Who put the “French” in French toast?
I’m always surprised there is not more brioche served in the Maldives at the high end resorts. It is a truly elegant bread. A staple with the delicacy of foie gras. And often the way the trendy London gourmet burger bistros decadently dress up their ground beef in order to charge $30 for it.
Or for breakfast – well, any time really, slathered with Nutella. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s breakfast features a brioche French toast garnished with candied orange peel. More “Pain Doré” than “Pain Perdu” (Both are the French words for “French Toast – I guess they don’t call it “Our Toast”. “Pain Doré” translates to “Golden Bread” while “Pain Perdu”, the more prevalent name, means “Lost Bread” referring the dishes ability to resurrect old or stale bread). Maybe just a little dollop of Nutella…
A bit of research found that Gili Lankanfushi also serves brioche French toast, but I will give this nosh nod to Landaa for their mouth watering treat tweet.
“In my day, we had fantastical feasts when I lived in the palace.” – Ursula, The Sea Witch
I’ve seen a lot of fare offered up on the smorgasbord that is the Maldives buffets. But first time I encountered fresh, octopus sashimi (or as our young son called it “Sea Witch” from Ariel) was at Velaa’s expansive breakfast banquet. Fantastical.
Witch food are you eating for breakfast??
If you want to celebrate today’s national day of the land of the Rising Sun straight from the rise of the sun, then Sun Siyam Irufushi offers a fresh a Sashimi Bar at its breakfast buffet. Our Japan blogging son Chase (chip off the old block) would have loved this option. He savours Japanese culture, adores sushi and sashimi, and ordered it the most often when we visited the Maldives as a family. The profusion of fresh fish in the neighbourhood make this culinary favourite a treat the whole day long.
The Maldives is full of colour and that includes colourful individuals. At LUX Maldives, you can get these characters on your plate, and I don’t mean in a Sebastian “Under da’ Sea” way. Their pâtissier du pancake Rahmat has taken griddle art to a new level of virtuosity. To celebrate yesterday’s Pancake Day, his portraits included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (directly below) and Iron Man (next photo down). At bottom you can see him working on Flipper. But, especially being LUX, the big star of the show was Whale Shark (see above).
Flippin’ fine fritter critters!
Happy Year of the Monkey! Chinese will be celebrating all the new year all around the world with feasts and parties. And exquisite decorations and artistry like Komandoo’s carved watermelon. Particularly appropriate with its lucky red hue. Red is considered the most auspicious of colours as children are given New Year’s gift in red envelopes, the streets are decorated with red lanterns, and diamond-shaped paper cut-outs are done with red paper.
It turns out there are also a bunch things the Chinese won’t be doing, that are considered bad luck at this time, like taking medicine (first day), eating porridge, washing hair and using sharp objects.
The Chinese celebrate with all sorts of traditions from the well-known fireworks and dragon dances, to less familiar reunion dinners and new year paintings. To fit it all in, they have 16 days of celebrations. And some will slip away for a few days holiday. And the favourite destination in the world for the Chinese is the Maldives according to a recent survey – “Maldives tops list of Chinese tourists’ favorite island spots”. Another “Best in the World” for the Maldives…”Best in the World for Chinese Tourists”.
恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財
It’s not just the aroma of the soup, it’s the atmosphere. And one of my most enjoyable bowls was served at Coco Bodu Hithi’s “Aqua” fusion restaurant because of its garnish of sea sounds and sights.
For starters (literally), it and the rest of the meal was served on our own private deck. Such a set up was something I mused about way back in 2011. It makes meal time a sort of microcosm of the whole tiny island experience – dining nestled in an intimate nook surrounded by water (and there were these particularly peculiar fish circling the platform which had us reaching for our fish guides, though we still couldn’t figure out what they were).
Aqua has 360 degree water for 4 decks and then another 5 decks for 2 couples each with a 90 degree corner seat. An overwater restaurant tables are table stakes for a 5-star in the Maldives and most 4 stars have them too. But the broader platform designs mean that on a few early birds secure the coveted front row waterside seats.
The soup in question was an exquisite chilled fruit soup and seafood chowder. The Indonesian Chef Nyoman (possibly the only female head chef in the Maldives and certainly the first one I had met) had us try her special tuna Carpaccio which is prepared differently than you normally get it in Europe. But the highlight was Indonesian prawn dish, “Udanag Balado”.
