Sep 25, 2020
THE FIRST THING THAT ARRIVES on the table is a single perfectly fried frangipani flower, an elegantly minimalist take on a classic Thai flower salad, here reinvented not with a tangy dressing but with a mildly spiced aioli. The delicate flower with its petals deployed is just the first surprise on menu that strikes the balance between casual and creative.
After the frangipani, Chef Christian Eiting offers up a variety of farm-fresh originals like his Corn and Crab, a bed of creamed corn topped with sweet locally fished crab meat that has been marinated in crab oil and kaffir lime leaf and lemon, ringed with a dizzying array of corn and non-corn garnishes: yellow and purple fermented corn with kimchi powder, black garlic, pickled baby corn, spring onions, shallots chips, black burned corn, corn crumble and rice popcorn. The result is an artist’s palette of bursts of color, contrasts of texture from crisp to unctuous, and layer after layer of sharp, sweet, zesty, soothing flavors.
Under a shaded bamboo roof on the edge of an idyllic lake, at the heart of the improbably pastoral Pru Jampa Farm, I’m at Hideaway by Jampa, an al fresco, daytime, farm-to-table restaurant that highlights food fresh from the earth and other ingredients sourced around Thailand. That puts it precisely on brand with its big-sister, uber-locavore establishments who grow much of their produce at this lush, sprawling expanse of greenery: celeb-favorite ocean-view resort Trisara and its on-site fine-diner Pru, which holds Phuket’s only Michelin star.
Eiting, himself, brings credentials from a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants in Austria and his native Germany, along with a love of Asian cuisines and spices, honed at the trail-blazing Locavore in Bali, a perennial favorite on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant rankings.
The working Pru Jampa farm—which, in a great example of reclaiming land, is built over the site of one of Phuket’s old open-air tin mines that were the source of the island’s wealth in the 19th century—is a perfect family outing, where you can learn about the seasonal flora from knowledgeable farmers, and feed the ducks and chickens. A table is set up for farm-grown crafts like palm-frond weaving that will keep the kids busy while parents indulge in grown-up refreshments from the house cocktail menu. Regular visitors can even plant their own crops, and monitor the growth of their morning glory, for example, week to week, from seedling to harvest to table.
When you get to know livestock and produce that intimately, culinary creativity can bloom. Take Eiting’s dish All Things Banana. It uses every part of the banana plant, some of which you might not have considered to be edible, much less delectable: the tender trunk stewed in a sweet and sour glaze; banana blossom two ways, one in a zippy chili vinaigrette and the other a grilled spear of flower dressed with an addictive white coconut sauce; and a smooth purée of banana fruit and peanut, all aligned on a banana leaf.
Another of my favorites: the delicate Apple Panna Cotta is made from barely set apple juice and light almond milk topped with fennel cream, white chocolate and apple slices and then dusted with Thai basil powder. A little apple juice tinged pink with heady torch ginger completes the light, fragrant dish. The natural sweetness of the ingredients, accented only by a pinch of salt but no added sugar, is worth the price of admission alone.
Eiting (who arrived in Phuket just in time for quarantine) plans to eventually segue Hideaway into a fully fleshed out Jampa restaurant, strong of sustainability, fire power and live action. But until then bookings are available for weekend brunches.
Or loosen your belt for Trisara’s upcoming three-day event featuring five, responsible-supply-chain, Michelin-praised, farm-to-table restaurants from Phuket and Bangkok. Organized by Fin Deluxe Travel—the boutique travel arm of Bangkok’s first wine importer to focus solely on organic, natural and biodynamic labels—DineGoodDoGood week, October 10 through 13, is set to be a vino-fueled culinary bacchanal. The grand finale: The Great BBQ Battle in which the chefs from one-star bo.lan will cook only animals that swim, the chef of 100 Mahaseth tackles all creatures four-legged, and Eiting goes for the guys with wings.
On second thought, maybe don’t get to know those chickens and ducks too well.
Hideaway by Jampa is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays only. Farm-to-table restaurant set menus Bt1,200 for four courses, Bt1,400 for five courses, with à la carte also available; payment by card or QR code only. Bookings are essential; +66 760 310 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DineGoodDoGood Gastronomic Getaway by Fin Deluxe Travel from October 10 through 13 is Bt70,000 for two people, for a three nights’ stay in a Trisara Ocean Junior Suite, including breakfast and airport transfers; access to all the culinary events; complimentary Champagne on arrival; a tour of Pru Jampa farm with all the chefs; complimentary 15-minute professional photography by the resort in house studio, DDen, for the perfect Instagram moment; and a 20-percent discount on treatments at Jara Wellness. Contact email@example.com for detailed information on the event and prices for the individual meals; book with firstname.lastname@example.org.