Archive for December, 2013

Classy Business

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Classy Business

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 191. Sunday 15 December 2013.

Welcome to this week’s report on Tropical Topics in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Seen In Sri Lanka

I’ve never been a fan of Sri Lankan buses, probably because my main experience of them is when I see them hurtling towards me as I pootle quietly along in Kumara’s tuk-tuk to Alutgama. They always seem to be packed with people apparently oblivious to the bus driver’s dicing with death. Kumara swerves off the road and we survive another near miss.

New design bus shelter (Photo by B Kumarasiri)

So this piece of modern architecture intrigued me when it suddenly appeared beside the road near the Bentota post office. Such a change from the utilitarian, cowshed style of shelters for bus travellers in the past. I hope for the additional comfort of passengers, the standard of bus driving improves too.

Spice it up with Koluu

Koluu is one of Colombo’s most colourful characters, being both a super chef and a sometimes-larger-than-life drag queen performer. Now he’s also become a brand name. Having been chef or consultant for many popular restaurants in Colombo, Koluu has turned his culinary genius to creating various Sri Lankan curry mixes.

The makings of a Koluu Beef Curry

The makings of a Koluu Beef Curry

What’s different about Koluu’s mix, apart from the pink re-sealable packaging, is that there’s no need to chop onions and garlic; everything is included. I tried it out by following the steps on the back of the package. I cubed some beef and seasoned it with the dry powder mix for 10 minutes. Using a clay pot for authenticity (although any cooking pan would do) I added 60ml of oil, let it heat up and then tossed the seasoned beef cubes in it for five minutes.

To this I added some water and cooked the beef until it was tender and then poured in a cup of coconut milk (OK, I cheated and made that from instant coconut milk powder), and cooked it for a further five minutes while the liquid thickened.

Cooking Koluu Beef Curry in a clay pot

Cooking Koluu Beef Curry in a clay pot

According to the packet, the powder is made from onions, garlic, ginger, cardamom, cloves, pandan leaves, curry leaves, unroasted curry powder, pepper corns, salt; 100% natural; no added preservatives. It is manufactured by Spice Land (Pvt) of Athurugiriya, Sri Lanka, email: [email protected]. The 100g packet (enough to season a kilo of beef cubes) cost Rs140 [66p; US$1.07].

It was like a magic dust as Koluu’s mix enabled me to produce without any effort at all, a rich, dark and zonky beef curry.

Classy Business

The new Airport Expressway

The new Airport Expressway

For a few (hundred) dollars more then Economy, passengers on most airlines can travel Business Class; it’s a fillip that we deserve as we get older and are no longer comfortable as part of the backpacking brigade packed at the back of the aircraft when we travel. Thus one becomes, albeit temporarily, conscious of class distinction. I like the priority check in, the civil – even caring – service on board, the free flowing champagne and the more imaginative meals available in Business Class.

Business Class passengers on SriLankan Airlines departing from Colombo not only have the privilege of an exclusive check-in at the Silk Route Lounge, but also an improved lounge (called Serendib) dedicated to Business Class passengers. This has been newly renovated with bright colours and is somehow more spacious, yet retains the same area of the previous lounge.

Newly renovated SriLanakan Business Class lounge, Colombo

Newly renovated SriLanakan Business Class lounge, Colombo

Gone are the pokey loos, replaced by a labyrinth of clean cubicles, one with a tarmac view; gone are the private rooms for snoozing, replaced by an alcove with reclining chairs; gone are the frigid bar and satellite counters, replaced by a glass wall though which cooks can be seen preparing snacks, and restaurant style buffet counters. There is a new bar and a more welcoming reception desk.

It made for a classy beginning to my recent SriLankan Airlines flight to Maldives.

Life Begins at Baros

In her 1937 song, Sophie Tucker sang “life begins at 40” — and for Baros, the private 75-villa resort island in the Maldives, life couldn’t be better. Last weekend the owning family welcomed a few old friends to a celebration dinner commemorating 40 years since the resort opened as a campers’ castaway haven in December 1973.

The palm-thatched shacks that greeted the first visitors have long gone as the island has metamorphosed through several reincarnations into a holiday island of sheer bliss for lovers… of the good things in life.  Just days before the event, Baros was acclaimed as the Most Romantic Resort in the World and also as the World’s Leading Island Villa Resort by trade professionals at the World Travel Awards (www.worldtravelawards.com).

I found it delightfully inspiring to stay at the now mature Baros Maldives because, like a fine wine, it has aged to perfection.  Of course, after providing hospitality for guests (many of whom became repeat visitors) for 40 years, Baros should be able to do it right. But the resort does more because it hasn’t lost its soul. Baros exudes a warm charm in a graceful and unpretentious manner, to say nothing of its sublime comfort, personalised attention and sensational cuisine.

Historic Lobster Bisque, Baros

Historic Lobster Bisque, Baros

This Lobster Bisque has become a Baros classic, as is the good, old-fashioned gueridon service in the resort’s Lighthouse Restaurant. This soup was the amuse bouche before a six course dinner celebrating the 40th anniversary.  During the dinner, I was privileged to present Dr I U Maniku, the director of Universal Enterprises responsible for Baros, with the first copy of my latest book: Baros A Legend. (www.baros.com)

Baros A Legend - The Book

Baros A Legend – The Book

Beat This

You’ll have to go to Baros to buy that book but I’m happy to hear from some readers of this newsletter that they are buying my beat generation books through the Internet. Gone Man Squared (with a foreword by Jimmy Page) is available from:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_16/182-0524309-8332723?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=gone+man+squared&sprefix=gone+man+squared%2Caps%2C167

and The Big Beat Scene with an account of my days with The Beatles is available from: http://musicmentor0.tripod.com/book_big_beat_scene.html.

Retro presents for reprobates

Retro presents for reprobates

Beat regards

Royston Ellis