Sunday Times recommends a September break at Tsarabanjina and Ephélia

Tempting you to make the glorious summer months last a little bit longer, in this week’s Sunday Times Chris Haslam recommends booking a September break in the sun.

A September break at Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

A September break at Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

Resorts Haslam recommends for a last blast of warmth before autumn arrives in the Northern hemisphere include Constance Tsarabanjina in Madagascar and Constance Ephélia in the Seychelles.

Describing the laid back vibe of Tsarabanjina, basking in 25°C sunshine, Haslam declares, ‘The choice of activities is almost endless: you can lie in a hammock, go snorkeling, read a book, lie in a hammock, go snorkeling or circumnavigate the island in 45 minutes.’

He claims the Seychelles is also the perfect September getaway (average temperature 27°C with, ‘white beaches, sapphire seas, coconut palms and superb seafood.’

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Discover the exotic birds of Madagascar

Famous for its unique wildlife Madagascar has always attracted visitors keen to discover rare and exotic plants and animals. Here we take a look at the extraordinary birds of Madagascar.

Madagascar Fishing Eagle

Madagascar Fishing Eagle

Madagascar Fish-Eagle

The large Madagascar fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) is the largest raptor in Madagascar and is one of the rarest birds of prey.

The body is a dark reddish-brown with dark brown wings. Its cheeks and throat are a whitish colour while its short tail is pure white.

The juvenile Madagascar fish-eagle has streaks on its head and pale fringes to its flight feathers. Its underparts are paler and tail darker than the adult’s. It hunts near or over water and often perches for long periods on tall trees.

The Madagascar fish-eagle has a melodious call, similar to the closely related African fish-eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer).

Madagascar Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher

The Malagasy Kingfisher or Madagascar Kingfisher (Alcedo vintsioides) is a member of the Alcedinidae family. It is found in Madagascar, and Mayotte (Comoros). Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical mangrove forests.

The Malagasy Kingfisher is found in all types of wetlands, as well as along the island’s coastline. Both sexes are similar.

White throated rail

The Aldabra rail is the last surviving flightless bird in the western Indian Ocean.

It has a slender build with a long, fairly slender neck, legs and feet. The plumage is well defined, being largely bright chestnut except for the striking white throat.

The fairly long, straight bill is dark with, in females, a bright pink base, and in males, a dull or dark red base. Juveniles generally have duller plumage than adults.

Being a flightless bird, the wings are short and are often held close to the body where they blend in with the rest of the plumage.

Many consider the Aldabra rail a subspecies of the white-throated rail (Dryolimnas cuvier).

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher

The symbol of Constance Tsarabanjina, the Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher is a medium-sized passerine, measuring 18cm in length and weighing about 12.2g.

Males have long tail plumes, which can add as much as 18cm to their overall length.

The female is largely rufous orange, with a black head and nape. The flight feathers on her wings are black with rufous edges, and she has a thin, light blue eyelid wattle.

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Recipe: Duck legs and roast pineapple, smoked bacon

Seychellois spices and tropical fruits combine to bring out the delicious flavour of duck in this popular recipe from Constance Ephelia.

Duck legs and roast pineapple, smoked bacon

Duck legs and roast pineapple, smoked bacon

Ingredients

The meat:

  • 8 duck legs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5g honey
  • 50ml soy sauce
  • 1 litre duck stock
  • 1 long pepper

1. Prepare, trim and season the duck legs with salt and pepper.

2. Brown them in a cast iron pan with a little oil, adding the garlic, cinnamon stick, long pepper, chopped onion and cloves. Let it all sweat for 5 minutes.

3. Take the grease off and add the honey, deglazing with the soy sauce and moistening with the duck stock.

4. Boil it and skim off the impurities. put the lid on and put it in the oven at 160˚C for about an hour and a half.

5. At the end of the cooking, take the meat out and reduce the braising liquid to three-quarters in order to obtain a syrupy sauce.

6. Put the duck legs in the sauce and keep them hot.

The garnish:

  • 2 Victoria pineapples
  • Dark Muscovado sugar
  • 200g smoked bacon/lard
  • 4 medium onions
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • Five Pepper Mixture: as required
  • Flat leaf parsley

1. Boil the smoked bacon/lard for an hour. Drain it and set it aside.

2. peel and cut the pineapple into quarters and trim the ends. Put the trimmings in a juicer to obtain some fresh juice.

3. Heat the Muscovado sugar in a pan, caramelise them in a pan, salt the quarters and deglaze them with pineapple juice. Then glaze them once more with some good juice. Store them.

4. Cut the onions into quarters, caramelise them in a pan, salt them and moisten them with the chicken stock and put them in the oven at 160˚C for about 25 minutes. Store it all.

5. Fry the parsley sprigs and set them aside.

Finishing and presentation

Put two duck legs on each plate. Add two pineapple wedges, two pieces of smoked bacon and reduce the braising liquid and finish off with the mixture of five peppers and fried parsley.

