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Dining Out


Wine Appreciation made simple (part 3)

Dining Out: Kaffa Pub & Restaurant - true “seaside” dining

by Miss Terry Diner

Directly across the road from the main Jomtien Beach is the Kaffa Pub and Restaurant. It is easy to miss it, being relatively dark and secluded, with subdued lighting, lots of trees and dark wood, while next door is the incredibly brightly lit, to the point of being garish, Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet which overcomes the visual senses.

Having heard good reports on this restaurant, we arrived unannounced for our review. The opening hours are from 11 a.m. through to 5 in the following morning, so it can certainly be a venue for the hungry late night party goers. The restaurant is in three distinct sections; an outside garden setting which will seat around 50 guests, with heavy wooden tables and chairs and a coffee bar at the rear; an air-conditioned inside section behind glass, in which the sushi chef has his station; and finally a “roof garden” for those who wish to dine in the clouds. On the night we visited there was a solo guitarist sitting in the air-conditioned comfort, whose music was piped to the garden section. Quiet, easy listening music that fitted in well with the relaxed, but sophisticated, ambience.

The menu is huge, with over 190 items to choose from. The cuisines on offer are predominantly Japanese and Thai, and some of the menus are also photographic, a good idea for those a little tentative with different styles of eating. A picture does indeed say a thousand words!

It begins with six pages of Thai items, generally around 120 baht per plate, and covers the vast majority of the local cuisine’s favourites such as larb and the stir-fries, as well as curries. These are followed by two pages of soups (B. 150-250) which mainly come in the “steam boat” table cookers.

Next up is a page of breakfasts including a full American Breakfast at B. 95, Continental at B. 60 or an omelette for B. 65. After this there is a page of hydroponically grown salads (around B. 100) and after that section comes the Japanese cuisine items, beginning with sushi sets, in three sizes, for example, the Sushi Nigiri is 250 baht for the large, then 220 and 180 for the small. Sashimi’s are up next (B. 120-300) including salmon, white fish, octopus and crab and then a choice of Maki (B. 50-250) with the wonderfully sounding O-Konomi (crabmeat roll with Japanese cucumber) for B. 120.

Teppanyaki items are next (told you it was a large menu!) with various kinds such as salmon or U.S. beef, ranging between B. 85-350, then some tempuras (deep fried) with shrimp, vegetables and chicken and a miso soup for B. 40.

The menu ends (finally) with a page of desserts and two of drinks. Beers are inexpensive, with one litre of draught for B. 170, house wines (red and white) B. 90 per glass or Sake Ozaki at B. 180 for 150 ml (hot or cool).

We began with a tuna salad for Madame, while I went for the miso soup. The salad had a very pleasant dressing (“Not overdressed” was Madame’s comment) and the miso soup was served hot with a great seafood tang and most enjoyable.

For mains, Madame went for the beef kaba steak, which was served grilled and diced, with vegetables and three sauces - a mustard, a garlic and a soy. The steak was tender, and the garlic sauce really set it off. For my mains I had selected a Kani Kama Sashimi (crabmeat with Japanese wasabe mustard) which came on a bed of julienned carrot and turnip. This was an excellent sashimi, and very reasonably priced. The wasabe did its usual job in the back of the nose and Miss Terry was happy.

We sat back and enjoyed the cool breezes from the sea and then left, still incognito, the waiters not even remarking on someone scribbling away through the meal and standing on the seat to take photographs.

A great location, good food and reasonably priced. A good Japanese alternative.

Kaffa Pub & Restaurant, Jomtien Beach Road.

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Wat day is your birthday? The D-Nite Inn and beer boozer (situated in the lane between Soi 7 and Central Pattaya Road, behind Tequila Reef nosh house) is celebrating the birthday of Wat, the Thai owner, on Sunday night July 8.

The D-Nite has a friendly atmosphere, charming ladies and a pool table. I’m led to believe that even the odd balloon chaser is welcome to come to the party.

