Thailand is renowned for flavour-packed cuisine and sensational hospitality. Even I, as an alien to Thai food and customs, am aware of the reputation. My taste buds have flirted with Thai food, although shamefully this has only transpired through dining at a pub or consuming a supermarket product. Alarmingly, I have never eaten a meal in a Thai restaurant.
The Lancaster Hotel in Hyde Park played host to a launch event organised by The Royal Thai Embassy, showcasing some of the wonderful food, drink and culture that the Nation has to offer. Brilliantly organised, the event was engulfed in a welcoming, friendly atmosphere organised spectacularly to a supreme level of hospitality.
In order to counter balance my ignorance of Thailand I needed to pull out an au fait contact from my address book. Regrettably I lacked the link I longed for and had to settle for a friend who had recently returned from a long holiday in Thailand, the Ghetto Jew. Equipped with her recently acquired intelligence of Thailand she was an excellent sidekick in networking, which is her forte, as well as sampling numerous glasses of wine, which is her forte of fortes.
On arrival I was greeted by the notable organiser of the evening, then subsequently provided with a cold, refreshing and great tasting glass of Singha beer. No time to dawdle, as I was whisked off into a networking frenzy. After infuriating comments of ‘I don’t drink beer, innit”, I dismissed the Ghetto Jew to sample some of the award winning Monsoon Valley wines by herself and obtain a glass for me. A captivating conversation with his Excellency, the Thai Ambassador, was followed by a bright and vibrant video presentation. Alas, the peace and quiet did not last, as I was soon hassled again by my now wine-compromised companion to ‘get some food, innit”.
I should perhaps give more credit to my selected sidekick, as her suggestion to sample some of the canapés laid on by London’s leading Thai restaurants was pure genius. The amazing array of flavours and textures combined in each single canapé was outstanding, with punch-packing, fiery, gingery waves of heat exploding in the mouth after each swallow. The most notable of all was Patara, whose excellent presentation; friendly, attentive staff and enchanting cuisine left a lasting impression.
All this wonderful food was complimented superbly by the white whine from Monsoon Valley. There’s certainly a different taste with Thai wine. A more floral and aromatic aftertaste the coloured wines possess didn’t strike a chord with me, but the white I was happy with, although I soon went back for another cold Singha.
Fantastic displays of Thai boxing, Thai dancing and sugar carving were on hand and added to the authentic ambience of the evening. I even managed to get a sugar peacock for my brother from one of the most fascinating artists I have ever encountered.
A formidable evening, with some fantastic food and great beer, organised perfectly. I was left utterly convinced that I have been foolish not to turn my attention to Thai food more often. I look forward to visiting Patara very soon and will definitely be attending the Thailand events at Trafalgar Square on June 5th and the Thai exhibit in Harrods during May.