Puerto Rico at MLH
What is the first idea that slips into your mind
when one talks about Puerto Rico? It’s the dance,
food and the Puerto Ricans’ exuberance that come
into everyone’s minds. It’s a country full of colour
and energy and right here in Sri Lanka we were able
to enjoy the vivacity and tantalizing tastes of
The Mount Lavinia Hotel this week brought down a
lady chef from Puerto Rica to give a tantalising
experience of Puerto Rican delicacies. In the soft
sea breeze and tuneful Puerto Rican melodies in the
background Chef Germania Maria Diaz displayed
culinary skills to the guests who were present at
the Puerto Rican food Festival.
The lady chef defined her culinary style as
contemporary and a multi-sensorial cuisine. With a
lady’s touch and Puerto Rican culinary secrets the
delicacies were an unforgettable treat as everyone
helped themselves to the rich, filling and mouth
Starting from the starters which came sizzling right
out of the frying pan to the table every treat was
different and delicious. Chef Maria has worked her
magic through all the tasteful dishes because every
dish was a favourite. Puerto Rican cuisine has got
its tantalizing flavours from many countries though
it’s somewhat similar to Spanish, Cuban and Mexican
food. As chef Maria explained Puerto Rican food has
a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and
The starters included delectables made out fish,
pork and cheese and it was served with their
indigenous sauces which added a tangy and a spicy
effect to the tasteful experience.
Almojábanas which was a starter made out of a
filling of creamy cheese and flour was served with
dipping sauces made out of Puerto Rican indigenous
seasonings and ingredients such as coriander,
papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee.
Other sizzling starters too were loved by many. The
hot food included Red Snapper with Creole sauce
chicken fricassee pasteles, Okra stewed, along with
several salads like Caribbean Sea food salad with
aañitas and patacones, bacalao salad with potatoes
and avocado, potato salad and chayote salad which
brought a rich and filling effect to the Puerto
Rican gastronomic experience.
The desserts included flan de coco, dulce de coco
bread pudding (with coconut and raisings) with rum
sauce and several other delicacies which were sweet,
creamy and rich in flavours.
Chef Maria who is one of the few female executive
chefs in the world truly defined the cuisine of
Puerto Rico as everybody fell in love with the
uniquely tantalising delicacies of Puerto Rico at
Mount Lavinia Hotel that evening.
|Late lunch special at Seven
Busy bees in town are in for a treat on Saturdays
when other restaurants are closed for the afternoon
and Seven Degrees North remains open to offer a
special late lunch menu. Maybe work’s taking too
much of your time over the weekend or you’ve got the
kids to drop off at class; perhaps class is taking a
bit too long to get done with and you’ve missed
lunch, so head over to Cinnamon Grand for that
Lunch at Seven Degrees North is available between
1pm and 4pm. Their new Spanish Chef Alejandro has
introduced two varieties of the Spanish dish –
seafood paella and vegetable paella. The idea behind
the concept of paella is simple really; it involved
cooking a special type of Spanish rice and boiling
it with seafood or vegetable stock. This allows the
rice to suck in all the flavours of the seafood or
vegetables and gives an added touch of originality
to cooking rice rather than the ordinary way.
“I’ve created both the seafood and vegetable paella
to please the local as well as foreign guests’
palettes. Originally paella is served with no add-on
but perhaps a small appetizer and salad on the side.
However, here at Seven Degrees North we’ve added a
range of seafood like cuttlefish, prawns, clams etc
as well as vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and
beans to the paella so that it is a meal by itself”
said Chef Alejandro. He also added that the rice
gets its colour with the use of saffron on occasions
as well as olive oil to ensure it’s cooked in a
The seafood paella seemed like the Spanish version
of a Muslim Biriyani. The rice had a very exotic
taste to it (thanks to the seafood stock and saffron
that gave it a buttery yellow colour) and the
seafood variety served along with it was delicious.
I wasn’t too sure about the clams; but I loved the
fish and prawns that came with; both went perfectly
with the paella.
A chilled glass of Sangria is also offered,
compliments of the hotel to enjoy the paella only
like the Spanish do. A live band also sets the
perfect tone for a chilled out and relaxed, stress
free Saturday afternoon.
