Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Start Writing

I haven’t written it’s been so long. I need solitude, calmness, and nature to start writing. I need to lose my composure. I need to not be casual. I need some tears. I need a blow. I need to think, to over-analyze. I need a reminder. I need the shadows. The pain. I need to get outside of myself, and observe from the exterior.

It’s the right time for one. I’m old enough to understand and attempt to narrate. And young enough to not forget the trivial, though intricate, details. Some things should happen now… or they will never happen.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Rum In Mauritius

                “Why is the rum always gone?”

Jack Sparrow perhaps missed an important detail here. He should have first asked where the rum came from... Well, it just spun off from time and perhaps, neglect! 

As a coincidental by-product, Rum shared a lane in the labyrinthine history of Sugar. After Columbus introduced sugarcane (saccharum officinarum) to the West Indies in 1493, it is believed that Brazil, Barbados and Jamaica produced the first (crude) rum of the New World. While sugar was long renowned for its mercantile value, rum was first discovered by the sugar mill operators who noticed that molasses would ferment when mixed with water and left out in the sun. The first distillation of rum took place on the sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean in the 17th century. Today still, the Caribbean and Latin American countries have remained the world’s epicenter for rum production.

Reputed across the world for the quality of its sugar, Mauritius has not made an exception to rum. Sugarcane, naval troops, colonization, battles of empires, slavery —Mauritius has, for the most part, been a silent and submissive witness to it all. It should be of no wonder that today, founding upon this heritage, it is thriving to become one of the leading producers. Rum production started on the island nearly 200 years ago. Dr Pierre Charles François Harel was the first person to have developed the concept of local distillation of rum in Mauritius in 1852. Records have it that he used, as sole ingredients, the finest plants from his Pamplemousses Garden Estate to manufacture a purely refined liquor of exclusive quality. “Arrack”, a precursor to rum, a distilled alcoholic drink produced from fermented molasses, had been present in the island since mid-17th century, at the time of the Dutch reign.

What is rum?

Rum is one of the most varied distilled spirits made by fermenting sugar and water, typically of a 35%- 40% alcohol concentration by volume. Where the word ‘rum’ originated from, nobody is sure of as yet. It may have been derived from rumbullion, meaning a great tumult or uproar. Other versions suggest that it comes from rummers, large drinking glasses used by Dutch seamen. Some people believe it is a contraction of the words saccharum, Latin for sugar, or arȏme, French for aroma

The original source of the word itself may be unknown, but today when the name rum is used, it is easy to determine the rum’s place of origin. From Spanish-speaking locales, the word ron is used. Rum that has been aged and is often used for premium products is called ron añejoRhum is used for rums from French-speaking locales, while rhum vieux is an aged French rum.

Rum production

Unlike some other spirits, rum has no defined production methods. It is based on traditional styles which in turn, vary between locations and distillers. In most countries and in Mauritius, rum production typically involves three processes in the following order: fermentation, distillation and aging and blending.


The sugar is fermented from cane juice, concentrated cane juice, or molasses. Depending upon the recipe, the “wash” (cane juice/ molasses and water) is fermented using either cultured yeast or airborne wild yeasts, for a period that can range from 24 hours for lighter rums to several weeks for heavy, full varieties. Understandably, the use of slower-working yeasts causes more esters (a chemical compound produced by the reaction between acids and alcohol) to accumulate during fermentation, allowing for a fuller-tasting rum.


No standard method is used for distillation as well. Some producers use ‘single distillation’, also known as, ‘column distillation’, others may use ‘double distillation’ or work in batches using pot stills. 

Single distillation is a form of fractional distillation and is used to manufacture white rum. Depending upon condensation, various types of rums can be obtained. Pot still output produces fuller-tasting rums than single distillation as it contains more congeners, a by-product formed during the fermentation process. In the double distillation process, the vapors collected a second time can have an alcohol content of 70%, for instance, as those produced by the Rhumerie de Chamarel. The liquid manufactured is then called “coeur de chauffe”, in English, “the heart of the distillation”. As suggested by the name, it is the part of the distillation of sugar cane juice (not molasses) of the best quality.

