Stevie Parle, co-host of our upcoming show Spice Trip, is a restaurateur, food writer and culinary adventurer. He's previously worked at The Spotted Pig in New York, and Salt in Tokyo. His willingness to host the show was fueled by the opportunity to learn about six fundamental spices – cloves; cinnamon; nutmeg; black pepper; chillies; and cumin – from the world's greatest experts.
By
Stevie Parle

22 Mar 2013 - 11:21 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Where
Galle, on the southern tip of Sri Lanka.

Why go?
Galle is one of my favourite places for eating and relaxing. It’s on the south coast of Sri Lanka, just a couple of hours by car from Colombo. Galle is centred around a beautiful Dutch colonial fort that also happens to be beside the sea, so you get plenty of character and history from your holiday, but also a decent tan.

For me, Sri Lankan food has it all – spice, variety, texture and colour. From the exotic string hoppers (a kind of rice noodle pancake) for breakfast, to the huge variety of rice and curries, this is food I could eat all day, every day. Having water so close, the restaurants also serve unbelievably fresh fish, which you just don’t get back at home [in the UK].

Must eats
Unusually for Asia, the hotels are some of the best places to eat. There isn’t a big indigenous restaurant culture, and street food isn’t as impressive as India, so head to Mama's Guest House in Galle fort to sample some delicious home cooking on a rooftop looking out over the lighthouse and the bay, or head up to the Sun House for more great food in another fabulous hotel.

Must visits
It’s worth visiting a cinnamon plantation while you are around Galle. You’ll find a new respect for the spice once you’ve seen how hard it is to produce; if you pick some up as a souvenir, you’ll see that Ceylon cinnamon really is the best in the world. Sri Lanka is the home of true cinnamon; the delicate flavour of the quills is almost incomparable to the synthetic-tasting cassia bark that is so often passed off as cinnamon. After a trip to Sri Lanka, you often end up a bit addicted to cinnamon-laced curries.

Must reads
There are a few great books on Sri Lankan cookery that are worth checking out, my favourite is Ceylon Cookery by Chandra Dissanayake, and Peter Kuruvita has also written a fabulous book called Serendip that is also a very good read. Sri Lankan food is quite under-represented outside of Sri Lanka, so it’s really nice to have a few cookbooks up your sleeve so you can at least represent it a bit at home.

Check out Spice Trip co-host Emma Grazette's Culinary Postcard on Oaxaca, Mexico

Spice Trip premieres on Thursday 16 May at 8.30pm on SBS ONE