My Favourite Table: Phuthai Esarn Restaurant

21:16, Aug 01 2012
Jane Blackmore
Artist Jane Blackmore at her favourite table at Phutai Esarn Restaurant.

Jane Blackmore, artist, at Phuthai Esarn Restaurant

I spent 10 years working as a chef and for a while I was both an artist and a chef. I burnt out as a chef and was getting enough work as an artist so decided to paint fulltime.

Yeah, cooking and art are totally similar. There's the process of gathering your materials with each. With cooking and painting you have a vision of what the outcome will be, and sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn't. Both are creative too.

I guess I'm a foodie. As a kid, I used to watch Alison Holst and get very frustrated at the age of seven when she never took all the mixture off the sides of the bowl. I decided I needed to cook and when I left school I did a cooking apprenticeship.

Now I only cook when I get a chance. I made a roast chicken last night with my eight-week-old baby Olive strapped to me and my 4-year- old daughter at my feet while I did it. Life is really busy. If I have the time to think, I still love to cook. But I get frustrated if I don't have the time.

That's why I love eating out too. I first discovered the Phuthai Esarn Restaurant some years ago when it was in Marjoribanks St in Mt Victoria. I've been to Thailand a couple of times and I just love the food and the flavours. The dishes are just so gorgeous. When the restaurant was in Marjoribanks St, it was so busy and so popular. Then one day, the owner said he was moving to this site (on Cambridge Tce) and they moved and it was so quiet. I thought, "Oh my God, because it's so delicious and they work so hard". I told them to put a sign up in the window saying who they were and they did and that seems to have made a big difference.

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I always order the sizzling lamb. It comes out on a sizzling plate with rice and they've got these amazing pepper sticks. In the evening, I'll have a glass of wine, or a tomato juice during the day. I also love their red and green curries - I alternate between the lamb and the green fish curry.

I can appreciate good food and the hard work that goes into it, because I spent so many years cooking as a career. Being a chef was really hard work. I lived in London for two years in my twenties and I was working in French restaurants there. Nothing amazing really. I worked round the clock, double shifts, and caught the last tube home. I was shattered all the time. There was this terrible story where one night the head chef I worked with had a heart attack in front of me. I still had 100 dinners to cook and I was cooking and ringing the ambulance at the same time. It was awful.

I came back to Nelson and worked at the Morrison Street Cafe, which is pretty well known, and also studied at the Nelson Art School.

Eating out is one of my priorities. I also love to eat at Capitol. That's a different level - the food is exceptional.

I had one of the best meals I've had there two weeks ago. A steak with lamb liver risotto. All those things that are so fantastic and make such a difference to a meal - it was piping hot. I get really grumpy if my food comes out cold.

It's my third year in the New Zealand Art Show and it's a fantastic opportunity to sell or buy works under $5000.

I work out of a studio in Shelley Bay with another painter Juliet Best. I paint art works that are abstract landscapes. One of my art works is one of the finalists in the Signature Art Award during the show, which is really exciting.

It's called Deliverance, and it's quite a cathartic piece about being pregnant.

There are a lot of committed artists in Wellington and a fantastic art community here, but it is really quite an unpredictable business to be in.

Jane Blackmore is one of the artists exhibiting at the 2012 New Zealand Art Show at the Events Centre, Queens Wharf, from Friday to Sunday.

Phuthai Esarn Restaurant

35 Cambridge Tce, Wellington

Phone: 8015006

Opening hours: Monday to Friday noon to 2.30, then 5pm till late; Saturday Sunday, 5pm till late

The Dominion Post