Galle, on the southern tip of Sri Lanka.
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].
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.
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.
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