QI of the Day: “Why do fish have stripes and spots?”
“To confuse and scare predators”
Actually, recent research by Kelly et al provides a range of counter evidence that the leading theories, ie. “Predator defence by mimicking predators’ enemies’ eyes, deflecting attacks or intimidating predators…Striped body patterns have been suggested to serve for both social communication and predator defence.”). These hypothesis are contradicted by a range of data and observations. For example, “Contrary to our expectations, spots and eyespots appeared relatively recently in butterflyfish evolution and are highly evolutionarily labile, suggesting that they are unlikely to have played an important part in the evolutionary history of the group.”
And why does the Cocoon resort have a trompe l’oeil shadow on the wall of a wrought iron grille as if the sun was shining through some window on the Riviera? Just for a bit of aesthetic whimsy (maybe that is an explanation for reef fish too). Even more mysterious is how the shadow is created as there is absolutely nothing on the villa windows except what appears to be clear glass. It’s a bit more design wizardry from the resort…floating furniture, shadows of invisible things – it’s like staying a Hogwarts. Magic all over the resort from the reef to the rooms.
When I worked at Microsoft, it’s quite expansive canteen always seemed to be the busiest at its noodle station. I’ve seen noodle dishes prepared to order at Maldives buffets, but none quite so extravagantly as Grand Park Kodhipparu’s The Edge restaurant. Kassandra noodles are prepared freshly in multiple pots with an extensive array of ingredients and spice to choose from to customise them to your own liking.
Dosa is a popular South Indian specialty that we have enjoyed a few times in the Maldives. Made with egg, rice flour and coconut milk it is served with curry. But the main restaurant at NIYAMA features a “Live DOSA” station which makes it fresh and customised to your particular liking.
Not all distinctive breakfasts need be crafted from elaborate recipes with ingredients flown in from the far corners of the planet. An exotic touch of distinction can be achieved with local items used in innovative ways. Like AaaVee’s special omelette cooked in a coconut shell.
Quite possibly the most luxurious breakfast in the world. One of the most extraordinary dining experiences in the world for starters. But to have the Hurawalhi 5.8 restaurant all to yourself as the sunshine starts to stir the underwater life must certainly be hard to be beat for breakfast. The cost is just as extravagant at $1,500, but some people pay that for a single bottle of wine.
- “The breakfast itself is built around healthy staples that include fresh pressed juice, assorted pastries and exotic cut fruits, with Executive Chef Warren Moore stepping up the game with creative dishes such as quinoa breakfast salad with fluid gels, mango, beetroot and pea finished with edamame beans, carrot and wild berries, while the seafood trilogy platter boasts oysters, beluga caviar, smoked salmon and cream cheese, and the absolutely amazing truffle omelette with saffron and activated charcoal served with sautéed stuffed mushrooms in a mushroom sand saffron truffle jus. Fun fact: the omelette takes a whopping three hours to make!”
We always did our family snorkels first thing in the morning. The water was clearest (before the warming air started to stir it and the water a bit). But at Hurawalhi, you can have your underwater adventure WITH your breakfast.
The main rival to eggs benedict for breakfast luxury is steak and eggs. More of an American staple, you don’t find it that often on European menus. So I was delighted to find Cocoon’s Steak and Egg Station at their breakfast buffer. Quite nice cuts of beef grilled to your liking along with your choice of egg accompaniment (I tend to prefer scrambled with my steak and a bit of ketchup, which they also had at hand).
Recognizing their industry partners, Velaa hosted a reception last week at the hip Mayfair venue MNKY House inviting operators, travel writers and travel agents from the area with whom they have been working (including Maldives Complete).
General Manager Mr. Michal Smejc spoke about Velaa’s personal connection to the property. The owner is his brother and the family treat it as a home that they share with guests who want to visit. He outlined their constant process on re-examining what could be improved and making constant re-investment into the island touching on some of the recent enhancements and planned refinements.
Perhaps the most striking testimony to their attention to detail and authenticity were the refreshments served during the evening. I had just assumed that they would be hiring in some caterers for a few tasty canapés, but they actually flew into London their Executive Chef Gaushan de Silva a number of their sous chefs from the resort itself to share their treats with the guests personally.
One of these delicacies was worthy of a “Best of the Maldives” itself – Mini Lobster and Langoustine Burger with Thermidor Aioli and Fried Quail Egg. Sort of a bit-sized lobster egg benedict with bonus flavours. As regular readers will know, I am an aficionado of both lobster and benedict (and Velaa has already distinguished itself with the latter).
Cocoon’s resident artists are the guests themselves. The villa rooms feature superb framed photographs taken around the island. It turns out that they are snaps taken by guest during their stay and posted on Instagram. Cocoon identifies the best ones (sort of the same spirit of how I curate the “Fashion” series here). The resort contacts the Instagramming guest and requests permission and includes a credit to their feed on the photo itself. New pictures are posted to the walls every six months.
Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…
- Which atoll are you from?
G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
- What art training have you had?
- Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
- What is your big frustration as an artist?
- Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
- What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
- While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
- What artists have influenced you?
- With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
- What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
- If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt.
You can check out her personal online gallery here.
Kurumba reminds us why the Maldives is so chock full of creative and distinctive touches. The destination has turned the simple ritual of decorating a bed (with today’s post I have added the tag “Bed Decorating”) with a few petals into a work of art. Their homage to World Tourism Day is crafting the palm fronds into striking creations evoking the Victorian art of silhouette cutting (thanks Mo).