The moon cast a silvery path across the glassy waters bathing the limestone cliffs and one of the world’s most perfect beaches with a sensual light. The gentlest of sea breezes kept the temperature on the comfortable side of sultry and the air was tinged with the aroma of fresh fish being fried in an array of perfumed spices. The sexy sound of glasses singing as they were clinked against each other as tenderly as a lover’s kiss completed a scene that was bordering on being a romantic cliché.
And I was spoiling the whole ‘the night, the moonlight and you’ seduction scene by making booming hiccuping noises that sounded more like they were emanating from some strange nocturnal jungle creature. The romantic movie had morphed into a rom-com and no amount of gulping water and trying the old ‘how to stop hiccuping trick’ (see below) could stop the ridiculous noises escaping from my mouth.
The cause of my hiccups was an innocuous little starter called nam prik at the quite stunning Krua Phranang restaurant overlooking Phranang Beach at Krabi in Thailand.
The Krua Phranang restaurant belongs to the luxury Rayavadee Resort and occupies the most divine of locations alongside the beach. It is quite the ultimate in romantic dining experiences. The sunset views across the bay from the restaurant’s classically Thai style terrace make the term exotic seem mundane and any cuisine served with Phranang beach as a backdrop has to be exceptional if it’s going to match the memorability of the scenery. No worries – the Krua Phranang proved more than equal to the task.
The traditional cuisine served here is exquisitely presented and tastes like a barrage of sensational Thai flavours have been unleashed in your mouth.
Unfortunately, in my case, one of the side-effects that our starter caused was The Guinness Book of Records attempt at producing the loudest hiccups ever.
We’d never tried nam prik before so were completely ambushed by the ferocity of its spiciness. The combination of shrimp paste, fish sauce, lime juice, chillies and garlic creates a dip that has a quite unique, almost pungent, flavour that is incredibly addictive. It is also very, very hot – the cause of my hiccups. But even though your mouth can be on fire, it’s almost impossible to stop dipping crudités into the nam prik and spooning dangerously great dollops into your mouth. Despite the embarrassing hiccups, that first taste of nam prik in the Kru Phranang had me hooked and just writing about it has made me yearn to hunt down some fish paste and make some.
After about the longest ten minutes in my life, the hiccups abated and I was able to concentrate on the food, or what was left of it as Andy had seen off most of the nam prik.
Our main courses thankfully didn’t quite have the same impact as the starter, but they did taste equally good. Andy had a deliciously moist and flaky, steamed sea bass whilst I opted for a more gentle yellow curry with a coconut creamy texture whose aromatic flavours did that uniquely Thai thing of lining up politely so that each ingredient could be introduced to my taste-buds separately.
Unsurprisingly, the Krua Phranang restaurant isn’t cheap, but it certainly isn’t overpriced. With the combination of the setting, the restaurant’s convivial décor and the best of Thai cooking it was quite simply one of my all time favourite dining experiences and worth every single Baht.
Incidentally, don’t be put off by my tales of hiccuping inducing nam prik, it is an incredible tasting dish. Try it if you get the chance.
Buzz Trips Facts: Rayavadee Resort, Phranang Beach;Tel: 66 75 620 740-3;open 6-11pm; www.rayavadee.com
The Old How to Stop Hiccuping Trick
A friend shared this with me years ago and it does the trick nearly every time – but it does require serious concentration.
When you get an attack of the hiccups and memories of stories of people hiccuping for years on end loom large in your mind find a quiet corner, sit down and do this:
Swallow continuously for as long as you can, breathing through your nose so you don’t pass out in the process. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but keep it up for a couple of minutes and the hiccups should be banished.