From the drought-stricken Cape to chaotic Colombo

SRI LANKA – WHERE THE JUNGLE MEETS THE OCEAN

My desire to visit Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was all about the food and tea, and I was not disappointed. In spite of the poverty and political unrest, it was a gentle country where we found all people to be really welcoming. I was lucky to be experiencing it with my best friend, Anne, otherwise known as Thelma from our previous experiences.

After two flights via Dubai Thelma and Louise landed in Colombo, and once we had cleared customs (note to travellers, you apply and pay for your visa online and then quickly collect at passport control) we were hit by the heat as we stepped outside. Climbing into the cool of the air-conditioned airport shuttle, Thelma, making polite conversation with our friendly driver, asked him if drivers use their hooters much in Colombo. A moment later I laughed hysterically as we snaked our way through the congested, chaotic streets in which the biggest bus gets right of way, and everyone hoots constantly! Whilst there is a high level of chaos, somehow it seems to work, and no-one gets aggressive. We quickly got used to buses overtaking cars and tuk-tuks, all at the same time. Single lane roads make travelling long and laborious, but never dull! Landing the day after the state of emergency had been lifted, we were pleased to see that a feeling of peace pervaded.

An obligatory overnight stay in the capital city of Colombo was delightful. We stepped out in light rain to walk to the Pettah Market area, along the way admiring architecture that pays homage to Dutch, Portuguese and British influences in their history. Here locals shop for everything from food to clothing, and the aroma of spices interspersed with traffic fumes, made for a stimulating afternoon. Jumping into a tuk-tuk (a three wheeler with a canopy powered by petrol) we headed down to the Galle Face Hotel, a landmark next to Galle Park, where locals fly kites and eat from the many food hawkers along the seafront. We sat and sipped gin and tonics watching the sunset. As the sun dipped below the horizon the sound of bagpipes filled the air, and we watched a man in a kilt lower the Sri Lanka flag. Note to self- read up on the Scot influence in their history!

By now we had worked out that for every 100 Sri Lankan rupees we were only spending R7,60, which stopped me haggling with the tuk-tuk drivers. The Dutch hospital, opposite our very satisfactory Fairway Colombo hotel in the centre of the city, houses a few interesting restaurants in the corridors and courtyard. By night the atmosphere is romantic, and although one can barely see what you are eating, know that it will be delicious. We settled at a table in the courtyard and ordered a crab curry, hot and spicy and really yum, washed down with local beer. By the end of it we looked like we had been in a food fight, but it was worth it!

Wiping the sleep out of my eyes I made Thel some coffee to get her going, but sadly without my glasses I emptied a few sachets of sweetener, instead of creamer, into her coffee, so off we set in search of a coffee shop whilst waiting for our airport shuttle. Another hour’s drive to the airport but this time to catch the fun float plane. It really is an exciting ride, with great visibility, and we were delighted that we had three stops before landing at Weerawilla, to catch a shuttle to what would be our beautiful home in the bush for two nights.

We are thrilled that our first Sri Lankan cookery course is fully booked. Looking forward to welcoming our gourmet guests tomorrow to enjoy a fun-filled morning.

TESTING, TESTING

For those of you who have not yet booked for The Drought Kitchen at The Test Kitchen, then do so now. It will live up to all expectations, and no doubt exceed them. If you would like to read more about it visit my online article on Food & Home Entertaining’s blog:www.foodandhome.co.za/entertaining/drought-menu-test-kitchen-invitation-innovation.

If you are feeling extravagant, then book for chef Luke Dale-Robert’s pop-up Test Kitchen at the Shangri-La Le Touessrok in Mauritius, from 12 April to 26 May. I’m not sure when last I’ve been so excited – I feel honoured to be heading there for the opening night next week. Having awarded The Test Kitchen three plates in the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™, we know that this is world class destination dining, worthy of a flight. How wonderful to be witnessing this first hand. Stay posted and you can drool too – Jen’s Journeys will be first with the scoop!

