Sri Lanka, Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka, Pearl of the Indian Ocean

/ Sri Lanka, Pearl of the Indian Ocean Sri Lanka, Pearl of the Indian Ocean Tripoto https://www.tripoto.com/ By Snigdha Jaiswal The popularity of Sri Lankan travel is only a recent phenomenon. Although the island country has been famous mostly for Cricket and Beaches, there is just so much that no one really knows about. It’s a small country, located just south of India in the Indian Ocean above a little well over the equator. It’s hot and humid, with dramatic climate difference in the island nation along with diverse terrain. The currency is Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) and the local languages used are Sinhala, Tamil, and English Here is my 6-day itinerary for Sri Lanka : Day 1: Colombo Day 3: Pinnawala and Kandy Day 4: Nuwara Eliya Day 5: Sigiriya and Dambulla Day 6: Anuradhapura There is no best time to see Sri Lanka honestly, since, between South-West and North-East coasts, one of it will be rainy and the other dry. However, I would suggest Oct – Feb season since it gets hot in the Indian sub-continent in summers and the southwest coasts are well known as tourist destinations. To reach Sri Lanka, you can take a flight to Colombo, which is the capital city and travel through road and rail inside the island. The airport is average in the facility. There is also a left luggage counter at the airport if you want to leave your baggage in any case. I would suggest do not buy a sim card from inside the airport since you will get them at much cheaper rates outside. Uber is comfortably available in Colombo. The local taxi app is Pick me which you can use in other parts of the country, but not very reliable. You can pre-book hotels or Airbnb in Sri Lanka. We found some lovely ones here. I did not hang around much in Colombo, but you can visit the Gangaramaya Temple, National Museum of Colombo, The Independence Memorial Hall and Beira Lake in the city. You can also soak in some nightlife of this modern metropolis with buildings in fabulous English architecture. Some people also prefer to take a day trip from Colombo to all other places, but I will suggest against it. From Colombo, Galle is around 2 hours. You can take a train which runs along the coast with a great view or a bus which is very comfortable and is quicker. The Bus and train station is walking distance from the fort. You can look at the train schedule from this site http://www.railway.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=68&lang=en Tickets can be bought on the counter. For 1st class you can get guaranteed seats, 2nd and 3rd class will not. You can take the bus to Galle from Maradana bus stop which is a little far from central Colombo. The bus is comfortable and quick. Day 2 Hotels Map Flights Shops at Galle Fort Galle is a small town in the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. This is my favorite place in all of it and that’s because this place is simply gorgeous. This town has a huge fort which practically has a town inside it bustling with shops, restaurants, and hotels. If you can, live here! I lived at a hotel at the farthest tip of the fort. The beauty of it is you can see both sunrise and sunset from it which means you are practically standing on the near most southern tip of Indian sub-continent. Beach point at Galle where sunset and sunrise both could be seen Stroll away your day in this town. Food may be little on the higher side inside the fort but there are some absolutely gorgeous places to eat. The fort was made in 17th century by the Dutch which was then taken over by Englishmen. The buildings are still very well preserved and very Dutch! Additionally, a lot of places have added décor to add a modern touch to it. The result is fabulous. Décor at shops at Galle Fort Apart from the fort you can hire a two-wheeler and take a drive to the nearby beaches. The closest beaches are Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. The drive is along the coast and is really fun. Half hour from Galle is Mirissa which is known for Whale watching. The season for this is from October-May and costs from 1500LKR-6000LKR depending upon the comfort. This starts at 6.00am in the morning for about 2 hours. But if you have time and you are visiting at the right time, have a go at it We struck a conversation with a local and he told us all about the town’s past from years back. It’s always a great experience to talk to locals and maybe even share a meal. Also, Sri Lanka is very rich in gemstones and exports world quality sapphires, topaz and amethysts. If you are interested visit a local jewelry shop and understand the details of the craft. Interiors at Galle Fort My next destination was Pinnawala elephant orphanage. You can take a train from Colombo to Rambukkhana and then a tuk-tuk or an auto ride to the Orphanage. Pinnawala has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Many of them have been rescued from brutal treatment from human captivity or serious health issues. It was initially established to feed, nurse and house young elephants abandoned by their mothers. Day 3 Hotels Map Flights Scrubbing elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage The entrance to the orphanage costs 2500LKR per person. They will let you ride the elephant for a short span of time if you like, let you feed them and take photographs in the most touristy fashion. A guide will take you through the history of the orphanage and explain about the life cycle of elephants. The most fun experience is when they let you bathe them. You can totally scrub them off and they won’t budge! Back from Rambukkhana, you can continue the journey to Kandy. Hotels Map Flights Rambukkhana Railway station It takes less than an hour from Rambukhana to Kandy. Kandy is one of the most important cities of Sri Lanka, located in the central province. It has been the capital of Sri Lanka before Colombo during the reign of local kings. It’s a town set in the middle of green lush hills around their central lake and is very rich in culture and spirituality. It’s the seat of Temple of the tooth which is the relic of Buddha’s tooth and is considered as one of the most sacred places in southeast Asia. Hotels Map Flights Buddha Tooth Relic temple Take a stroll along the lake and take in the beauty of colonial architecture in this city. If you get a chance, attend the cultural dance performances in the evening which starts about 4 pm. You can book these online as well. Kandy is the gateway to central highlands, so you take a train or a bus to your next station. Ours was Nuwara Eliya. Morning walk in Kandy Colonial architecture in Kandy Nuwara Eliya is about 3 hours from Kandy. The train ride to Nuwara Eliya and then to Ella is considered as one of the most scenic routes in the whole of Asia. Most of the infrastructure is survives of the British past. Nuwara Eliya is where most of the tea gardens of Sri Lanka is located and is thus famous for ‘Ceylon Tea’, Ceylon being the archaic name for Sri Lanka. The climate is cool and gets chilly at night. This was a popular stop for Englishmen while they rule, and the culture is still very prevalent in the county. Day 4 Hotels Map Flights Lakeside view in Nuwara Eliya One of the coolest places to stay here is in an RV. You can book one online named as an outdoor caravan park, but you cannot drive it around but is located next to the lake. Quite amazing Living in RV at Nuwara Eliya If you are interested in Indian Mythology and would like to see where Sita was kept captive after Ravana kidnapped her, head to Ashok Vatika at Sita Eliya. You can borrow or rent a two-wheeler and drive to the small village nearby. Hotels Map Flights Ashok Vatika at Sita Eliya Other places to see you be the racecourse, a botanical garden, and the beautiful Gregory lake. You can also take a hike to Lover’s Leap waterfall and a stroll in Victoria Park. There is a lot to do there and the climate is very romantic. Hotels Map Flights Lake Gregory at Nuwara Eliya If you are a tea lover like me, take a tour of the tea factory which shows you the step-by-step process of how tea is made and then will give you some to taste as well. You can buy some at their store. There are Green tea, white tea, milk tea, Black flavored tea in blueberry, strawberry, cherry, pineapple and many more. Tea gardens in Nuwara Eliya If you plan to stay longer take a train ride to Ella. The grand rustic old railways make it a memorable ride. It’s one of the most popular places at higher altitude in Sri Lanka where you can enjoy some outdoor activities as well. Our next stop was Dambulla and Sigiriya. To reach them we need to come back to Kandy. The most popular place to visit in Dambulla is the cave temples. The entry charges are 1500LKR and you must take a private vehicle to reach to the inside of the caves. Day 5 Hotels Map Flights Dambulla Cave temples This area is known to be inhabited from 1st century B.C much before the influence of Indian kings on the nation. The caves gave refuge to King Valagamba in his 14-year exile from the Anuradhapura Kingdom. Buddhist monks meditating in the caves meditating at that point of time provided protection to the king from his enemies. When the king reclaimed the throne at Anuradhapura, he got the magnificent caves made in gratitude to the monks, and they are magnificent! Sigiriya or the Lion rock has a rich history. At first sight, it looks like a monolithic hill out of nowhere in the middle of vast forest area. But there is so much more to it. Again, you must take a private vehicle to reach this place which is quite remote. We took a cab from candy to Anuradhapura via Dambulla and Sigiriya in 7000LKR which was very convenient. The entry charges to Sigiriya is $30 for foreign nationals and $15 for SAARC citizens. Apart from this, I would highly suggest you hire a guide for another 2000LKR. It’s not mandatory but it’s worth it. They will bring the whole place to life telling you stories of the distant past and architectural genius of this place which is not visible to common eyes. Hotels Map Flights Sigiriya Lion Rock The climb to the rock is more than 1200 steps but the journey is the most fun part of it. If you hire the guide, he will tell you about the secret defense mechanisms of the fortress, about the invisible fountain systems, about the king and his 200 wives and lovers, the nuances of the court system, the details of the palace built on top of the rock and a lot more. In the middle of the climb, there is a complete wall which was polished to such craftsmanship that it became a mirror. There are several murals as well. If you can plan it, reach just before sunset but check the closing time for entrance. It’s a lovely view from there. View from top of Sigiriya Lion rock Ruins of Lion Gate at Sigiriya From Sigiriya, Anuradhapura is another hour’s drive. Anuradhapura is a place which you may not find in most people’s itinerary to Sri Lanka. If you are not very enthusiastic about history and culture perhaps you can skip this and head to a wildlife reserve for there are many in Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura the seat of the Sinhalese Kings of Sri Lanka and thus the capital who ruled for about 2300 years starting 543BCE. Anuradhapura had been built intricately with complex irrigation systems, monasteries, public baths, residential quarters, parks, hospitals, and Schools. Day 6 Hotels Map Flights Buddhist Monasteries in Anuradhapura Only ghost of the city’s vibrant past is left. There are many monasteries in the shape of huge stupas built around the city. Honestly, after a couple of them, all looked the same to me. You can book a tuk-tuk or cab from your hotel for half a day and they can take you around the whole town which will really save up a lot of hassle. Public baths in Anuradhapura The best time to see the outdoor places would be earlier in the morning or after 4 when the sun is not so scorching. You can plan up on the indoor museums during the afternoon time. You can take a train thereafter to get back to Colombo. Food: Sri Lankan food is probably a little of the extreme version of South Indian food maybe. Chicken and seafood is very easily available throughout the country. Beef, pork, and lamb can also be found in many restaurants. Most of the gravy is made in coconut base with stark spices. These are usually paired with rice or kiribath, rice made in coconut milk. All food is usually paired with a popular dish called sambal which is grated coconut with onions and dry chili flakes. It adds a lot of flavor to the food. Parippu or dhal curry or semi-dry lentils are also had in the traditional food plate. Crab curry in traditional style For breakfast, you can look forward to appam, dosa, idli or vada which is also very close to south Indian cuisine. Wood apple or elephant apple is a fruit very easily available here and can find ready-made drinks in regular confectionery stores. Alcohol is not very popular in the culture and you may find it restricted to a few restaurants or have to buy it from over-the-counter liquor shops. Local beer in Sri Lanka Facts about Sri Lanka : 1. Sri Lanka has come out of a 25-year old civil war in 2009. The war left around 70,000-80,000 dead and there are still trials going on over crimes of war. 2. Sri Lanka has been colonized thrice. First by the Portuguese who gave the name ‘Ceilao’, then by the Dutch and finally by Englishmen who changed the name to ‘Ceylon’ post which they gained their independence in 1948 and became Sri Lanka. Colonial Style railway stations 3. The most widespread religion in Sri Lanka is Buddhism. You should be very careful around the Buddha statues where facing the statue with your backs, taking selfies or having a Buddha tattoo may get you from getting frown upon to even getting deported 4. Sri Lanka had the first elected female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike in the world on July 1960 who governed the country for three terms. 5. The oldest tree planted by humans is said to be in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It’s a sacred fig tree as old as 2,300 years known as Sri Maha bodhiya where its mother tree is said to be the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya where lord Buddha achieved enlightenment while he was meditating. Sri Lanka, although has just opened doors to the world for tourism and is a great country to visit. There is a lot of natural rustic beauty to it. Have a go at the this Paradise Island. It’s not very crowded.

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40 Restaurants in Greater Phoenix to Spend Valentine’s Day

EXPAND Over three dozens dining options for Valentine’s Day. Courtesy of Mowry & Cotton 40 Places to Spend Valentine’s Day in Greater Phoenix Rudri Patel | February 4, 2019 | 7: The pressure is on. Men and women everywhere are searching for the right place or way to spend Valentine’s Day. Whether you prefer casual or upscale, the Valley has you covered. Grab a fun cocktail, eat ice cream in the middle of the day, or enjoy a staycation at a resort with a classic romantic dinner — these local spots aim to put you in the mood to celebrate. Here are 40 metro places to spend Valentine’s Day in the Valley.
Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen
5813 North Seventh Street
It’s hard to resist a three-course meal for $33. The meal includes choice of beverage, appetizer, and entrees like steak and taters, Alaskan cod and chips, and salmon or grilled prime sirloin. Dessert includes brownie with gelato or churros with beer anglaise. If you can’t get there on Valentine’s Day, don’t worry — this special is good from February 7 to 17.
EXPAND Enjoy Southern coastal Mexican fare on Valentine’s Day. Courtesy of Ladera Taverna y Cocina Continue Reading Related Stories This Scottsdale Restaurant Was Named Second Most Romantic in the U.S. 5 Places for Mocktails and Alcohol Alternatives in Greater Phoenix Family-Owned Modern Oysterbar Chophouse Opens Friday in Scottsdale Ladera Taverna y Cocina
8729 North Central Avenue
Ladera Taverna y Cocina is a modern Mexican bar and restaurant that insists on using local and fresh seasonal ingredients. Chef Justin Woodard will offer a specialty prix-fixe, three-course menu including a bottle of wine and featuring coctel de camarones served with tiger prawns, achiote chicken with masa gnocchi, spiced grilled cauliflower, and caramel apple empanadas stuffed with spiced apple compote.
Hotel Valley Ho
6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale
Live music in the lounge will accompany your delicious dinner of either prime rib-eye, lobster, or king crab carbonara at ZuZu’s — the Hotel Valley Ho’s on-site restaurant. Save room for dessert and get the red velvet cream cake shake –– a white chocolate shake with strawberry gelato, strawberry red velvet cream cake, dark chocolate and strawberry ganache, marshmallow creme, truffles, and white-chocolate-covered strawberries. Can we say chocolate coma?
Mountain Shadows
5445 East Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley
Stunning views of Camelback Mountain will accessorize your dinner at Hearth ’61, Mountain Shadows’ resort restaurant. During the meal, enjoy half-off bottles of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne and complement your drink with surf-and-turf or sea bass with ginger butter. There will be live music on Thursday and Friday evenings. For those who want to continue the party after their Valentine’s Day dinner, there is a special room rate of $299.
EXPAND A cut steak is part of the three-course menu at Keeler’s in Carefree. Courtesy Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse
7212 East Ho Hum Road, Carefree
Tired of going to the same restaurant on Valentine’s Day? Carefree offers a new fine dining option with Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse. Lose all the pretense in a casual and relaxed atmosphere where the three-course menu includes lobster bisque or Keeler’s Salad, a cut steak with lobster tail and choice of two sides, and dessert with champagne. Cost starts at $75 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 602-374-4784.
Liberty Station American Tavern and Smokehouse
Multiple Locations
Want to go casual, but craving some specialty eats? Liberty Station American Tavern and Smokehouse keeps it simple but classy for their menu on February 14. Choose from pepper-crusted prime rib with smashed potatoes and broccolini for $36, or pan-seared sea bass with asparagus risotto for $28. Dessert for two and a Champagne toast are available for $12.
Stock & Stable
5538 North Seventh Street
Chef Joe Absolor will debut a special three-course menu this Valentine’s Day. Patrons will start with a shared plate that includes roasted beets, kung pao cauliflower, and a choice of entrees including chicken and dumplings, sea bass, or filet. Assorted chocolates for dessert caps off the meal. This three-course menu is $40 per person.
Ease your angst with a “You Drive Me Bananas” cocktail. Courtesy of Hula’s Modern Tiki Hula’s Modern Tiki
Multiple Locations
Let’s be real, Valentine’s Day is not a celebration for everyone. Ease your angst with Hula’s Modern Tiki’s festive Anti-Valentine’s Day party on February 14. Hosted all day long, enjoy featured cocktails such as the “Black Heart Social Club” martini and the “You Drive Me Bananas” cocktail. Feeling feisty? At the Phoenix location, you can even bring pictures of your ex to burn in an outdoor fire pit.
The Gladly
2201 East Camelback Road
Whiskey, anyone? For something different, try the Gladly Bar and see why they earned a Bar of the Year nomination from Whisky Magazine . There is also a three-course menu, which includes a wedge salad, seafood chowder, duck meatloaf, tuna poke, short rib, and other options. The dinners are available for $55 a person. Call 602-759-8132 to book your reservation.
EXPAND Sample the War of Roses cocktail at True Food Kitchen. Courtesy of True Food Kitchen True Food Kitchen
Multiple Locations
Who says Valentine’s Day is only for lovers? Indulge in True Food Kitchen’s cocktail menu and do a fun tasting with co-workers or a girls’ night out. From February 8 through 18, enjoy a selection of carefully crafted cocktails including Hot in the Dark ($12) with IXA organic tequila, lime, jalapeño, and pomegranate, War of the Roses ($11) with pomegranate-infused vodka, Rum Fly With Me ($11) with green tea-infused rum, or the Cocoa Old Fashioned ($12) with cocoa-infused bourbon, apricot brandy, and orange bitters.
Scramble
Multiple Locations
Valentine’s Day specials include Scramble’s double chocolate strawberry French toast. That means hand-cut French baguette slices dipped in vanilla custard and topped with fresh strawberries, a white and milk chocolate syrup drizzle, and powdered sugar served with Schreiner’s sausage patties for $9.89. Also featured that day is Scramble’s Cupid’s Arrow Café Latte, featuring Ghirardelli dark and white chocolate syrup for $4.89.
Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn
5532 North Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
Food & Wine named Lon’s as the most romantic restaurant in Arizona. With that kind of introduction, prepare to indulge in chef Jeremy Pacheco’s three-course tasting menu that begins with caviar, egg custard, or potato crisp. That’s followed by lobster bisque and entrees that include beef striploin, Atlantic halibut, duck breast, or pork shank. The dessert finale boasts the blood orange olive cake, dark chocolate cake, or strawberry macaron. This place deserves your Sunday best and this particular menu is offered only on Thursday, February 14. The price is $85 per person and dining reservations can be made by calling 602-955-7878.
EXPAND Cafe Monarch was voted the second most romantic restaurant in the country by Trip Advisor. Courtesy of Trip Advisor Cafe Monarch
6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
Imagine not flying to France, but still dining European-villa-style with a customized menu and privacy. There is a reason why Cafe Monarch was voted the second most romantic restaurant in the country. Couples will receive special attention from the staff and the farm-to-table ingredients ensures the highest quality in cuisine. This true gem is a place to linger with your love and let the romance take center stage.
Rusconi’s American Kitchen
10637 North Tatum Boulevard
Spend the evening at Rusconi’s American Kitchen, where chef Michael Rusconi will have a three-course menu available for $69 per person. Options will include shaved candy beets with wild arugula, baby romaine salad, lobster bisque, and boneless short ribs to start, followed by grilled, herbed breast of natural chicken with Italian bacon risotto, heirloom carrots, roasted rack of lamb with smoked tomato crust and heirloom potatoes, small green beans, fennel, cured tomato and roquette pesto. Or try natural pork loin with cauliflower puree, baby cabbages, bacon dressing, and port wine reduction. For dessert, choose from chocolate mocha crème brûlée, yin and yang cheesecake, grilled peach, and apple buckle in a jar. For a reservation, call 480-483-0009.
EXPAND Wine tasting is a great way to experience Valentine’s Day. Courtesy of LDV Winery LDV Winery
7134 East Stetson Drive, Suite B100, Scottsdale
You don’t need to fly to Napa for a wine tasting. LDV Winery hosts a special tasting on February 14 from noon to 8 p.m. The tasting will feature petite sirah flights paired with sweet nibbles for $16. Pairings include 2013 Sky Island petite sirah with sea salt caramel, 2012 petite sirah with dark chocolate covered decadence, or the 2013 signature petite sirah and a triple-chocolate brownie with a “kiss” of balsamic.
Mowry & Cotton
6000 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale
Chef Tandy Peterson is featuring a sweethearts menu with a la carte offerings. To start, there is the beef tartare served with wild rice, pickled mustard seed, garlic and parsley crostini, or the poached pear salad packed with ricotta, spiced pecan and oatmeal crumb, and pancetta vinaigrette. Entree offerings include lobster fettuccine or beef tenderloin. Chocolate cake makes for a good dessert at the end. Mowry & Cotton’s traditional dinner menu will be offered during this time as well. To make a reservation, call 480-423-2530.
Voila French Bistro
10135 East Vía Linda, Scottsdale
Create a Parisian date night with authentic cuisine at Voila French Bistro. On Sunday, February 10, the chef is offering a three-course, wine-paired dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. If you want to avoid crowds and have a quiet evening, this is the optimal way. This wine-paired dinner is $79 per person. On Thursday, February 14, the same three-course dinner will be served from 5 to 8:45 p.m. for $79 per person. Drinks will be available in addition to the dinner. The menu includes la cassolette Champagne sabayon served over bay scallops, salmon and mushrooms, leg confit and roasted breast served with foie gras sauce, and a trio of desserts.
EXPAND Ice cream and fried bananas is a sweet treat to cap off the meal. Courtesy of Salty Sow Salty Sow
4801 East Cactus Road
From 4 to 10 p.m. on February 14, Salty Sow will offer a specialty dinner for two that includes an amuse bouche, appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert of choice. Menu items will feature items like chocolate covered strawberries with Mumm Napa sparkling wine, truffled deviled eggs, mussels, smoked salmon, seared diver scallops, prime rib, and red velvet cake parfait, among other choices. For reservations, call 602-795-9463.
Match Restaurant and Lounge
1100 North Central Avenue
If you are looking for a contemporary, eclectic experience, check out Match Restaurant and Lounge on Valentine’s Day. A special menu is offered from 5 to 11 p.m. on February 14. Some of the items featured are creole oysters in saffron tomato broth, herb-marinated goat, chocolate-covered bacon, and other out-of-the box goodies. Those wanting to stay are welcome to sign up for the hotel package where couples will be gifted an intimacy kit, Champagne, handcuffs, blindfold, and whips. My.
Marcellino Ristorante
7114 East Stetson Road, Scottsdale
Chef Marcellino Verzino has planned a special menu for Valentine’s Day night, with wild boar chop and handmade pastas as options. Guests also are welcome to pair their meals with imported beers and the spicy new cocktail, Diavolo — also known simply as the Devil. The evening will also feature Monte Procopio singing in the background. Call 480-990-9500 to make your reservation.
EXPAND Strawberry and cream waffles all day at Perk Eatery. Courtesy of Perk Eatery Perk Eatery
6501 East Greenway Parkway, #159, Scottsdale
For those couples who love everything breakfast and don’t necessarily have the time to get away during the evening, Perk Eatery is offering strawberries and cream waffles for $8.49. The good news? The offer lasts all day long. You can even make a V-Day pit stop on your way home.
Ocean Prime
5455 East High Street
If you want the complete package to impress your date, Ocean Prime makes certain you are set from drinks to dessert. Raspberry wisp martinis, mussels, filet with roasted asparagus, crispy pancetta, and Alaskan king crab gratin are featured on the menu. Cap off dinner with a Thin Mint brownie with peppermint ice cream. This package is available from Thursday, February 14, through Sunday, February 17. To make reservations, call 480-347-1313.
The Vig
Multiple Locations
If you don’t want to keep it more casual, but still enjoy a prix-fixe, three-course menu, head to The Vig. For $75 per couple, executive chef Justin Woodard will be serving grilled fig and prosciutto bruschetta, salmon, Nashville-glazed chicken, butter-poached halibut, and more. The best part of the price is the tasting menu includes a bottle of wine for two.
EXPAND Keep it simple with red velvet pancakes from Chase’s Diner. Courtesy of Chase’s Diner Chase’s Diner
2040 North Alma School Road, Chandler
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like red velvet. For those craving a casual but fun day date, Chase’s Diner is featuring red velvet pancakes drizzled with homemade cream cheese all day. Couple that with a cup of coffee or small juice for $7.87. Romance is sometimes the simple pleasures in life.
The Market by Jennifer’s
3603 East Indian School Road, Suite A
Choices are a good thing, especially if you want to have a memorable evening. The Market by Jennifer’s is offering various options for first, second, and third courses. Opt for jumbo shrimp cocktail, frisee salad, grilled lamb chops Provence, chef-carved Chateaubriand beef tenderloin, or seared salmon filet. Dessert includes either flour-less chocolate cake or creme brûlée with berries. All meals include a sweet treat of dark chocolate truffles and bubbles courtesy of the restaurant. Leave all of the special touches to them and make advance reservations by calling 602-626-5050.
Tempo Urban Bistro
21067 West Main Street, Buckeye
Nothing says special like exclusive. But that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Tempo Urban Bistro is offering a sweetheart menu from 5 to 9 p.m. on February 14 for $35 per person. Starters include lobster bisque, oysters, and wild mushroom strudel, while choices for entrees range from house-made cheese ravioli to Chilean sea bass and filet mignon. Triple chocolate torte or ricotta cheesecake — or maybe both — for dessert? With this price point, you should run to make reservations by calling 623-594-6788.
EXPAND Order your box of chocolate-covered dates today. Courtesy of Sphinx Date Company Sphinx Date Company
3039 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Short on time, but want to do something for your honey? Order some dates for your date. No, seriously, Sphinx Date company makes customized heart shaped boxes filled with your choice of Arizona-grown, pecan-stuffed, dark or milk chocolate-covered Mejdool dates that are hand-dipped by the Cerreta Candy Company in Glendale.
Creamistry
Multiple Locations
Gift your loved one an unexpected good surprise for Valentine’s Day and beyond. During the month of February, visit Creamistry for its latest holiday-themed sweet creations. Try the chocolate cherry crush creation with black cherry ice cream, fresh brownie bites, chocolate curls, and black cherry sauce or taste the limited-time-only mini ice cream cake made with black cherry ice cream and chocolate sponge cake and decorated with chocolate hearts and creams. Love by chocolate sounds good this month.
Sumo Maya
6560 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Look, some of you might not be in the mood to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Sumo Maya has got you covered. On February 14, the restaurant will host an Anti-Valentine’s Day with themed cocktails. Choose from the Bloody Valentine, a $12 cocktail, that includes tequila blanco, Patron Citronage, prickly pear puree, lime, and honey; The Gold Digger, priced at $10, is a drink with vodka, Sriracha, honey, ginger and cracked pepper; or a Bitter Old Fashioned Casamigo Blanco, a combination of Ancho Reyes, tamarind, agave, Aztec chocolate bitters, and orange zest. With those prices time to get your drink on.
EXPAND Grab dinner at Boulders Resort’s Palo Verde Restaurant. Courtesy of Palo Verde Restaurant Boulders Resort & Spa
34631 North Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree
Want to get away for Valentine’s Day without standing in line at the airport? The drive to Carefree is majestic and the best way to set the precursor to a romantic staycation. At the Palo Verde Restaurant, a prix-fixe menu includes choice of butter-poached king crab, butternut coconut bisque, tuna crudo, strawberry fennel salad, prime beef tenderloin, and other options. Luxurious and rustic, the ambiance and cuisine will feel like you are dining in another city. Extend your stay and indulge in a massage at Boulders Spa to keep that oh-in-love feeling going throughout the weekend.
Citizen Public House
7111 East Fifth Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale
Chef Bernie Kantak will serve a three-course dinner which will start with the soup of the day or salad with a second-course of pan-seared scallops, amor meatloaf, or red rainbow trout. You may also choose a dessert duet which includes an expansive collection of beer and barrel-aged cocktails. To secure your spot, call 480-275-8888.
Kitchen West
7700 East McCormick Ranch Parkway, Scottsdale
Executive chef Rick Dupere will feature an exquisite three-course prix-fixe tasting menu from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, February 14, offering western American fare in a romantic setting. Start with a choice of oyster stew, potato leek soup with lime caviar or caramelized beet salad, followed by main course choices of hand-carved prime tenderloin roast with black garlic puree and truffle sauce, or Chilean sea bass with parmesan pea risotto or tarragon pea ravioli with vegetables and basil pomodoro sauce. The dessert menu includes Grand Marnier crème brûlée or a flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream. This specialty menu will be offered at $68 per person or $88 per person with wine parings including your choice off the full wine list. Call 480-596-7520 to confirm your reservation.
EXPAND Enjoy outdoor dining at T.Cook’s. Courtesy of T.Cook’s T. Cook’s
5200 East Camelback Road
If you are looking for an indulgent evening for Valentine’s Day, T. Cook’s is the place with all the things. Executive chef Alex Robinson will prepare a special four-course, prix-fixe menu paired with a Veuve Clicquot rose toast priced at $135 per person. You and your honey can enjoy dishes like pan-seared red snapper, coffee-rubbed beef tenderloin, basil and mascarpone tortellini, or wild mushroom bisque — among others. End the evening on a sweet note with dark chocolate cherry decadence, passion fruit tart, and specialty cocktails.
Trapp House BBQ
511 East Roosevelt Street
For a different kind of night, join champion pitmaster Phil the Grill’s chef-to-table experience for couples from 7 to 9 p.m. on February 14. For $80 per person or $150 per couple, diners can enjoy a personal chef experience, and a three-course menu featuring a peach brandy, grilled porterhouse pork chop or grilled wagyu rib-eye filet with choice of bourbon molasses sauce or chimichurri sauce.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort
5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley
If you want a traditional evening, with a candlelit dinner for two and a chance to enjoy the sunset, Elements, Sanctuary’s restaurant, provides equal parts classy ambiance and memorable dining. To continue the love, couples can make it a romantic getaway and purchase the Paradise package. In this offer guests have a choice of a mountain casita, mountain suite, spa casita or spa suite, dinner for two at Elements, a rose petal turndown, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a bottle of champagne.
EXPAND For $22, salad, pizza, and a bottle of wine at Sauce. Courtesy of Sauce Sauce
Multiple Locations
Nothing says love like warm pizza with your favorite person. On February 14, guests can celebrate with a date or a friend for $22. This special includes one of Sauce’s many hand-tossed salads, a 12-inch pizza, and two glasses of wine.
Olive & Ivy
7135 East Camelback Road, #195, Scottsdale
Enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner outdoors for $55 per person at Olive & Ivy. Start the meal with an artichoke hearts appetizer, followed by a filet of beef with grilled prawns entrée, and finish with a chocolate cake made with cherry mousse, white chocolate ganache, and pistachio toppings.
The Arrogant Butcher
2 East Jefferson Street, #150
At the Arrogant Butcher, for $60 a person, you and your date can show some love to a lobster bisque to start before moving on to the main course — a New York strip steak with king crab. For the final course, complete your appetite with the Arrogant Butcher’s signature dessert: a peanut butter chocolate pie. Valentine’s dinner will be offered from 5 to 9 p.m. on February 14.
EXPAND Try the sweetheart margarita at Blanco’s Taco + Tequila. Courtesy of Blanco’s Taco + Tequila Blanco’s Tacos + Tequila
Multiple Locations
Head to a fun happy hour with margaritas at Blanco’s Tacos + Tequila. On Valentine’s Day, Blanco will offer a special sweetheart margarita with tequila, raspberry triple sec, and house sour. Pair this with your favorite tacos, chopped salad, burritos, and enchiladas, or share an order of guacamole or queso for a casual but festive date night.

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Avni Biyani, Concept Head, Foodhall

Foodhall
In 2011, Avni Biyani, the younger daughter of Future Group founder Kishore Biyani, conceptualised and incorporated Foodhall, which has since grown into one of India’s foremost lifestyle food retail destinations.
The idea behind starting Foodhall was to expose modern Indian customers to the finer nuances of food. The format targets well-travelled urban Indian consumers who love to experiment with global cuisines and promises to expose customers to the next level of food retailing. Within a short span of time, the concept store launched at Palladium, Mumbai garnered immense popularity with a discerning customer base and now has its presence across the high-end regions of Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
Foodhall outlets offer an assortment of fresh and packaged foods, covering international and pan-Indian cuisine. From avocados from South America and over 60 varieties of cheese to freshly made authentic breads by in-house chefs, from well stocked fresh produce, dairy and packaged foods to an extensive frozen section and a good delicatessen selling cheese and poultry, the store is a delight for the food savant. The trend currently is towards health-based foods and convenience, ready-to-cook foods as seen in the rising demand for gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher and sugar-free products, all of which are on offer in the format.
Biyani is a graduate of New York University’s College of Art & Science and has specialised in sociology and politics. Apart from her interest in liberal arts and humanities, she is a connoisseur of food and global cuisine. She also enjoys travelling and exploring new places and has travelled extensively across the world, which translated into her vision for Foodhall.
“A lot of our customers are food lovers who are well travelled and share a preference for global cuisine. So we organise food festivals every month at our stores so that customers can not only sample different kinds of cusisines but also learn to experiment with recipes and learn to cook them,” she says, elaborating on Foodhall’s marketing strategy.
What does she think of the growing influence of online retail on the imported/ gourmet foods category in India? Does that impact brick-and-mortar formats such as Foodhall?
“There is plenty of demand and space to grow for different kinds of formats and both brick-and-mortar outlets and e-commerce models have room to flourish and expand. It’s not actually about physical or online commerce but assisted commerce and personalised products and services, which is the direction that food retail is moving towards,” she responds.
Assortment innovation and freshness are the key drivers to succeed in this specialist food retail category, Biyani says. “To be successful in this kind of format, your offerings have to keep evolving, you have to be ahead of the curve and be a trend setter.” TAGS

