Part of the adventure in an exotic destination like the Maldives is sampling some of the unfamiliar fare. Not just different recipes, but also different, often home grown, ingredients. Our visit to Soneva Jani featured many less familiar (but not unknown) fruits on their breakfast buffet (like dragon fruit, jackfruit, fresh figs), but it was the first time we came upon a mangosteen (see photo). It is a bit like a lychee and very tasty on some yogurt.
For your yoghurt, pancakes, porridge or whatever. They evoked fond memories of the iconic American restaurant chain “IHOP” (International House of Pancakes) which not only served maple syrup with its famous pancakes, but raspberry, strawberry and blueberry (!) to drizzle over your stack.
At Joali, you have an even more extensive selection of…
- Passion Fruit
You can take away a custom box of sweet concoction at One & Only Reethi Rah starting with your favourite fruit on a stick and then smothered with your choice of decadent toppings from its new Sweet Paradise eaterie:
- “Then satisfy that sweet craving with a visit to our newest venue, Sweet Paradise, where chefs are waiting to hear what flavour, which toppings, and how many scoops you’ll have today.”
Watermelon Day! (honest)
One of our favourite fruits in the Maldives. The stuff you get in England is just so flavourless compared to what they serve at the resorts. It is one of those items that we probably eat close to every day during our visits (along with pina coladas). We have it in nicely cut chunks, we have it as a juice. But Shangri-La Villingili was the first time we had it as a soup (presented above by Food and Beverage Director Mohammed Asiz). Great combo – one of our favourite fruits with one of our favourite dishes, gazpacho.
Thi “Javvu Summer Gazpacho” is made with Roma tomato, watermelon, pickled jalapenos and green grapes. They also feature a delectable “Chilled Honey Melon Gazpacho” at their Fashala restaurant (organic honey melon, garden mint granite, parma ham, garlic with very subtle almost silky texture).
Over the 10 days of Tour #5, I did uncover 143 new Best of the Maldives candidates, and over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing the first of these for each resort visited in the order of the tour. These selections are not necessarily the most stunning or dramatic, but just ones I picked out that I was especially fond of. The others will be posted over the coming months.
The first island up was Chaaya Island…Chaaya Island Dhonveli. After 55 resorts, I’m always a bit surprised to see something I’ve never seen before. Living in a culinary capital of the world (London) and travelling extensively, I especially surprised to find something on a menu I haven’t seen or tried before. Well, at breakfast at Dhonveli, the array of exotic fruit juices included a something I not only hadn’t tried, I hadn’t even heard of it – Wood Apple.
“Wood apple” is one of the most apt names for a fruit since “Orange”. It looks like an apple…encased in wood. In fact, you have to whack it with a spoon to crack the hard exterior. It comes from Sri Lanka, but can be found in the Maldives.
The juice isn’t your typical reddish or orangey colour of most fruit juices, but a rather earthy brown. And not in a golden “apple juice” kind of way. Imagine the pulpiest, mocha-est apple juice. Supposedly extremely good for digestion.
Dhonveli will serve you wood apple on its own (see below), but it is VERY tart (much like rhubarb). So it is typically served with honey or sugar on top.
For the ‘healthy sweet’ option, Palm Beach is not only has a fruit smoothie bar (like the W Retreat), but they also have a fruit station at their breakfast café. Or as our Italian au pair used to say…“froo-itt”.
The have an exceptional array of fruit on offer, but most importantly they have a server who peels and cuts it for you fresh in front of you. Many resorts have a number of ‘made to order’ stations (the ‘Egg Station’ being the classic at any resort around the world), but even the ‘custom everything’ W Retreat doesn’t have a fruit station like this. Because they have so much less wastage than pre-prepared fruit, they can offer an incredible range. And you don’t have to worry that what you are being served was cut several days ago and just in and out of cold storage since.
Who knew there were so many types of Bananas?
The One Show on BBC this week did a piece on bananas (minute 11:00 of the BBC iPlayer recording available for the next two weeks to UK residents) which highlighted their delicious diversity. And if you want personally explore their rich variety, then Adaaran Hudhuranfushi is the place to visit. In their own produce garden they grow 6 different varieties of bananas all which are served fresh in the restaurants.
We were able to enjoy them with lunch in treacle sauce during our visit (see below). But if you want to see some truly artistic banana creations, check out Laughing Squid.