Vintages are the marques of distinctive quality for the finest wines, but how about “vintage” cocktails? Velaa bills them as the Maldives’ “Rarest and Most Expensive Cocktails”. Starting at $1,230, they would make a Top 10 list in the world are a mostly certainly the most exclusive in the Maldives. But anyone can throw together lots of expensive ingredients. What I like is their distinctive attention to the story behind each…
“History in a glass – the cocktails celebrate vintages from bygone years – using the finest vintage Ports, Cognacs and Armagnacs, such as Guy Lheraud, Vieil a unique 1930’s vintage as the base liquors for each drink…The dedicated mixology team at Velaa has developed their first-class repertoires for these fine aged cocktails and aim to transport guests back in time to the prohibition years in New York or Chicago.”
- The Goal of 1934 (USD$2,090) – Inspired by the 1934 World Cup in Italy, where Czechoslovakia lost 2-1 to the host nation in the final. This cocktail is created with Guy Lheraud “Carafe Eve” 1934 and Bollinger “RD” Extra Brut, 1996.
- A Good Year Cocktail (USD$1,930) – 1930, known as the year of peace and tranquillity, heard BBC Radio from London on 18th April reporting that “There is no news” and a good year for all, uses vintage Armagnac – Guy Lheraud, Vieil Armagnac 1930 and topped with Louis Roderer Cristal.
- Lucky & Al (USD$6,530) – Homage to the Prohibition era in the US, this cocktail is created with a vintage 1930’s Guy Lheraud, Vieil Armagnac and Salon 1988 Champagne.
- The Belle Époque (USD$4,285) – A time of peace and prosperity, this era is considered the start of the ‘golden age’ post World War I and is made with a rare Guy Lheraud, Vieil-Armagnac, “Baron Gaston Legrand” 1888 and Dom Perignon Cuvee Rose 1982.
- Eiffel Tower (USD$2,470) – For 1990, when the Paris World Exhibition celebrated the Eiffel Tower, this cocktail is created with Guy Lheraud, Vieil-Armagnac “Baron Gaston Legrand” 1900 and Dom Perignon Onotheque 1996.
- Fly me to the Moon (USD$1,230) – Based on the moment when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, uses Vintage Port- Graham’s 1969 or Cognac Guy Lheraud “Fins Bois” 1969 and is topped with Salon 1999 champagne.
So you can toast today’s 127 anniversaire of the Tour Effel’s opening with a double distillation of “drinking stars”.
Lillian Gish and hairy nips.
If molecular cuisine is the epitome of epicurean epiphanies, then the opposite end of the spectrum would be good old fashioned fish and chips. But in the Maldives, even this austere staple can have an artistic twist.
Amilla Fushi’s has taken a page from one of London’s top eateries, The Ivy, famous for both its celebrity clientele and for serving luxury fish and chips. The Fish & Chip Shop venue is located in the Baazaar eaterie run by leading Aussie chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan on the resort. They serve favourites such as battered or crumbed cod, haddock and scampi, as well as some of the more exotic local fishermen’s ‘catch of the day’. Complete with newspaper wrapping (though I hope it is The Times or the International Tribune).