Aging and blending

The ageing process is what determines the color of the rum. In oak casks, the solution becomes dark whereas in stainless steel tanks, it remains virtually colorless. Most countries require the rum to be aged for at least a year, often 15, but the period can even go beyond 30 years!

The final step is blending. This is done for the flavor and will thus, entirely depend upon preferences.

Industrial (Traditional) Rum and Agricultural Rum (Rhum Agricole)

Mauritius is perhaps the only island that produces both industrial and agricultural rums. The main differences between these two rums lay in the materials used in the production process, though both rums are distilled from a fermented liquid containing sugar from sugarcane plants.

Agricultural rum is made from pure sugarcane juice, a solution called “vesou” while for the distillation and fermentation of industrial rum, molasses—a sweet sticky residue produced after crystallized sugar is extracted from boiled sugarcane juice—are used. 

This specificity in raw materials gives rum a wider bouquet, especially white rum, as in older ones barrel aging tends to reduce the differences. What is interesting to note is that production in rhum agricole distilleries is territorial. Because fresh sugarcane juice is so exposed to oxidation, a rhum agricole distillery can only source from local sugarcanes. 

Molasses based rums, contrarily, have no such restrictions. So, the distilleries can source from anywhere in the world. Industrial rum production is thus more repeatable and guarantees a standardized output. Its variability depends more on the distillation columns and aging processes. When compared to the traditional rum, rhum agricole offers more variety as in addition to the distillation columns and aging processes, its variability also depends upon the land where the sugarcane was cultivated. The fresher the sugarcane juice, the more various the aromas can be. To guarantee its enviable level of quality, most rum distilleries in Mauritius are located inside the sugar estates.

Rum Varieties

Primarily used as mixers or blended with fruit flavors, white rums are generally light-bodied, clear and have a very subtle flavor. If aged in oak casks to create a smooth palate, they are usually filtered to remove any color. 

Golden rums, also called Amber rums or Rhum Paille, are usually medium-bodied. Most have spent several years aging in oak casks, to which they owe their smooth, mellow palates.

Dark rums are traditionally full-bodied, rich, caramel-dominated rums, the best of them being produced in pot stills and usually aged in oak casks for extended periods. The richest of these are consumed straight up.

Spiced rums can be any of the three above categories, infused with spices or fruit flavors. Rum punches are very popular blends of rum and fruit juices.

Añejo and Age-Dated rums (also Rhum Vieux) are aged rums from different vintages or batches that are mixed together to insure a continuity of flavor in brands of Rum from year to year. Some aged Rums will give age statements stating the youngest Rum in the blend (e.g., 10-year-old Rum contains a blend of Rums that are at least 10 years old). 

The Flamboyant Oak Aged rum (7 years), for example, is a fantastic sipping rum with a big, smooth, well-rounded nose and palate, aged in Bourbon casks. Golden in color due to oak maturation, the rum has no artificially added colors.

Overproof (or high-proof) Rum
Often used as a float or dash in cocktails, this potent rum of 75% pure alcohol must be diluted before use. Otherwise, it can be dangerous to the human body. Due to its high alcoholic content, it should never be used in cooking or near an open flame. Safest is to let your bartender prepare your cocktail. For connoisseurs, overproof rum is simply awesome, it burns perfectly well, is punchy, lively, full of flavor, and adds a dimension to cocktails no other spirit can—you just have to treat it with the respect that it deserves!

You can also find this type of rum in Mauritius. For instance, the Green Island Overproof 75.5% rum is a blend of up to 5 year old, oak aged rums which have undergone charcoal filtration to remove the straw color gained from the ageing process.


Rummy for your tummy. Trust me, you do like rum. The fact is that there is such a huge and diverse category of rums that you are sure to find at least one out there with your name on it. 

Fortunately, in Mauritius, the rum is here to stay!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Beach Dinner on Paradise

Melt in embraces of the warm sunset
Let your dreams and shadows lie
Along the foamy shores of eternity
Where hopes and love don’t die

The immortal fusion of the sun and the sea spells of a romance that is eternal, of a moment that is worth a lifetime. Experience with your loved ones a dinner in paradise wrapped inside a dreamy frame, where time no longer seems to exist.  

