The days started with a visit to Or Tor Kor Market, an anomaly of cleanliness and organization among in Bangkok. Somewhere among the neatly lined rows of mangoes and oversized mangosteen, I met Chef Daniel Bucher of Osito Unique Spanish (a tapas restaurant) to interview him about his passion for cooking. Daniel has had an atypical path to becoming a chef which he explains as we grab a meal in the market. “I studied architecture and I still feel strange saying I am a chef,” Daniel continues to explain as we hunt for Thai peaches in the Royal Project Shop on the premises of Or Tor Kor.
A native of the “peach state” I never knew Thailand had their own peaches. Apparently the fruits were one of the first foreign fruits to be cultivated by the Royal Project Foundation in the north of Thailand. If you’re not familiar with the story, the short version is that Thailand led by the Thai Royal Family introduced many non-native species to hilltribe people in the north of Thailand, offering them opportunities to make a living without growing opium which was destroying communities and decimating the forest.
They were able to marry a western peach breed with the Thai plum and now those trees are around sixty to seventy years old, a prime age for bearing fruit. The result is juicy, but mostly fuzz less and considerably more dense than the peaches I crave from Georgia. In other words, they’re similar to what we would call a nectarine (a genuine peach commonly believed to be crossbred with plums) and when they’re in season you can grab them from the Royal Project Shop for 250-300 baht for a box of six.
Daniel took the peaches back to the kitchen and grilled them while preparing a simple syrup with Madagascan vanilla. The Thai peaches really held their shape after being grilled and he moved them into the syrup. Then he grabbed the peach schnapps for his flambé and with a quick toss his pan had erupted in flame. He dropped the peaches in a bowl, added a quinelle of freshly whipped cream and garnished with microgreens and pine nuts.
If you guessed we didn’t get together and only eat peaches, you’re right. Daniel had been working on a rustic risotto made with a collection of mushroom he had brought back from the market, but a quinoa and cauliflower salad and other treats appeared before he finished. But in the end it was the chef’s passionate take on cooking and produce, not all the delicious nap inducing dishes flying out of the kitchen, that left the lasting impression.
Osito Unique Spanish is located in the Mahatun Plaza complex just next to the Phloen Chit BTS Station in Bangkok. You can also find them on facebook.