Sommelier’s suggested wine

Bold dry white wine:

  • Alsace Sonnenglanz Grand Cru, Trapet Gewurtztraminer, 2007 France
  • Hermitage blanc, Domaine Marc Sorrel, 2005 France

The best hidden beaches in the Indian Ocean

Discover the utter joy of stumbling upon a stretch of unspoilt beach where you don’t have to compete with the crowds.

Anse Georgette, Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Anse Georgette, Constance Lémuria

Here’s our rundown of five of the most beautiful and secluded beaches in the Indian Ocean.

Anse Georgette – Seychelles, Praslin

The beautiful, secluded beach of Anse Georgette on the northwest of Praslin delivers the Seychellois dream of white sand and calm crystal waters shaded by lush green foliage. The beach can’t be reached by car – to access it you walk through the golf course of Constance Lémuria – so there are never too many visitors and the reward for your effort is a pristine beach with very few people.

Trou d’Argent – Rodrigues

If you’re looking for that genuine Robinson Crusoe feeling then you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere more deserted than the stunning Trou d’Argent beach on the island of Rodrigues. The island itself is a remote haven lying 600km to the east of its sister island Mauritius, connected by an inter-island flight twice a week.

Betania Beach – Madagascar

The laid back vibe of the Madagascan region of Morondava makes this beach overlooking the Mozambique Channel one of the most chilled out beach venues in the Indian Ocean. The beach stretches for miles and the only things you will be sharing it with are some local livestock.

Trou d’Argent, Rodrigues

Trou d’Argent, Rodrigues

Anse Lazio – Seychelles, Praslin

Anse Lazio is another stunning beach off the beaten track on Praslin. Lazio has a road and even a couple of restaurants but its situation at the top of the island, off the main roads, means this is still a quiet spot. Trip Advisor recently declared this the best beach in Africa – head there now before the rest of the world gets in on the action.

Gris Gris – Mauritius

The south of Mauritius is home to the most dramatic and quietest beaches on the island. The one that tops the must-go list is the breathtakingly beautiful Gris Gris. From the cliffs above you can look down to the wide stretch of sand below, and the huge waves as they pound the shore. It’s not safe to swim in the water due to the currents, but take a gentle walk along the shell-filled beach and shoreline, and feel your spirit soar.

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Where’s your favourite beach in the world? Leave a comment here or visit our Facebook page.

 

Best sunglasses for Summer 2013

Shield your eyes from the sun without compromising on style. Taking inspiration from Vogue, here’s our guide to the best sunglasses for 2013.

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana

1. Best Aviators

Ray-Ban Aviators

Ray-Ban have taken their classic Aviators and given them a new twist this summer with new colours not just for the frames but for the lenses too. Colours include funky blue, pink, green and brown.

2. Best round frames

Linda Farrow Luxe – Perfect Teashades

These 70s-style round frames make a fun stylish statement for summer.

3. Best for retro-cool

Emporio Armani

Round shades are hot right now and the retro appeal of these 60s inspired wood-effect frames put these bang on trend.

Cutler & Gross

Cutler & Gross

4. Best for geek chic

Dolce & Gabbana

Trust Dolce & Gabbana to bring some fun to the current trend for heavy, thick-rimmed glasses with shades in a number of vibrant colours including pink, plum and powder blue.

5. Best for oversized

Victoria Beckham – Metal Drop Temple

Arguably the queen of oversized eyewear, Victoria Beckham has created these beautiful handmade silver frames with dark rose lenses. Perfect for hiding behind, pretending to hide or just shielding from the sun in style.

6. Best for making a statement

Cutler and Gross – Mother of Pearl

These 70s inspired frames are an inspired blend of fun and style with mother of pearl octagonal frames.

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Recipe: Halaveli’s Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is the traditional dish that comes from the Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. With the recipe originating in Singapore, our team at Halaveli has adapted it to our customers’ palates. An explosion of flavours and tastes!

Shrimp Laska

Shrimp Laksa

Ingredients

The Laksa broth:

  • 400g vermicelli
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 50g chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 or 5 chopped shallots
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander, washed
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 12 shrimps (about 100g each), peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 or 4 cumbava leaves
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 160g Silken Tofu

1. Boil a large pot of water. Add the vermicelli and cook them until they are tender.

2. Drain and rinse them to prevent them from sticking. Set them aside.

3. In a wok, bring the coconut milk to a boil until the coconut oil separates and forms a layer on top.

4. Finely chop all the spices and fry them until they fill the air.

5. Add the shrimp, soy sauce, cumbuva leaves and chicken broth. Boil them and adjust the seasoning.

Finishing and presentation

Divide the vermicelli into 4 bowls, then add the broth and arrange the prawns and tofu, cut into large cubes.

Garnish each bowl with fresh coriander and fried shallots. Our chefs add some lemon, a small endive and some pear slices.