Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Port Wine Dinner At Benjarong Thai Restaurant In Bangkok

Billed as Bangkok’s “first-ever” port wine dinner, an event on April 9 at the Dusit Thani Hotel will feature the Royal Thai cuisine of the hotel’s Thai restaurant, Banjarong, and port wine from the W & J Graham vineyards in Portugal. The five-course dinner will be prepared by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Erwin Eberharter and Benjarong Chef Surasak Kongsawat. And Mr. Jorge Nunes will be on hand from the winery to provide information about the ports that will be served that evening.

Pairing Thai food with any type of wine is a daunting task as the varied flavors in most Thai dishes, as well as the spiciness that is usually present, present real challenges to anyone attempting to come up with the perfect wine for a particular dish. Adding to this challenge is the sweetness that is associated with ports so it should be very interesting to see what the chefs come up with to make this combination work.

The main point of interest is whether or not the recipes of Chef Surasak will have to be altered to accommodate the flavors of the port. As a matter of principle the chef is very strict about only cooking his dishes according to quite traditional recipes. I purposely did not contact either of the chefs or Food & Beverage Director, Mohamed Elsayeh in advance to find out what will be done with the food as I prefer to be surprised on the night of the event. It may be that the chefs will create some dishes that are not on the regular menu of Benjarong – or not. We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with.

In any case, it will be an interesting evening and it will even be topped off by an after dinner cigar and port session in the open-air area right outside the restaurant’s glass wall that borders the inner courtyard of the Dusit. Two things are definite about the evening, however. The first is that it will be a very high-quality affair as are all the Dusit wine dinners. The second is that the reasonableness of the price – 1,000 baht plus tax and service (about $30) – is bound to attract a good crowd to experience this culinary first in Bangkok.

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