Best of the Maldives: Asian Fusion Dessert – Ayada

Ayada - coconut milk and water chestnut dessert

 

 

One of my all time favourite coconut delicacies is the “Tub Kim Krob” served at Ayada’s Kai restaurant. Kai serves gourmet Asian fusion food to rival Anatara’s memorable Geckos. Tub kim krob is the simplest of dishes – basically coconut milk and water chestnut – and yet so divinely moreish. I struggle to find Asian desserts that I really savour (especially if you eliminate all the mango concoctions). But this dish I could eat again and again. And I wasn’t alone. Ayada Sales and Marketing Director Niclas Prokop had joined us and like most resort management accompanying us for dinner was pretty indifferent to what he had to eat (I’m sure he’s had everything on the menu many times). Except when it came to dessert. Then, there was no hesitation and he immediately put in an order for the tub kim krob. And the other staff with us echoed his request. So I definitely had to try some myself.

More like “YUM tim krob”!

Best of the Maldives: Coconut Chocolate – Gangehi

Gangehi coconut chocs

It turns out that an alternative to “iron” for a sixth anniversary gift is sugar. One of the sweetest treats I have found in the Maldives is Gangehi’s hand-made Coconut Chocolates. They are like prestige versions of Bounty bars. When I was young, we always had Whitman Sampler “box of chocs” at special celebrations. And you always want to avoid the coconut one. But coconut can be an acquired exotic taste and now it is one of my favourites.

Sweet!

Best of the Maldives: Cold Sorbet – Iru Fushi

Coco Palm Dhuni Kholu sorbet

One of the few things you do want kept freezing cold on your Maldives holiday is your ice cream dessert. A challenge to savouring ice cream is to enjoy it in hot weather when it is more “ice” than “cream”. Iru Fushi finesses this with their own dive into the cold

The sorbet is served in a double cup (glass).. a round one with ice cubes to keep the temperature and a small conic one fitting in.” (thanks Paola)

Best of the Maldives: Jams – Constance Halaveli

Constance Halaveli jams

And what goes with peanut? Jelly!

It is also a tasty spread for one’s morning toast and a regular fixture on all Maldives breakfast buffets. But Constance Halaveli stands out with 12 varieties on offer including – Passion Fruit, Strawberry, Apple & Cinnamon, Lemon Marmalade, Apricot, Banana, Pineapple, Mango & Papaya, and Mango.

Just jammy!

Best of the Maldives: Dessert Menu – W Retreat

W Retreat desserts

Shocking as it may seem, not everyone wants chocolate for dessert. If you want as much variety in your flavours (and then even more variety in how those flavours are presented), then the restaurant Fish (which has a clever double pier design so twice as many tables are water side) at the W Retreat is the place to go. The pastry chef Sanjit Gupta (see above) has concocted a broad array of taste collections…

  • Strawberry – marinated strawberries, lavender ice cream, vanilla crumble
  • Mango – Swedish toast, grilled mango, mango sabayon, mango sorbet
  • Passion Fruit – passion fruit parfait, passion fruit toast, passion fruit syrup
  • Chocolate – bitter chocolate sorbet, white chocolate coulis, bitter chocolate mud cake
  • Coconut – coconut cheese cake, candied coconut, coconut sorbet, coconut milk jelly
  • Rum – classic rum baba, rum raisin ice cream, lime rum syrup
  • Caramel – walnut nougat, banana parfait, molasses ice cream, toasted brioche
  • Carrot – orange carrot soup, carrot spaghetti, apple dumpling, orange zested yogurt sorbet

Even with the portfolio option to hedge your bets, still choosing is a challenge. They are priced at $18. Sanjit is adding new items regularly and was experimenting with White and Black sesame when we were there.  My personal favourite flavours are cherry and cinnamon so I would love to see what he would do with those.

Best of the Maldives: Chocolate – Soneva Gili

Soneva Fushi Chocolate Cave 1

Happy Valentines Day!

A meal out in a romantic venue. A box of chocolates. How about a meal of chocolate?? In paradise.

Soneva Gili has an Underground Chocolate Cave.  A chocolate lair!

“Our unique underground wine cellar, showcasing more than six hundred varieties of wine from more than thirty regions around the world, has recently had a truly unique experience added. In addition to our artisanal cheese and deli room, you may now also experience our handmade, gourmet chocolate cave. Our Executive pastry chef has created a chocolate menu using only the finest chocolate, with some very interesting and unusual flavours… Have you ever tried liquid milk chocolate with earl grey tea and mango, or dark chocolate with chilli? What about chocolate truffles flavoured with coconut and coriander, passion fruit and caramel, orange and cardamom, to name but a few…?

A fuller list is provided below, but to extend taste sensations, Soneva Gili also couples bottled treats with the boxed ones…

“To further the experience even more, our Sommelier would be delighted to create a fantastic chocolate and wine pairing which may be enjoyed before or after dinner. Wine and chocolate are natural companions; they both have very complex flavours and matching these flavours is half the fun! ‘Sip the wine, let it fill your mouth, note the wines complexity and which flavours come to mind. Now take a small bite of the chocolate, let it sit on your tongue, when it just begins to melt sip the wine again and swirl together with the chocolate.’”

