The trend in fitness to HIT conditioning takes me back to the old school days when training was basically moving heavy objects like barbells and medicine balls. One & Only Reethi Rah has introduced a workout that takes me back to my high school and college football days – the Power Sled. Designed for linemen like me to strengthen their ability to push opponents off the line of scrimmage. You can see one in action at the 1:00 mark of the introduction sequence to the USA TV show “Ballers” (great series starring Dwayne Johnson). This picture features Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri on holiday, but keeping up her fitness regimen.
Geologists Day today. And all rock lovers will love a rockin’ meal at Joali’s Saoke restaurant features possibly the world’s only over-water rock garden. Striking boulders are set throughout the restaurant of Japanese fare providing a distinctive visual aesthetic.
Sake on the Rocks!
Today is official “Don’t Go To Work Unless It’s Fun Day” (no joke). But for most of the world during the pandemic, every day is “Don’t Go To Work Unless You Are a Key Worker Day”. The world is getting on top of the coronavirus scourge by reducing its transmission until vaccines, treatments and testing is more widely available. That has meant all the resorts rightfully shutting down. So instead of visiting the real thing, people are having to settle for the digital, virtual equivalents with screen time skyrocketing.
While the Maldives geotag is dominated by fashionistas in swimsuits, one of the most common subjects on Instagram is photographing your food. If you are staying at Faarufushi, you won’t be able to resist a post yourself if you dine at Lagoon (the resort’s Asian tapas restaurant) and feast your eyes (and your Followers’ eyes) on one of Mohamed Adil striking dishes. And if you don’t have your camera, then you can repost one of Adil’s pictures on his very on fleek feed.
Hotelier Maldives featured a profile on him earlier this year. Hotel Asia’s Best Maldivian chef 2018 described his background, “Art was something I always saw when I was growing up. Mostly paintings by my dad, but I never thought of art on a plate and that’s where I found myself.” His mentor Executive Sous Chef Bir Kumar Yadav first worked together at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru where he started as a kitchen steward. From there he has skyrocketed in the culinary world to recently winning the Gold Medal in the Dubai World Summit. Here is his story in his own words:
- What atoll are you from? – Born in Ari Atoll, located towards the west of the archipelago, brought up in Seenu Atoll (Addu Atoll).
- What was the first dish you ever cooked for someone else? – I clearly remember the first dish that I cooked for my executive chef as a practical exam. It was a grilled chicken breast with homemade crispy fries, sautéed peppers and hollandaise sauce.
- What’s your favourite unsung ingredient? – Unsung ingredient would be cumin as Ground Cumin has a very distinctive flavor with an earthy, nutty, spicy taste with a somewhat bitter undertone and a warm, penetrating aroma with hints of lemon.
- What’s your signature Maldivian dish? – Coming to a signature Maldivian dish would be something I created back in 2019 for a culinary challenge. The dish had various components and all of them are favourites to many locals. A fillet of red snapper grilled over coconut coal, breadfruit curry, tempered banana blossom with smoked tuna, fried moringa leaves, fried onion tuile served with a savory doughnut.
- What has been your most ambitious dish? – My most ambitious dish was one that I made for a culinary challenge. I knew that I wanted to go with beef and the rest was unclear. So I took a piece of paper and wrote down all the things that would go well with beef. Then I started crossing out the ingredients until I got the perfect combination. First I worked on perfecting the taste. Then I moved on to the presentation of the dish. The whole process took me over 30 attempts to create the dish which consisted of Wagyu striploin paired with cylinder of potato fondant filled with wild mushroom duxelle, decorated with shimiji mushrooms, onion flan, sweet unagi, garlic sautéed baby spinach, tea smoked cauliflower puree, black garlic jell and a rich veal jus.
- Has there been any memorable failures where something you tried didn’t work? – Looking back, there would have been many failures. Some dishes were not executed to the standard that I wanted to bring out. However, I kept working on perfecting those dishes and that practice is what brought out the ability in me to a higher level. I don’t consider them to be failures but as something that I can learn and gain from for the future.
- What was the best advice you’ve received as a chef? – The best advice that I got is not to constantly look at the working hours and the amount of pay and instead to keep looking at the blood and sweat as a stepping stone to greatness.
- If you could do your career over again, what would you do differently? – If I could redo my career all over again, I would start it as soon as I could. Until I was 19 years of age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. If I had known sooner, I could have taken a more scientific focus throughout my studies in school as cooking and science goes closely together. I wish I knew what my career was going to be so that I could have prepared to start my career beforehand.
Adil is definitely someone who loves his job and let’s hope he can resume working it as soon as possible.
Paradise on a platter!
With interest in sustainable local sourcing of foods (and now some of the supply chain constraints with the coronavirus pandemic), the Mookowfushi resort is expanding its chef’s garden (where it has grown a range of herbs and vegetables) into a chef’s pasture that will support a small herd of Angus steers for the property’s dinner plates.
Their initial trial of the husbandry hit issues with the island not providing enough grazing land. But they quickly determined that the bovine palettes were as happy with sea grass as they were grass on land. The problem was that sea grass washed up on the beach was dead and sandy. They needed the bovine buffet to be fresher to the animals. So they experimented with the classic Maldivian accessory – the mask and snorkel. The animals took to the devices very readily (see photo) and were happy to use them to see and find fresh sea grass in the lagoon shallows that they can graze on.
Mookowfushi doesn’t just serve “Surf and Turf”…it puts the turf in the surf!
Bathrooms are so critical to buyer appeal that they are the number one room in the house for remodelling return on investment. Maldives bathrooms in the top properties have become quite lavish affairs with sculpted tubs set in pride of place with stunning views. But even the most lavish still sequester the toilet, affectionately known as the “water closet”, in pretty non-descript cells. Joali has gone to unmatched extents to model their WCs with striking style. The lavish loos are lined floor to ceiling with green Norwegian marble. And the light turns on automatically when you open the door so there is no fumbling around for the light switch in the middle of the night.