Be barefoot so you can feel the soft, beige crystals of the Mauritian sand gently caressing your feet. Tunes of the melodious waves crashing on the graceful shoreline will accompany you throughout, while the cool sea breezes will fragrance the atmosphere. Colors of the rainbow will have dispersed into the clouds and one by one, you will contemplate the last rays of the day’s sunshine disappearing into the horizon. The sky will be ablaze with color: fiery orange, sunflower yellow, crimson red, purplish pink… slowly to be replaced by the indigo of the night. Soon, stars will wander overhead while the ocean will glow with reflections of the ivory moon. 

Delicacies offered by the best chefs around the island will thrill your palates: Creole, Indian, French, Oriental cuisine, seafood, Italian pastas, and so much more to discover. But on the beach, it is not just about the food and savor… You will have reached the destination of your life.

In almost every hotel located along the coast, you can have a beach dinner organized on request. However, some of the hotels do organize it on a routine basis and even though you are not a guest of the hotel, you can benefit from this activity—but if you really want something romantically exceptional, we strongly recommend that you liaise with the hotel staff so they can include exactly what you want: your type of music, flowers, champagne, candles, kiosque—you mention it, even if it’s just exclusive privacy!

If you don’t want to go for the perfect romanticism and prefer the party atmosphere, there are yet many options to choose from. Here is a bit of what the hotels in Mauritius organize as beach dinner and beach dinner parties on a routine basis:

-         Shanti Maurice Resort, Chemin Grenier
Divine beach dinner

Absolutely divine because you will feel like the God and Goddess of love in this purely romantic setting where you can ‘meditate under the moonlight while you await your dinner’. Your private cabana bed on the beach secluded by the flowing cotton curtains will literally cut you out of this world, to remain solely in the company of the one you love most. The nearby bonfire will inflame the romance. 

Dinner is served on an exclusive basis—in fact, the chef and butler will be there with you to create the courses you prefer. You can expect an appetizing BBQ meal, served with champagne and the dreamy serenades of a violinist. 

The dinner will be concocted right in front of you. You can expect prawns, lobster, octopus, an assortment of salads, lamb, beef and so many more, made from the freshest ingredients. Just make your choice!

-         Long Beach Mauritius
Special Friday Sega Shows: Lobster BBQ and Seafood buffet 

If you wish for a charming beach dinner accompanied with an entertaining Sega show—the typical Mauritian Sega—bonfire, and an exquisite lobster BBQ and seafood open buffet, Long Beach Mauritius Hotel offers you a unique opportunity to make your dreams come true at its exclusive seafood restaurant, the Tides Restaurant, every Friday. Depending upon seasons, you can expect to have: octopus, shrimp, marlin, Sacrechien, lobster, dorado, tuna, calmari and so much more!

As for the other days of the week (Monday – Thursday), the beach dinner is offered with an à la carte menu so as to better cater for the varied taste of its clients.

-         Tamarina Hotel
Special Saturday Lobster Menu

Tamarina’s Restaurant La Plage offers you a special lobster menu exclusively on Saturdays with: lobster flan, lobster carpaccio, grilled lobster, accompanied with a tropical salsa, vegetables fricassée, Creole rice, crustacean sauce and dessert.
On the other days, you can choose between 7 different seafood menus with oyster, calamari, baby fish, giant prawns, and of course, lobster. 

Special candlelight dinners are also organized upon request, in case you would want to savor the dishes with your beloved one. At extra cost, entertainment can also be included, from a single guitarist to a trio band—you choose. 

-         Veranda Resorts, Palmar Beach
Special themed beach dinners on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays: Pirates Night or Creoles Night

If you are seeking to get away from the purely romantic atmosphere and go into some excitement, then this might be the right place for you. The pirates and creoles have both been two different sources of mysticism in the history of Mauritius. Even though everybody knows their history, very few people today can actually relate to them. Veranda Resorts, Palmar Beach gives you a not-to-miss opportunity. 

