Dairy products have never been the defining ingredients of South-East Asian cuisine, and once upon a time you simply had to go without. These days, at least in Thailand, the situation’s better with all manner of dairy produce, particularly cheese, being imported. Some products are now of course made in Thailand, but with varying quality. And as for cheese it often commands prices that raise eyebrows. So people up and down the country are still used to going without, even now.
Not on Samui though. Here we’re lucky to have Lucky Cow – a firm that makes a plethora of dairy products that are always available and sure to please. All of them are produced right on the premises. Products are completely fresh and are developed with the discerning tastes of four and five star diners in mind. Yet, nothing is expensive; costs are kept down and you won’t find the prices so often associated with delicatessen and deluxe suppliers.
If you venture into the store and showroom (handily located next to Makro on the ring-road in Chaweng), you’ll find spotlessly clean surroundings. Staff are well-informed, speak English and are extremely pleasant without hovering. They’re entirely professional and can help you if you’re not quite sure what you want. Lucky Cow is owned and managed by Laurent Chaouat, who hails from France. He’s an affable and friendly person who’s doing something that no-one else is doing on Samui: bringing milk products that are guaranteed to be top quality to the island’s residents and holidaymakers. He’s well-known to many, and deserves to be; he runs a business that yes, surpasses the quality of industrial giants with results that taste better and which are totally pure.
Many of Laurent’s clientele are resorts – he serves some 40 of them regularly, all the way up to those at the high end. Orders roll in and goods roll out – everything’s well-packed, rigorously controlled and professionally trucked out, always arriving when it’s supposed to. It’s hardly surprising that Lucky Cow has garnered such a great reputation over the 15 years it’s been in operation, first starting as a very small enterprise before Laurent took it over and made it what it is today.
But even if most of his customers are hotels, asking for near-industrial amounts of dairy products, Laurent is equally aware of individual purchasers. That’s great news for those who live on the island. Browse the products (you can ask to taste them too) and you’ll be served with exactly the same quality as a five-star resort would be.
The products here are free of additives, chemical and otherwise, as well as any preservatives, and this all adds to the quality. Large companies that make, say yoghurt, are used to putting all kinds of additional substances into their mix. You might wonder why – yoghurt has, after all, been around for the last 8,000 years or so and is quite easy to make; it simply consists of milk and bacteria. Nothing else. It all probably started as far back as Neolithic times when milk was first being transported in central Asia. The containers were animal stomachs and natural enzymes in the linings curdled the milk, thus creating yoghurt.
This is still the basic process, though it no longer relies on animal stomachs! Yet these days industrial giants will add plenty more to the mix, including sugar too, even declaring their finished product sugar-free. Then there are other chemicals too. Why? Because their presence means that a lot less milk can be used. Instead, the water content is maxed up for higher profits.
Laurent’s take on this is simply to keep everything pure, the way the products should be. His yoghurts therefore are made with hygiene and authenticity in mind, not additives. In Thailand it’s actually hard to find natural yoghurt anywhere; plenty of products claim to be, but the word ‘natural’ is very lightly interpreted. Not so at Lucky Cow. Quality is first-class; if it weren’t then the products wouldn’t taste as good as they do. Laurent uses only 100% vegetal ferments which are certified by the world leader in organic ferments. Vegetarians can therefore rest assured that there are no meat extracts of any kind present.
The milk he uses comes from farms in the north of Thailand and is totally fresh. Laurent says that he’d be able to save lots of money on having local milk delivered from the mainland but he chooses not to, as he cannot be quite sure that all health requirements would be consistently met. It’s not an option, he says, to scrimp on the cost of the supplies; he cannot compromise on quality, even if it’d be more convenient to do so. For the buyer it’s excellent news: Lucky Cow offers high-end products at manufacturer’s prices, with everything made from fresh, pasteurized milk. Everything’s guaranteed safe. It’s all made upstairs and then carefully packaged and refrigerated. Everything’s hygienic, and correct labelling informs customers of the best-before date for each of the products.
You’ll find homemade dairy and cheese products of many kinds. Laurent has an array of yoghurts, which are sold in individual pots to large containers suitable for hotels. You can buy plain, Greek-style or yoghurt with various fruits added. He also has a range of drinking yoghurts too and tzatziki. Cheese is something that’s very affordable at Lucky Cow, where Laurent makes kefir, feta, tvorag and cream cheese with herbs. He also sells a selection of non-dairy products, too.
Lucky Cow is open from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm daily, except Sundays. Come in at any time and re-discover the wonderful tastes of natural foods. If yoghurts and cheeses are foods that you love, then you’ll certainly enjoy Lucky Cow and tasting the products that Laurent and his team are so good at making. You’ll be able to sample the best on the market, without paying anything near top dollar.
For further information, telephone 0 872 836 528 or 0 872 836 089.