"New and unusual spirits are available at the Be Our Guest bar, where visitors can learn about the history of the drink.
Newcomers Tarsier, who are based in Styal, hosted a bar with their Southeast Asian gin. Described as a 'citrus forward gin, with spicy undertones', it contains Kampot pepper from Cambodia, Galangal from Indonesia, Kalamans from the Philippines, and Thai sweet basil."
Cambodia’s “perfect pepper” conquering world’s taste buds
Originally published January 24, 2017 at 7:37 pm Updated January 25, 2017 at 12:58 am
The Associated Press
KAMPOT, Cambodia (AP) — A nearby sea, flanking mountains, a quartz-rich soil: It’s the perfect spot on earth, devotees say, to yield a product they describe in that rapturous vocabulary usually reserved for fine wines: “aristocratic, virile, almost aphrodisiacal,” with subtle notes of caramel, gingerbread and mild tobacco.
Celebrity chefs from Paris to Los Angeles swear by Kampot pepper, a southwestern Cambodian spice with a tragic past that is now reclaiming its global pre-eminence. It is also proving to be “black gold” for some of its once-impoverished farmers, thanks in part to Kampot pepper last year being awarded a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Union. This identifies unique products — like Stilton cheese, Champagne or Darjeeling tea — as originating in a very specific region.
So far Kampot pepper production is a mere dusting — just 70 tons last year. Vietnam, the world’s top pepper producer, churned out some 145,000 tons of the spice. But more plantations are springing up while Kampot quality is rated as high as ever and hitherto slack markets, like the United States, are getting hooked on the spice. A New York chef has even concocted a Kampot pepper ice cream while Michelin three-starred French chef Olivier Roellinger rhapsodizes about its “olfactory richness” and broad spectrum of flavors.
The spice’s EU designation “has permitted a renaissance of pepper in Kampot. … This not only recognizes the singularity of this pepper but helps protect it from imitations,” says Nathalie Chaboche, a Frenchwoman who with her Belgian husband, Guy Porre, owns La Plantation, where pepper plants entwine 20,000 posts on a rolling green landscape fronted by the Gulf of Thailand.
The couple, who started the enterprise four years ago after lucrative careers in the computer industry, aim to boost production from 6 tons last year to 50 tons in 2018. They intend to grow without weakening quality control or endangering Kampot’s status as a “premier cru,” a French term for wine and other produce signifying impeccable quality — and hefty price.
Kampot red pepper was recently selling in Germany for as much as 378 euro per kilogram ($185 per pound), compared to an average import price of about $8 for one kilo in Europe for Vietnamese pepper. The farm-gate price for the three pepper varieties — red, white and black — averages around $10 per pound.
Believed to have originated in southern India, pepper became a widely traded item across Asia and Europe. Pepper farming in Cambodia was first recorded by a Chinese traveler in the 13th century, and energized centuries later by French colonialists. By the early 1900s, annual production peaked at 8,000 tons.
War disrupted the industry and after their 1975 victory, the murderous Khmer Rouge turned farmers into slave laborers. Deeming the “king of spice” too decadent for their ultra-revolution, the regime left plantations to decay.
A Japanese aid worker, Hironobu Kurata, pioneered a revival in the mid-1990s, but the scars of the Khmer Rouge era took long to heal. As late as 2000, only 2 tons were grown annually, but now about 450 farms produce Kampot pepper. Most belong to the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, which assists in price-setting and marketing while policing strict standards, including adherence to organic practices.
Cultivators use methods tested over 700 years, with some injecting new techniques.
Sorn Sothy, a former teacher and social worker, tries to reproduce the jungle environment native to the pepper plant on her small plantation. Palm leaves are used as shade; the soil is enriched with bat and cow manure mixed with bloodied animal bones. To ward off predatory insects, she sprays plants with a bitter extract from the leaves of neem trees.
The plantation run by Chaboche and Porre is Cambodia’s first semi-automated pepper operation, but its more than 100 employees still do much of the work by hand. “Our growing is traditional. The processing is modern,” says Porre.
Jean-Marie Brun, a French agricultural development expert, says the advent of large plantations could lower prices, and possibly quality. “The future will tell us if the large plantations are as successful as the smallholder farms,” he says.
Ngoun Lay, the association’s head and a fourth-generation pepper farmer, waxes bullish about the future despite potential problems and ongoing robust sales of fake Kampot pepper, mostly from Vietnam.
A recent report, he says, shows European demand for the brand at around 200 tons while production next year is expected at some 100. Farm gate prices have tripled over the past seven years, keeping once-poor farmers on the land rather than seeking menial work in neighboring Thailand.