You don’t have to go deep at all or even get wet to enjoy some of the colourful reef life at LUX North Male Atoll. It’s “Barium” private dining area (located underneath The Bar) features a gigantic aquarium across an entire wall. The tank is actually a nursery for the small fish who are released onto the house reef when they get big enough.
· “The highest bidder will travel to the Maldives and board Nekton’s manned submersible alongside Victor Vescovo, diving down to 3,000 meters below sea level where biodiversity peaks to visit an unexplored seamount in the Indian Ocean’s Midnight Zone.”
The experience also includes stays at some of the world’s most exclusive luxury resorts, including Soneva Fushi, the opportunity to conduct a live deep-sea broadcast, and the chance to help create the first maps of uncharted seamounts. The highest bidder (which starts at $125,000) will also receive a documentary film detailing the entire journey. For glimpse of the celebrity guide himself, Victor Vescovo, check out his TED talk below. [NOTE: I suspect that this experience will be postponed with the COVI19 lock-down]
The resort describes these (aquatic) service…
- “Guests can even make use of their very own Raffles Marine Butler, who will guide you through the rich marine life of Maldives the resort’s two vibrant house reefs, home to scores of fish species, from fluorescent parrotfish to blacktip sharks and hawksbill turtles…The crystalline waters around our island are home to corals, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and spectacularly colourful fish. Trained by our doctor of marine biology, our Marine Butlers lead snorkeling tours of this remarkable ecosystem to reveal not just its spectacular beauty but the challenges it faces and what we are doing to secure its future…. As we have 2 house reefs with direct access from the Villas, there is no need to go out of the reef as is very deep once you pass the edge. They can go but the guest can see turtles (we have 22 identified in the resort), reef sharks, sting rays, eagle rays and a huge list of colorful fishes.’
They are basically snorkel guides, but they are:
- Specially trained by Marine Biologist
- Free of charge
- Available with flexible timings (not set, scheduled excursions)
And not just any marine biologist as their teacher, but the one and only Giulia Pellizzato (see photo below).
I always recommend snorkel guides. They provide strong swimmer buddies who also know all the special nooks and cranny’s where resident marine life frequent so they show you lots of things that you would otherwise miss with the aquatic world’s mastery of camouflage. I love that Faarufushi is elevating the notion of snorkel guides with panache and distinction.
With this post I am adding a new category for “Snorkel Guide”.
What’s in a name? A while back I added “Name Meaning” to the Maldives Complete database which identified (where appropriate or available) the Dhivehi meaning to the names of the resorts. But no etymology is as colourful as Faarufushi or “Guard Island”:
- Koimala Kalou (Lord Koimala) was the first king of the Homa (Lunar) Dynasty, which some historians call Theemuge. This legendary nobleman of the Lion Race from Ceylon, sailed from Rasgetheemu island (literally King’s Town) in North Maalhosmadulu Atoll to Malé and established a kingdom there. By then, the Aadeetta (Sun) Dynasty ceased to rule in Malé, possibly due to invasions by the Cholas of Southern India in the Tenth Century. The indigenous people in Malé Atoll, the Giraavaru invited Koimala to Malé and permitted him to be the proclaimed king. In Dhivehi language ‘Faara’ means to stand guard and ‘Faaru’ means wall. The name of the island goes way back but likely refers to the fact that the Prince Koimalaa’s security operated out of the island or this island had something to do with the royals in the neighbourhood.”
Poetry Day today. Just the time to share some inspired creativity from fellow Maldives veteran, in fact someone who has accompanied me from the very beginning of my Maldives odyssey – our daughter Isley. She has become a proper writer of note penning plays that have been playing to sold out theatres in London and the UK for several years. She has been working on a special film project (stay tuned) set in the Maldives itself and was invited by Soneva Fushi as an artist in residence to support her venture (the story is set quite near the Soneva island) as well as to provide a number of presentations to guests during her stay. While there, the tropical paradise and the inspiring atmosphere of Soneva prompted some side compositions which I saved till today to share:
An eco symphony
White sand, clear sea
Hot sun, cool breeze
Blue sky, green trees
And hosts like family
Who truly care personally, communally, and globally
TODAY I WAS A STARFISH
today i was a starfish
on the beach
flat and still
as the tide came in
and washed my body
back to the sea
as the animal i had forgotten to be
but when the light turned the water from glass to rock
now dressed in grit and salt
and was lost on land
i tried again to be a starfish
i took off my shoes (leather)
which now felt sharp
lay down on pillows (full of feathers)
and with pain in my heart
remembered the sand
what a grossly lucky animal i am
with her unbridled love for us
that she pours out her feeling, fierce
blanketing the island thus
to still the jungle to a hush
her tenderness so bounteous
the blossoms all peek out at us
at a love
that to drown
would be glorious
I saw it happen before it happened
the jaunty angle of the bowl
the ice cream melting out
the four year old fingers
and then the tears
when it was all lost to the ground
her brother’s little “uhoh” would not suffice
nor did her mother’s reassurances
and how could they
of course there was another one coming
but the child mourned this one
she was right to
I just didn’t know why
at the time
at the maker’s space
I snipped dirty plastic for hours
the tiny pieces needed for a new machine to transform old bottle caps into things of use
and when my hands shook from gripping the tools
I felt like the wobbly child
and when a piece pinged away from me
I felt the shock of the child
and as I laughed with the dutch folks who’s scheme this was
I saw in them the child
because of course there’s another one coming
which is why we must all make haste
to be more like the child
and sob more over waste