Break out that old bandanna and rock on down: The Tahitian Queen 2 ogling den (Soi BJ, off Walking Street) has changed its happy hours and they now run between 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. Small draft beers are available until 10:00 p.m. at just 50 baht per mug. The den also serves chicken wings on most nights at around 9:00 p.m. There’s also a nightly “Lucky Number” draw that takes place at 10:00 p.m.

Usually from about 11:00 p.m. onwards the music played in the den is material rarely heard anywhere else in Fun Town (sometimes for good reason), featuring truly heavy metal rock and roll. Some of the better known bands featured are Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Metallica. However, I am led to believe by a couple of tone-deaf aficionados that a few of the lesser known but better-sounding bands include Linkin Park, Powerman 5000 (sounds more like a computer game), Static-X (a good name for a television series), Pantera (some form of laxative?) and the unfortunately named Stained.

Not the Whiskas: A prominent partner in one of Pattaya’s leading ogling dens recently had his castle violated by an unknown intruder. The discerning burglar apparently made off with the television and stereo as well as a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, a bed sheet (it’s not sure if the sheet was used or clean) and the cat food. Police are searching for an alcoholic vagrant whose squat now resembles a dollhouse.

Call of the Wild: For those who may have been wondering what happened to the Rotterdam-Spangen beer boozer that formerly occupied prime position in the small complex of swillers at the Chalalai Center (Second Road, up from Big C), it has moved to Soi Wongamat. A good place for those wanting a quiet night out away from the hustle and bustle of south Pattaya and off the main thoroughfares.

Worthwhile Websites: [email protected] is a free service for expats living here in Thailand. If you have any legal queries merely send your question and await a reply.

While on the subject of websites, I’ve had a few people e-mail me saying they had trouble finding the Stephen Leather book ‘Private Dancer’ on the two Internet sites I mentioned a few weeks back. If you go to the site just click on ‘The Girls’ and that’s where you will find it.

Price and gut busting: The Giligin’s ogling den (Pattayaland Soi 1) ‘House Whiskey’ has recently gone from five baht to 10 baht. Just a word of warning, this liquid should only be consumed by homicidal maniacs, masochists and those seeking a cheap form of suicide. Children should not try it at home (or anywhere else).

Get out of the garret: Auguste Renoir’s, the ambience-overdosed noshery attached to the Flamingo sleeping palace (Soi Day-Night 2) has recently introduced a daily special menu of entree, main course, dessert and choice of tea or coffee for a very reasonable 149 baht.

Florists and arsonists welcome: For many years I have often wondered why so many ogling dens bother with flower, fire and coloured string shows performed by dancing maidens who exhibit all the enthusiasm of a proctologist inspecting piles. From talking with regular visitors and expats around Fun Town, I am yet to find one person who actually enjoys this form of outmoded entertainment.

I can understand some dens, which also attract large numbers of northern Oriental customers, continuing with these tourist-oriented performances. However, for the majority of ogling dens in Fun Town the shows are an anachronism that may be interesting to first-timers but quickly goes beyond the pale with subsequent viewings.

My e-mail address is: [email protected]

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Wine Appreciation made simple (Part 3)

Red wine

by Ranjith Chandrasiri

The grape

Red wine can only be made from black (or red) grapes. To make red wine the skins are an integral part of the recipe, whereas in whites they are often little more than packaging.

The skins of black grapes are important because of their “phenolic” compounds: a complex mix of colouring agents, flavouring agents and a substance called tannin. Tannin is the essential difference between red and white wines. It is a powerful preservative, and since red wines are often made to mature over many years, tannin is required to ensure the wine does not grow old prematurely. Tannin also has a taste - slightly bitter - and an effect that dries and puckers the mouth. Another substance containing large quantities of tannin is cold, stewed, strong tea. A mouthful of that will give you an idea of what tannin is all about.

The classic red wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy (and their new world counterparts) are made with a hefty dose of tannin that preserves the wine and balances against the other flavour components of fruits, minerals and acids. Such wines are designed to improve over many years until they reach their peak - the point when the tannins have mellowed and the components have integrated perfectly. You need patience, suitable conditions and a healthy bank balance to get into the business of cellaring the great red wines until they each their peak.

