By Greg Hall.
Ah yes, Selfridges, it’s a bustling hub of allure. It’s a vainglorious bastion of consumerism. It’s a jewel in the crown of supply and demand. Yes, Selfridges, a misleading name, that bamboozles American tourists into thinking from this shopping Mecca one can only purchase fridges [Editor: Groan]. But then if some of them think Sherlock Holmes was real, what chance do they have? As it goes, I was there on a balmy Thursday evening; if anyone remembers what they were like?
What in the Dickens was I doing there? Well, I was saying ‘sawatdee-kraup’ to the launch of the centre’s Senses of Thailand extravaganza at the pleasure of the Thai ambassador, Kitti Wasinondh. However, it wasn’t quite the stuff of Ferrero Rocher. The ambassador didn’t spoil me with moreish Italian chocolate, nor was my companion a glamorous continental dame, although he is an all-round decent chap going by the name of Dave. But Thai food is in the top ten of global delicacies. Its soulful blend of herbs, spices and sweetness never fails to accentuate a culinary experience, and by Deus! we ate some succulent, opulent, superlative-inducing snacks.
After following the benign ambassador around, who in turn was being guided by a pompous duo of store representatives, myself, Dave and the Thai press followed the trio like rats mesmerised by the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Our tour was peppered with culinary treats and Singha Beer. Som Tam Salad (Spicy Papaya Salad) did a seductive can-can on our taste buds. A Mieng Kham stall provided a palette pleasing fusion of shallots, peanuts, chilli, dried shrimp and sweet sauce wrapped in a betel leaf. We supped antioxidants tinged with the unique flavour of Rosella and Mangosteen. Despite being in London’s epicentre, this mini adventure felt like we’d transported off the beaten track in Chiang Mai.
Top Thai chef Pongtawat Ian Chalermkittichai was also in attendance showcasing his skills, making an effervescent Nahm Tok From Nahm or a Grilled Beef Salad to us English speakers.
But eventually, the ambassador truly did spoil us, as we strolled on to Gordon’s café. Like pigs on a honeymoon, we squealed at delight at the finger food on offer which was duly washed down with Singha Beer Mojito.
But it wouldn’t have been a Thai event without - no, not ping pong balls - traditional dancing. Regarde et ecoute.
The Senses of Thailand is on at Selfridges until 30th July. Keen foodies who happen to be wandering in the Oxford Street area, (which, by the way, is a really good property to have in a game of Monopoly) by all means check it out. As they say in Thailand, Laagan!
If you’re searching for the best Thai restaurants in London, check out the Top 10 here.