The Test Kitchen Mauritius pop-up, definitely worthy of a flight

The Test Kitchen Mauritius pop-up at Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa set to wow discerning diners 

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Mauritius, 5 March 2018; SHANGRI-LA’S LE TOUESSROK RESORT & SPA, MAURITIUS is delighted to announce a new culinary partnership with The Test Kitchen, an internationally acclaimed fine dining destination, awarded “22nd Best Restaurant in the World” in 2016, based in Cape Town, South Africa. Set to further cement the resort’s position as Mauritius’ leading dining hotspots, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will host The Test Kitchen for six weeks, from 12 April – 26 May 2018 at the Republik Beach Club & Grill.

During the partnership, guests will be invited to experience a unique culinary journey curated by The Test Kitchen’s award-winning, Chef-Patron Luke Dale Roberts. A name synonymous with the finest, most creative and innovative food in Africa, Roberts will be bringing his outstanding gourmet experience to the shores of Shangri-La’s Le Tousserok Resort & Spa with a tapas menu and a five course menu, of which two variations will be available at different dates, reflecting his journey around the world, and specially curated to showcase Mauritian spices and flavours at their best. The pristine white beaches of Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will provide a stunning backdrop for this once in a lifetime experience which will see Roberts and his stellar team of 17, share their expert techniques and passion for flavour alongside the resort’s chefs. To further heighten this gourmet experience, guests will also be treated to tableside cocktail blending.

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Described as a “world class dining destination that is worthy of a flight” by the prestigious JHP Gourmet Guide and awarded both “Best Restaurant in Africa” as well as “22nd Best Restaurant in the World” in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in 2016, The Test Kitchen has an international appeal. Diners from across the globe travel to South Africa to experience Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s unique culinary journey of 21 courses, innovatively presented on a ‘Food Map’. This April, for the first time, the restaurant is taking its gastronomic adventure to new heights, by launching its first ever international outpost, The Test Kitchen Mauritius, at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa. The special collaboration will give food lovers the chance to sample The Test Kitchen’s famed cuisine on the paradisiacal shores of the iconic Mauritian property.

Opened by award-winning Chef Luke Dale Roberts in 2010, The Test Kitchen consists of a Dark Room and a Light Room both of which are only open for dinner. Dining at the restaurant is a true culinary journey, commencing in The Dark Room, with a snack menu paired with curated cocktails followed by a 5-course gourmand menu in The Light Room. It is within The Dark Room that guests are presented with a ‘Food Map’ on a parchment scroll informing them of the culinary treasures they are about to taste shortly followed by the arrival of the first of the five Dark Room dishes. The Light Room is an airier and more formal room with a menu that reflects internationally acclaimed Chef-Patron Luke Dale Roberts’s journey around the world. Signature dishes include the Peruvian ceviche harking back to the months Roberts spent travelling through South America as well as a ‘Billionaire’s Shortbread’ as a nod to the chef’s love of Scotland. To echo The Test Kitchen’s Dark Room and Light Room, guests will start their evening at the Republik Bar area to enjoy the tapas menu with cocktails as associated with the Dark Room. They will then continue their gastronomic journey at the beachfront restaurant, for a five-course gourmand menu in tribute to the iconic restaurant’s Light Room.

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As well as Republik Beach Club & Grill, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa is also home to six other trendy restaurants and bars with cutting-edge dining concepts, vibrant atmospheres and artistic collaborations. The hotel also boasts two swimming pools, an 18-hole par 72 championship golf course, a kids’ club and CHI, The Spa focusing on indigenous and holistic wellness. The resort features Ilot Mangénie; a private island exclusively accessible to resort’s guests as well as three iconic beach villas which come replete with dedicated teams of staff.

The Test Kitchen Mauritius experience is priced at MUR 3,500 per person, including a snack menu of four dishes served tapas style in the Dark Room and a five-course gourmand menu in the Light Room.

#TestKitchenMauritius

For more information and reservation: Tel: 0800 028 3337, sltr@shangri-la.com  www.shangri-la.com/mauritius

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email premierbrands@manley-communications.com  or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications via www.manley-communications.com

ENDS/

About Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently operates over 100 hotels with a room inventory of over 41,000.  Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.  Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.  The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in Australia, mainland China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.  For more information, please visit www.shangri-la.com