Archive for September, 2014

Margarita yardstick

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Margarita Yardstick

ROYSTON REPORTS Number 223

Tropical Topics, Sunday 28 September 2014.

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, mostly on food & drink but also with news of a special trip to Sri Lanka for business entrepreneurs.

Another cup that cheers

Sri Lanka not only produces Pure Ceylon Tea (and great ground coffee if it’s from Whight & Company in Colombo) but also a fiery local beverage called Rasam. I wrote about Rasam Cream last year (Newsletter No. 186) when I tried the drink made from a muddy looking paste.

Now I have found tucked away among the spice packets on the shelf of my local supermarket, something called Rasam Powder. The drink is made the same way as instant coffee; just add boiling water. The ingredients are listed as “Turmeric, Garlic, Cumin Seed, Curry Leaves, Green Chilli, etc.”

Invigorating rasam

Invigorating rasam

I’m not sure what “etc” covers but the resulting drink is invigoratingly spicy (ie: it can blow your head off if it’s too strong) but it doesn’t have the muddy consistency of the paste. Manufactured by Super Masala Foods Company of Colombo, the 50g packet cost Rs74 [£ 0.35p; US$ 0.28c] .

Margarita Yardstick

I use the classic Margarita as the yardstick whenever I am assessing a cocktail barman’s (sorry, mixologist’s, so as not to be sexist) ability. This vigorously shaken cocktail of tequila, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice and ice should taste the same everywhere. Of course, it doesn’t if the mixologist decides to add sugar syrup or to tart it up with strawberries.

I had a pleasant Margarita moment in Colombo last week when I sat on the veranda outside Harpo’s Colombo Fort Café in the restored shopping and restaurant complex known as The Dutch Hospital. Thiva, the steward, served me a perfectly made Margarita and just as pleasurable was the price of this afternoon reviver: Rs700  [£ 3.33; $ 5.46] plus the unavoidable service charge and tax adding about 25%.

Margarita moment

Margarita moment

In the background of this photograph are the ugly concrete stools and tables in the courtyard and the roof of old clay tiles of the Dutch Hospital cloisters with the glass walls of the circular World Trade Centre twin towers behind.

Dish of the Week

Inland from the coast where I live, and miles from anywhere, is a rural bar set in a wilderness surrounded by paddy fields. It’s known only to the initiated, who mostly seem to be tuk-tuk drivers popping in for a shot of arrack and then zooming off again.

Local pork stew with black pork curry in the background

Local pork stew with black pork curry in the background

I take visitors there to enjoy robust country cooking. Last week we lunched on local pork cooked two ways: as a black pork curry with spices balanced to enhance the flavour of the meat, seasoned with onions, sliced capsicums, tomato, whole cloves of garlic and chilli. A cooked portion weighing 500g cost Rs750.

I preferred the pork “stew” for the way it brought out the taste of the meat and with a softer skin than the curry version. It too was livened up with whole capsicums, onions and tomatoes as well as sliced potatoes. It cost Rs800 [£ 3.80; $ 6.25] for a 500g portion. And no service charge or tax (it’s not that kind of place!)

Cricket & British Business

Business cricket emblems- MCC tie & helpful magazines

Business cricket emblems- MCC tie & helpful magazines

I’ve just received a flyer from the British High Commission announcing an organised visit for those interested in learning about the opportunities available in Sri Lanka for British companies. It’s a programmed 3-day event from 27 to 29 November 2014 and sounds a lot of fun.

On the first day the programme promises an insight into key sectors and opportunities for British companies through engagement with high level Sri Lankan ministerial and corporate personalities, and ends with a business networking reception hosted by the British High Commissioner. The National cricket teams from England and Sri Lanka will also be in attendance.

Next there’s a morning of panel discussions and Q&A as big UK brands & companies operating in Sri Lanka share their experiences, and in the afternoon a visit to the Colombo seaport is planned. In the evening tickets are available for the annual St Andrew’s Day black tie ball – a networking opportunity with Colombo’s expat community and high flying corporate contacts.

On Saturday participants attend the Sri Lanka vs. England 2nd ODI with the opportunity to have lunch with legendary cricketers while networking with big hitters in the corporate world. There are discounted rates on airfare and accommodation, courtesy of SriLankan Airlines and Cinnamon Grand Hotel. Registration is by 22 October. Contact [email protected]

 

Read All About It

Prepare in advance of your visit by reading my Sri Lanka guide published by Bradt Travel Guides and available direct from the publisher at http://www.bradtguides.com/sri-lanka-2946.html

Guide to Sri Lanka by Royston Ellis

Guide to Sri Lanka by Royston Ellis

I hope the writer of this email will forgive me for sharing it, but I was thrilled to hear from yet another reader who bought and apparently enjoyed Rush At The End, my novel set in the Swinging Sixties,

The Swinging Sixties

The Swinging Sixties

“Just to let you know, I read Rush At The End during my trip to California. The further I read the more I enjoyed it.

“The subject matter is not one that I have encountered much in literature before, and I have led a sheltered life. But I do often tell people that I am bi-sexual  …  if I can’t get it for free, I buy it.”

This paperback book is available through http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.co.uk and also as a kindle.

Beat regards

Royston