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Easy fried chicken recipe (Asian flavor)

1 Comments by KP Kwan
This easy fried chicken recipe is adapted from the cookbook written by a respectable Chinese chef Mr. Pang Wah who was the executive chef of a top Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur in the seventies.
His combination of Chinese five spices and curry powder for fried chicken was an unprecedented attempt. The result is the epitome of the Chinese and Malaysian culinary uniqueness, which blends harmoniously.
It is unfortunate that there is hardly anyone making this dish anymore after he retired.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my privacy policy for more info. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
The secret weapons in the recipe
My first impression of using Chinese five-spice powder and curry powder together was that they are not compatible. Chinese fried chicken never contain curry powder, and five spices powder is never included in any Malays and Indians recipes.
But the result is exceptional. This is one of the best fried chicken recipes I have tested. Both spice powders are working in harmony, resulting in a new flavor the is not in any Chinese and Malay cuisine. I am sure it will be an instant hit if any restaurant decided to promote this dish.!
I have created this easy chicken recipe based on his work, and using more flour for the coating to make it crispy. The result is the fried chicken that stays crunchy, with a myriad of Asian spices hitting your palate every bites you take on. Quick and easy twenty minutes recipe
This easy fried chicken with curry and five spice powder recipe is one of the easiest I ever published. It is an ideal recipe for a great meal with minimum preparation.
All you need is to check your kitchen pantry to find out what you have, and head over to the market to get the chicken, plus some other spices that you need. Once you have all the ingredients, do the followings: Marinate the chicken Coat the chicken with flour Deep fried.
It takes less than twenty minutes of active preparation and cooking time. There is marinating time though which is the passive waiting time.
The best result is to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. However, if your guest tells you that he could eat a horse, you better marinate it for only an hour which is the bare minimum time required. How to make this easy fried chicken (with Asian spices)
It takes only three steps to prepare this fried chicken. Marinate the chicken Clean the chicken pieces and draining away the water or pat dry, as part of the seasonings are in the liquid form. It is not good to have too much water in the marinade, which dilutes the flavor. Combine all the ingredients of the marinade – beaten egg, ginger juice, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt, five-spice powder, curry powder, and cornflour. Mix well with the chicken. Let it marinate for at least one hour or better overnight if time is allowed.
Most of these ingredients can be found in the pantry of the Asian kitchen. Chinese households and other Asian food lovers usually have light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and Chinese five spice powder available at any time.
To prepare the ginger juice , cut the ginger into small pieces and smash it with the blade of the knife. Mince the ginger finely and put it into a cloth bag to squeeze out the juice.
Chinese five spices powder is a combination of cloves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper, and fennel. We use to make Chinese five spice chicken wings without the curry powder, but they do not taste as good as this recipe. Most of the Chinese households do not prepare it from scratch as it is readily available commercially. There are plenty of brands to choose from at where I live, with different manufacturers taking their spin on the variation of the spices.
I am using the curry powder made in Malaysia. You can have a choice to use other brands. I can assure you that this fried chicken is not hot and spicy, as the amount of curry powder is just enough to accentuate the flavor, with no intention to create a fiercely hot dish. Get ready the coating ingredients for deep frying
While we are marinating the chicken, prepare the coating ingredients of this easy fried chicken.
I am using the same coating formula as in my General Tso’s Chicken for this Asian fried chicken recipe.
It comprises of 100g of plain flour as the base of the coating powder, 1000g of cornflour to form a crispier crust, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, as a leavening agent to make it lighter and crunchier,
I also include 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon of five-spice powder to be in line with the flavor of the marinade.
Combine all the powders and set aside. Deep frying the chicken
We use an electric deep fryer in the restaurant for a large batch of chicken. It is handy in the restaurant because it has the in-built timer and thermostat. However, it is not practical for home cooks who only deep fried foodstuffs occasionally.
For the smaller quantity when cooking at home, it is more practical to deep-fried with a pan or skillet . Fill up about 4 cm (about 1. 5 inches) deep of oil in a pan. The oil can be reused after passing through a wire mesh strainer or a cloth bag to catch any debris detached from the coating. Coat the chicken with the flour mix. Once the oil is sufficiently hot, place the chicken into the pan. It will take between eight to thirteen minutes to deep fry the chicken depends on the size of the chicken. Use a lower temperature (160°C/320°F) for the larger pieces and (180°C/350°F) for the smaller pieces. Move the drumsticks slightly at the initial stage to prevent them from sticking. They will not stick anymore once the crust starts to set after a few minutes. You still need to turn over the chicken occasionally as the depth of the oil is relatively shallower than the deep fryer. Once the chicken pieces turn golden brown, remove from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel. Now it is back to you…
Malaysia is a multidisciplinary society with highly diverse food culture. This quick and easy fried chicken recipe showcase how the local chefs creatively crafted this innovative recipe by combining the Malay and Chinese spices.
This easy chicken recipe with an Asian twist offers an exciting alternative to the typical fast food style fried chicken. It has a crispy coating on the surface, encasing the tender meat with strong savory flavor as a result of the overnight marination.
Now it is your turn to try out the recipe. Do let me know the outcome by leaving your comments below. Watch this video
A picture worth a thousand words, a video worth a thousand images. This video will show you how to prepare the Malaysian style Tomato Rice. (4.08 minutes). It is located below the Instruction, above the nutrition value in the recipe below.
(Note: If you encounter any audio / visual problem of viewing this video, you can view it from YouTube by clicking this link , which will open in a new tab) The Easy Fried Chicken Recipe (Asian flavor) Yield: 8 drumsticks Easy fried chicken recipe (Asian flavor) Print I have created this easy chicken recipe based on his work, and using more flour for the coating to make it crispy. The result is the fried chicken that stays crunchy, with a myriad of Asian spices hitting your palate every bites you take on. Prep Time 10 minutes

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In birds butterflies and sea creatures scientists havent often

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San Francisco's Rooh owner opening 'progressive Indian' restaurant on Randolph Street – Chicago

Sujan Sarkar is a chef with successful restaurants in New York (Baar Baar) and San Francisco (Rooh). Now he and his progressive Indian cuisine are headed to Chicago.
Sarkar will open Rooh, a spinoff of his San Francisco restaurant, sometime this spring on Randolph Street’s restaurant corridor — specifically, 736 W. Randolph St., the previous home of The Lunatic, The Lover & The Poet.
Sarkar said his goal is not to be the best Indian restaurant in town.
“I want to be the top restaurant in the city,” he said.
The restaurant will have two levels. The street-level space has a long bar and, Sarkar said, will be a bit more bar-centric. (Sarkar’s restaurants have strong cocktail programs.) Upstairs, there will be a more formal dining room, but Sarkar said he hasn’t decided exactly how to split up the menu — if he splits it at all.
“We don’t want to confuse people,” he said.
Sarkar said he envisions Rooh as a place where guests can “come in for drinks and small bites one time and come in for dinner some other day.”
Rooh will be the first Indian restaurant to grace Randolph Street since Veerasway closed in 2011. At the time, co-owner Chris Lee (who, with Angela Lee, owns the Front Room that occupies Veerasway’s spot) said in an Eater story that “not enough people gave Indian food a chance.”
Sarkar said he’s aware of the challenge, and it doesn’t bother him.
“I have to change perceptions,” he said. “That’s what I do. I know what works — this is my third restaurant (in the United States) — I know the flavor profile, and I know the palate.”
Though the opening is months away, Sarkar said he plans to move to Chicago soon.
“When I open something, I live there,” he said. “I’m going to spend, at a minimum, 22 days a month in Chicago. In San Francisco, my brother is the head chef, and he’s taking over a lot of my work. I have to be in the kitchen (in Chicago); when I spend time there, then I’ll learn (about the clientele). Then the menu will evolve.”
pvettel@chicagotribune.com
Twitter @PhilVettel
When it comes to resolutions, “save money” or “spend less” tops many lists. With that in mind, for the month of January, the Chicago Tribune Food & Dining team is scouring the city for food deals — from happy hour or lunch specials to high-quality values, like three-courses for a steal — to help you spend smarter. Who doesn’t love a good bargain?
(Chicago Tribune staff) Chicago Restaurant Week gets 5-day extension 18 don’t-miss spots to try during Chicago Restaurant Week, beginning Friday You can dine with the swells at Mid America Club for Restaurant Week — here’s why you shouldn’t Privacy Policy Copyright © 2019, Chicago Tribune

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I need to go back again … !!!

A big thank you to the entire team at the Panoramic Gateway who made our stay unforgettable for the 3rd time. It was pure pleasure – this place is fabulous, the staff so helpful and polite, the food is fantastic with a great choice of cuisine (Indian, Western, Mexican, etc). The main pool area and the Infinity pool are beautiful and relaxing with fantastic scenery which only needs to be experienced. The hotel also has a very warm & welcoming spa offering a range of services – one has to have one during their stay. The hosts were very welcoming as usual and took us on a complimentary drive through the nature and also arranged for some religious soothing music (morning wake-up call) with a nearby temple. 5 days’ stay was not enough and had wished to stay for more. Will definitely be returning this year for the 4th time.

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New restaurant adds Greek flavor to Waterville’s food offerings – Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Opa restaurant head chef Joe Kenny places stuffed chicken in an oven Tuesday at the Greek restaurant on Main Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming
WATERVILLE — Opa!
The word is a Greek exclamation of celebration and emotion, uttered during traditional dancing at weddings or on a night at a Greek taverna.
Opa also is the name of a new Greek restaurant on Main Street in Waterville, part of a new layer in the city’s cuisine scene, which offers food from all over the world.
“Greeks are the best cooks in the world,” said Sotirios Gudis, who, with his mother, Anna, and sister Polyxeni, opened the 60-seat eatery Jan. 3.
Opa is located in what was once Waterville House of Pizza, operated by Angelo and Anna Gudis beginning in 1987. They later leased the business to another Greek family and opened Angelo’s Pizzeria on Waterville Road in Skowhegan, but kept ownership of the Waterville building. They were in Skowhegan for 17 years and in the pizza and submarine sandwich business a total of 30 years.
The family sold the business in Skowhegan last year and concentrated on renovating the Waterville building, while the new Waterville House of Pizza opened next door under new ownership.
Opa offers a menu of authentic Greek and Mediterranean dishes, along with a full bar of Greek, sparkling and house wines; and beer, including Bigelow Brown from Skowhegan, and Cushnoc All Souls and Allagash White, also from Maine. Opa restaurant manager Ben Sandy pours a Freddo martini Tuesday at the bar of the new Greek restaurant on Main Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming
There is a list of cocktails, including Santorini Sunrise and Aegean Fizz.
Entrées include souvlaki, or skewered chicken; moussaka, or sautéed eggplant and potato; and pastitsio, a Greek pasta dish.
There are small-plate dishes, salads and tastes “for the table,” including tzatziki yogurt dip and a garlic-and-potato dish called scordalia. Opa also offers “glyká,” or dessert menu items.
Sotirios Gudis said his father, Angelo, who died in 2011 and was buried in Greece, always wanted a fine-dining restaurant after having run pizza parlors in several locations in Maine. They opened Opa on Jan. 3, the eighth anniversary of Angelo’s passing.
Evangelos “Angelo” Gudis in 1984 was one of the many ethnic Greeks living in Albania who sought to escape the repressive regime of dictator Enver Hoxha by swimming to the Greek Island of Corfu. Gudis swam with four of his friends through the guarded strait to freedom in the West. Many others who attempted the escape lost their lives by drowning or by being caught by the communist regime.
Sotirios Gudis said he is the primary owner of the restaurant, but his mother is the boss.
“I’ve always said that if we ever are going to open a new restaurant, it was together as a family,” he said. “We had worked on an idea of opening a sit-down restaurant — no more pizza. So I came up with the idea and she helped me. Both of them have helped me. We’re family-owned.”
Sotirios added that his sister, whom they call Polena, also is working on her degree from medical school.
The menu was assembled by all three family members, he said, with help from the restaurant’s staff, including head chef Joe Kenny, of Portland.
“You can think up the idea, but unless someone creates it, it’s only an idea,” he said.
Ben Sandy, 27, of Vassalboro, the restaurant manager, said he sees Waterville becoming kind of a foodie destination, with Italian, Indian, Lebanese, Chinese and Thai offerings around the city.
Adding Greek food and drink to the city menu just adds to the mix, he said.
He said he met Sotirios Gudis, 26, when both men were in college. Sandy said he had no actual restaurant experience, but he worked for L.L. Bean for three years and has plenty of business experience.
“I definitely think it has the potential to be a foodie destination,” he said of the city of Waterville, with Colby College and others heavily invested in the growth of the downtown. “There are some excellent restaurants down here. I think Waterville has come a long way with its food scene. I think Sotirios and the family did a really good job of identifying an opportunity, identifying that Waterville wanted something like this.
“Every night we have folks in here strictly from word of mouth. The stuffed chicken is really excellent.”
He said Opa has become a special spot for Colby faculty and staff members, as well as some of the other city developers.
Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist at the Central Maine Growth Council, said Waterville is indeed on the culinary map of Maine. Sotirios Gudis and his mother, Anna, along with his sister Polyxeni, have opened the Greek restaurant Opa on Main Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming
“Waterville is emerging as a true foodie scene in the state of Maine, and it is really exciting to see not only the growth of food service and accommodation type businesses — from Maine Crisp Co. to Opa — but the real diversity and variety within these restaurants that are coming into the city and its downtown,” Donegan said in an email to the Morning Sentinel.
With a population increase of 5.6 percent since 2010 and the city’s population nearly doubling during the day, the downtown’s restaurants “create a draw for people to live, enjoy, and or visit the district, while creating opportunities for other businesses and retail operations to arise,” he said.
“With the growing trend of eating out, our downtown restaurants contribute to the overall experience of the downtown, giving the public the opportunity to park once, go to dinner, see a show or theatrical production, and even back out for a dessert, coffee or locally crafted microbrew.”
Kimberly Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council, agreed with Donegan’s assessment.
“Absolutely,” she said in an email. “Waterville is showcasing a wonderfully diverse selection of culinary options … and rumor had it that there are more to come.”
Anna Gudis, 56, said the family lives in Clinton, but that her children grew up in Waterville, a city she has a special affection for.
“I love being back in Waterville,” she said. “I see a lot of people from before, with us being so many years here. We came back and decided to do something different.”
Anna, who grew up in Ioannina, in northwestern Greece, said she makes all the Greek food and dessert dishes to be prepared by the kitchen chefs, using recipes that have been passed on through the generations.
The restaurant is open from 3 to 10 p.m., Tuesday though Saturday, with a planned Sunday brunch in the weeks to come.
Sotirios said his family wanted to create a place for celebration, which is why they named the restaurant Opa.
“Greeks love to eat and Greeks love to party,” he said. “And we want to bring that to people outside of our culture. We want to teach them how traditionally Greek families work.
“We’re big families. Everybody’s involved. Everybody has a good time, and no one ever leaves hungry. Opa — cheers and celebration.”
Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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5 New Street Food Vendors Coming To Trinity Kitchen

5 New Street Food Vendors Coming To Trinity Kitchen By 0
Brand new arrivals Big Dub of Love, Bueno Burgers and Feral Food Store are all set to arrive at Trinity Kitchen, along with returning favourites Dapur Malaysia and Eat Like a Greek . Adding to the thriving and increasingly diverse offering of places to eat in Leeds.
Taking residency for the next seven weeks (from February 4 th ), the street food vendors will be offering delicious, unique dishes, designed to brighten up any winter blues. Big Dub of Love
Big Dub of Love is crossing over the Pennines in their VW camper van to serve up salt and pepper steak and halloumi bites, which have been customer favourites since 2014. Their signature dish – The Big Dub Burger – features a beef patty with chorizo, Mexican cheese, crispy onions and gherkins, all on a squid ink brioche bun. Feral Food Store
Feral Food Store was voted by Buzzfeed as one of the ‘Top 12 Festival Foods To Try Before You Die’ and will be bringing delicious deep-fried vegan dishes to Trinity Kitchen, such as roast cauliflower steak burgers, buffalo smoked tofu wings and southern fried seitan burgers with tomato and pomegranate salsa. These dishes are designed to make the most ardent meat eater think twice. Bueno Burgers
Meanwhile, Bueno Burgers has united Latin American flavours with Yorkshire beef patties. The Chilean Burger – a beef patty topped with Spanish chorizo, guacamole, beef tomato and traditional Pebre sauce – will definitely tickle people’s taste buds. Dapur Malaysia
Dapur Malaysia is returning to brighten up shoppers’ lunch hours with their vibrant Malaysian street food. The team takes inspiration from their mother’s cooking and their time growing up in Malaysia, drawing on Malay, Chinese and Indian cooking techniques and recipes. Try the beef or chicken rendang, which is stewed in 18 different spices and served with coconut rice. Eat Like A Greek
Also returning to Trinity Kitchen due to popular demand is Eat Like a Greek , which is bringing its fresh, healthy and unique Mediterranean cuisine back to Leeds. The family business uses locally-sourced meats, and their seasonings and oils come straight from their farm.
Dan Wharton, Marketing Manager at Trinity Leeds, said: “What better way to beat the wintry weather and brighten the season up than with our fantastic new street food vendors.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming Big Dub of Love, Bueno Burgers and Feral Food Store along with returning vendors Dapur Malaysia and Eat Like a Greek, with an incredibly tempting line-up, bringing a wealth of flavours from all over the world.”
With a concept that is completely unique to Trinity Leeds, Trinity Kitchen rotates several new food retailers every few weeks, offering visitors a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars and street food vans.
The new arrivals will be at Trinity Kitchen trading alongside permanent outlets Chicago Rib Shack, Pho, Rola Wala, Tortilla, Absurd Bird and Pizzaluxe. Facebook Comments

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All the best things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Galle Face Green Colombo Galle Face Green bridge Galle Face Green is the city’s most famous attraction and the number one place to visit in Colombo. No trip to the city can end without at least spending a couple of hours there. This stretch of green grass along the sea promenade is buzzing all times of day and night with food stalls, children flying kites and couples holding hands as the wild and strong waves hit the shore. In any other city, this would be the equivalent of the central square or the main promenade or street. I love just walking up and down Galle Face Green and people watching, then occasionally sitting down on a bench and seeing the world go by. Particularly interesting spots on Galle Face Green are the jetty, jutting out onto the ocean, making for a fun experience. Beware you may get splashed. Galle Face Green beach In the dry season, when the sea is a bit tamer, people go down to the narrow beach to dip their toes. Sri Lanka is a conservative country so you will see the locals fully clothed. Be respectful and do not strip down to your swimming gear. Galle Face Green kites Look out for the street vendors selling kites too. There are a few stalls a third of the way from Galle Face Hotel which sell all sizes and colors of kites for children and for adults. They come in bright neon colors and in the shape of cartoons or all kinds of animals, but you can also find the traditional triangle shaped version. The winds are always strong here, and this is the reason why the waves always splash wildly against the shore, so it is easy for the kite to take off and stay up. I have seen parents showing their children how to fly a kite for the first time, or vendors showing kids and parents how to set it up and run so that it takes off. It is heartwarming to see the kids run with their kites and in the age of social media and electronics, it is nice to see that an old age entertainment like a kite, which I used to make as a kid, still has a place. Galle Face Green food Galle Face Green is also an amazing place to sample some of the best street food in Colombo . Evenings see a host of stalls opening up along the sea and usually barbecuing, deep frying or grilling foods, but also selling baked options. These are not the healthiest of foods, but they are tasty and they are an explosion of smells and flavors. Chef Nana’s You can buy some items from the many stalls to take away, sit on the grass and enjoy them, or sit down at one of the larger stalls which has plastic chairs and tables. The atmosphere is convivial and friendly, and it is not strange for one of the locals to strike a conversation. Try Nana’s which is one of the oldest standing and a favorite. Best temples, churches and places of worship in Colombo While not on par with Sri Lanka’s UNESCO-filled Cultural Triangle like Kandy , Anuradhapura , Polonnaruwa , or Sigiriya , there are a few cultural places of interest. In fact there are beautiful religious monuments to explore throughout the city. Here is my list of the best temples, churches and places of worship in Colombo. St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk Church The first St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk Church was built in the beginning of the 19th century elsewhere. Its origins started with a group of British settlers who arrived in then Ceylon to plant tea. One of the first ones was Lipton , of the famous tea brand, and with him were several other Scotsmen. The church started as a spiritual place of worship and not as part of a missionary effort and the Presbyterian followers mixed well with the Dutch Presbyterians of the time who had arrived in Ceylon before the British. When the original church had to be demolished because of the city expansion, it moved to its current location and reopened in 1906 . The building is quite unique with its stained glass and a peculiar modern church look. It has an active community and a thrift shop every Tuesday during lunch time. The church is open all year round. More information here . Wolvendaal Church Wolvendaal Church is a Dutch church in Pettah and one of the oldest Dutch architecture buildings in the city built in 1757. The Christian Reformed Church or Dutch Reformed Church, has its origins in the Protestant Dutch colonisers who took over the occupation of Ceylon in the 17th century from the Portuguese. From then on, Protestant services were available in Colombo. This red roofed white walled church received its name from the wolves that early Christian believers thought they saw in the area around the church. At that time, the church was located outside the city. When it was built, the church had a dome and a lion on top but both were destroyed by lightning. The church was an important religious center during the Dutch occupation and several Dutch Governors were buried inside. If you enter the church, you will find the bare walls traditional of the Doric style but also intricate and beautiful furniture pieces, tombstones and even a silver baptismal basin and an ebony tripod, all historical items from the 17th and 18th century. Gangaramaya Temple Entrance to Gangaramaya Temple Gangaramaya Temple is Colombo’s most impressive attraction . This temple cum school, museum, learning institution and spiritual destination is one of the best places to see in Colombo. Founded by Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera in the 19th century as a small temple, it evolved into an amalgamation of Buddhist culture, traditions and religion by the hands of his followers. Buddha at Gangaramaya Temple The temple is an important element in the lives of many in Colombo and has several buildings and rooms. At the center of the temple is a stupa with the main Samadhi Buddha. Samadhi Buddha stupa in Gangaramaya A separate hall hosts 28 Buddha statues and the most impressive part to me was the Bodhi tree, standing tall and wide in the temple courtyard. The area around the tree is quiet and invites contemplation. There were several locals praying, reading and otherwise meditating. I sat down and did the same. Bodhi tree at Gangaramaya But this is not all. The temple has a replica of Indonesia’s famous Borobudur Temple on one side, stacked over a few levels and almost hidden at the back, you can even go in (while you can’t go inside the real Borobudur) and a breathtaking relic chamber with so many relics that it eclipses any other Buddhist temple I have ever seen. Gamgaramaya’s wealth is staggering. Replica of Borobudur Temple To top it all off, there is a large museum housing items donated by people from all over the world, including several heads of state from the various branches of Buddhism, from Korea to Thailand. Some of the donations to Gangaramaya Temple All the objects donated are on display in the museum or in the various halls. You can find an incredible amount of gold, often times simply displayed behind a glass, others in a British era iron safe. Photo by Pierre André LECLERCQ / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0 Part of this collection also includes taxidermy elephants which you can see near the entrance on your way to the bodhi tree, and a row of vintage cars, including a Rolls Royce and several Mercedes donated through the years laying idle at the back of the museum. The elephant is so realistic that I had to get real close to figure out if it was a statue, a taxidermy version or any other artistic work. The cars are even more surprising at a temple as I have never seen a Buddhist monk drive. At first I thought this was the parking space but the cars are really old and covered in dust and I understood from the staff that they were donated. Gangaramaya also set up a vocational school attached which teaches agricultural skills to village drop outs . There is an entrance fee to the temple and you need to leave your shoes outside. But I went in without realising I had to pay and on my way out when it became apparent, I told the staff who were relaxed and told me to just leave a donation in the box. More information can be found here . Seema Malakaya Seema Malakaya entrance Seema Malakaya is a Buddhist temple cum meditation space located floating on Beira Lake and a few meters away from Gangaramaya Temple. The space is managed by the temple and is made of three small square platforms, the main one having a covered pagoda surrounded by sitting Buddha statues. The version of the temple that stands today was designed by famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and financed by a Muslim businessman in memory of his son. The three platforms are interconnected by bridges. The temple has a Bodhi tree grown from a branch from the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura on the platform on the left. Statues at Seema Malakaya While the space is small and the temple quite popular with tourists, the majority will come in to take a couple of photos and go out. If you want to take a bit of a break under the shadow of the tree this is a rather serene place to do so. Sambodhi Chaithya This is as odd as temples can get. Sambodhi Chaithya sits at the entrance to the new Colombo port developed atop the main road. This temple is made of an off white stupa crowning two arches and looks as though it is guarding the port and watching over anyone entering. You can go up and in, without your shoes, and visit the temple from the inside. But the main purpose of this unique structure designed by the first female Prime Minister in the world , was to be seen from out at sea. Although I have not been on a boat arriving in Colombo, I am pretty sure she accomplished her objective. Jami Ul Alfar Mosque Jami Ul Alfar Mosque This pretty white and maroon checkered mosque is quite impressive in real life and is not called the Red Mosque for nothing. The visitor’s entrance to the mosque is tucked in a narrow side street filled with stores that unsuccessfully hides its majestic architecture. Visiting the maze like mosque is one of the top things to do in Colombo. Inside the Red Mosque in Colombo Women need to put on full body robes before entering and shoes need to be removed as this is a place of worship that is quite busy with the Muslim community. One of the best views is from the side, seen from the main road. Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe The mosque was built in 1909 by the local Muslim community in the pettah area who wanted a place to head to to fulfil their daily prayers. While the mosque was originally smaller, it was expanded in 1975 to the current 10,000 capacity. Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam is one of the most colorful places to see in Colombo . The temple was built by a group of Indian Chetti traders known as Thiruvilanga Nakarathar in 1783, making it one of the oldest temples in Colombo. When they arrived in Colombo through the maritime trading route with India, they started worshipping a shivalinga which eventually evolved into the temple. The traders were wealthy thanks to their successful businesses, so finding the right financing to construct the temple was not difficult. The first name given to the temple referred to the Dutch officer who was responsible for the trade in the area around the temple, Captain Gardens Temple. The architecture of the temple is a unique sight in Colombo. Following the south India style, Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam tower depicts intricate scenes in vibrant colors. It is very similar to the temples found in Tamil Nadu or even in Singapore Little India . You can visit the temple but photos are not allowed inside and you should remove your shoes and wash your feet before entering. The best museums in Colombo Unlike other cities, Colombo only has a few museums to visit yet they are quite interesting and one of the best ways to discover Colombo and even Sri Lanka. Economic History Museum Economic History Museum Also known as Central Point, the building of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is a 2011 renovated building from 1914 which was the tallest in Colombo at the time. Inside the building is a small money museum on the ground floor that was opened in 2013 and which is one of the most unique places to visit in Colombo. As you walk past outside, you can see through the large windows and make out some of the displays, or walk in and see the Economic History Museum from up and close, entrance is free. If you do get in, look up to see a huge chandelier. The museum retells the story of money in the country and the evolution from barter economy to currency and displays coins from all the periods of Sri Lanka’s history, from the Kingdom of Anuradhapura , to Polonnaruwa and today. National Museum National Museum of Colombo I was very positively surprised by the National Museum . I was initially going to skip it but then realised it was a great place to learn more about Sri Lanka so it is definitely one of the top places to visit in Colombo. The museum opened in 1877 as the Colombo Museum and was inaugurated by the Governor of Ceylon at the time. It later on changed its name to the National Museum. Floor plan ground floor of the National Museum The exhibits are spread over two buildings and two floors and it has a section for each of the historical periods in Sri Lanka’s history. Because the country has such a long history, dating back millenia, you can pretty much tour its entire past through the many rooms. It is like going through the whole of Sri Lanka in one place. Since I have been to most of the historical sites in the Cultural Triangle , the museum was a nice reminder of the many civilizations that lived in the country and the stunning beauty of the country. King’s throne Through photos, exhibits, artefacts, replicas and even authentic items like the king’s throne or parts of temples from its vast geography, you can learn about all of Sri Lanka’s cultural UNESCO sites, from Polonnaruwa to Anuradhapura , the Dambulla caves and Kandy . The museum also talks about the more recent history of Sri Lanka, during the colonial times of Ceylon and has some interesting objects, like a section on the evolution of toilets in the country that is pretty interesting. One of the toilets on display at the National Museum in Colombo The entrance fee is small but they did not seem to have change so bring small notes. More information here . Sri Lanka Air Force Museum Museum map – Source: Sri Lankan Air Force Museum This is an unusual but cool museum and perhaps one of the most unique places to see in Colombo. The Air Force Museum focuses on both the technological part of aviation as well as the historical component starting with the Royal Air Force operations in the country during WWII until today. The museum is located away from the downtown area of Colombo in the Aircraft Preservation and Storage Unit at Air Force Base Ratmalana and it opened in 1993. Dutch Museum The Dutch Museum, as the name indicates, is dedicated to the Dutch occupation of Sri Lanka before the British and their trade and business along the coastal parts of the country. The museum is housed in the former residence of the Dutch Governor which was built in 1692 and has two buildings and a garden. Here you can find more about the 10 years the Dutch spent in the country and observe several items of the time. Colombo’s most famous buildings and landmarks Colombo is a sprawling city and, as the capital of the country, it played an important role in Sri Lanka’s past. Many of the most important tourist attractions in Colombo are its landmarks and buildings so this section is devoted to those. A lot of the places in Colombo on this list I had taken note of before arriving, planning to go check them out, but several were added to my list while I was there, walking through the streets, or zapping around on a tuk tuk and spotting any interesting or beautiful buildings worth checking out. The President’s House This is the same location where the Dutch and British governor houses and government buildings used to be and today is where the Sri Lankan President lives. The old house was demolished in 1856 and the new building constructed and when Sri Lanka changed its name from Ceylon the building was renamed The President’s House. You cannot visit the building but if you walk past its entrance on Queen’s Road, you can see the personnel in their official uniforms. Lighthouse Clock Tower Lighthouse Clock Tower The Lighthouse Clocktower is one of the best known places in Colombo. The tower stands tall in the middle of a street at the junction between Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha and it is impossible to miss if you are in the area. Today, the tower is a clock tower but it used to be a lighthouse , hence the double name. The lighthouse functionality is not longer operational but can still be seen. Originally, the tower was meant to be a clock tower and was designed by the wife of the British Governor and finished in 1857. However, the clock had been in the storage area of the British government offices since 1813 when it was commissioned, yet it fell into oblivion when the focus shifted to the wars in Kandy and the other priorities. The mechanics of the clock were built by the Big Ben masters, Dent, and eventually installed in 1857, two years before the Westminster clock, but the current one is from 1913 and replaced the older version. The original lighthouse was located elsewhere but demolished when the port ramparts were removed and the navigational light was then moved to the clock tower in 1867 so the tower acquired this double purpose. The fascinating story of the clock tower can be read here . Colombo Lighthouse The Colombo Lighthouse is located by the water, in Colombo Port and was activated in 1952 when the old one in the clocktower became useless because of the surrounding constructions. The brown brick tower is flanked by four lions at the base and it is worth a trip because of its location by the sea right by the crashing waves, and the views from one end of Galle Face Green. Cargills & Co. building Cargills & Co. building This is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city and is highly recommended as a visit. Although not your regular tourist attraction and not mentioned in any article with the best things to do in Colombo, the Cargills & Co red and white brick building is a beauty and a slice of history. Looking at the building I felt a bit like I was staring at a cross between the Red Mosque, because it is made with the same white and red colors, and the Raffles Hotel Singapore because of the vintage British period signs that are the same ones found in the Raffles arcade area. The building is historical in itself, having opened as a department store in 1906 with hydraulic elevators and electric fans, and was referred to as the finest east of Suez, but the company is also part of Sri Lanka’s heritage and history. With its roots in Kandy, Cargills & Co. was originally started by two men as a small grocery store which managed to survive the hardship of the tea plantations in the area. They then moved to Colombo and into the building which was the former residence of a Dutch Commander at the end of the 18th century and then of a British Governor in the area. But the foundations of the building are from a century earlier. Milne, one of the two partners in the venture, decided to move back to Glasgow and the other partner, Cargill, took over the business at the end of the 19th century. Eventually the building was renovated and reopened in 1906 as an upper tier department store and the company went public in 1946 and a controlling stake was sold to Ceylon Theatres Group in 1981. The ground floor of the building still hosts a grocery store although its grandeur has faded and is nothing like what it used to be, just a piece of nostalgia reminiscing of a different time. But look out for the vintage signs hanging from the ceiling outside and a Mars statue from the Dutch Commander’s house by the elevators. Lotus Tower Lotus Tower This building in the city’s skyline is one of the weirdest landmarks in Colombo. Among the shophouses and colonial buildings, the places of worship, the parks and the buzzing streets, the Lotus Tower stands tall and futuristic in a shocking way. Looking more like it belongs in Shanghai, this modern addition shaped like the stem and flower of a lotus and a major Buddhist symbol, is 350m tall and has been financed by the government of China as a telecommunications tower , the most modern in South Asia. The tower will be finished in 2020 and seems to be at the center of a revival in Sino-Sri Lankan relations. Independence Memorial Hall and Museum Independence Memorial Hall and Museum The Independence Memorial Hall is located in Independence Square and above the Independence Memorial Museum. It was built to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948 and the annual celebration takes place here. At one end of the memorial there is a statue of the first Father of the Nation. The memorial feels like a temple floating over water built with a series of columns holding a roof and it is a popular place for locals to relax in the shade, for tourists to stop for a photo op and for artists to display their works. Independence Memorial Hall and Museum walkway The basement of the memorial hosts the museum which was built to commemorate the people who served the nation through a series of busts. Quite an interesting sight to walk underground a room filled with the stone versions of dozens of people. The memorial was the third pit stop in the Incredible Race Asia season 4 third leg. Lloyds Insurance Building This attractive and ornate building mixing in Baroque and Renaissance styles was built in 1908 during the British colonial times. The building is today the office of the Employee Provident Fund but it was originally occupied by Freudenberg & Co. but later on leased to several other businesses. The building was sold to Ceylon & General Properties in 1933 and it changed hands a few more times as the headquarters of several other businesses until the Central Bank bought it in 2009 and proceeded to fully renovate it. The Old Town Hall Building The Old Town Hall Building As someone who likes to look for the hidden parts of a city and stumble upon things that seem forgotten in serendipitous moments, the Old Town Hall building is the perfect spot. The building, its surrounding market and the ground level sort of transport museum, are some of the most interesting parts of Colombo and a surprise find in the middle of Pettah. Transport Museum in the The Old Town Hall Building This used to be the former Colombo’s Town Hall and dates from 1879. Its architecture looks like a church and as I approached the building, I thought it was indeed one. Today, it is half dilapidated, half renovated and it is surrounded by chaos, tuk tuks, vans trying to deliver their goods, trees growing out of the broken pavement, street vendors, bicycles and street sellers. The building is still used by the government to hold meetings and you can walk in if you like to see what it is like inside. Old cars at the Transport Museum in the The Old Town Hall Building But the interesting section is the ground floor transport museum which displays all sorts of vehicles from a locomotive to a refurbished vintage van. The area is open air but with a metal roof with intricate detailing. You may find a guard, but there is otherwise no entry fee to just wander. World Trade Center World Trade Center in Colombo The twin-tower World Trade Center is one of the landmarks in Colombo and part of the global network of World Trade Centers Association. The modern 43 storey office and commercial building combines 4 lower levels with shopping and 39 with offices, it is 152m tall and was open in 1997. It is one of the most sophisticated office buildings in the country and the 6th tallest structure. The World Trade Center was attacked by the Tamil Tigers twice but the building escaped unscathed. Storefronts on Union Place The British replicated a very recognizable architectural style across all their Asian enclaves: the shophouse. Shophouses were shops and houses, with the ground floor devoted to commercial endeavors while the family used to live in the floor above. Shophouses can be found across many of the British colonial cities, from Penang in Malaysia, to Singapore, Chennai and even Colombo. But not a lot of that style has been preserved today in Sri Lanka but only a row in Justice Akbar Mawatha street . These houses belonged to the private secretary Bishop Coplestone who moved to Colombo at the end of the 19th century. What started as a small bookstore selling religious books, ended up becoming one of the largest printing houses called H W Cave & Company publishing travel books on Sri Lanka authored by the same. If you are in Colombo, these shophouses are one of the nicest places to visit in the city, especially since there have been talks to both renovate as well as demolish them due to their dire state of conservation, so who knows how long they will be standing for. Take a break at the Gallery Cafe Paradise Road The Gallery Cafe The Gallery Cafe is one of the nicest places to come take a break from the heat and humidity of Colombo. The building is the former studio and office of famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and was turned into a gallery, shop and restaurant-cafe by the current owner. From the moment you walk in and spot the black and white stripes of the tableware, you know you just stepped into a pleasant surprise amid chaotic Colombo. The cafe was one of the first Western style places to open in Colombo and the first gallery cafe in the city, a concept that has been replicated by others. I have been returning to it everytime I visit the city since my first time in 2009. The shop at The Gallery Cafe The Gallery Cafe opened in 1998 and is part of the art and design group Paradise Road which was founded by local design guru Udayshanth Fernando in 1987 when the fight with the Tamil Tigers was at its peak and Colombo received practically no tourism. Paradise Road started as a small shop selling locally made handicrafts and antiques and expanded to include adjacent businesses such as galleries, cafes and even a boutique hotel called Tintagel by Paradise Road which is located in a colonial mansion near the Gallery Cafe and follows the same aesthetics and design that made the brand famous. The Gallery Cafe has a good selection of mostly international but locally inspired dishes and a huge selection of cakes for afternoon teatime that are irresistible and on display. There are tables indoors, in an open air space and outdoors in the courtyard under umbrellas and the shade of large trees. More information here . Eat and drink the best Sri Lankan food
The are a few places of note in Sri Lanka if you’re looking for a bite to eat. From instagrammable cafes to famous music video sets, there are some noteworthy restaurants in Colombo. Here are my favorite places to eat at in Colombo. Have curry and rice at the set of a Duran Duran video Not so much an amazing restaurant but an institution with a celebrity claim to fame: the Pagoda Tea Rooms is where Duran Duran’s Hungry like the wolf video was filmed, and it won a Grammy. You will not find any snake charmers or singing monkeys inside, but the tables and chairs are very similar. The 1884 tea room is one of the oldest places to eat in Colombo and is known for offering good tea and pastries at affordable prices although you can also get the eponymous curry rice dishes with meat and fish that are so typical of Sri Lanka and feature on every local’s daily menu. Tuck into spicy crab This award-winning restaurant , included in the list of Best Restaurants in Asia, serves all sorts of crabs, as would be expected. The Ministry of Crab is the partnership between two famous cricketers and a restaurateur to elevate Sri Lanka’s lagoon crab. Try the pepper or chilli crab or any of the other seafood options on the menu, and get down and dirty. Chill at a laid-back cafe A latte at Black Cat Cafe Black Cat Cafe is located in a 1920s colonial house with a nice driveway and green lush gardens in a residential part of Colombo. The cafe is casual, and a favorite with digital nomads and the guests from the B&B above. What is unique about this place is the espresso-based specialty coffee on offer. Having been trained as a barista and owned a cafe myself, I can never go back to awful Starbucks coffee (sorry) so I try to find good coffee wherever I travel. It was quite hard to find it in Colombo since there is no tradition for espresso, rather for tea or heavily sweetened weaker options. The Black Cat is a very laid back place with a few tables, vintage sofas and armchairs spread around the ground floor and a few outdoor tables by the verandah. There are some hip art pieces and paintings here and there but it’s all quite relaxed. The staff are easy going and, as claimed, they make you feel like you are in your home away from home. More info here . Have a coffee at the first specialty cafe in Colombo Talking about coffee in Colombo and not mentioning Kopi Kade would be missing the biggest player. If you ask anyone in the city for the best coffee in town , they will all direct you here. This cafe has become the de facto pilgrimage spot to head to for the perfect cuppa. This is not just because the team is made of trained baristas but also because the owner is as passionate as it gets for his beans and his coffee. Nimeshan Namasivayam imports his beans from abroad and roasts them in the cafe. He also shares his passion and knowledge with others at the barista courses he offers weekly. The cafe has a minimalistic sleek design with simple straight line furniture and a changing roster of art on display and aside from great coffee it also serves some bites, otherwise called in Sri Lanka short eats, which include sliders and cakes, to go along with the coffee. Apparently, the hot chocolate is a hit, since Sri Lankans are not huge coffee drinkers. Get some work done at an instagrammable cafe Outdoor verandah at Cafe Kumbuk Cafe Kumbuk is one of the best places in Colombo to come have some vegetarian and even vegan food , although not all the food on offer here is vegetarian. This laid-back cafe on the ground floor of a colonial house at the back of another two buildings is far away from the main road so the traffic is muted. The place is a favorite with the local digital nomad and entrepreneur community and it is common to see individuals or groups discussing ideas or frantically typing on their laptops. The menu features organic and locally grow ingredients in pretty unique dishes that combine unusual items. The coffee is great and the atmosphere as relaxed as it gets. You can come here to get some work done and still feel like you are enjoying a chilled afternoon. The decor is a mix and match of various furniture pieces, paintings and bean bags on the colorful tiles by the veranda. Some tables peer out through the open doors and headphone addicted strangers share larger communal tables. I observed that the staff and the customers seemed to know each other and I am sure a lot of them are regulars. There is a small shop at the back selling local handicrafts, clothes and homeware and a yoga studio on the upper floor with all sorts of classes on offer all day. Eat some authentic Sri Lankan food Eating is one of the most telling activities one can do in any country. In Sri Lanka, the food will tell you a lot about the country’s geography, it’s bounty and its history. Because of its close proximity to the south of India, the cuisine in Sri Lanka is very similar to that of Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu and even Kerala , it features a lot of fish, coconut based curries and rice. The most common dish to eat in Sri Lanka is curry rice with any protein and vegetable on top of copious amounts of white rice. Locals eat this anytime of day, even for breakfast. My favorite Sri Lankan dish is egg hoppers, which are usually eaten for breakfast but also available anytime as snacks. These are bowl shaped coconut pancakes with an egg cooked in the middle. You eat them with your hands dipping the pancake in chilli sauce. Perhaps the next most famous local dish is kothu rotti, a mix of stir fried shredded pancake similar to a roti or a prata, mixed with vegetables, onions, eggs and meat. It is a local’s favorite and many places will claim to have the best. If you buy it from a roadside stall where they will prepare it in front of you. You can pick how much of each ingredient is used and watch the skilled chef chop it all and prepare your food. To finish off any meal make sure to order a local coconut which, in Sri Lanka, is yellow-orange and smaller than the usual Southeast Asian green variety. Visit the best parks in Colombo There are a few gorgeous and leafy parks to visit in Colombo that are great for a late afternoon stroll in the shade of enormous trees. Viharamaha Devi Park Viharamaha Devi Park Viharamaha Devi Park was originally named Victoria Park and renamed after the mother of the king. It is a large green area located in front of the Colombo Museum that is quiet during the day and busier on weekends. In a city like Colombo this public park is pretty unique. The park has lots of trees which give pleasant shade in hot Colombo, and a large pond and Buddha statue right in front of the Museum entrance. It was renovated recently and it now has nice paths for walking, running or cycling. This is also a pleasant place to come have a picnic lunch. Beira Lake Swan pedal boats on Beira Lake Apart from being the largest park in Colombo, Beira Lake has an interesting past. The lake was created by the Portuguese in the 16th century in an attempt to come up with alternative defensive strategies to the usual weaponry and defend their fort using a moat. The area around Fort Colombo, where the Dutch enclave was, was surrounded by marsh land which was dug out and then filled with water from a nearby stream. All access to the Fort from then on was done using boats and the Fort was turned into an island, surrounded by water on all sides, the lake on one and the sea on the other. After the Portuguese, the Dutch took control of the lake and fort by attacking the view of the lake. During their time, the lake was expanded at the expense of the fort area, as the constructions moved to higher ground and the lower level was flooded, and several islands were created, some of which were very large. One famous one was Slave Island, a name used to refer to the slaves from Goa that used to sleep there at night during the Portuguese time. This name was given by the British and has remained till today to refer to that area in Colombo where the island used to be, today filled with high end hotels and shopping. During British rule, Colombo expanded and the land reclamation from the lake kicked off, reducing its size. The lake shores were also the center of entertainment and parties, with rowing clubs and celebrations. Further expansion of the city claimed more and more parts of the lake until it was reduced to almost a third of its original size. Today, the lake remains a slice of greenery in the city and you can enjoy it on a swan pedal boat. Watch a cricket game Sri Lankans, Indians and Pakistanis all have in common a passionate love for cricket. Even in Singapore, you can find their communities playing this sport in any stretch of green grass in the city. If you have ever watched a cricket game you will know that it takes a lot of love and patience to sit through hours of playing so if that is not your thing, one of the best ways to have the best of both worlds is to watch any of the games at the Cricket Club Cafe . Although not an old fixture of the city but a recent one which opened in 1996, spending an afternoon or an evening at the Cricket Club Cafe has to be one of the most fun things to do in Colombo. The club is housed in a building that looks like a cross between a plantation house and a Chinese temple and its walls are covered with cricket memorabilia including newspapers from the 1930s. Any and all important games are shown on the large screens, also from other sports besides cricket. If you are not a fan of the sport, you can sit outside in the courtyard and enjoy some Western and local dishes. More info here . Enjoy an Ayurveda spa treatment Spa Ceylon Like India, Sri Lanka is the birthplace of Ayurveda so enjoying an Ayurveda spa treatment is one of the best things you can do in Colombo. One of the best places to do so is at one of the Spa Ceylon stores and spas. The local brand started by two brothers, sells a range of stunningly designed and packaged spa products in the brightest most colorful designs in all of its stores. From the moment you walk in you are wowed by the store’s look and the beautiful smell. Choices at Spa Ceylon The products from Spa Ceylon are made with organic, eco-friendly, vegetarian, chemical free and locally grown ingredients including aloe vera, Sri Lankan spices, and local coconut oils. There are several product lines each with a different benefit and color scheme you can choose if you want to purify, relax, etc. The products are also used in their spas where you can book a range of treatments. The most suitable option would be to try their signature Ayurveda treatments since they are local to Sri Lanka. Don’t forget to buy some of the items to take home not just for you but as presents, I did that and my mum was impressed by how beautiful the packaging and the bottles were. This is one of the best souvenirs to take home, apart from Ceylon tea. More info here. Head to the beach at Mount Lavinia Colombo does not have great beaches. In fact, the shore along Galle Face Green is not only rocky but also wild, and you would not want to step in as the waves could crash you against the rocks. One of the nicest alternatives to the city beaches and the crowded and touristy options in the north, towards Negombo, is Mount Lavinia Beach. And to make it extra fun, you can take the train to Mount Lavinia and enjoy the British contribution to the country and the journey. The train ride takes about 15min and follows the coast so it is a great way to enjoy the sea views while also taking part in the country’s most famous mode of transportation. When you get there, stroll along the beach and pick a place for lunch. Better yet, if you are visiting on a Sunday, book a table at Mount Lavinia Hotel which has a legendary Sunday brunch with access to the pool. Browse Colombo’s best markets One of the activities I that I most like when I travel is getting lost in local markets. The smell of foods, the colorful things on sale and the buzz just makes me happy, plus you can learn so much about a place through the things people buy and sell. Colombo has great markets to check out, some older and more chaotic than others. But in truth, the more chaotic and apparently disorganised it seems, the more fascinating I find it, because there is logic in the chaos and that logic is just not visible to foreigners. Spending time getting lost in the street markets is an ultimately local thing to do in Colombo. So let’s take a look at the best markets in Colombo. Old Town Hall Market Old Town Hall Market Near the Old Town Hall building, where the interesting transport museum, hidden inside a crumbling building, is, you can find one of the most crowded markets in the city . This is as overwhelming and happening as it gets for a market. You will see dogs running around, vans picking up and dropping off merchandise, tuk tuks making their way through the narrowest spaces, street vendors selling everything and anything, and pretty much any type of item on sale. The market is located partially undercover inside the old Edinburgh Hall built at the end of the 19th century for events and then repurposed into a market in the 80s, and partially in the streets, where it spilled over when the space inside was filled. The hall is nothing like what it used to be and the walls are half falling down but it is scenic and atmospheric. Just beware of the traffic and make sure you don’t get run over by a tuk tuk. Pettah market More than a market, Pettah Market takes after its neighbourhood and is a sprawling network of streets all lined with vendors of all kinds covering pretty much all of Pettah. If you have only half a day in the city and are wondering what to do in Colombo in such little time Pettah Market would be my choice. In these streets you can find sections with all sorts of items for sale. There are rows and rows of clothing, electronics, all sorts of small items that are useful and you would not know where to buy them, as well as a huge semi-covered fresh produce section also referred to as Manning Market. The fresh produce section is my favorite. All sorts of vegetables and fruits are spread on the floor in front of the vendor’s eager to make a sale. There are also spices and dried fish, both used to spice and flavor dishes as well as snacks. While you are in Pettah, make sure to also visit the Red Mosque and the Old Town Hall, in the vicinity. Shop for souvenirs We all like to by stuff when we travel, my house in Spain is full of the things I have accumulated over the years although, truth be told, after a frenzy of hoarding I tamed down and these days mostly buy alcohol and other consumables and a few smaller items for friends and family back home. Oh, and a magnet for my auntie who has them from dozens of countries and should probably get a new fridge for all the ones that no longer fit. So what are the best souvenirs to buy in Colombo ? A combination of native items like tea or Ayurveda products, and locally made things like handicrafts, textiles, etc. Barefoot Barefoot Colombo Barefoot is a bit like Paradise Road, one of the locally grown incredible gallery and design companies that have tried to cultivate local artists and expose them to an international audience. But Barefoot is a bit more established. Started by a locally born and raised British journalist and writer, Barbara Sansoni, in 1964, Barefoot was first a shop in which the owner could sell her hand woven cloths and then evolved into other adjacent areas like a clothing line, a gallery, a bookstore, a cafe, and more. Today, there are three branches in Colombo and the colorful sarong designs and fabrics that are all locally produced and which made them famous are beautiful gifts and souvenirs. The garden cafe is also a great place to stop for a bite and on Sunday to enjoy the live Jazz band. Their Facebook page also updates on events and ongoing late openings. More information here . Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct As the name indicates this area used to be the 1616 Dutch hospital , the oldest building in Colombo, and the buildings have been preserved into a shopping maze of alleys and stores hidden in the various buildings and pedestrian lanes. It is all very pleasant and high end with various posh outlets and pretty much any brand with presence in Sri Lanka. This makes for a very easy stroll and shopping experience. There are cafes, restaurants, including the famously awarded Ministry of Crab, tea lounges and more. Buy tea from all over Sri Lanka Buy tea from all over Sri Lanka If there is one thing Sri Lanka is known for this is tea. The central, eastern and southern part of the country is filled with amazing tea plantations that look stunning and are amazing to explore. I even stayed at Madulkelle , an African-style tented camp on the top of the mountains above the tea plantations in what still is one of my most memorable hotel stays. But if you don’t have time to explore any of the Cultural Triangle or the spots around Kandy and would like to still take some tea home, the best place to buy it is at the Sri Lanka Tea Board Tea Sales Center where they sell the widest range of quality tea from all the brands in the country. The shop is located on the ground floor of the Sri Lanka Tea Board headquarters in Colombo and is an unassuming simple shop with floor to ceiling shelves packed with tea from all the seven regions in the country: Nuwara Eliya, Uva, Dimbula, Uda Pussellawa, Kandy , Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa. You can find affordable options and premium ones, loose leaf or tea bags, small souvenir size selections or large pots, everything and anything is available here, especially the brands that are not commonly found and which can only be bought from the plantations themselves. Perhaps the best gift to buy for those back home is a selection of the best Ceylon tea and you can decide how much you want to spend as there are gift packages for as little as $10. Best hotels in Colombo The best places to stay in Colombo are a blend of old and new. Blending centuries old architecture with modern facilities, these luxurious hotels in Colombo will take you back in history to a slower time. Grab some egg hoppers and Ceylon tea and get ready for extravagance with the best hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Residence by Uga Escapes Residence by Uga Escapes One of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Colombo, Residence by Uga Escapes is, as the name suggests, a former residence of a wealthy barrister. Built in the 19th Century, the former Victorian townhouse of Sheikh Salehboy Moosajee welcomed all of Sri Lanka’s high society. Today, the property is a fairly small, 11-suite hotel located near leafy Park Street and peaceful Buddhist temple Gangaramaya. The room interiors are very spacious, grand yet elegant with wooden flooring, textured wallpaper and turn of the century trinkets. Each room comes with its own terrace. The brickface fine dining restaurant, Rare at Residence, offers mouth-watering fine dining gastronomic delicacies. Book your stay at Residence by Uga Escapes on Booking.com | Hotelscombined | Agoda Galle Face Hotel Galle Face Hotel The Galle Face Hotel is the most awarded heritage hotel in Sri Lanka and has a rich history. Inaugurated in 1864, right before the opening of the Suez Canal, is right next to the Raffles as being one of the oldest hotels in the world. The courtyards, traditionally dressed staff and dark wood motifs provide an old world charm. The fact that the same family has been managing it since the turn of the century provides further evidence to solidify its historical stature. Staying at the Galle Face Hotel is like taking a time machine back to when Sri Lanka was Ceylon. The renovations have not altered the Victorian feel with the thick carpets and dark wood. The Hotel is also one of the few in Colombo that is directly on the ocean. Rooms come with a verandah to sip afternoon tea and breakfast is such a treat with egg hoppers and views of the ocean. See my complete review here . Book your stay at Galle Face Hotel on Booking.com | Hotelscombined | Agoda Tintagel by Paradise Road Tintagel by Paradise Road Decked out in bronzes, browns charcoals and blacks, Tintagel by Paradise Road is a charming boutique hotel. If it’s good enough for former guests Their Royal Highnesses, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, it is most definitely fit for you. There are only 10 individually designed suites, so you know you will get that extra attention that only small hotels can provide. The hotel is great historical importance. The heritage residence was completed in 1930 as a residence for famed doctor Lucien Zilwa. It was here that S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, former Prime Minister was shot in 1959. It was a few years later that, in 1960, his widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world’s first female Prime Minister. She lived at Tintagel until her death in 2000. S.W.R.D. and Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s youngest daughter also became a Chief Minister, Prime Minister and then Sri Lanka’s first female President in 1994. The residence become the hotel you see today in 2005 under Udayshanth Fernando. Beyond the wonderful history, Tintagel is a gorgeous respite from busy Colombo. The suites are simple and elegant, there are two dining rooms, an outdoor courtyard and a bar an the hotel is equipped with modern facilities including an indoor lap pool, gym, library and spa. Book your stay at Tintagel by Paradise Road on Booking.com | Hotelscombined | Agoda Shangri-La Hotel Colombo Shangri-La Hotel Colombo The Shangri-La Hotel Colombo is the modern hotel on this list that is not of historic importance. It’s a large block like hotel with 500 luxurious guest rooms and suites. What Shangri-La lacks in historical importance it makes up for in opulence. Ocean facing rooms have views of Galle Face Green and the Indian Ocean while city facing rooms have balconies with views of Beira Lake. All rooms are contemporary, clean spacious and light. The world-renowned CHI Spa has seven private rooms, with a selection of traditional Sri Lankan and Asian treatments and therapies. There is also a 24 hr Health Club and one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in Colombo. It’s a perfect place for business travelers, as well as families.

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