If Seven Degrees North’s setting overlooking the
Beira Lake doesn’t work for you, move over to the
Terrace and let the kids play by themselves whilst
you enjoy your late lunch special. This offer is
available until the end of the month.
|How to pick fresh fish
|Whenever you can, buy fresh seafood, you’ll get
top quality and the best taste experience. The best
way to buy fish for preparation ease, is in fresh
fillet or steak form. Fillets are normally bone free
and steaks are usually cut into serving portion
sizes making your prep time shorter.
Don’t buy anything more than one day or at most a
couple of days old, especially if you don’t plan to
cook it that night. Pick fish that are blemish-free
with the outside skin being neither slick nor soggy.
Fresh fish should be firm and the flesh should
spring back when touched. The fish should smell
subtly of the water from which it came. If it has a
strong “fishy” smell, it is not fresh and not for
you. Ask at the counter when the fish came in.
The most economical way to purchase fish is in the
whole. When you buy a whole fish, look for clear
glossy eyes; shiny red gills and a firm body. Again
make sure that the skin is free of any dark
blemishes. The tail should not be dried out, brittle
or curled. Ask the counter person to fillet and
portion it for you, or wash and cook it as. Whole
fish are great for BBQ or banquet affairs.
If you have a whole fish, you can cook what you need
and freeze the rest. Use the bones to make fish
stock for soups and stews. The bones will freeze and
the stock will also. Fish stock packed in plastic
tubs with tight fitting lids freezes well. It’s a
good idea to date everything you freeze and use it
as soon as you can.
No matter the form, avoid seafood that has been in a
display case for extended periods, even if it is on
ice. If you are unsure ask if there is more in the
back. If there isn’t fresh fish available buying
fish that has been frozen at sea is your next best
If you are shopping at a grocery buy fresh seafood
on your way out of the store, take it directly home,
and cook it within 24 hours. Take along a cooler to
keep it cool going home. If it’s not possible to
cook it immediately warp it good and freeze it. Keep
the fish as cold as possible until you are ready to
cook it, store seafood in the coldest part of your
When shopping for fresh whole shellfish always buy
live or if unavailable buy cooked products that have
been canned or frozen and dated. In the case of
shucked shellfish meats such as scallops buy those
in a fresh state, again ask how fresh they are.
Don’t buy live clams and mussels that have gaping
shells, they should be close or shut with a little
hand pressure. Lobsters and crabs should be moving
and not be sagging at the joints and tails.
|A new twist at Margarita Blue!
|Positioned in a perfect setting, overlooking the
Indian Ocean, The Margarita Blue sets the mood for a
modern yet cozy atmosphere with splendid views of
the sunset from the garden terrace.
The Margarita Blue sets the mood for exotic Shisha,
a rich Arabian tradition practiced for Centuries
halfway around the world. Lounge at the Galadari as
you lose yourself in the dim lighting inside the
‘Blue, or bathe yourself in rich sunlight at our
garden terrace overlooking the vast Indian Ocean.
Proudly offering more than “twelve flavours”,
including double Apple, Strawberry, Mango, Coconut,
Banana, Lemon, Peach etc; the Galadari by far
possesses the largest assortment of flavoured
tobaccos that Colombo has to offer. Whether you come
by solo, on a date, or with a large group, the
Margarita Blue is sure to keep you enticed in its
casual, friendly, inviting surrounding offering you
the best service every time.
Frequently experimenting new flavours, and enhancing
flavours with rose water, cognac and a variety of
liqueurs, the Shisha promotion remains a must try at
the ‘Blue . Be sure to ask your server for new
flavours, all-time favourites and suggested
combinations of two or three favours that adds a
touch of a novel twist to this ancient Arabic
Relax layback and step in to this rich tradition
amidst this contemporary lounge bar with live
entertainment and lip smacking snacks complementing
each other to make your evening a complete
experience. Offering games such as Darts, Snooker
and Pool and the latest in sports on a giant screen,
the Margarita Blue is the ideal venue to chill out
and enjoy grand Shisha and extraordinary food.
|Casa Colombo introduces a new
|By Shabna Cader
The word ‘tapas’ originated from Spain and is used
to describe appetizers and finger-food. Snacks were
equally regarded as tapas in Spain where miniature
cold and cold delicacies with add-ons like cheese,
olives, and sesame seeds. Casa Colombo has been
known to introduce unique and contemporary styled
menus that everyone can appreciate and does not put
a huge hole in the wallet either.
