Have you ever tried tuina or moxa? They are in fact spa treatments and we tried them recently at our lovely spa client Lefay Resort & Spa (www.lefayresorts.com) on Lake Garda. Lefay has developed its own spa method, which merges aspects of Classical Chinese Medicine with modern techniques – quite unusual in Italy.
Their treatments focus on rebalancing the energy or Qi flows within the body. They have developed a tuina massage as part of their postural programme, which is dedicated to correcting postural issues. The gentle massage focussed on key energy lines of the stomach, gall bladder and bladder, which according to the theories of Classical Chinese Medicine, are connected to the skull, thorax and pelvis – the articulation of which defines our posture. The massage was quite different to any other I had experienced and involved some mobilisation of the joints, but I felt that it was really effective in isolating key issues.
Emma tried a moxa treatment, which is a Far Eastern technique, where certain acupuncture points are heated by means of an Artemesia cigar. These points are mainly in the back. The aim of this treatment is also postural, as well as helping the energetic regulation of the body’s essential functions. Emma found it incredibly relaxing and loved the ‘healing’ feeling of the heat on her body. Definitely recommended!
With Summer FINALLY here we’ve been cooking up the flavours of the Mediterranean this weekend, inspired by our recent trip to the Extremadura region of Spain, which has been basking in temperatures of 37 degrees for weeks now.
On our visit to the medieval hilltop town of Trujillo, we met Victor, a jolly local character who had recently been filmed for Rick Stein’s programme on the food of Spain. Victor makes a fantastic version of the traditional dish of migas or ‘crumbs’ and having demonstrated his recipe for Rick Stein, he very kindly did the same for us, in the perfect setting of his allotment, under the castle walls of the town. Migas is hearty peasant food, that shepherds would have eaten on the plains of Spain at night – so perfect for the British summer.
Victor began by heating olive oil in a very large pan and cooking very fatty streaky bacon and chorizo to infuse the oil with all the lovely rich juices. All the produce Victor uses is home grown – the vegetables were grown on his allotment and the pig came courtesy of his brother. After removing the meat from the pan Victor added sliced peppers and the cloves from five heads of garlic (!). Once cooked he added the migas, chunks of day old bread which soaked up the delicious juices of the bacon and chorizo. To finish he put the bacon and chorizo back in the pan. We ate our migas that day overlooking the plains on a perfect summer’s evening in Trujillo – delicious and a great accompaniment to the Great British barbecue, rain or shine!
We recently tried out one of the new excursions offered by Amanruya, Aman’s newest hotel on the Bodrum peninsula. In true Aman style, we headed not to Ephesus as that would be too obvious and crowded an ancient site. Instead, we went to Labranda in the hills high above Bodrum, where there is a temple dedicated to Zeus built in the 5th century BC with huge columns, Roman baths and sarcophagi and hardly any visitors.
We were able to clamber over rocks and perch on enormous boulders, looking out across the vast landscape to mountains and the sea. The only other people there were the local family with their goats and geese, who looked after the site. Aman laid up our picnic table with white napkins, cutlery, glasses and opened a drinks cabinet, from which a wide variety of cool drinks were magically produced. We sipped cold rose and ate lunch provided by the local family. It was delicious – home made bread, salads, a tasty aubergine dish and filo pastry pie.
We’ve just been out to see our latest client – the classic Caribbean hotel Cobblers Cove (www.cobblerscove.com). The hotel is small and has real charm and an old time feel that you don’t find in many hotels anymore. The bar and drawing room have the ambience of a plantation house.
The hotel has its own fisherman, Mr Barker, who delivers his catch to the kitchen daily and is eaten that night. The hotel is one of only five Relais and Chateau hotels in the Caribbean and the food is extremely good.
Guests staying at the hotel get one complimentary boat ride a day so we took advantage of this and hopped down the coast to Lonestar for lunch, saving on an expensive taxi fare. We also took the boat to swim with the turtles just ten minutes north of the hotel. They are pretty tame but it can be unnerving when they swim right up to you as they are big.
If you are going to Barbados you should check out the newest restaurant Cin Cin, which has a very sleek balcony overlooking the Caribbean and the new Limegrove cinema with waitress service to your seat.
We’ve just got back from Trujillo, in the south west of Spain, which is a medieval walled town on a hill with far reaching views over the plains of Extremadura. We didin’t realise that the Plains of Spain really do exist and they are vast. Steeped in the history of the conquistadors, Trujillo feels vitually untouched by tourism.
We stayed at Villa Martires (www.trujillovillasespana.com), which is situated high up in the town by the castle with 180 degree views over the plains below. The Medieval buildings used to be part of a 12 century garrison, but have now been restored to a very high standard.
Trujillo is the birthplace of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro – the man, who conquered Peru and founded Lima. His house is next to Villa Martires and there’s a huge statue of him on his horse in the main square.
We would recommend that visitors climb to the top of the tower of the Church of Santa Maria for the fab views, eat tortilla and churros in the main square and visit the Carmelita monastery where silent nuns sell freshly baked biscuits cooked within the convent. Make sure that you catch the sunset over the plains and don’t leave without some pimenton to make your Spanish cooking more authentic.
During my travels through Sri Lanka this summer on our family holiday, my children aged 10 and 12 developed an obsession for the traditional Sri Lankan breakfast of egg hoppers. These are bowl-shaped thin crispy pancakes with a poached egg in the middle. Whilst at the gorgeous Amangalla in Galle Fort,we were offered the
chance to learn how to make them.
In the Amangalla kitchen, chef Mendis showed us how he had made a thick batter using hopper or rice flour (200g), yeast (1tsp), one egg, coconut milk (80ml), sugar (1tsp), salt and water (60ml). Leave the batter for around two to three hours (or overnight) for resting, add water to adjust consistency. The pancakes get their shape from the distinctive hopper pan, which looks like a small wok. Get the greased hopper pan really hot and add a spoonful of the batter. Make sure the inside of the pan is well covered with the batter. Crack the egg in the middle and then cover the pan for two minutes or until cooked. For a really authentic Sri Lankan breakfast serve with potato curry and lunu miris – a mix of red onions and spices or spicy coconut sambol. Delicious. Amangalla gave us a hopper pan as a leaving gift, so now back in the UK, we are going to try them on some unsuspecting English guests instead of bacon and eggs.
Here's the facade of Amangalla
The verandah at Amangalla - great for tea or a mango cocktail
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