After demoting beaches on the list of priorities, and recovering from the predatory perils of Phuket’s Night Market we decided to explore the heart of the city by day, and grew rather thirsty. There is nothing like an 11 am iced coffee (and a little treat) to beat the heat… and kill time before you have to head back to civilisation in Bangkok.
We came across The Italian Job cafe whilst strolling along hot streets in search of refreshments… (and chose it because of how awesome both hollywood productions were!!) With a rather quirky shop sign (italian flag, coffee beans and crowned with a boldly printed coffee cup) and red sofas inside to boot, the cafe put simplicity and quality at the heart of its operations. So much so, that this was reflected in the classic and delicious menu the owner (an italian) had devised.
He told me that he had two cafes running and spent half the day at one, and half the day at the other… lucky me!
Desperate to recall the Italian I learnt at university, I perused their fast disappearing selection of freshly baked pasticceria and decided on a piece of their Chocolate Tart. I shakily ordered “una torta cioccolata, con tre caffe freddo e un caffe lungo. E possibile di riscaldare la torta per favore?” The owner smiled and said “Si! Certamente!!” It worked!!
Our coffees and torta arrived in quick succession and we picked up our implements to begin tasting. It was clearly home made pastry. With a lovingly crafted lattice encasing what appeared to be a dense, rich chocolate filling. I was dubious about the base as I always prefer all tarts with thinly rolled pastry, but this was instantly an exception to the rule.
The thick layer of chocolate sat proudly upon its surprisingly light and crisp pastry as it drew nearer my mouth… the -albeit short- anticipation was killing me!
It was no doubt delicious and perfect with their coffee. The espresso they had put into the iced coffees was nice and strong, nutty, and not in the slightest bit acidic. The added bonus was that it wasn’t loaded up with sugar, as with many iced coffees and even fresh juices available in Thailand. I didn’t have to instruct the thai barista with the words “waan nid noi” (meaning less sugar) as she had been well trained in the art of the perfect iced coffee.
After the first piece, we ordered a second (got the last piece just in time!!) We also dared to sample their fresh ciabatta paninis!
FUN FACT: At university, I learnt that the term panini is in fact plural for a sandwich. So when ordering a panini for lunch at a cafe, WE’RE TECHNICALLY SAYING IT WRONG! I bet it started as an inside joke that just carried on into our quotidian lexicon .–> un panino is the singular.
Getting back to the point. What is an 11am coffee without a little salty snack to share in preparation for lunch? We ordered one chicken and one prosciutto, which came to us within ten minutes… piping hot and filled with slices of beef tomato and deliciously melted monterey jack cheese. (I’ll allow no mozzarella. Thailand does have its limitations and this substitution was appropriate)
It also contained fresh salad leaves which hadn’t wilted because of the heat. MAGICAL! You could taste the flour in the bread, it was fresh [unlike the generic breads we consume from our supermarkets] crusty and airy as good ciabbata should be!!
I have to say, being able to find a delicious chocolate tart and a prosciutto ciabbatta in the heart of Phuket was a pleasant surprise and made me smile up to my eyes.
So here are the ratings…
Value for money: 4/5
Practising your Italian when ordering and having the vendor understand what you’re saying: 5/5 (WIN!)