Meat and potatoes. The most basic and humble of dishes. But in the Maldives, even the simplest things can get the luxury treatment. The beef is not typically at the top of the menu at the Maldive resorts. Yes, they import it (usually from Australia) to cater to its popularity, but most of the culinary attention is directed to the location driven seafood fare.
And as a red-blooded American, I have had my share of exceptional beef often at the steak houses that dominate the USA restaurant landscape. Eateries like Daniels Broiler in Seattle, Masterpiece in Kansas City, and Mortons about everywhere. But I have never experienced beef like I have at Constance Halaveli.
The head chef there Holger Joost (see photo above) treated us to a taste of one of his signature dishes – Tazmanian Wagyu Beef Cheeks, slow cooked for 48 hours with local mangos and chillies served with wasabi potatoes. I had had “cod cheeks”, but never “beef cheeks”. Holger informs us they are one of the finest cuts of this very special breed which is a cross between the Kobe variety and Black Angus. Pure Kobe can be as much as 50% fat which can be a bit much for some palates. The Tazmanian Wagyu is a finer balance between flavour imparting fat and the tender meat itself.
Are we picked up our knife and prepared to dig in, Holger stopped us and said “no need for a knife…use your spoon.” He claimed the meat was as soft as butter, but he was wrong. It was softer. A bite literally did melt on your tongue with subtle flavours filling your mouth.
Not to mention that the next time we serve even our humble UK beef we are going to try a recipe for “wasabi potatoes” which were an inspired complement to the beef.
There’s the beef!
“It’s very easy to be different and new, but very difficult to be better.” — Jonathan Ive
If John Ive designed a resort, it would be Constance Halaveli. Elegant style that eschews gimmicks, tawdry frills or garish excess. The fundamentals done “just right”. It was no surprise to find an innovative interactive television in each room driven (a strong “Best of the Maldives” candidate) by an Apple TV box.
I had been looking forward to seeing Constance Halaveli since it was commended to me by the previous tourism minister who said is was one of her favourites. She commented on the exquisiteness of the villa rooms modelled on dhoni boat shapes and its overall panache.
The 5-star category in the Maldives has become a bit of an arms race as resorts try to outdo each other with the latest underwater feature or doting butler service. But Constanve Halaveli shows how you can deliver flair simply and unpretentiously. Like Julia Child perfecting a poached egg.
Some people have high standards for quality and style, but are put off by fussy service and OTT offerings. Constance Halaveli is the place for them. It ticks every box except for house reef (and what you lose in easy off-beach snorkelling you gain in the richness of excursion sites in the Ari atoll).
No nonsense bliss.
Ruby anniversary of the Maldives tourism industry continue through the year with the latest tribute being a fine piece by my friend and fellow Maldive chronicler Adrian in the Telegraph – “The History of Tourism in the Maldives”.
Adrian is always a good source of new ‘Best of the Maldives’ candidates and I often run suggestions by him as a double check. His article featured another resort distinction of Constance Halaveli’s cocktail trailblazing…
“Rooms became villas, food became cuisine. Soneva Fushi put in the first wine cellar (quite a feat in shallow coral sand) and soon all the top resorts had sommeliers. Now they have mixologists, too (the Constance Halaveli resort was the first).”
Guinness World Record Day today.
Only natural that Maldives Complete ‘Best of the Maldives’ collection of distinctions would rank not just among the best in the country, but across the world as well. One such example appears to be Constance Halaveli’s water villa jetty. They have the longest jetty in the Maldives at 850 metres. Two-thirds of the Maldives resort islands themselves aren’t even that long. And with the Maldives leading the way in the world with water villas (due to its unique shallow reef/island topology), some research indicates that it appears to be the longest in the world.
Back here in blighty, we have to console ourselves with celebrating distinctions like ‘Fastest bog snorkelling triathlon’ (see below – slide 36). With the current UK weather, it might become the new national pastime. If Maldives is the ‘Best Snorkeling in the World’, then the UK has probably achieved the distinction of hosting the ‘Worst Snorkeling in the World’.