Stephane Arrii, producer of the Marquis de Kampot label, worries that extensive deforestation has degraded the region’s soil. He says huge plantations on the still-fertile lands of northeast Cambodia could one day offer competition.
But will they match Kampot’s quality?
“As a Frenchman, I can attest that tasting Kampot pepper is like making love,” says Arrii. “Once you start, you can’t stop.”
Contact: Robert Pianka FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel. (717) 725-4305
MARQUIS DE KAMPOT: IMPORTING KAMPOT PEPPER TO THE USA
Offering samples of gourmet peppercorns from Cambodia
The once world-famous peppercorns from Cambodia’s Kampot region are back on the US market, 40 years after the genocide of the "Killing Fields". A flagship export sector in Cambodia's economic recovery, Kampot Pepper is grown only in Kampot Province, just as true Champagne comes only from Champagne. It’s a new-yet-old, exotic-yet-familiar spice which enlists everyone from the farm to the table in a story of national resilience.
Kampot Pepper has been famous in the culinary world since the late 1800's. The nuances of its black, red, and white peppercorns apply to a wide variety of traditional dishes – especially those of Classic French cuisine – and sharpen the cutting edge of new fusion trends.
Marquis de Kampot LLC is proud to be North America’s first bulk stocking importer of what the Associated Press called “Cambodia’s prefect pepper.” (see below)
Join us in support of Cambodia's recovery by crunching one of our peppercorns, which speak for themselves. To receive samples and material on Kampot Pepper's story, just reply to this email with your mailing address.
"Kampot pepper has earned international acclaim for its strong flavour profile, and has enjoyed a surge in popularity and sales in recent years. It became Cambodia’s first product to be recognised with a Geographical Indication (GI) from the European Union in 2016. But even as more farmers and distributors have joined the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA), climate change hurt this year’s harvest, resulting in a 26-percent drop in the total haul compared to last year. The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng spoke with KPPA President Ngoun Lay about what the association does, and how it plans to adapt to climate change in the future."
Ho Puthea, director of horticulture and subsidiary crops at the General Directorate of Agriculture...said with the use of this technology farmers will know what crops are the most profitable for their land.
“The technology will provide guidance to farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector,” he said. “They will know what crops adapt best to their land, and the government will build the infrastructure needed to support them.”
"Every Parisian chef once knew that if he wanted the best pepper, he should choose Kampot pepper. As the country descended into chaos, pepper plantations were ripped up by Pol Pot guerrillas - collective farms and enforced labor held no place for bourgeoisie crops such as pepper - or consumed by the encroaching jungle.
Today, thanks to geographical status protection and careful husbandry, Kampot is slowly regaining its pepper crown and production is growing."
"Bat farmers are unanimous on one point: supply cannot keep up with demand. A good deal of that demand comes from one of Cambodia’s precious few heritage products: Kampot pepper. Producers may only commercialise the spice as members of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, which stipulates traditional growing methods free of chemical inputs – fertilising vines with the nutrient-laden guano is a no-brainer."
"Cambodians traditionally used hundreds of different native plants in their cooking. Today, just a few dozen are found in their kitchen.
Until recently, rural Cambodians never looked beyond their village for the ingredients of their culinary recipes and the rivers, jungles and soil provided the myriad flavours – from sweet and sour, to spicy and bitter – that make up Khmer cuisine. But today’s increasingly urban lifestyle has seen a shift away from food self sufficiency, with families substituting imported products for the local ingredients that were the heart and soul of traditional cooking."
"Cocktails from the “Angkor Era” tend to have classic Cambodian ingredients such as jackfruit, and also inspire a certain nostalgia. For instance, the Monsoon Perfume – a gin and tonic enhanced by Kampot pepper, lime and mint – is meant to evoke the feeling of being in a rice-field right before a monsoon rain is unleashed, he explains."
Thomasina Miers’ easy recipe for roast chicken with black pepper, oregano, bitter leaves and jerusalem artichokes
"I was at the Good Life Experience in north Wales this autumn when an old friend from school thrust a mysterious package into my hands. Intrigued, I opened it to find a treasure trove in the shape of small packets of black, red and white peppercorns. But this was no ordinary pepper: Kampot pepper, from Cambodia, was awarded protected geographical status in 2010, and is so floral and fruity in flavour, it was once known as the “king of pepper”.
Despite a wet rainy season, a shortage of rain in Kampot province is anticipated to diminish yields for the renowned pepper this upcoming harvest season, likely resulting in the inability of farmers to meet international market demand, according Nguon Lay, president of Kampot Pepper Promotion Association.
"Robert, it is true. The flowers were blown off from our vines in June and they are flowering again, but Cambodia is entering dry season, so our farmers are watering manually. Good thing we can pay for electricity for the water pumps from the 2 wells we dug. Amy"