If you can’t find gold, then make it. Instead of a pirate, that calls for an alchemist to magically turn ordinary ingredients into the most coveted taste treasure. That’s what NIYAMA has brought to its resort this past week with its pop-up Chin-Chin ice creamerie…
“Chin Chin Labs, the pioneers of made-to-order artisanal liquid nitrogen ice cream, is conjuring up culinary creations and haute cuisine ice cream at PER AQUUM Niyama from 16 – 21 March. Part of PER AQUUM’s PULSE line-up for 2016, adults and mini VIPs alike will be put under the spell of the ice cream magicians, straight out of London’s Camden Market, as they unveil exotic limited-time flavours at the pop-up parlour on the resort’s new island, ‘Play’. With all ice creams made fresh to order, the exclusive flavours will feature ingredients from the resort Chef’s own herb garden ranging from Roasted Sweet Coconut Curry, Mango & Saffron, Banana Blossom & Jasmine to dairy free options such as Passionfruit & Raw Cacao Nib. Guests can also get involved at the hands-on Nitro Workshops at BLU’s Cooking School on 17, 19 and 21 March. Hailed as the ‘Best ice cream parlour in England’ by The Times and the ‘Future of Ice Cream’ by The Observer in the UK, Chin Chin Labs has achieved a cult status amongst chefs and ice cream aficionados – not to mention children – the world over. Shunning traditional techniques and convention, Chin Chin Labs has been creating artisanal ice creams to order, frozen with liquid nitrogen and billowing with clouds of ‘ice’ since 2010. Having pioneered liquid nitrogen ice-cream as a retail concept, Chin Chin Labs uses liquid nitrogen at -1960C to freeze their handmade bases, which then boils away in a vapour cloud creating fresh ice cream.”
Liquid nitrogen chilled ice cream has been a staple of molecular gastronomy popularised by Heston Blumenthal (his Fat Duck restaurant is a few miles from our house and we have been frequenting it since he first started out). I’ve actually wondered when this culinary chemistry would make its way to this epicentre of epicurean luxury (#34 of ‘Haven’t Seen Yet – part 4’).
Happy Easter! If the Easter Bunny didn’t bring you enough eggs, then maybe you need to go hunt for them. When our kids were younger, we not only organised treasure hunts on our Maldives visits, but we organised Easter egg hunts at our house or church before we tucked into our traditional Easter dinner of roast lamb and Lori’s famous carrot cake.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa offers a gastronomic treasure hunt every day (including eggs, though not the chocolate version), with their “Culinary Indulgence”. For $670 per couple, you are treated to 5 meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, evening cocktails with canapés, and dinner) at assorted special locations around the island.
Fortunately, I pilfered a treasure map about from a scallywag rogue indicating where the culinary treats and treasures can be found.
One of the classic “wow” features of the super-deluxe properties are the glass floors in the water villas to peer down on the aquatic playground below. Soneva Fushi’s lack of water villas hasn’t stopped it from it from offering its own version of a truly ‘glass’ floor in its yoga pavilion. Down the centre of the room are glass floor panels. But instead of maritime life beneath, it has a sparkling canvas of crushed glass recycled from the island. It’s like an aquamarine carpet. Just another example of Soneva’s glass ingenuity.
The ‘Complete’ opposite of an ancient bath is a state of the art glass bath as featured by Six Senses Laamu. Not just a glass portal to the aquatic wonders below, but an entire 360 degree wrap-around of transparency. And if the simple concept of it wasn’t alluring enough, Kirsty Streater posted a modelling shot of the tub.
Well, well, well. It turns out that Kihavah isn’t the only resort island with an ancient and storied water well. Loama Maamigili features a well fit for a king. And it was used for much more than just fetching water…
“Vevu (Dhivehi) or bathing tanks, found on the heritage site, were used as public baths and later for ablution. The actual period of this Vevu is unknown, however sandstone used in construction is evidence pointing to the pre-islamic period. The symmetry of the two wells also suggests it may have been part of a temple.”
“Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…” – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
World Water Day today celebrates the precious commodity that is water. The magic elixir that makes our ‘blue planet’ teeming with life.
When a human being is left without food, shelter and any resources, it will die first from lack of water. One doesn’t necessarily think of the Maldives as a desert of water and yet it is probably as a precious here as anywhere on the planet. The vast majority of the county’s water supply has to come from desalination. Some rain water does fall on the land and get captured by natural aquifers. But modern Maldivian society long ago outstretched the capacity of these natural resources. You can still find these water relics around standing testimony to a society that cherished many precious natural resources not least of which was the water that surrounded it.
One of the best examples on a resort island of the old school water supply is the ancient well on Anantara Kihavah. The resort has reserved the site and put up a special information plaque for visitors…
“During the 16th century traditional Maldivian methods to obtain fresh water on uninhabited rural islands including digging a hloe in the ground by hand. This method was limited to suitable types of ground only, such as clay, sand, gravel and mixed soil where only small boulders were found in the ground.”
