Today is the 11th “Day of Christmas” according to the “12 Days of Christmas” tradition which runs from Christmas day to Epiphany Sunday (tomorrow). The Eleventh Day of Christmas today is famously brought 11 Pipers Piping. I think Kandima needed at least that many to do all the icing piping on their Gingerbread spectacle (not to mention the goodies inside).
The best buffets are the ones who turn use the format not for laying out food en mass, but instead for providing a bit of flash and sizzle in the food prep itself with special stations. Sort of a Chef’s Table brought out to the dining area. Grand Park Kodhipparu main restaurant, The Edge, features a number of distinctive stations (stay tuned), but my favourite was their Shaved Ice Dessert. An exotica concoction of nuts, ice cream, shaved ice and tapioca. I am a bit of a tapioca connoisseur (it was my favourite dessert when I lived in Togo, West Africa and still enjoy the American Royal Tapioca Pudding) so I especially appreciated this lively twist on a beloved ingredient. And the taste was sublime.
National Dessert Day today. And as soon as you step off the seaplane to Dhigufaru, you feel like you have landed in dessert country. Some resorts greet you with some tropical juice, others with tasty cocktail, but Dhigufaru greets you with an entire sweet shop. Ice cream, cakes, muffins, coffees, drinks all at your disposal. And the arrival jetty is also the best entry point to the resort house reef so you can have a snack when you come in from your snorkelling safari.
Just before the coffee, is the dessert course and the W Maldives is taking those to treats to an equally artistic level. Star chef Julien Alvarex visited the resort to share his ganache guidance and coulis coaching to not just staff, but guests as well…
- “W Maldives has partnered with World’s Best Pastry Chef Julien Alvarez to host a series of culinary events on its tropical playground in September 2017. His signature style incorporates unique design of desserts, amazing combination of colours, tastes and impressive decoration techniques.”
Béatrice Peltre once said, “Dessert is to a meal what a dress is to a woman,” if that’s the case, then W Retreat is the must-have haute couture this season.
I am a bit of a milk shake (or “frappe” as they call them in New England where I grew up) connoisseur. The “Milk Shake Bar Kid” if you will. At university, my daily routine included a late night run to Brighams for *two* chocolate malted shakes (with an egg for extra protein and extra creaminess…I was doing lots of sport and this was a time before protein bars and smoothies). To this day, I make myself a milkshake at least once a week. The proper kind made with ice cream (the British have some weird things called “milk shakes” that are mostly literally milk shaken up).
I grew up enjoying soda fountain shakes at the local drugstore or “five and dime”. Shakes have made a bit of retro-resurgence with the rise of gastro-burger joints including the eponymous “Shake Shack”. So it was a charming trip down memory lane to stroll into Finolhu’s own “Milk Bar”. Of course, I had to go for the classic chocolate.
They do a range of smoothies and freezing cold drinks to slake the tropical thirst. They even offer a range of protein powders.
Damn right it’s better than yours.
National Doughnut Day! This is one of the more sacred celebrations in our household. We have regular Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donut pilgrimages on our trips back to the USA. We have been known to drive for half an hour first thing in the morning to get the “red light” (KK fans will know what I am talking about) “hot ones” (and then finish off an entire box before even getting home…of course, we bought several boxes).
And on our trip to Park Hyatt Hadahaa we not only got to indulge our fried dough infatuation, but we did so with a distinctly local twist. Hadahaa prepares and serves the local ‘Gulab Jamun’ (the locals normally call them Gulab Jaam). Though, really, they’re more like donut holes. Still, they are donuts! Paradise just became more paradise.
Also, the best resort for celebrity spotting Homer Simpson…
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’).
A treat for women on International Womens Day (though men will like it too) by Jumeirah Vittaveli – Aloe Vera Baked Yogurt with Berries. Created by their Executive Sous Chef Francis Cornelious (see photo below)…
“The life of a modern woman is very stressful and busy, filled with a multitude of tasks and duties that we take on willingly but that also tend to deplete our energy reserves. To counterbalance our stressful routine, we need to ensure that we take care of our body and mind, through healthy food and moments of rest and meditation. At Jumeirah Vittaveli, our creative Executive Sous Chef Francis Cornelious has created a tantalizing dessert that will assist your physical wellbeing, while utilizing unique yet commonly available ingredients.”
The focus of the creation was the health benefits (and of course the taste), but I was enchanted by the colourful artistry of glassy sweetness on top. May women around the world be treated with the same care, consideration and respect as Vittaveli’s tribute to them.