Spice route – 5 spices from the island of Madagascar

The vast island of Madagascar has long captured the world’s imagination as a place of exoticism and natural beauty.

Peppercorns

Peppercorns

The fourth largest island in the world, its unspoilt landscape is home to some of the world’s rarest and most unusual animals and plants.

Madagascar is also renowned for its spices. Here are 5 of the best served at Constance Tsarabanjina, along with recipe and remedy ideas for each spice.

Vanilla

Probably the most famous spice from Madagascar is the wonderfully fragrant vanilla pod. Vanilla makes up some 20% of Madagascar’s exports. The bean has no smell when it’s first harvested – it has to be fermented and dried to develop its distinctive aroma.

Recipe with vanilla: Salad of smoked duck and leeks with vanilla citrus dressing

Remedy for headaches: vanilla has an uplifting effect, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. Vanilla extract can help to get rid of headaches – mix one teaspoon of extract with 8oz of water.

Black pepper

A store cupboard basic, black pepper grows in plantations on the verdant East coast.

Voatsiperifery is a very rare wild pepper found only in Madagascar. It has a hot taste that goes well with meat, especially pork and lamb dishes.

Red and green chillies

Red and green chillies

Recipe with black pepper: try our Constance Spicy Chicken Legs

Remedy for coughs: grind black pepper to a powder and mix with honey. Add to boiling water and allow to cool before drinking.

Red chillies

The best hot red chilli peppers are bright and deep red in colour. Capsaicin is the chemical in the peppers that makes them spicy. In traditional Madagascan cooking, chillies are seldom put in a dish but instead are put on the table as an accompaniment, along with garlic, ginger, lemon, onions and carrots, all steeped in white vinegar for a few days.

Recipe with chillies: try our Chicken and prawn fricassée with stewed chinese bredes with boucane.

Remedy for back ache: The capsaicin in peppers has a powerful pain-relieving effect. Mash red chilli pepper and rub it onto the painful area. For a milder remedy, use an emollient cream mixed with ground chilli pepper.

Ginger

Ginger became a key ingredient in Madagascan cuisine after it was introduced to the island along the spice route from Asia. Its distinctive taste works well in curry pastes, stir fries and chicken dishes as well as sweet puddings.

Fresh root ginger

Fresh root ginger

Recipe with ginger: Dark chocolate tart with ginger milk foam

Remedy for motion sickness: peel a knob of ginger and make ginger tea with boiling water. Drink the tea about half an hour before travelling.

Cloves

Clove trees along the East coast of Madagascar turn a crimson shade when the tree flowers. For many centuries, cloves were very expensive in the West and so were saved for special occasions. Still today, they are a quintessential ingredient at Christmas time. Cloves should be used sparingly either whole for flavouring fish or meat, or ground for use in cakes and puddings.

Recipe with cloves: Orange lemon gingerbread

Remedy for toothache: Ground cloves can be rubbed onto the tooth to alleviate the pain of toothache. Be careful not to get it on your gums as the oil in the cloves can create a burning sensation.

Read more

 

Best digital cameras – tips from the experts

Digital SLR camera

Digital SLR camera

Choosing the right digital camera, whether it’s a compact or SLR, can be a minefield. Check out these recent blog posts from industry experts to get the latest reviews and advice before you part with your cash.

1. PhotographyBLOG

Run by UK professional photographer Mark Goldstein, the people at PhotographyBLOG bring you the latest new product reviews and original in-depth news from the world of photography. If you’re asking ‘what’s the best digital camera?’ and ‘I have X amount of money, what’s the best digital camera in my price range?’, you need to read this blog. Round up of best and latest digital cameras

2. Electronic Lifestyle Blog

Photographer

Choose the right camera for you

Electronic Lifestyle’s contributor, Yongsheng Luo, guides you through the questions you need to ask yourself before you buy a digital camera.  Tips for the best buy digital camera.

