Food: Southeast Asia’s food scene gets an artisanal twist

(From Nikkei Asian Review)

Joe Sloane in his Bangkok shop, surrounded by his growing range of artisanal foods (Courtesy of Joe Sloane)

Joe Sloane in his Bangkok shop, surrounded by his growing range of artisanal foods (Courtesy of Joe Sloane)

Sunday morning outings in pursuit of freshly baked sourdough, local cheeses, single-origin coffee beans and assorted homemade condiments conjure up images of quaint town squares or farmers’ markets in Europe and North America. Now, they are also happening in Bangkok, Singapore and Siem Reap, on a monthly or even weekly basis.

Artisanal food gatherings have been cropping up around Southeast Asia in recent years. Farmers are not always involved in the markets and the term “artisanal” is open to interpretation. Broadly speaking, it covers small-batch “locavore” food — that is, locally produced food made with nonindustrial processes. A common driver in these projects is the desire to deliver healthy food with minimal additives, and for shoppers to know where their meals are coming from.

Restaurants have provided much-needed forums for fledgling food producers to sell their niche goods. The award-winning Bo.lan restaurant launched its eponymous market in Bangkok with 12 vendors in January 2012. The local gourmet scene has since grown to support the larger Bangkok Farmers’ Market. In Singapore, the Open Farm Community regularly stages events to promote local fare while in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, similar monthly gatherings can be found at Maison de Tet Decor on the city’s West Lake. Read more



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