nahm

A few years ago at The Halkin in London, I had the pleasure of enjoying a most extravagant lunch at Nahm, the only Thai restaurant in the world to be bested with a Michelin star. Australian chef David Thompson is an accidental authority on Thai cuisine – a chance holiday in Bangkok ignited a culinary obsession – and his first cookbook, Thai Food, is a meticulous investigation into the multifarious flavors of the kingdom as well as a bible of food porn for gourmands. The success of an additional outpost of the restaurant in Thailand was recently realized earlier this year when it was named one the The 50 Best Restaurants in the World, so naturally this second Nahm moved high atop my list of must-eats in Bangkok. More casual than what you’d find in London, it was nevertheless equally meticulous, with layer upon layer of flavors surprising the palate on a continuous loop. Rarely does a Thai meal have a repetition of tastes, so a curry, a salad, a relish, some soup and a stir-fry all combine to make a varied dining experience. This isn’t food you shovel in with a pair of chopsticks, however; chef Thompson’s dishes – complex and floridly herbaceous – demand you take the time to savor each bite from the chew to the swallow. Served Thai-style, meaning family style and all at once, it also makes for one fragrant and heady feast.

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butchery is back

In a time when many Americans yearn to know the origins of their food, meat education has become a hot topic. As has whole-animal cooking, at-home butchery, and other trendy meat techniques. The current DIY spirit has inspired more home cooks to branch out, turning casual carnivores into informed authorities.

In The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising, Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher, reaches out to this new generation of serious home chefs, covering all the fundamentals of butchery, with photos of every cut, step-by-step instructions on technique, and the best beef-cutting tools as well as cooking methods. Her book starts big – at the carcass level – and walks the reader through parts of the animal and individual cuts: from primals and subprimals, all the way down to ground beef. In a word, she is the go-to expert for all things meat.

Whether you’re a connoisseur or simply a curious at-home chef, Underly’s book makes for fascinating – if somewhat niche – reading. But if butchery doesn’t exactly scream out to you as proper bedside reading, here is a clip of a recent crash course Underly gave viewers on the Today show.

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give it to me raw

For the past few months I’ve been gravitating away from meat. (And sugar. And dairy, too, for that matter.) Perhaps it’s a result of my various experiments in food: juice cleanses, gluten-free, chia seeds – even a brief dabbling in colonic therapy. But that’s beside the point.  What matters is that I’m feeling more energetic – and stronger – than I have in a long time; so naturally, save a few extracurricular burgers, I’ve embraced it. A resource that’s recently become a bit of a touchstone for me is Mimi Kirk’s Live Raw, a review copy of which landed unexpectedly – and most fortuitously – on my desk last month. At 70, Kirk was voted PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50, which makes her living proof that eating well is good for you both inside and out. Her book is sprinkled with must-have advice on detoxifying (so gravity won’t get you down), as well as what you need to eat to properly feed your body every day – and why. Emphasizing the roles that attitude and mindset play in the way we all look and feel, Kirk stresses that even though the end result might be the same, the difference between “dieting” and “getting healthier” is tremendous. Live Raw includes tips for your looks, your attitude, and your health, but just as important, it includes delicious raw food recipes – a phrase I never thought I’d utter with a straight face – that anyone can integrate into a busy life; and even the most refined of palates can appreciate: stuffed portobello mushrooms with basil pesto, pomodoro lasagna, lemony cheesecake, and – my favorite – banana pudding. An engaging, one-of-a-kind guide, I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who’s flirting with raw food or simply interested in exploring veganism. Beyond its practical applications, Live Raw also makes for fascinating reading.

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sense and sensibility

Chiva-Som is a beachfront health resort in the royal Thai city of Hua Hin and often described as  one of the world’s best destination spas. Focusing on greater well being and vitality, the Green Globe certified resort offers wide-ranging facilities blending Eastern philosophies, Western diagnostic skills, and lavish accommodations nestled within lush tropical gardens.

And then there’s the food.

Dishing up healthy food is a relatively easy, if entirely boring, enterprise for the most part.  Scintillating the senses with so many flavors you never notice it’s good for you is an art – one that’s been perfected under the guidance of Executive Chef Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat.  (Which explains why the resort has won a number of international awards for its spa cuisine.)

Replicating the experience at home, however, is usually just a bit too daunting for most amateur chefs.  Yet the recently published Chiva-Som’s Thai Spa Cuisine Cookbook makes it uncomplicated; featuring some 50 lavishly illustrated and simple-to-follow recipes that will invigorate you quicker than you can say อันนี้เป็นเรื่องที่ง่าย. (Go on, guess!)

Here’s one sterling example, courtesy of the chef: Yam Hua Plee, or banana blossom salad. (Banana blossom is loaded with nutrients like vitamin B and calcium, not to mention a great source of iron.)  Oh and you can purchase the cookbook directly from the resort at [email protected]

2 ½ T lime juice
2 T soy sauce
1 ½ T honey
1 T roasted chili paste
2 bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
4 ½ oz banana blossom, peeled
4 ½ oz. chicken breast, boiled and shredded
3 T ground roasted almond, coarsely chopped
2 T sliced shallots
2 T chopped spring onions
1 T finely diagonally sliced lemongrass
4 T roasted coconut flakes, to garnish

To prepare the dressing, whisk lime juice, soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and chilies in a large bowl. Set aside. To prepare salad, gently toss all remaining ingredients with all of the dressing in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and serve.

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