Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Best Thai Chef Adds to Luxury in Nature; ANN RICKARD Didn't Have to Travel Far to Experience Another World

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Best Thai Chef Adds to Luxury in Nature; ANN RICKARD Didn't Have to Travel Far to Experience Another World

Article excerpt

A SHORT break surrounded by bushland gives you a feeling of being a million miles from everyday stress.

But nature doesn't always equal luxury and world-class food. Not so at Spicers Tamarind in Maleny.

The birds might be singing, the frogs croaking and the lizards sunning themselves, but the wine cellar is stocked with top-shelf drops and there is food to astound coming out of the kitchen.

A mini-break at Spicers Tamarind will turn into a travel highlight now that chef Paul Blain is general manager, not only overseeing the retreat with its five pavilions snuggling serenely in graceful tree-filled grounds, but also manning the kitchen of The Tamarind, the retreat's elegant restaurant.

Paul arguably cooks the best Thai food in Australia, and is a sought-after guest-chef in some of the country's most renowned hotels and restaurants.

He actually established the retreat himself 10 years ago as The Tamarind, and now is delighted to operate it under the Spicers banner.

We knew Paul's cooking from his days at his Chilli Jam restaurant in Noosa in the '90s and were delighted to meet up with him again at Spicers Tamarind.

After a gossipy exchange in the beguiling grounds, we checked into our pavilion in the rainforest, checked out the luxurious bedding, the double shower in the deluxe bathroom, the Hamn & Thann products, the fluffy robe, and for a moment wished it was cold enough to light the fire.

Outside, meandering paths beckoned. A walk down to nearby Gardners Falls would have been in order Co we could hear their gentle gush from our veranda.

But there were bubbles to be dealt with: in a chilled bottle of champagne and in the hot tub, warm and ready on the veranda.

"Shall we get in the tub?" we asked after the first glass of champagne had gone down nicely.

"Aren't we too content to move?" we mumbled, and stretched back in comfortable chairs to take in the clean air and listen to the birdsong.

Finally, we lifted ourselves up and strolled to the intimate restaurant overlooking tranquil ponds and lush foliage. Time to reunite our tastebuds with Paul's inspiring food. …

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