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Pure Bliss
Thursday 5 January 2012, 01:04PM
‘Vintage meets modern’ is how the Bliss Beach Club, the newest hangout right on Bang Tao Beach, has been designed. Giuseppe ‘Pepe’ Viva, the General Manager at Bliss Beach Club, says the venue was designed by Stem Design in Bangkok. The venue features a wooden bar (complete with backdrop from collected wood around Phuket), vintage lamps, canvas fans, private dining areas, indoor and outdoor areas, garden and lawn only metres from the sand, as well an extensive drinks menu. “Bang Tao is one of the biggest beaches in Phuket, and it’s very understated and not so many people know about it.”   This means, he says, it is the perfect location for a place like Bliss.Pepe says the club has 120 different wine labels, with 25 by the glass from Australia, Chile, Spain, South Africa and more. Heading the bar is chief cocktail maker Rom, a Thai national who has previously worked at highly-rated Q Bar in Bangkok and Samui. His signature cocktail is the Tom Yum Iced Tea (B220), where vodka is infused with kaffir lime leaves, chilli, lemongrass and ginger. It is one of about 70 cocktail choices.Pepe says the unique thing about Bliss Beach Club is that Rom can virtually come up with any cocktail you like. Another talent of Rom’s is Irish Coffee, where he entertains customers while creating it, turning the whole procedure into a show. Chef Alexander Oddy hails from Melbourne, Australia, and has worked extensively on the international food menu, full of salads, seafood, and other lighter food options. Appetisers start at B160 and mains at B240. Fish is around B550, lamb B750 and pasta B300. The menu is full of interesting adaptations and new creations, such as the fried tofu, taro and pumpkin dish (B200), the grilled eggplant and shrimp salad (B220), soft shell crab sandwich (B280) and the zucchini penne (B320). But Pepe says the beach club is far from high end, with a real mixture of clients so far, including both Thais and local expats, as well as guests from nearby Andara, Dusit and Amanpuri. “You can come here and have a bottle of wine for B13,700 (Château Lafite for the record) or you can come for a beer for B100.”The draft beer – Stella Artois and Hoegaarden – is also proving popular with customers. Entertainment wise the bar holds Sound Wave Sundays, from 3pm every week. Music is “chillout” by Texas DJ PJ Stanley, as well as a kids playground to make it a family place too.  Bliss Beach Club, 202/88 Moo 2, Cherng Talay, Thalang District. For more information visit blissbeachclub.com
A traditionally festive feast
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:49PM
Maurice Deveney will be delivering a feast of traditional Christmas food on Sunday to customers at Angus O’Tool’s Irish pub in Karon, just as he has the past nine years. “I get into the Christmas spirit and I enjoy the buzz – it’s busy and there’s a bit of pressure, which I like.” Englishman Maurice is the head chef and co-owner at the Irish pub, and the Christmas Day menu will include either a prawn cocktail or melon with port as starters, followed by the traditional roast turkey complete with vegetables, stuffing and brussels sprouts. Dessert consists of Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, and the whole meal costs B595. “It’s very relaxed. People come here because they know this place has a good reputation.”In preparation for the 100 or so customers Maurice expects on Christmas Day, he will have to cook 15 turkeys. He first takes all the turkey meat off the bone, and “boil roasts” it (roasting it in a pan with water at the bottom).This ensures the cooking time is kept to a minimum and the meat comes out tender and moist. The experienced chef, originally from Birmingham, has been in Thailand for 12 years, and Angus O’Tools in Karon has been open for nine years. He began his first cooking job as a way to make money to pay for tickets to football matches, but discovered a talent. These days has a raft of experience as head chef behind his name. He has worked at large hotels and restaurants in the United Kingdom and has even cooked for the Queen Mother – so his Christmas Day feast is guaranteed to be delicious. Angus O’Tool’s Irish Pub, 516/20 Patak Rd, Soi Islandia, Karon. Reservations are recommended for the Christmas Day event though walk-ins may also be possible.
