salty, sour, spicy, and sweet.
Thai Cooking’s Essential Ingredients
- Limes – you’ll find lime juice is an essential in any Thai kitchen. It gives a special lift to salad, meats, stir-fires and fried rice
- Galangal is a relative of ginger and adds valuable nutrients and a great depth of flavour to many Thai dishes
- Coconut Milk – a very common base of many Thai curries – tasty coconut milk is made by rinsing the oils out of coconut flesh
- Lemongrass – a favourite for Thai cooking and is prepared in several ways, sliced and crushed, cut into strips and scored to release the scent and flavour for soups and curries
- Thai Fish Sauce – this heavily salted and ever present table top accompaniment is known in Thai as ‘nam pla’ and is a sharp fermented seasoning that is well loved
- Chiles – add a sense of heat to sauces and stir-fries with chilli peppers from fresh cayenne chilies to super-hot Thai “bird” chilies
- Garlic and Shallots – Garlic is never far from the cooking process. It is usually crushed or minced and then encompassed as a flavouring in the hot oils. Grilled shallots are chopped or sliced and added to many Thai dishes adding a crunchy bite.
- Curry Paste – So many Thai recipes begin with a well-mixed paste and while it’s now possible to buy ready-made Thai pastes (such as red, yellow, and green curry) these packaged spice mixes fall short of the authentic taste and flavour. Pastes are traditionally made using whole spices and herbs – some fresh, others dried – which are then crushed and blended together with a pestle and mortar. Your starting point will be with shallots (or onions), garlic, and green or red chilies. Then follow your cook-book [and your nose for fun] through the variety of other spices and herbs. The list is numerous and includes basil, turmeric, peppercorns, vinegar, lime leaves, chili powder, galangal, green peppercorns, lemongrass, plus mo
Allergies and Dietary Help and Information
In our wedding party, we had a couple of guests with quite complex dietary requirements but nothing seemed to be too much for the Villa Kalyana team to handle. SONJA and the chef talked with the specific guests about which ingredients needed to be omitted and which could be potential triggers – nothing was ever an issue. All the guests with food allergies were more than happy with the attention to detail that came from the in-villa team and everyone came away extremely satisfied with every morsel of food.
A Little List to Keep in Mind
I did a little research of my own and found that the number of products which cause a dietary reaction is wide, so do let the team know so they can help out. In my home country (UK) the list of allergens below are now required to be labelled or indicated as being present in foods so check the list and talk with the lovely team to make sure all can be done in the food preparation to keep everyone happy.
- Cereals containing Gluten – wheat, rye, barley, oats
- Nuts – almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts
- Lupin – lupin seeds and flour. Lupin can be found in types of bread, pastries and pasta
- Crustaceans – prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
- Molluscs – mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide