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Fresh Seafood Mixed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites -- CNNGo Explores Sri Lanka

Aired March 12, 2014 - 05:30:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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DHARSHAN MUNIDASA, CO-OWNER AND CHEF, MINISTRY OF CRAB: So we are about an hour from Colombo, north of it, in an area called Negombo and this is a tourist resort area. But having all those nice hotels, it is still a working fish market. Indian Ocean fish market, they catch and they sell. The transition time from ocean to this fish market is about 100 yards.

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MUNIDASA (voice-over): This is a Sri Lankan Rangoon crab and a bit small for us to use, but in the market you can only find small ones. But it's alive and it's tied up so that you don't get injured. It's sort of an ocean crab, so the meat tastes different. And at the same time ocean marine crab is quite fine when I cook them. They're very salty because they are in the salt water.

So this (INAUDIBLE) differently.

This is a small stingray.

They're pollock filets (ph). They can see -- I can standing power (ph). It's all that I like (ph).

And these are freshwater brine shrimp. We use a lot of these at the restaurants. These guys are really, really, really deep flavored. And it wasn't very popular in hotels and restaurants because they had to be underdeveloped (ph) but it has amazing flavor and the congress is so small, not so falling for the taste (ph). So we use only this in my restaurants.

Barracuda.

DILSHAN MICHAELS, MEDIA PERSONALITY, TNL RADIO (voice-over): Hi and welcome to the Colombo Sports Racecourse Complex. My name is Dilshan.

ISHARA, MEDIA PERSONALITY (voice-over): Ishara.

MICHAELS (voice-over): Well, basically this used to be a harness racing course where you've got a lot of horses running around. And then after then 2012, they redeveloped this into the first international rugby ground. And it's really cool because all the home matches have been here and I know that Sri Lanka, you know, they don't make it really big on the rugby scene around the world, but we take rugby very seriously here. So this is a big deal to everyone here in Colombo, especially when it comes to the School (ph) Arena.

ISHARA (voice-over): Some of the ruggers are really good to look at. That's on my -- that is on my head. So yes. It is one of the more celebrated sports and that's why this stadium is really important. It was a building that no one really looked at some time ago, but I guess it's a place that a lot of people appreciate now.

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MICHAELS (voice-over): So this has to be one of my favorite spots here in Colombo. It is the Sky Launch (ph) here at Kingsbury Hotel (ph). And it is just spectacular, a nice place to kick back, relax, forget everything. (INAUDIBLE), what will happen at work and just enjoy the view.

ISHARA (voice-over): You know, sometimes people might complain that Colombo might not have a lot going on or it's not maybe as great as most of the other countries you see. But once when you do get above 10 levels (ph) of Kingsbury Hotel (ph), and when you sit in a place like this, you can see the twin towers of Colombo. You can see most of the hotels. There's the gulf; it's green over there, where all the kids and families, they come and play and they have all those batter-fried prawns and stuff, by the side, their kites (ph), with the old parliament there. You see all the nice reconstructed jewels (ph) of the city of Colombo. So (INAUDIBLE) everyone else (INAUDIBLE) has ever said anything bad.

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MUNIDASA (voice-over): I eat together with the best (INAUDIBLE) ever produced paella (ph) and cumar (ph), the oldest restaurant together. It's been a wonderful, wonderful journey.

What do you think of that pothole (ph) crab, which is (INAUDIBLE) crab.

So this is our Sri Lankan mud crab, made famous and popular by Singapore, in Singapore chili (ph) crab. But you need to create some institutions to bring the crab back and give it a place in Sri Lanka. So that's why I've chosen the Ministry of Crab. And apart from crab, these also serve freshwater prawns. This restaurant has zero importing ingredients except for olive oil and wine. Everything here is from Sri Lanka. There's -- we cook all our crabs in woks, except the curry, which comes in clay pots. So it gets cleaned in the back and they come out here, cooking tiles (ph) are here. And we cook it a la minute (ph). Every crab from being in the cage to the plate is about 12-14 minutes. Olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, crab and a dash of soy sauce.

The consistency (ph) of this is amazing, but the flavors you get is -- are very deep. And have you seen many restaurants Singapore buy this from us and take it back to their own country.

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INDI SAMARAJIVA, FOUNDER, YAMU: (voice-over): This is the old town hall and sit around this table are the old ministers consulates (ph). This is a kind of cool and somewhat creepy place. We just wandered into this building once. We looked through the keyhole. But I think they're starting to like make it more available to tourists. It's not -- I guess it not preferential (ph) tourist site, but it's kind of unintentionally awesome (ph).

This building is beautiful. I mean it's -- and things around it have sprung up like a modern commercial district, which is like China or India or something. But this remains like a very old building. You can kind of see how our Colombo was back then. They even preserved it, but they also haven't changed anything.

So it remains just a wonderful architectural site.

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SAMARAJIVA (voice-over): This is Barefoot. It's like an oasis in the middle of the city. If there's a shop, there's an art gallery, there's a cafe. If you're in town, you can just come here; you can meet people, you can listen to music. You can hang out. It's a cool spot.

So this is the Barefoot Gallery.

Come over see this drawing a lot, Saskia Fernando (ph) just opened the first dedicated gallery, which is pretty cool. And they're having the denali (ph) right now. I think we have some cool stuff. There's some excellent sculpture and some excellent young people coming up. But it's in a stage of growth right now.

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SAMARAJIVA (voice-over): These are famous Barefoot sarongs. Sarongs, if you aren't familiar, are pretty awesome. It's like wearing a towel all day, but people are socially cool with that.

This is Slave Island. It's also called Colombo 2. It was called Slave Island because the Portuguese actually kept slaves here and it was made and the Malay people settled here and they still live here. That's Malay Street back there.

Most people in Colombo, we live in really the suburbs. So this is like an urban town, like as you can see on the right, these are buildings with like two levels; it's -- you can walk on the street. You can see stuff. You can play -- it's fun like that. But there's also like really good doggie (ph) bars around here and then late at night they serve burgers up there. So everybody passes through here, but nobody's really like stopped here.

This is the Castle Hotel. It's like the finest doggie (ph) bar in town. It used to be a real hotel. I mean, you can still get rooms here, but it's just really good for cheap drinks and really good service and beautiful, beautiful building.

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ROSAMOND FREEMAN-ATTWOOD, SPA SPECIALIST (voice-over): This is Wijaya Beach, which is an island (INAUDIBLE). It is, as you can see, the most amazing place, Indian Ocean, clear waters and the main reason that I love this is my friends. I can come here of an evening. You'll always see someone here that I know and if not there's always people here.

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FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): We're in the Galle Fort, which is a UNESCO site. And within the 130 acres are some of my favorite shops. And this is one of them.

This is Laksana, my favorite jewelry shop.

Amin (ph), how are you? I'm very well.

AMIN (PH) (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) in the white sapphire. (INAUDIBLE) yellow gold. There's also a design by.

FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): It's beautiful.

It's inimitive (ph) and it's a one-off. So you're not going to find it anywhere else. And it's just I'm coming in here and saying, OK. I mean, I want, you know, a bit of that ring, a bit of that ring, a bit of this. I've seen something in a magazine and he puts it together and he draws it. And then we play like this. And I mean, just look at that. I mean, that, isn't that fun? That's all sapphires. I mean, I would just like to put glue on another piece of board and have all that stuck on it. I mean, how cool is that?

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FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): And this is Mimimango, which is my favorite pastry shop.

Hello, sweetheart.

This is Jo Eden (ph) --

JO EDEN (PH): Hi.

FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): -- who has designed the shop, clothes, everything in it. And every time I come in here I want to know (INAUDIBLE).

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FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): And as you can see, it can go from something absolutely delicious like one of these that it makes suddenness present to my precious precious. Let me show you these.

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EDEN (PH) (voice-over): All I've been producing for the last five or six years now is this dress, which is the genius dress, which we call the Uma dress, named after Uma Thurman, because I always think she'd look fabulous in it.

And just turn around, lots of different colors every season.

