My biggest laugh this week was a gem of a line in the bio-pic flick “Judy” (about Judy Garland) which during a visit to London says, “You ever tried a crumpet?…Mm?…It’s like a pancake that’s had the living sh*t kicked out of it” (I couldn’t have put it better…if you visit London, don’t order the “crumpets” no matter how daintily British they sound). As an American by upbringing, we take our pancakes extremely seriously. I have yet to find the level of griddle cake quality in the UK that is standard fare in the USA. And, the same is true for most of the chewy circles serves at some of the resort buffets. Until we came to Joali. They have a special a la carte pancake menu including some savoury versions that are simply delicious:
- Spiced Jaggery, fresh coconut
- Cinnamon, prunes, honey
- Banana, yoghurt, strawberry, mint
- Chocolate, walnut
- Exotic tropical fruit
- Mixed berry, sweet mascarpone
- Savory tuna tapenade, olives, remoulade
- Sweet corn, cherry tomato salsa, crispy bacon
I had the spiced Jaggery (an unrefined sugar in Asia) and it was truly delicious (see photo above). Or as Lori and I would say for recipes we like, “a do-again”. A more-ish classic dish with a distinctly Maldivian twist.
Also nestled up in the trees is Faarufushi’s coconut-inspired treatment rooms:
- While in the spa, the treatments rooms are giant coconuts; hard shell on the outside and soft white interiors on the inside, set within a coconuts grove…We wanted to evoke a sense of protection and well-being, simple natural luxury, for the Spa experience. The treatment rooms are further rise off the ground at the level of the coconut trees, to further enforce the concept of treatment rooms as coconuts, while a wink to tree house, link to the fun and easiness of childhood.
It takes more than a leap to get to the top of the coconut tree, but instead traditional climbing as featured by Fushifaru’s Coconut Climbing Competition. Maldives Insider reported…
- “Fushifaru Maldives on Friday hosted Lhaviyani atoll’s very first Coconut Climbing Competition. With contestants from all around the atoll, including Innahura, Cocoon, Kanuhura, Hurawalhi, Kudadoo and Fushifaru, it was a fantastic day to bring everyone together to celebrate Maldivian culture. There was no better way to revive this Maldivian tradition that hasn’t taken place since 1985! The contestants were asked to climb the coconut tree all the way to the top, come down safely and then husk a coconut all under time pressure…Fushifaru’s very own Maldivian Coconut Climber Thoha took away the winner’s trophy as he completed his round in only 42 seconds!”
Prizes included a cash award for first and free nights at Fushifaru for second and third.
Coconut is the classic tropical ingredient. It’s a part of the classic Maldivian breakfast, mas huni. One of my fav breakfasts are yogurt and Joali’s serves a sterling version. Its richness and natural coconut flavour largely coming from the fact that it is made from real coconut milk.
Faarufushi has made cultivating flora part of the internal décor with stylish vases holding germinating coconut saplings. When they get mature enough, they are transplanted outdoors on the resort.
If you want to not just wear, but infuse yourself with the blossoming fruit of paradise, then Vakkaru’s Signature Journey at Merana Spa will immerse you in the soothing and regenerative oils of the coconut in nearly every manner imaginable…
· “Our signature treatment at the overwater Merana Spa is a 150-minute immersive full-body journey inspired by the finest natural healing and moisturising elements of the coconut. Treatment includes a 15-minute coconut haircare experience, followed by a coconut and sugar body scrub, milk bath with coconut-based nourishments served during your bath and finally, this unique ritual includes a body massage with steamed coconut shell to leave you feeling relaxed, balanced and rejuvenated.”
This cuckoo for coconuts extravagance actually harkens back to the island’s heritage as a coconut plantation with over 1400 coconut trees before it was made into a resort.
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.
Coconuts are the bounty of the Maldivian plots of sand. On nearly any island, some staff member will – often a gardener with a machete for clearing – will grab you one, open up a whole with a few well-placed hacks and let you sip its succulent coconut water. When you’re done, he will also slice the fruit open so you can nibble on the tender coconut meat inside. A modest gift of a few dollars is always appreciated in return. Finolhu has parked up a more stylish outlet for noshing on some nucifera. An iconic VW bus in pastel robin’s egg blue with a coconut stand right by the pool so you can sample with tropical treat whenever the mood strikes.
I’m a big fan of everything coconut and always surprised that resorts do even more with this ironically indigenous ingredient. Rihiveli Beach had an impressive array of pastries (particularly impressed with their lemon meringue which had a soft crust as so many resort use hard crusts, which I tend not to eat), but my favourite was their coconut Danish on the breakfast buffet. Yum, definitely went back for more.
Oscar weekend so pull out the popcorn and get ready for a cavalcade of 2016’s best cinema. A bucket of popcorn (with extra bucket) is standard fare, but Mirihi doubles the fun of the double features with their cinema themes treats when you pull up a seat at their film nights…
- “To enhance the experience, the charming hotel will be twinning the screening with drinks and nibbles to match the movie. For every film shown the team will strive to accompany it with inspired drinks and canapés: pastries for The Grand Budapest Hotel; martinis for James Bond; chocolates for Chocolat; milkshakes for Pulp Fiction. The memorable evening is an affair designed to suit varied tastes, with films ranging from The Godfather to Notting Hill. The setting is mesmerizingly charming, with comfy bean bags and cushions scattered in the sand. As the water laps against the shore and the Milky Way shines overhead guests can curl up in front of a classic with their toes in the sand. Munching on popcorn, guests will relax into serene island life whilst watching one of their favourite films on the big screen.”
VIEWER ADVISORY: Films to be wary of…
- Monte Python’s The Meaning of Life – wafer thin mint
- Silence of the Lambs – liver with a nice Chianti
- Sweeney Todd – meat pies
- American Pie – apple pie
- The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover – table d’hôte
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – any “local specialty”
For further inspiration, check out Time Out’s “50 best food-on-film moments of all time”.