Christmas with Lady Pie
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:47PM
On Christmas Day when the rest of you will be relaxing and enjoying a festive season drink, spare a thought for Lady Pie, also known as Susan Usher. The Australian, famous for her meat pies and other treats, will be up at 4am on Sunday to cook around 60 hams and turkeys for the people of Phuket. She won’t be alone; she’ll will have her six staff members helping her load the turkeys and hams into the oven 10 at a time, to ensure they are delivered freshly-cooked in time for the Christmas Day meals. “It is one of our busiest times of year, and the week before Christmas is just manic,” Susan says. She opened her famous Lady Pie store and cafe in Cherng Talay six years ago, but last Christmas was her first at testing the market for turkeys and hams. Last year she cooked 10 hams and 18 turkeys, and this year it has risen to 30 of each. She also sells steamed puddings and Christmas fruit mince pies. About 4,000 fruit mince pies and around 500 puddings have been ordered this year. Susan’s business also does a lot of catering around the Christmas season, including one event last Saturday which involved cooking a roast dinner for 50 people. Also available from the cafe are home-made Christmas-themed gifts from the Good Shepherd charity foundation. Susan’s own Christmas with husband Harry is held later in the evening on December 25, once all the orders for Christmas lunch and dinner have gone out. Then the couple sit down and relax, knowing all the hard work is over for now. “But there’s no way we eat turkey for dinner,” Susan jokes.  Orders for the Christmas items can be made through www.ladypie.com or by calling the shop on 076271049.
DINING: French first-timers
Friday 23 December 2011, 04:44PM
Stephanie and Ben Anglade from France took over fine dining Naiharn restaurant, L’Orfeo, in 2009 and since then have updated and improved the popular place, as well as increasing the clientèle. A lifestyle change brought the husband and wife team to Phuket, but they had absolutely no experience in running a restaurant. But that didn’t matter, with them both growing up in food-loving France, and armed with a lot of enthusiasm for their new project. Stephanie has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and while in France worked for an HR consulting firm, while Ben spent 10 years working for a web-marketing agency in Paris. They decided  to move to Phuket for a career change and Ben began an internet search for possible jobs. They spotted the ad looking for new owners of the restaurant, situated on Soi Saiyuan in Naiharn. On arrival, both were filled with apprehension but also excitement for the new challenge ahead. The first few months were tough, with the couple learning the ropes. They redecorated the interior with a French touch, and spiced up the menu.Ben, who runs the kitchen, took a cooking class in France where he found working in a kitchen was “not too difficult” and realised it came naturally. Ben works alongside Chef Oh, and the sous chef Apple, both Thai nationals. They teach him how to do things like filleting fish, and he trains them how to improve their technique and make sure the Western meals are top-notch. The restaurant is a cosy, romantic place with lovely lighting and a colour scheme in reds, oranges, yellows and tasteful browns, giving a real Oriental/French feel. The tables are set perfectly with unique table settings and gleaming silverware. The place attracts lots of couples for “romantic evenings”, as well as groups of friends, plus families with young children as there is a children’s play area. The menu includes salads, pasta, seafood and a range of meat dishes using high-quality imported meat from Australia and New Zealand. Popular items on the European menu include Beef Rossini (seared foie gras on top of Australian Angus beef tenderloin, with mushrooms, potatoes and madeira sauce) B750, the Australian Angus beef tartar (B610), and the foie gras dish for B630. Desserts are around B200 and include crème brulée, sorbet, and a yummy lemon tart. L’Orfeo was named in the Thailand Tatler list of best restaurants in 2011, and earlier in 2007 with previous owners, with its European wine list and food menu. Stephanie says, “If you had told me five years ago we would be running a restaurant in Phuket I would have said “Yeah right”. But we just followed the opportunities. It was a challenge and we felt like taking it.” L’Orfeo, 95/13 Moo 7 Saiyuan Rd, Rawai-Naiharn, Phuket, 076288935, orfeo@phuket@yahoo.com, and orfeo-phuket.com.