Aqua is also one of the fewer places which request smart casual dress. It’s the first time I’ve had to wear long trousers to a meal in the Maldives, but it does lend an air of sophistication to the evening.
Private dining on high on the seas.
Soup always my first dish at a gourmet restaurant.
I shy away from the basic grilled, broiled and fried because I can do that at home. When I go out, I want some that takes more prep than I typically have time to invest. I favour the interesting casseroles and sauces, but the quintessence are the soups. Furthermore, their delectable broths are live savoury wines with heat instead of alcohol bringing a complex bouquet of flavours alive.
The tropical Maldives is really the setting for the piping hot stodgy side of the soup spectrum, but there are still plenty of possibilities especially among the chilled varieties. Lobster bisque and gazpacho are fairly common classics found in most of the 5-star resorts. But Dusit Thani not only had the most extensive array of soups on their menu, but they were all Michelin-star gourmet quality…
- Iced Tomato Consommé
- Veloute of White Bean
- Seafood Bisque
- Chilled Avocado Soup
- Peking Duck Consommé.
In honour of Homemade Soup Day today, I am adding a “Soup” tag to the blog.
The Weather Channel has come up with a list of the “The 50 clearest waters in the world”. Maldives comes in at a sparkling #5. But of the selections that pipped it, the Maldives is the largest area…
- Cook Islands
- Cocos Island
- Five Flow Lake (China)
Cook Islands is 91 square miles while Maldives is 115 square miles. So, you could say that the Maldives has the most ‘most clear’ water in the world.
I always thought that it was down to (a) reefs sheltering the inner atoll reducing sediment being stirred up from big currents and waves, and (b) coral reefs serving as a natural marine water filtration system. But I came across this post, “Why Crystal Clear Water in the Maldives“, which gave 3 different reasons – (a) geographic location in the ocean (dark water dragged out from deep), (b) plankton giving the water a different hue, and (c) warm water providing higher density.
So I conferred with one of my favourite Maldives marine biologists, Verena Wiesbauer for her thoughts on this claim. While I thought that the corals contributed to the clarity (as water filters), it turns out it’s more like the other way around (the clarity contributes to the corals)…
“Corals don’t like too many nutrients in the sea; they need only the sunlight to survive. Whenever there’s a high occurrence of plankton, the water becomes milky. But that happens too when sediment gets stirred up by ocean currents.”
I’ve added a new tag to the blog for “Best in the World” for posts (like this one) about the Maldives destination global superlatives.
No, not “Elevator Décor” (though coincidentally, Velaa does feature the only elevator in the Maldives resorts). After 60+ Maldives resorts, I haven’t seen it all (not by a long stretch), but I’ve seen a lot. And so my obsession is ferreting out the different and unique touches that these properties put on their various patches of paradise.
Overall, Velaa sports one of the most distinctive design and décor in the Maldives. I’ve actually got several “Best of the Maldives” pieces lined up about various aspects of their flairs and flourishes. But as a contrast to yesterday’s downward looking post, I thought I would do something a bit more uplifting, quite literally.
This height-motif is not your grandmother’s commemorative plate collection on a shelf. It starts with their bright array of chandelier lighting fixtures (definitely a post on these latter though on was shown in my post on their use of bamboo). But what really caught my eye were the various floral pieces on top of armoires and other elevated surfaces (see photos).
Luxury is all about going beyond the expected. Even the most prestigious hotels can have a sort of Spartan, hollow feel to them. So many places just focus on ticking the boxes of the essentials. They might do it with fine quality, but they often don’t go beyond getting that blank space covered or engineering some minimalist vibe so that the nothingness is justified as some sort of trendy hipness. Velaa has packed its spaces with visual delights. It not only imparts a more elegant feel to the place, but it also makes it seem more warm and inviting.
Good things are looking up at Velaa.
“Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.” – Jorge Luis Borges
One of the most distinctive aspects to the “no shoes, no news” experience of the Maldives is the pervasive warm, soft white sand. My favourite resorts are the ones who use sand floors in all the public spaces – restaurants, lounges. It’s like you never ever leave the beach during your holiday day or night.
Sound isn’t the only creative medium for the floor in the Maldives. Angsana Velavaru takes the distinctive sand floor to the next level with its own artistry. Sort of like a 2D sand sculpture (or ‘painting’). It reminds me of Jain rice drawing. Sort of a performance art in its impermanence.
(thanks again Paola)