A number of resorts bring the produce of their garden directly to your table and some sit your table in the garden itself, but now at Kanuhura the garden actually joins you at the table. Don’t worry about having someone pass the water as the table includes is very own embedded water feature passing right through it.
When I visited Morocco, I enjoyed a night in a Bedouin tent under the desert stars, but I must say that the highlight was the bustling, buzzing Marrakesh market square at night. An acre-sized tapestry of tiny market stalls all cooking up some specific delicacy concocted from the colour full piles of spices we saw touring the souks earlier that day. Club Med Finolhu Villas has the posh version of Jemaa el Fna with a collection of gourmet stations to cook you a variety of dishes for your meal.
You get to see the food like a buffet (instead of depending on menu descriptions), but freshly prepared to order like a la carte. We’ve all had our freshly prepared eggs and noodles dishes, but these were filet beef and sautéed fish dishes with delicate sauces. The approach was particularly helpful for people with weak English. But one of the biggest benefits was reduction of food waste. The on-demand cuisine meant that only food people were going to eat was prepared instead of large mounds of buffet offerings which (by definition) never get fully consumed (see the explanatory sign at the resort restaurant below).
Set on the sands of a tropical island rather than some Arabian dune makes this far-flung Bedouin encampment all the more enchanting. After all, middle eastern traders were among the first non-natives to visit the Maldives (bringing with them the Islamic culture for example). The Maldives is sort of fusion of middle-eastern and Subcontinent heritage and traditions situated between the Red Sea and the Bay of Bengal. A number of resorts feature middle-eastern fare, but none so aesthetically authentic as Centara Ras Fushi’s Al Khaimah restaurant…
- “Savour the tastes of the Middle East when dining at Al Khaimah. Reminiscent of an authentic Bedouin tent adorned with rich fabrics and tapestry carpets and set amidst our tropical garden, this intimate restaurant offers an Arabian culinary adventure using hand-crushed spices, homemade marinades and the freshest market ingredients to flavour our char-grilled meat selections and rotisseries. Low slung seating and the heady scent of oud compliment this unique dining experience.”
I do love al fresco dining…sitting out in the open breathing in the sea-kissed night air. The soft fabrics of the surrounding canopy and the cushions adds an even more softness to the atmosphere surrounding you, the palm fronds swaying above you and the power fine sand underneath you..
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”.
Beer with curry, Tequilla with lime and salt, a ‘boilermaker’ of bourbon and beer, Jagerbombs, Oyster with sweet wasabi with Prosecco, Bel Star, Brut, DOC, Veneto, Italy NV chaser.
Classic shot combos that have inspired Huvafenfushi gastronomic line-up of degustation and decantation.
We adore the variety of a tasting menu, but usually aren’t hungry enough to make through such an extensive line up. Huva’s “tasting” menu is literally “a taste”.
“A taste of the gastro mixed with the mixology. Plated shots to include food and beverage paired together in small bites and shots. Please choose from the selection to mix and match your palate.”
When we visited, we did the following rounds of shots…
- Oyster with sweet wasabi – Prosecco, Bel Star, Brut, DOC, Veneto, Italy NV
- Roast shitake mushroom with truffle dressing – Proprieta Sperino Rosa Del Rosa, Rosé Italy NV
- Camembert and onion jam – Parellada “Honeymoon” Pares Balta 2012
- Roquefort with truffle honey – Petalo Moscato Spumante “Vino dell’Amore” NV
- Fresh fig with pistachio – Fontana Fredda Asti Millesimato Dolce, Italy 2011
- Baby prawns with cocktail sauce – Sauvignon, Sileni Cellar New Zealand 2013
- Gorgonzola with olive bread – Pulenta Malbec, Chile 2009
If you are not Instagramming yourself, then the next most popular subject is your food. And if you want to prepare something truly worth photographing, not to mention devouring, then I recommend Taj Exotica’s house speciality Butter Chicken.
Maybe the best curry I have ever had (Maldives, London, New York or elsewhere) Our daughter Isley’s favourite Indian dish, it was one of our favourite dishes of the 2016 tour. So creamy and perfectly spiced to warm your mouth with a glow of aromatic flavours. At $43, not cheap (though not the most expensive curry I have ever had. That was a $100 Lobster Curry in Soho).
As a holiday gift to you all, Taj has shared its recipe with you all in a Maldives Complete exclusive. Remember, the is to start with fresh, juicy, prime chicken breast.
- 7 pieces Chicken Tikka
- 150 ml Makhni gravy
- 3 grams Ginger (julienned)
- 10 grams Butter (softened)
- 5 grams Coriander Leaf (chopped)
- 2 grams Kasoori Methi (powdered)
- 10 ml Fresh Cream
- 2 grams Sugar
- Heat butter in a pan.
- Add ginger and saute.
- Add cooked chicken tikkas and toss for a few minutes
- Add makhni gravy and allow to boil
- Add salt, sugar, kasoori methi powder and fresh cream allowing to cook for a few more seconds.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.
If you can’t get to the Indian Ocean these holidays, at least get a taste of it at home.
For more savoury sizzle, LUX South Ari Atoll has long been a leader in culinary creativity especially with its venti virtuosity and flapjack finesse. But it has taken its palatable palette to a whole new level (as well as to all its guests) with the hosting of international food artist Samantha Lee last week. From 7-8 December at the Umami restaurant, Lee hosted workshops to teach appetizing artisans a few tricks to her dinner table tableau.
- “Learn and create whimsical, colourful yet unique meals as you witness this talented artist in action. Using only fresh and healthy ingredients, her creative approach will leave you in awe and wanting more.”
The resort shared a ton of pictures on its Facebook page in the album “International Food Artist – Samantha Lee” (see a few select pix below)
Two of my favourite things in the Maldives are the gourmet food (yes, I am a bit of a foodie) and the diminutive charm of the tiniest islands. Unfortunately, it is difficult to have this particular cake and eat it too as the small islands are limited in space and capacity to serve up as much variety.
But Kandolhu provides the best of both world – culinary and cosy delights – with the highest Restaurant to Guest Ratio in the Maldives – 4 restaurants for a mere 30 villas. In rowing (a sport I coach), we call this the “power to weight ratio” and it is the holy grail for high performance.
Each establishment is, like the island, intimate. Like the 6 person Japanese bar, Bonzai. Or you can choose Olive, Sea Grill, or The Market. All of the restaurants are situated on the same side of the island, but segregated in their own spaces and décor. For even more dining options, you can also do villa dining, private dining or grad a bite at the Vilu Bar.
Below I am enjoying the elevated vistas over the ocean of the Olive restaurant while savouring the “Crested Consomme of Oxtail” by Chef Mickaël Farina (hailing from Marseilles in France, he has his own pedigree in fluffy pastry that I just need to find a way through to get to my soup!).
The least transparent villa table in the Maldives doesn’t make it any less aesthetically alluring. Huvafenfushi’s dining table is another striking CUBE villa feature and reminiscent of the Park Hyatt table that I previously admired (but this one is your very one in your private villa). I’m very partial to such natural grain and shape that sits so perfectly in this natural paradise.