3. Techradar

Part of the respected Future Publishing stable, Techradar claim they’re unashamedly geeky, prepared to tell you what they think without fear or favour. Find out what they say about 2011′s best compact cameras. Best compact camera 2011: 25 reviewed and rated

 

 

Cowes Week, 6-13 August 2011

Boats at Cowes Week

Boats at Cowes Week

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2011 has got off to a great start. Day 1, Saturday 6 August, produced perfect sailing conditions, and there’s been plenty of excitement already.

Get the lowdown on what’s happened so far at Cowes Week 2011.

1. Official Cowes Week 2011 website

Rupert Holmes’ dailly reports:

Keep up with the latest sailing news with organiser Rupert Holmes’ daily reports:

Sailing Logic

Sailing Logic, a race training and race charter company, was set up by Allie Smith, the round the world racing yachtswoman.

They’re posting articles throughout the week from Cowes. Follow events on the Sailing Logic blog.

Pillow menu at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Bedroom at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Bedroom at Constance Le Prince Maurice

We know how important a good night’s sleep is for our guests.

At Constance Le Prince Maurice, our beds are some of the most comfortable you’ll ever sleep in.

To give you extra comfort, we offer guests a choice of pillows from our special pillow menu.

Upon arrival, you’ll find 2 goosedown and 2 feather pillows on your bed. If you prefer a different type of pillow, you can choose from the following list:

  • feather pillow extra large – a cuddle pillow, extra large, 1250gms. 20% goosedown and 80% feather, this pillow is firm yet soft enough for that luxurious feeling
  • synthetic pillow – designed to be hypoallergenic, medium to firm support, 750gms
  • eco pillow – a contoured foam pillow ideal for neck and shoulder support
  • bolster – a French-style body pillow, hypo-allergenic, that provides support for legs and ankles
  • tempur pillows – ideal for those looking for a therapeutic pillow that softens and moulds to the body, gently cradling your head and neck. Choose from original extra large, medium or soft.

Guests simply need to call our reception, and they’ll arrange for your preferred pillow to be brought to your room.

Weekly round-up, 1-7 August 2011

This weekly feature offers a roundup of the content on our blog from the past week, in case you missed anything. Split into categories, it’s another way for you to easily find the posts of value to you.

Competition winners

Sea anemone

Sea anemone

Have you won our name the sea creature competition?

We had a fantastic response to our ‘name the sea creature’ competition. After receiving hundreds of entries, we’ve announced the 3 winners. Find out who won.

Interview with the winner of our 5* holiday of a lifetime competition

Conny Jones has won the holiday of a lifetime to Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius. Read about Conny and what the holiday means to her.

Culinary

Recipe: Curry flavoured peanut and cashew bread rolls

Want to create some of our chef’s amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes online. Try these easy-to-make nutty bread rolls from Mauritius.

Spa and sport

Oils and massage at Spa Constance

Oils and massage at Spa Constance

Stress relief with Bango Bango massage

At Spa Constance, we offer the ultimate in relaxation – the Hawaiian Bango Bango massage that aims to release deep-seated tension. Find out more about this deep massage treatment.

Behind the scenes

Luxury service from our staff

Our staff at Constance Hotels Experience have earned a reputation for excellent service, and a warm and genuine approach to guests. Read more about the luxury service provided by our staff.

Recipe: Curry flavoured peanut and cashew bread rolls

Dining at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Dining at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Home-baked bread is far tastier than anything you can buy in the supermarket. Try these Mauritian nutty bread rolls – they’re easy to make, and best eaten warm.

Serves 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500g flour + 50g for dusting
  • 10g baker’s yeast
  • 75g mild curry powder
  • 10g salt
  • 50g peanuts
  • 50g cashews
  • 1/4 tsp powdered red chilli

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, 30cl water and the curry powder.
2. Knead by hand for 15 minutes. Add salt, peanuts and cashews then knead for 5 more minutes.
3. Shape this dough into balls, about 50g each. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 220ºC. Place a bowl of water in the oven.
5. Lightly dust the rolls with sifted flour and red chilli powder. Using a sharp blade, make 3 slits on 3 sides of each roll. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

You can also purchase the Constance Prince Maurice recipe book from our online store.