Discover Splendid Sri Lanka and Meyer Lemons
Splendid Sri Lanka
For more than a quarter of a century, Sri Lanka seems to have been plagued by misfortune, with a brutal civil war between the Sinhalese-dominated government and a separatist Tamil group. The conflict, which ended in 2009, has ushered in a more peaceful era, revealing a country rich in natural beauty and cultural splendors.
In many ways, Sri Lanka is a soft entry point to the Subcontinent. While the rest of South Asia can be quite manic, Sri Lanka remains unpolluted and not overpopulated. The towns are orderly, quaint and pretty. The beaches are pristine. The countryside is filled with such lush green hills, it’s as if someone has amped up the colour dial on a computer screen.
There is, of course, much to enjoy for foodies. The street markets abound with fresh tropical fruits. In colour reversal, there are piles of bright orange “king” coconuts and green-skinned oranges. Sri Lankan cuisine is similar to South Indian food, but with more Indonesian and Malaysian influences, which is perhaps a legacy of the Dutch colonialists they once shared. Here a few of the unique culinary and atmospheric experiences Sri Lanka has to offer.
Paradise Tintagel, Colombo: This chic boutique hotel, located within a residential area in the heart of Colombo, was a former a governor’s residence. The lovely outdoor garden is surrounded by high walls covered in flowering vines. The menu is European with a Sri Lankan twist.
Amangalla, Galle: The dining room in this luxury hotel retains the influence of the bygone Dutch colonial era – high ceilings, dark woods, period chairs and tables, crisp white linens and antique silverware. The Sri Lankan thali serves as an artist’s palate of vegetable dishes that taste as if they were made by a proper Sri Lankan grandmother. End with the watalappan, a steamed molasses and coconut custard.
Kandalama, Dambulla: This hotel designed by Jeffrey Bawa is an architectural marvel. Perched on a hill in the middle of the jungle, the all-glass building blends the indoors and outdoors seamlessly. While the fine dining restaurant allows you take in the view with a gourmet meal, if you eat in the casual dining open-air spaces, it’s not uncommon to fend off the monkeys while trying to enjoy your meal.
The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit native to China and thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The smooth yellow skin reveals flesh that is orange in colour. Commonly used as an ornamental tree in China, it was introduced to the US in 1908 by Department of Agriculture employee Frank Meyer. Chef Alice Waters rediscovered the fruit for culinary uses, and its popularity soared once Martha Stewart started incorporating it into her recipes. Meyer lemons are not as tart and have none of the bitterness of common lemons. They are perfect for use in desserts and as preserves and are now available at Waitrose and Spinneys.
Foodie Event of the Month
The sandy shores of Cancun, Mexico are the setting for the First Annual Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival in March. The festival will showcase South American vino and culinary delicacies from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The guest of honour will be molecular gastronomy genius Ferran Adria, who will host a session entitled The Future of Cooking.
INFO: Nausheen noor contributes to several food publications and is the author of the foodie website www.dubai-bites.com