It’s the perfect place to chill-out with the friends
at dusk, and even on sunny afternoons under the
shade and stop reddish egg-shaped chairs and cracked
glass tables. Zaza is a chic yet comfy garden
restaurant that brings together the palettes of
Italy, France and American along with a Sri Lankan
and Thai twist to it. The new tapas menu is hot and
delicious; created by none other than the fusion
boutique hotel owner Lalin Jinasena and Chef Shareef
As tapas generally include a range of appetizers
share the intricacy of spiciness that is not too
empowering but is also tasteful at the same time.
Some of the tapas on this electric menu include the
sesame chicken lollipop, curry flavoured chicken
gizzard, the crab cake, spicy fried calamari, Thai
fish balls, mushroom and artichoke empanadas,
passion fruit prawn ceviche, steam vegetable spring
roll, Thai marinated beef kebab, marinated and
grilled baby octopus that is both enticing as it is
The food is prepared using only the best and
freshest ingredients and Zaza also ensures that the
meat used is Halal certified.
“We’ve introduced a range of new tapas that are not
available anywhere else in the country so that our
in-house guests as well as other frequent customers
may enjoy new flavours and experience dishes that
are a combination of the sub-continent” said Lalin.
Zaza’s outdoor space is meant for large gathering
and is ideal for group meetings and afternoon quiet
lunches. The menu is an ideal addition to the gossip
and chatter either during the day or even late at
night. It is housed in the fusion boutique hotel
that also recently won the 2011 Asia Pacific Hotel
Prize Award for Best Interior Design as well as the
2011 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award.
Casa Colombo was also nominated by the World Travel
Awards for the Asia Leading Boutique Hotel, Sri
Lanka’s Leading Hotel and Sri Lanka’s Leading
|How to spruce up your salad
|Add fruit to salad greens. Consider adding fresh
fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, or
grapes. Or toss in some dried fruits like
cranberries, apricots, and golden raisins.
Cheese often goes well with fruit. Mixing in blue,
feta, or goat cheese is a great way to add tons of
flavour and some protein too. And speaking of
protein, you can easily turn any salad into a main
meal with the addition of shrimp, chicken, sliced
steak, or even tofu.
Avocados, olives, and toasted nuts add a whole new
taste dimension, not to mention some heart-healthy
oils. Cooked whole grains such as hard wheat
berries, quinoa, and bulgur add fiber. Beans or
chickpeas add protein and fiber.
Choose from a variety of tasty greens: some are
sweeter, like Boston, green and red leaf, red oak,
and romaine, while others have a nutty or bitter
taste, like endive, radicchio, arugula, watercress,
and spinach. Mix the tastes and textures and even
throw in a few herbs like dill or cilantro so that
each bite surprises your taste buds.
Pull your salad together with dressing. Choose a
ginger dressing for Thai chicken over a mix of crisp
romaine and watercress. Try lime-cilantro
vinaigrette for that steak, black bean, and avocado
salad. You can make your own healthy vinaigrettes by
infusing vinegars with some of your favorite
herbs…and you can turn high-fat creamy dressings
into healthier vinaigrettes. You’ll have a salad
you’ll be proud to serve to your guests!
|Tips for making healthy
choices at fast food restaurants
|Make careful menu selections – pay attention to
the descriptions on the menu. Dishes labeled
deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped,
breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au
gratin or in cream sauce are usually high in
calories, unhealthy fats or sodium. Order items with
more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of
hidden calories. One 32-oz Big Gulp with regular
cola packs about 425 calories, so one Big Gulp can
quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie
intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or
ordering unsweetened iced tea.
“Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware
of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads,
cheese, sour cream, etc. For example, ask for a
grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You
can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add
it yourself, controlling how much you put on your
Special order. Many menu items would be healthy if
it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for
your vegetables and main dishes to be served without
the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your
salads or order the dressing “on the side” and spoon
only a small amount on at a time. If your food is
fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it
broiled or steamed.
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and
savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and
avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means
stopping before you are full. It takes time for our
bodies to register that we have eaten. Mindful
eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes
you feel more satisfied.