Pleasures of the Table The Ambassador leaves his mark
By Gene Gonzalez, Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation

By December, our outgoing Thai Ambassador, his Excellency Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhaya is moving to Europe as ambassador to Spain. His tireless efforts in promoting business and technological relations with the Philippines is matched by his friendly ties with gastronomic personalities like Don Ado Escudero and members of the Chaine de Rotisseurs.

It was in one evening that we put our minds together and our dear friend Ambassador Kulkumut decided to orchestrate a Royal Thai Dinner.

The venue that was chosen was Azuthai and I would agree that Chef Jay Gamboa’s staff of Thai chefs worked well on this rather difficult dinner of 17 courses.

For cocktails with lemongrass Martinis and Thai Singha Beer were Thai spiced peanuts with kaffir and chili; Poh Pia Paksot or fresh spring rolls in rice paper, Goong Hom Sabay or fried prawn spring rolls; Tod Man Pla, mini fish cakes with cucumber and chili; Satay Gai or chicken satay with peanut sauce.

These wonderful starters were all heavenly snacks that one can get from mall stalls to hawker stands but I was enamored by the very freshly fried Goong Hom Sabay, that symbolizes a woman’s blouse top in pastry wrapped with noodles on a very fresh prawn.

As what I had mentioned before, the dinner was a feat considering each and every course was plated individually.

For soups, we had a tasting of three typical Thai soups, a Hot sour prawn soup or Tom Yam Goong, a rich creamy chicken soup with coconut cream (Tom Ka Gai); and Tom Klong Pla Krop, a tamarind soup with a crisp piece of floating seabass that released the soup when bitten. Great texture in a soup!

For salads, another three were placed on an individual dish. This was Yam Ta Krai, a lemongrass salad with shrimp, pork, and peanuts; Yam Som O, a salad of Prawns and chicken with pomelo; Larb moo or a minced pork salad with toasted rice powder and kaffir leaves.

The seafood course of Hor Mok Talay, steamed seafood custard in Banana Leaf was daintily wrapped in small banana leaf cups and steamed to a soft goodness that was bursting with herbal and spice flavors.

For noodles, we had Pad Thai or flat rice noodles with prawns but beautifully encased in a net of scrambled egg.

The August Kesseler Estate reisling 2007 was a dead ringer for pairing with these dishes with its creamy, luscious fruit that hints of mangoes and peach with a well controlled acidity sweetness and density that could handle the chili.

For the main course, a Massaman Gaeh, Lamb curry served with a parcel of Jasmine rice filling the air with a scent of pandanus leaf, was paired with a fruity Hoegaarden Belgian beer.

Dessert just put us in a cheery perspective having just the right sized portion of Homemade coconut sherbet, sticky rice with mango and tapioca, and coconut cream in Pandan cups after having to go through each and every course that had us all nodding as we cleaned our plates.

Having just arrived from Bangkok and flying to Manila to catch this dinner of Thai cuisine seems to personally have been a bit ludicrous when I mentioned it to my tablemates. Except for the wishes of the Chaine members to be kind to them on the Chilis, Azuthai completely took us on a wonderful tasting of authentic thai flavors that evening.

Khop Khun mak krup, Ambassador Kulkumut and Hasta La Vista....

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