Saturday, June 12, 2010

THE ROAD TO SRI LANKA

Photograph by Richard Moross
Recently I took the trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka. Considering that the journey from SFO to Colombo took a good 34 hours to get there, I have to say that the flight felt almost effortless because the folks at Singapore Airlines know how to take care of their passengers. The trip also included a layover in Singapore Changai Airport, which Skytrax recognized as the best airport of 2010.

Layovers are rarely, if ever, entertaining - but this one is actually worth writing about. Singapore Changai is a stunning airport. Amenities include a movie theater, a swimming pool, gym, spa, meditation and prayer rooms, a butterfly garden and a nature trail. And, if that doesn't wow you, the airport is currently hosting a cash giveaway that will make one of its traveling customers an instant millionaire.

My arrival in Sri Lanka was characterized with the same amazing level of hospitality experienced along the way. I met the Ambassador as well as several other people who treated me with impeccable hospitality. I also spoke at several events and had a large interaction with the press, including a television appearance on Good Morning Sri Lanka. My visit included staying at the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo. Mount Lavinia dates back to the time of British Colonialism and is now an extravagant hotel that overlooks the ocean.

Mount Lavinia is a popular wedding destination because of its romantic history. Couples delight in the legendary love story of British Governor General Maitland (who built the mansion) and a dancer named Lavina. Apparently, he was so enraptured by her that he built a secret underground tunnel that ran from the mansion to her garden. It is said that he named the stately home after her. Had he tried to make a life with her, he would have had to endure ridicule and disapproval from the British people. He ended up leaving the island without her.

Photograph by Kisaru Samarakoon

The current history of Sri Lanka is such that it is emerging from a troubled past. Prior to last year, Northern Sri Lanka suffered from civil unrest. The Sri Lankan people are now experiencing peace and are in the process of reestablishing their namesake as "the resplendent island." Within the Western Province there is a new emergence of cuisine and high-class hospitality that is making its mark on the tourist industry.

Photo by McKay Savage

Colombo itself seems to have a thriving food scene. What struck me the most was the balance and subtlety in which chefs use a combination of very strong chilies and a myriad of spices. Sri Lanka is also known for its teas - namely Ceylon teas. In the same way that Champagne has proprietary rights that are exclusive to that region in France, Ceylon tea holds similar naming rights. True Ceylon tea carries the lion with a sword logo which indicates that the tea has met the standards of the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

I would like to thank everyone who made this wonderful trip possible including the Amabassador, the staff at the Mount Lavinia Hotel, Citibank, and Singapore Airlines.

Monday, June 7, 2010

EXPERIENCE THE CIVIL SIDE OF GETTYSBURG

I’ve had the pleasure of designing ten unique culinary events for the June 18-27, 2010 Gettysburg Festival in Gettysburg, PA. Be sure to put this 10 day festival on your calendar. There will be over 100 arts, music, and culinary events to experience and enjoy.

On May 22nd we kicked things off with a wonderful fundraiser at the Oxford Hill Manor. There I teamed up with four PA Iron Chefs to create a range of dishes from Caribbean to Southwestern. Our guests enjoyed tastes from around the globe. You can see photos of the event here.

Here are some of the key culinary events:

Farm-to-Table Barn Dinner

The farm to table philosophy is simple: provide fresh, locally sourced food directly to chefs and consumers. The dinner is set within a beautiful barn built in 1867 located at Beech Springs Farm - one of the most picturesque in Adams County. In addition to featuring some the best local agriculture, the dinner will also celebrate the state’s most talented chefs. The 2010 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for the Culinary Arts, recognizing an excellent Pennsylvania chef, will be announced this evening! I’ll be there to work with the chefs and mingle with the guests. Check out the MENU, it’s sure to make your mouth water.

Beech Springs Farm
Saturday, June 19, 2010
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

A Hallowed Feast - A Culinary Union of the North and South

I envision this event as a huge family-style Sunday supper featuring iconic dishes from the north and south. We’ll enjoy an afternoon on the battlefields with Civil War period brass bands from the North and South and plein air (open air) landscape artists painting works of art right before our eyes.

Take a gander at this hearty MENU.

Schmucker House at Lutheran Theological Seminary
Sunday, June 20, 2010
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Caribbean Cookout

This is a truly tropical themed event. There will be a Caribbean cocktail and a variety of Latin-inspired food created by the 2007 Pennsylvania Best Chef of Central PA, Jim Woltman. We’ll have a Caribbean jazz concert by the Afro Bop Alliance, a Latin Grammy award–winning jazz septet from Annapolis, Maryland. The group combines the harmonic language of jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms. This event cannot be missed! Look at this smoking MENU.

Festival Main Stage – Gettysburg College
Thursday, June 24, 2010
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Country Brunch at Hanover Show Farm

The final culinary event of the 2010 Gettysburg Festival will be held at the Hanover Shoe Farm. The delicious brunch will be prepared by one of the region’s most critically acclaimed chefs, Peter Sontheimer. It will feature sparkling wines, a behind-the-scenes tour of the horse breeding farm, acoustic guitar music, and plein air landscape artists. I’m looking forward to tasting the Pecan Encrusted French Toast with Grand Marnier & Maple Syrups. The rest of the menu can be viewed HERE.

Hanover Shoe Farm
Sunday, June 27, 2010
9:45 AM to 2:00 PM

You can look at the full Gettysburg Festival culinary schedule HERE

To buy culinary tickets to the Gettysburg Festival please call: 717.334.0853 or visit their website.

Hope to see you there!