A Sri Lanka Diary

At The Galle Face Hotel

This is a diary of the 12 days spent in Sri Lanka in January:
12 January:

Arrived in Colombo and spent 2 nights at the Galle Face Hotel. Finalising plans with Sri Lanka In Style, meeting with the management and chefs at Park Street Mews, for the event there.

Photos: A Kandyan wedding: Dancers & Drummers; The groom and his retinue
Breakfast: Left:Hoppers: Right:Kiri bath

The Galle Face Hotel has very fond memories for me as I remember going there for family weddings and it is still a lovely old colonial style hotel with that inimitable service that has always made it special.
We were fortunate to witness 2 Kandyan wedding ceremonies conducted outdoors on the courtyard whilst we were having breakfast on our first day – complete with a procession of drummers and dancers, and the bride and groom and their families in traditional attire. Quite a spectacle.

14 January:
Jetwing Lagoon, Negombo
This hotel has recently been refurbished, and has only just opened. An open and beautifully designed property and is one of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa’s earliest works. The rooms were spacious, understated and very elegant. We had a room overlooking the lagoon and it was refreshing to have a steady cooling breeze all thorough the day and night. The hotel has the longest swimming pool ever.
Spent the evening discussing the next nights dinner and running through the recipes with the chefs.
The menu for the night was based on a South Indian meal and comprised
Starter: Tomato Rasam Рa lightly spiced lentil and tomato soup, that I had clarified so it was clear, like a consomm̩
Entrée: Uppuma with pickled vegetables
a South Indian semolina based snack sometimes had for breakfast
Main: Puli meen and hoppers, with vegetables
A sour dry fish curry that is almost a pickle
Dessert: Kesari

a South Indian sweet, made with semolina that I flavoured with orange blossom water and garnished with strips of candied orange peel, and covered with silver leaf.

Photos: top row, The pool, dining room, grounds
bottom row: String hoppers, lunch, the demo

January 16
Sigiriya: Vil Uyana
After a long drive we arrived at Sigiriya and the lovely Vil Uyana that we had been to before. Set in the marshes and like an exotic eastern temple rising out of a lotus pond, this is a very special place. Tranquil surrounds, a gentle breeze and this time we were in a Marsh villa, which was beautiful. After settling in, it was straight to work
checking out the menu and the produce. The hotel grows quite a bit of vegetables and I checked out what was available.

Menu for Vil Uyana
Chilled cucumber soup
Vegetable skewers in Kurakkan flour tempura batter
[Kurakkan is a red brown millet ground to a flour]
Chicken Rotolo
[stuffed with cashews, curry spices and a spiced sausage]
served with baby wing beans and seasonal fresh vegetables
Mango and passion fruit pannacotta

The kurakkan flour which I decided to add to the rice flour gave the batter an added earthy flavour.
As in Negombo, the evening started with cocktails, and then I did the demo of vegetable skewers.
We dined on the terrace under the dining room and it was a beautiful setting with flares lighting up and reflecting in the lotus pond.
Relaxing the next day we were fortunate to see the resident crocodile in the lake.

Top: The entrance and dining room
Bottom: Dosais; Lunch; Tempura vegetables

January 18
an 8 course dinner on the them “The story of my life in food”
this was a nerve wracking event, as I had never done anything like this before.
A sell out dinner in Colombo at the Park Street Mews-
The demo dish was my savoury asparagus ice cream with crab, that I did on MasterChef All Stars. The team at the Mews was wonderful and it was a great event- see separate post highlighting this

January 20
Left for St Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya- a very long trip because we were travelling up – country and it was slow, made even slower due to road works that seemed to go on for ever. It was lovely to get there at dusk after a very scenic drive through all the tea estates and also have much cooler weather.

The menu for St Andrews was a High tea – and the demo dishes were an asian inspired prawn cocktail and a quick and easy strawberry jam.
Dishes included
Poached chicken and celery open sandwiches
Prawn cocktail Smoked salmon and dill with creme fraiche on rye bread rounds
Spiced pea and ptato tartlets
Lime/lemon curd tartlets
Mini berry tartlets
Sweet spiced shortbread
Scones and strawbery jam

with an assortment of choice up country teas

High tea on the lawn
St Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya

January 24
The Light House Hotel, Galle

The final event at Galle- again a lovely hotel that we stayed at previously and it was exactly as we remembered, by the sea with wonderful views out to the ocean and spectacular sunsets.

Menu for Galle
Tomato essence + green tea chilled soup
Salt & Pepper squid in tempura batter with pickled green mango
Sweet & Sour King prawns [tamarind and kitul treacle]
with young coconut, coconut rice and greens
Spiced rhubarb compote in cashew pastry with a tea infused custard

The demo dish I did there was the sweet and sour prawns.

Again starting the evening with cocktails, dinner was in the lovely dining room upstairs.
There was a great crowd of people in attendance which made a fitting finale.

Entrance to the dining room, some of the dishes and me in action

Although it really didn’t end there- there was another high tea, at the hotel for private group the next day, then a cooking class for kids in Colombo which was great fun, and finally the day before we left there was a charity lunch at the Galadari Hotel for Rotary.

It was a hectic but enjoyable trip.