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FREEMAN-ATTWOOD (voice-over): Tea, well, I am at the Amangalla, where my journey in Sri Lanka started actually. I did a spa here, so was here for a long time and grew to love the place and how could you not love the afternoon tea? It's just a magical place and I love it. I love everything about it. So tea time.

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THANA SRITHARAN, CHAIRMAN, CITY CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTORS LTD (voice- over): Mirissa is way down south of the country and it's part of the area is where whales actually back migrate from one area where they live to another place and Mirissa happens to be scot money. It has become more and more popular over the last half a dozen years. It is now a business for a lot of tourists who come visit and must see adventure. And today we will see a lot of whales and maybe some dolphins en route and God knows what else. But we'll keep an eye out and see what we can see.

We're watching, like I said, it's become a business for a lot of folks. The navy has chartered boats like come out for (INAUDIBLE) come and watch (INAUDIBLE) take an awful lot of people together at once. And we own a private boat; it's much, much better, smaller groups. You take your time as when you want to leave and when you want to come. Costs a little bit more, but it's well worth it because you actually see a lot of whales. You would for me that's the only way to do it.

DEE DE SILVA, FORMER DIRECTOR HR, MAS HOLDINGS (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) in the water, look ahead, way ahead. You can see a light blue coming up. It's just unbelievable it's -- because it's this huge mountain coming towards you and it's like nothing you've ever seen before.

It's an hour to here because when we had a civil war and it was all people around a lot of winter out and we'll meet the pressure for actually got to see the whales. Now normal people, tourists, people who come here actually come out and see for themselves the wildlife that is, you know, in and around Sri Lanka.

So it's amazing. It's nothing like, you know, you've ever seen. The hardest part is the first time when you see it, you realize how insignificant and small you are compared to this sea creature.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (voice-over) Normally after (INAUDIBLE) we are famished and the first thing we, you know, look for is something good to eat and being an island obviously, you know, we like -- we love our seafood. And this is one place because this is an area during the weekend we normally hang out.

And this is a place that has extraordinary choice of seafood.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Well, these oysters are actually really beautiful. We get these in our lakes and they're available. But the people in Sri Lanka don't eat them. They're more for us, more for the people who love them. They're absolutely delicious.

Indian Ocean oysters are small and (INAUDIBLE) whereas the ones that we get from the lake, as you can see, varying in size and varying in texture. And also varying in taste. And they're absolutely awesome. And you need to try it.

(INAUDIBLE) see the difference and (INAUDIBLE).

Absolutely awesome.

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MALIK FERNANDO, DIRECTOR, DILMAH TEA (voice-over): We are in the heart of Ceylon Tea country in the center at an altitude of around 4,000- 4,500 feet.

MERRILL J. FERNANDO, FOUNDER, DILMAH TEA (voice-over):(INAUDIBLE) come to Ceylon for tea. There is the (INAUDIBLE) known the world over and they say Ceylon tea was here for tea.

MALIK FERNANDO (voice-over): And what this Ceylon tea is about is we've converted four traditional 100-year-old tea estate managers' bungalows into large new lodges. And you've got four bungalows between 2- 15 kilometers apart. We call it Tea Trails because guests can walk or bike from one to the other, and meet in one or stay in a different one every night in the most pristine, stunning area of emerald fields of Ceylon tea.

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MERRILL J. FERNANDO (voice-over): We are now on the Dilmah high country estate called Dankhill (ph). It is at an elevation about 4,000- 4,300 feet. And it particularly at this time, the drier the season, it produces some of the finest teas that Ceylon is known for.

MALIK FERNANDO (voice-over): Some of these bushes are as much as 50 years old and they flush, that is, produce two leaves in one. That is what is because our (INAUDIBLE) can never be repeated by a machine and the tea that they pick here average plucking would (INAUDIBLE) 20 kilos.

MERRILL J. FERNANDO (voice-over): And we only pluck two leaves in a bud, as you can see here, where the flavor is concentrated. And the load (INAUDIBLE) and we manufacturer speedity coramoning 50 (ph) can be on some poor packages. We have now reached the last chapter in the story of tea. Ceylon, a small country, the tea, a single plant can produce a variety of teas. Its strength, character and flavors. Just like wine.

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