Our area’s first Thai restaurant opened last week in the commerce strip at 1225 Snow Street in Oxford, across the street from Cheaha Bank, where Snow Street merges into Highway 78.
Pacific Spice serves both lunch and dinner and can accommodate casual drop-in diners, take-out orders and larger groups in private party rooms.
Cuisine from Thailand is somewhat similar to that of China, because the Thai people immigrated thousands of years ago from southwest China to what is now Thailand. Unlike Chinese cuisine, Thai is eaten with forks and heavily influenced by India. Many dishes feature variations of curry. I find Thai food more delicate in flavor and structure than Chinese or Indian cuisine.
Thai food tends to favor vegetables intermingled with lighter portions of meat. What really distinguishes Thai food from other Pan Asian cuisines is its use of aromatics and sauces.
Thai dishes frequently include soy, fish, oyster and chili sauces (which can be found in ethnic food sections of most grocery chains). Other prevalent ingredients, some not so easily found, are lime and lemon juice, tamarind juice (from the pulverized pod of a tree of the pea family), coconut milk, garlic, lemon grass, galangal (an Asian plant of the ginger family), basil, cilantro, cayenne, peanuts and cashews, plus house-prepared curry pastes. Rice is always served with the meal.
Ingredients are fashioned into an array of exquisite dishes of meats and vegetables bound together by exotic sauces.
Thai food is spicy. Some dishes can seem quite hot to uninitiated Western palates, but Pacific Spice will adjust the spiciness to suit the palate of the customer.
The spice and heat of this cuisine makes wine pairing challenging. Thai people often select beer as a beverage choice, which works well with this cuisine.
Thai iced tea is listed on Pacific Spice’s menu, but Thai iced tea is made from strong tea, milk and sweetened condensed milk, served over ice. More like dessert than an accompanying beverage.
For post-holiday dining, Pacific Spice offers a marvelous gustatory diversion. For all you red wine oenophiles, this is a cuisine, in my opinion, where you should put away the red wine glasses.
Expect to see white varietals like riesling, gewürztraminer and grüner veltliner on Pacific Spice’s wine list.
Most experts consider wines from these varietals to pair best with complex Thai cuisine, but red wines will also be on the list for those who refuse to allow white wine to touch their lips.
As Thai food is complex to prepare, most of the Thai population frequent street food vendors who hawk various specialties. It is Thailand’s version of mom-and-pop fast food. If opting to enjoy Pacific Spice take-out, consider one of these wines to go along with your fare.
Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut Sparkling. $19.50 at Tyson Art and Frame in Golden Springs. Fizzy wines work well with Thai food. Grüner veltliner is the aromatic white grape of Austria. The still version would work with Thai food, but the bubbly version works best.
Luccio Moscato d’ Asti, $10.90 at the Wine Cellar on Quintard in Anniston, and Sansilvestro Cantine Dulcis Mosacto d’ Asti, $10.75 at Tyson Art and Frame. Staying with fizzy wines, both of these are made from the moscato grape in the frizzante style. Lighter, less complex and less bubbly than sparkling wine and Champagne, but good companions for Thai.
Valckenberg Gewürztraminer. $13.99 at The Wine Cellar. Gewürztraminer is akin in taste to viognier, riesling and grüner veltliner. Wines from these white floral varietals offer excellent pairings for Pan Asian cuisine.