Held at the Sofitel, this lunch was an opportunity for The Spicers Group to introduce the latest resort in their group - Spicers Tamarind. If you are lucky enough to have visited or stayed at any Spicers Properies (I've been to Spices Hidden Vale, Spicers Peak Lodge and Spicers Clovelly) you'll know these are places of elegance and restraint, where the food is exceptionally good and the atmosphere restorative.
They couldn't take us all to Spicers Tamarind, a 19 acre property overlooking Gardner’s Falls in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland enveloped by rich, rainforest greenery where Thai style meets the tranquillity of the Australian bush, so instead they brought part of the resort to us. The room was decorated with Spicers touches and we all came away with a selection of the Thann in room goodies (soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc) that have this delightful spicy aroma.
So they showed us lots of photos of what the resort looks like - Asian influenced and sleek - and gave us a sorta taste of the food. The chef is the renouwned Paul Blain. Having travelled, absorbed and lived the Thai lifestyle and honed his craft in notable restaurants such as Darley St Thai in Sydney and Chilli Jam Cafe in Noosa, Paul's menu promised to deliver ever-changing, fresh and exciting cuisine. He will also share his culinary secrets at regular cooking schools at The Tamarind where visitors learn first-hand the intricacies of Thai cuisine – from where to find the right ingredients to creating the perfect dessert – and then savour their own creations. Woo hoo! Sounds like fun.
The lunch menu was inspired by Paul Blain's recipes but created in the kitchens of the Sofitel. We had a choice of Thai Chicken Noodle with green beans and a lime coconut sauce and Salmon with bok choy and najim dressing jasmine and star anise rice.
Dessert was a mango and lime cheesecake with coconut icecream.
Here are Paul Blain's recipes that inspired the Sofitel's chefs
Relish of Chicken and Yellowbean
150g chicken mince
1 tb yellow bean
2 garlic cloves
2 red schallots
1 tb vegetable oil
1 pinch chilli flake
1/3 cup coriander leaves (loosely packed)
1/3 cup mint leaves (lightly torn)
½ cup coconut cream
2 tb chicken stock or water
In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and red schallots to a paste.
In a wok on medium heat, add the vegetable oil and paste and fry until fragrant and a light golden colour.
Add the yellowbean and stir into the paste.
Add the chicken mince and work to separate the grains until cooked.
Add the chilli flake, coconut cream and stock and reduce until quite thick.
Stir in the coriander and mint leaves and serve in a small bowl on a plate surrounded by a selection of spooning vegetables – torn cabbage or wombok leaves, sliced cucumber and tomato slabs, and sprigs of coriander and mint.
Hot and Sour Prawn Salad
Ingredients for salad :
pinch sea salt
6-8 medium green prawns shelled with tail on and de-veined ½ cup Coriander leaves loosely packed ½ cup Mint leaves loosely packed ½ cup ( loosely packed) green onion finely sliced on a long angle 3-4 cm long
1 tbsp Garlic chives
1tbsp Red Shallots, sliced thinly lengthways
1 tsp Lemongrass, finely sliced/ shaved ringlets
1 tsp Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
¼ tsp ground roasted sticky rice (garnish)
Ingredients for dressing:
1 Coriander root (medium)
1 whole birdseye chilli ( medium size)
2 small cloves garlic
20ml Lime juice
15-20 ml Fish sauce
Method for dressing:
For the dressing pound the coriander root, chilli and garlic in a mortar & pestle to a robust paste.
Add lime juice then the fish sauce. Adjust to taste and set aside. (Should be hot, sour and slightly salty)
Method for salad:
In slow simmering water with the sea salt, plunge the peeled prawns (tails
on) for 1 – 1½ minutes (depending on size) until cooked. Strain and allow to rest.
If prawns are bigger than bite size, slice on an angle into bite sized pieces.
In a bowl, combine the salad herbs then add prawns to the side of herbs.
Spoon the dressing over the prawns and gently combine with the herbs.
Serve in the centre of a plate and sprinkle with roasted ground sticky rice.
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