  • For dark and bitter chocolate – Full bodied reds (eg. 2006 Shiraz Coriole, McLaran Vale, Australia, 2006 The Chocolate Block, Franschoek, South Africa0
  • For dark and bitter sweet chocolate – Sweet fortified (eg. Starboard Batch 88, Quady’s, Madera, California USA, Pedro Ximénez, San Emilio, Lustau, Andalusia, Spain)
  • For milk chocolate – Lighter, fresher (eg. 2007 Viognier, Kumkani, Stellenbosch, South Africa)

A sample of the confections includes…

  • Sambuca chocolate
  • Lemongrass chocolate
  • Passion fruit caramel
  • Coconut coriander
  • Fennel seed chocolate
  • Mango ginger
  • Malibu chocolate
  • Cardamom chocolate
  • Cinnamon apple
  • Irish coffee
  • Orange chocolate
  • Green tea chocolate
  • Whisky caramel
  • Star anise
  • Yoghurt lassi
  • Chilli chocolate
  • Mint chocolate
  • Hazelnut chocolate
  • Roasted almond
  • Rum & raisin
  • Calvados chocolate
  • Olive oil chocolate
  • Goats cheese
  • Salted caramel

Travelscore Magazine’s blog has a great comprehensive review of the place (where the pictures are from).

Soneva Fushi Chocolate Cave 2

Best of the Maldives: Chocolate Dessert – W Retreat

W Retreat 7 Layer Chocolate

Happy Birthday Lori!

Today my companion in all my adventures celebrates the major milestone of her 50th birthday. Lori was the one who was initially responsible for my immersion into all things Maldives. After living in the United Kingdom for nearly a year, we hit the dreary, grey winter months. After many weeks without seeing the sun, Lori confronted me with the ultimatum, “Bruce, either you pay for a tropical holiday or you pay for psychotherapy. Either way you are going to pay, but might I suggest that you might enjoy the tropical holiday more.” My friend Andy Lees insisted that the only place to take her was the Maldives. And the rest was history.

On this day, the thing to celebrate is cake. There are a plethora of spectacular chefs in the Maldives so I am typically very hesitant to ascribe any ‘Best of Maldives’ for specific foods. Most of the ‘Best of Dining’ accolades go to distinctive experiences or venues. If I am going to accord a kudos, it needs to be quite a narrow area (like Sheraton Full Moon’s Gazpacho).

While I couldn’t whisk her away to the Maldives, I do have special gourmet treats planned for her tonight, including a special chocolate cake which evoked one of the most memorable desserts we ever enjoyed in the Maldives – the W Retreat’s ‘7 Layer Chocolate Cake’. Like Lori’s birthday surprise, the cake was two months in development by Pastry Chef Sanjit Gupta. It mastered that paradox of rich flavours with exceedingly light feel to it.

The 7 layers were…

  • Sacher sponge
  • Chocolate marquis
  • Chocolate Brule
  • Hazelnut custard mousse
  • Chocolate jelly
  • Milk chocolate mousse
  • Cocoa powder

Exquisite…like Lori.

Best of the Maldives: Sweet Tooth – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu Ice

 

Anantara Kihava’s crown as the new kid on the block didn’t last long as Six Senses Laamu opened last weekend. SSLL has a lounge called ‘Ice’ which specialises in the sins of the sweet tooth.

“Ice is for all those with a sweet tooth. From the crepe bar and cocoa kitchen to the 40 flavored ice creams, the choices are endless. With daily cooking clinics, just leave room for the tasting.”

Even the ice cream icon Baskin and Robbins only had 31 flavours. And a ‘Cocoa Kitchen’. Yum.

Best of the Maldives: Donuts – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male Gonuts

 

When I came upon the Haveeru Online piece on ‘Gonuts’ (“International doughnuts cafe chain opens in Maldives”) I nearly fainted with anticipation. Okay, it wasn’t Krispy Kreme. But doughnuts and the Maldives. It’s like ambrosia and paradise mixed into one indolent concoction. So on my recent trip, I had to make a special detour to check out Gonuts. Despite my discerning palette for all things doughy and fried, I was beside myself when I got to experience them.

First, they were good. I had the ‘Chocolate Profiterole’. It appeared to be made fresh as I waited. The filling was particularly ‘creamy’ as opposed to the more gelatinous custard of conventional donuts.

Second, they were appropriately exotic. Flavours offer took the doughnut repertoire to whole new dimensions. ‘Spicy Tuna’ and ‘Sambalicious’ (with chilli pepper) were too adventurous for me even.

Finally, the dining area was a masterstroke. One of my pet peeves with resorts is when they pave over too many dining areas and don’t have enough ‘toes in the white sand’ places to eat. And yet, here in the heart of downtown Male, Gonuts’ own dining area was laid out with white sand for people to enjoy their delicacy in a delightful cafe setting.

So why do I credit the Holiday Inn Male with this ‘Best of Maldives’ distinction? Well, Gonuts has a take-away service! Which means that guest at the Holiday Inn (a few blocks down the road) can ring up for a few concoctions to enjoy with their mocktail by the roof side pool.

 

Gonuts with Donuts