Adjacent to the well is another related memorial to antiquity, the “Kihavah Gravestone”…
“According to the script on the Kihavah gravestone it dates back to the early 18th century and would have been crafted locally during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar. The stone offers a glimpse into this island nation’s history during a time when such beautiful coral carvings were typical. Though uninhabited until recently, Kihavah Huravalhi Island would have been visited by islanders from the neighbouring islands and atolls to collect fresh drinking water from the well, wood and palm trees leaves for use in everyday Maldivian life, as well as to harvest the Kui Ruh palm trees for young coconuts. Kihavah means ‘young coconut’. In addition, the tranquil isolation of the island provided an ideal sanctuary in which to cleanse the body. During one such visit to take a bath. Ms. Aiminaa Faami passed away. She was buried where she died, in accordance with the customary practice at the time. The gravestone marks her death as 1227 in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.”
The first day of spring today as we passed the Vernal Equinox. A natural cause for celebration (especially up north) as the days now get longer than the nights. This celestial event is celebrated in a number of ways from throwing coloured powder (for the Hindu Festival of Holi) to balancing an egg (ancient Chinese belief says that you can stand an egg on its end on the first day of spring since due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, gravitational forces are balanced out).
But spring is especially a time of sprouting and rebirth. The baby lambs have started emerging on the farms in our area. The Mirror describes, “Spring equinox is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and growth, and in ancient Italy, it was traditional for women to plant seeds in the gardens of Adonis on this day. The custom persists in Sicily, where women plant seeds of grains – lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers – in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the flowers are placed on graves on Good Friday, symbolising the triumph of life over death.”
A number of resorts have offered tree planting on their property, but a few have stopped (running out of space) and others don’t support plaques. I appreciate that such commemoratives need to be done with taste and aesthetic sensitivity, but I do love the notion of being able to leave a positive part of yourself after your departure. Giving a people commemorative opportunities builds the sense of connection to this paradise and a reinforces an enduring empathy and support for its environmental challenges.
Sun Siyam Irufushi does support tree planting accompanied by simple wooden plaques noting the special occasion of the visit (cost is $300).
May your spring blossom with the vibrant colour of the Maldives wherever you are.
Earth Hour today.
“As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come. This Earth Hour, switch on your social power to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to #ChangeClimateChange…our future starts today.”
One of my favourite Earth-friendly initiatives in the Maldives is Gili Lankanfushi’s floating solar panels. One of the challenges to solar power is finding a place to put the surface-area driven collectors. Not a problem in the middle of a desert. But in a densely populated location a bit tricky. Some have tried putting them on roofs. What the Maldives do have is lots of water. And so Gili’s solution is so fitting. It’s sort of a floating solar lilo.
“Gili Lankanfushi is happy to announce its partnership with Swimsol, an Austrian company that specializes in groundbreaking floating solar power solutions. Their idea is to bring green power to parts of the World, like the Maldives, where land space is limited. We are lucky enough to have Swimsol’s largest product so far; a 15 x 15 metre floating solar power platform. The platform itself is an engineering marvel; an innovative floating structure that is designed to survive waves and water turbulence. It consists of glass fibre tubes, aluminum frames and 112 solar panels. Weighing over 5 tonnes, it took nearly one third of Gili Lankanfushi’s hosts to push it into the water. Today after more than two weeks of hard work in the blistering heat of the dry season, the Swimsol team have plugged the largest floating solar platform in the Maldives into Gili Lankanfushi’s power grid. Swimsol’s platform has a nominal capacity of 28 KW and on sunny days it will produce up to 200 kWh, which is enough to power the equivalent of all our pathway and jetty lights, as well as the Front Office lighting for 12 hours! The platform will reduce our carbon footprint by 35 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the emissions of 30 return flights from Europe to Maldives per person!””