Oh I like it! The opportunity to share my retro expertise and profile some of the culinary strengths of this island in the sun.
In case you weren’t aware, Colombo is likely the undeclared dessert capital of Asia. Diabetes is taking off more limbs than landmines ever did and it is all because we love sugar. Just ask for a cup of tea and see what you get in this country. I digress. My point is also that we have great pastry chefs. There was a time when imported goods were hard to come by (thanks Mrs. B) and the good old folks at home made everything from butter to cream in order to meet the demands of the national sweet tooth. Meringue, and our prowess at it, is a direct result of this legacy I believe.
It is in Meringue that we particularly distinguish ourselves. It was on the table at every dinner party and even today, if you are very lucky, someone would have made the required phone call. There are many great ladies of Sri Lanka who still supply the homemade desserts but now with the rise of cupcakes and dessert bars all over the city, you see less and less of this beloved retro meringue scene.
Don’t ever judge a Sri Lankan Meringue by its appearance on any buffet. That is not who we are. Some of the best desserts are the ones you call and order and I am delighted to profile my favourites. I am also acknowledging that the next generation of meringues are in safe hands.
Mrs Udalagama – Coffee Meringue
One bite and the world spins to a halt. That’s the effect Mrs Udalagama’s desserts have always had on me, and I have been enjoying them for over 30 years. Her popular Meringue Tower is as retro as it is timeless in its flavour, because Mrs. Udalagama understands the balance of salt and sweet better than any other pastry chef in Sri Lanka. She fearlessly pits flavours and textures against each other and quite regularly produces a masterpiece.
This Coffee Meringue was a new find and it is divine. The lady has not cut a single corner, there are even roasted chopped cashews liberally laced through the dessert. Then there are the layers of her signature chocolate ganache, full of salty richness and best of all, tiny chunks of chewy nougat that pack a crunch yet don’t stick to your teeth. It’s a sensational flavour combination.
I am glad that in my lifetime and hers, I am in a position to confirm Mrs. Udalagama to be among the all time greatest chefs of Sri Lanka. Bravo!
Tel: +94 0112 696 836
Sit’s – Passion Fruit Pavlova
There is no doubting Sit’s as a talented home baker, with an extensive range of desserts. I do recall so well her passion fruit curd cupcakes and hence a tangy meringue that incorporates this sensational curd is quite the summer dessert order for any gathering.
There are cashews baked inside the meringue itself, from what I can see. And then layers of light and airy citrus cream topped with the curd. The textures and flavours are spot on and it is so light a dessert, I do not feel guilty.
The problem with this dessert is that you keep coming back for more. Sit’s is a professionally run home bakery that is consistently great. Meringue is just one aspect of her repertoire.
Tel: +94 777 730 793
Monique – Fruit Meringue
Now here is a big surprise, because this meringue is like none other. For one thing, Monique has not stinted on the incorporation of the fresh fruit. Sandwiched between layers of light meringue and even lighter crème, are liberal layers of fresh mango. It just works.
Monique has quite the repertoire herself, when one considers everything from her love cake to her recent fun with kiddie party cake designs, I have no doubt that this delicious meringue has not received its due praise.
Yes it’s pavlova, and correct, it’s not a novel concept, but light and fresh, this dessert is a careful exercise in restraint and as such, its greatness lies in its simplicity. This is the perfect example of a few ingredients combined well, that leaves no room for complaint.
Tel: +94 777 761 762