Red wines destined for early or short term drinking (and not for “laying down”) are made with little or no tannin in their composition. However, tastes and needs change, and many fine, modern wines are made for immediate consumption. Since these wines don’t need to last several years, the bitter tannins are excluded and the wine tastes fruity, fresh and approachable upon release.

Making red wine

The winemaker has at his disposal a far greater range of techniques, and must make a far greater number of decisions, when making a red wine. The process is essentially the same as the white wine process: gathering the grapes, fermentation, maturation and bottling. At various stages the winemaker can intervene to change the style of the wine he is making.

The grapes are crushed, but a proportion of the stalks may be left in place. The resulting mash is run straight into the fermentation tank without pressing. Unlike white wine, the skins are part of the fermentation. Fermentation temperature varies between around 18 and 28 Celsius, as does the length of fermentation between a few days and six weeks. The fermentation vats may be concrete, steel or, traditionally, oak.

The high quality “free run” wine is poured straight into barrels or stainless steel to rest and mature. The remaining mulch of juice, skins, and stalks is pressed, to extract a strong, tannic liquid known as “press-wine”, a proportion of which is often blended back in at a later stage to add body, tannin and strength to the finished wine.

Most of the great red wines are matured in oak barrels. This is an expensive and labour intensive process. Oak from ancient French forests is generally agreed to be the finest, imparting a subtle vanilla, toasty flavour. American oak is also very popular and is cheaper. It is regarded as imparting a “bigger”, less subtle, spicy flavour to wine. Oak from the Ukraine, Poland and Slovenia is very old and fine and is the cheapest of all, but many experts find it is not flavourful enough.

Prior to bottling the wine must be cleared. Traditional fining is widely practised, but use of filters and centrifuges to remove absolutely all micro-solids from the wine is highly controversial. Wine is a living thing. Tiny biological changes take place over years as the wine matures in the bottle and many people believe that heavy handed filtration destroys the wine’s ability to age and improve. This is why many red wines must be decanted before serving: to run the wine off from solid deposits.

Red wine and grapes - styles and characteristics

There are just as many flavour profiles amongst red wines as white. Some grapes, like the cabernet sauvignon take quite easily to a variety of growing conditions, whilst others, such as the pinot noir, seem unhappy anywhere outside their home in Burgundy.

Cabernet Sauvignon - the classic Bordeaux wine grape. A “serious” wine, with intensity and ageing potential which marries very well with the flavour of oak, blackcurrant, cedar, pencil shavings, peppers, mint, chocolate, tobacco.

Merlot - the 2nd great grape of Bordeaux - most Bordeaux is a blend of these 2 grapes along with small amounts of some others. It is a very rich, plummy, spicy grape which lends softness to the sometimes rather serious cabernet with plums, roses, spice, fruitcake, blackcurrant, pencil shavings.

Pinot Noir - The great red grape of Burgundy. It is very fragrant and should be silky with heady fruit and sometimes gamey complexity with raspberries, strawberries, cherries, violets, roses, game, compost, manure.

Syrah - the great red grape of the Rhone. Planted outside France it is known as the Shiraz. Huge and complex, rich, spicy and “manly” with raspberries, blackberries, pepper, cloves, spice, leather, game, tar.

Other important red wine grapes include:

Cabernet Franc - green peppers, blackcurrant, leaves, chocolate.

Gamay - the grape of Beaujolais. Beaujolais style wines employ a unique method of fermentation called Carbonic Maceration, or whole berry fermentation, which produces light bodied and coloured wine that is fruity, low in tannin and made for early drinking.

Sangiovese - the grape of Chianti. Full, firm, dry, spicy, tobacco and herbs.

Tempranillo - the grape of Rioja, usually with plenty of spicy, vanilla oak.

Zinfandel - unique to California. Its origins are a mystery, but it is believed to be descended from the Italian primitivo. Full blooded, spicy, powerful, alcoholic.

In the next part of the series we will learn all about sparkling wines.

To take part in educational and entertaining wine tasting sessions and other wine activities regularly, you may join the Royal Cliff Wine Club. For membership details, you may contact me directly.

Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of the Royal Cliff Grand, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, Thailand.

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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