Krung Thep, Noosaville QLD

First I must apologise for the extended “dead air”. You know when life runs away from you? Well, it’s been 2 of those months.  Busy, but good months.

I’ve completed another unit of my Master’s in Gastronomic Tourism and indulged in many more experiences to share with you.

First up, the Sunshine Coast. For the past seven years one of my favourite places to eat in Noosaville has been and still is Krung Thep.NoosavilleIt’s a peaceful little walk along the river from our usual well-appointed and exceptionally managed accommodation at Noosaville Outrigger; and gives us everything that keeps us going back. Authentic Thai food, great service,  good value, an adequate wine list and the option of BYO if you want something a little extraordinary.

DuckI have tried everything from the fish cakes, spring rolls and curry puffs and Tom Yum soup to red duck curry (a favourite), chilli basil beef and jungle curry chicken. You guessed it, I like it hot.  So I was very happy with the addition of a hot and spicy duck stir-fry to the menu on our last visit a few weeks ago.  If you love duck, crispy stir-fried vegetables and a hot and sour kick without too much sweet, or are not in the mood for coconut milk, then this is for you.  Keep your wine handy though.  It packs a neat little punch.

ChickenIf your palate is milder, you wouldn’t be sorry for the sweet and sour chicken. A little more Chinese than Thai, but still with a smattering of coriander and white pepper to remind you where you are.

SatayFor a mid-ships spice hit without the in-your-face heat, the spicy rice served with the (also new) satay chicken main is perfection.

If you’re brave – and I mean very brave – and love a perfectly balanced super-hot, salty, sour and subtly sweet, tender chilli basil beef stirfry, follow in my husband’s footsteps and don’t waste your time with anything else … ever.  He’s never been disappointed and neither have I (being as the poor man never gets to eat anything without me tasting it).Beef

Spirit House, Yandina QLD – Thai BBQ Lamb Salad

BBQ Lamb SaladI love spring. My garden is popping with colour, my house is infused with the scent of jasmine and gardenias and some of my favourite foods are in season.

I also love Christmas and am not averse to a little extended anticipation. What’s not to look forward to? It’s a time to celebrate everything that’s right with the world – family, fun, peace and of course, food. It’s also a time to the share the things you love most with those nearest and dearest. So there’s no better time to share some of my favourite spring, summer and festive food with you.

As you might know from a previous blog, I have spent many happy hours at Spirit House – the restaurant and and the cooking school. I have also spent many delightful hours in the pages of their recipe books, cooking their sensational creations and sharing them with family and friends.

Spirit House Thai Cooking BookMy favourite from my almost complete Spirit House collection (and of everything else I have), is Spirit House’s first publication – Thai Cooking. It’s entirely navigable for novices, challenging enough for more experienced cooks and spans the spectrum from canapes, salads, stir-fries and curries to desserts. It’s great all year round and I turn to it almost weekly for curries in winter, stir-fries in spring and salads in summer.

My favourite spring dish celebrates not only its Asian origin, but the gorgeous produce of Australia and the season – Thai BBQ lamb salad. The good news is, because they are such nice people, the authors have given me special permission to share it with you.

Recipe

They have also given me a little heads-up that a best of Spirit House cook book will be available before Christmas, featuring a compilation of their favourites as well as 20 new recipes.

In the meantime, have fun with this one and if you want to venture out for an appetiser, something really special or a little of something you won’t (unfortunately) find in any of their books yet, scroll down for a little “taste” of what’s on offer at the restaurant right now.

Salmon SoupIf you have eaten at Spirit House, cooked any of their recipes or try this one, then you’ll know that their food is balance epitomised. Authentic Thai food, celebrating local produce, using traditional but also embracing some contemporary techniques and always perfect.

Point in case their coconut soup with salmon, lemongrass and chilli oil. Delicate, moist fish is a perfect match for the hint of chilli which just cuts through the coconut milk and with finessed restraint does not overpower the subtlety of the lemongrass and kaffir lime.

I could tell you about the pork belly, but I’ll (almost) let this picture speak for itself. It looks sweet and it is sweet, but it’s also satisfyingly fiery with all the crisp on the skin you want.Pork Belly

Too often I’m enticed by scallops and am left more than a little disappointed by the obligatory vogue accompaniments.  Spirit House’s Thai version with puffed roti and fried green peppercorns is inspired. IScallops wish I could tell you more about it but I completely and utterly lost myself in the moment and other than telling you it is one of the best things I have eaten – ever – I’m afraid you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

New on the menu, so something we felt compelled to try, is the pulled wagyu with pickled shitakes. This dish best demonstrates the old with the new. WagyuMore savoury, but with the chilli hit you’d expect, generous shavings of wagyu work well (if not very substantially) with thick, gnocchi-like noodles, basil and wafer-thin garlic crisps.

If there is one thing that makes Spirit House work (apart from the exceptional food, service and good energy), it’s the consistency of the place and its people. I have never been there and not seen co-owner Helen Brierty close at hand and it’s telling.  In all the years I have been dining there, the gardens have always been beautifully tended, the menu true to its roots, the food and service faultless and everything weaved through with a delicate efficiency.

Spirit House

Spirit House – Yandina, QLD

SH RestaurantThis is not my first visit to this exceptional establishment, it’s my tenth. But it’s my first since I started writing and my nod to its excellence is well overdue. Set on a peaceful lake amongst a lush tropical garden, Spirit House is not just a restaurant – it’s an experience. The exceptional presentation of exquisite contemporary Thai food, served with subtle elegance in the most tranquil of settings makes it so.

SH Soft Shell CrabI can recommend pretty much everything on the menu, but today I start with the tamarind chilli soft shell crab with minced pork and Asian celery. I love tamarind and its sourness in this dish is in perfect harmony with the hit of chilli. The light crunch of the shell gives way to delicate, sweet flesh and finishes well with the dusting of nuts.

SH Pork BellyMy husband has the pork belly to start and it’s as good as it always is (yes, he almost always orders it). The rich crispy skin, sweet citrus caramel sauce colludes with the ginger and mint salad to bring him back for more every time.

SH Massuman Beef CurryThe massaman seared lamb loin is nice and spicy – delicate heat comes through the sweetly caramelised sauce. The Kipler wafers are beautifully light and crisp and the pickled garlic adds a nice contemporary twist.

SH Green Pork CurryThe star dish today is the green curry pork loin. Spice crusted and served with (yes, more) pork crackling, shavings of apple, Thai celery and shredded kaffir lime leaves, it’s fresh, punchy and incredibly moreish.

Over the years I have had the very great pleasure of not only eating at Spirit House, but also attending their cooking school. It’s great fun, really hands on and both Kelly Lord and Annette Fear are great teachers. I have yet to join them on one of their culinary tours to Thailand and Vietnam but look forward to it immensely.2012 July 604