Either the Pirates Night or Creoles Night is organized every 3 days of the week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, depending upon existing conditions. For the Pirates Night, expect BBQ menus with chicken, lamb meat, fish, and/ or beef, accompanied with soups, salads and desserts. The Creoles Night will introduce you to different dishes including octopus, fish, beef, chicken, seafood and many more. 

For the other days of the week, an à la carte menu is offered. The restaurant also has two set menus which you can choose from: a lobster menu and a seafood menu. Entertainment is catered for upon request. 

-         Le Preskil
Tuesdays: BBQ menu on the beach

Every Tuesday, Le Preskil organizes its special BBQ menu on its beautiful turquoise beach with a trio music band to liven up the beach atmosphere. For the open buffet menu you can find chicken, beef, sausages, giant prawns, marlin and other seafood accompanied by salads and other dressings.

Good beach, good food and good music – enjoy the good evening!

-         Intercontinental Hotel, Balaclava
Wednesdays and Saturdays: Special themed beach dinners 

The white sand at Intercontinental is a splendor; the blue turquoise lagoon looks like gems; the sunset is fire. Everything you need for enduring romance is there. 

Every Wednesday and Saturday, Intercontinental holds its special themed beach dinners organized by the main restaurant. An exquisite Mauritian buffet with BBQ is offered accompanied by entertainment to suit and enhance the atmosphere: Sega dance/ Typical Asian dance/ Trio band, etc. Let the theme of the day just blow your mind away!

As for the other days of the week, an à la carte menu is offered with the type of entertainment that you want—and everything to match the clients’ personal preferences. Submit yourself wholly to the charm, and live in one of those evenings you will remember for days to come. 

-         Hotel Le Bougainville

Le Bougainville usually offers the beach dinner upon request with 3 menus to choose from: lobster menu, giant prawns menu and a special menu (as per your taste) for special occasions such as wedding anniversaries and honeymoons. 

Generally, the lobster menu is offered on a routine basis on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

The good thing about Le Bougainville is that if you are on your honeymoon or celebrating your wedding anniversary as a client of the hotel, you do not have to pay a supplement. The staff will happily organize something special for you.

-         Veranda Resorts, Pointe aux Biches

Veranda Resorts might be the ideal place to grab the typical romantic experience; it is usually not crowded and situated on the northwest coast, so you can have a marvelous view of the sun setting. Usually, an à la carte menu is offered but you can also choose from the set seafood menu and chicken menu. 

-         Maritim Hotel, Balaclava

Located at Turtle Bay, the island’s first Marine National Park, in the North West, which is considered to be the sunniest region of Mauritius, le Maritim will offer you a sunset that is clad with colours. More so, hop on one of the big rocks on the beach and feel the romance of the air and sea as you enjoy the Titanic position with your partner.

Dinners are organized on request with an à la carte menu. The hotel staff will do their best to accommodate each of your personal requests, including entertainment.

-         Anahita The Resort, Beau Champ GRSE

At Anahita, the food is of your choice— ‘sincerely yours’. You just have to mention what you want to eat and the staff will make arrangements to have it on your plate, served on the pristine beach with beacons illuminating your surrounding and rendering it more romantic. Anahita has a reputation for elegance. The romantic experience is defined by you, so the entertainment is catered for upon request. For honeymooners, Anahita offers a special set menu which you can choose if you want to escape the planning and still, enjoy the refined cuisine.


There are many other hotels and restaurants around the coastland where you can have the beach dinner you want. If you just want an experience (and a bit of surprises with it), then go give it a try. But if it is for a special occasion of your life, then be sure to inform the staff of your requirements so that they can plan for you the beach dinner tailored out of your dreams!

Nature will weave you wonders and create a magical evening in which you can relax intimately with your partner, or in the friendly company of your family and friends. Take advantage of the magnificent Mauritian sunset as backdrop and elegant restaurants onsite, and enjoy a unique beach dining experience. 


** Most of the hotels welcome outside customers, but this is dependent on their occupancy rates. During peak hotel seasons, hotels could be fully booked, so you might look for the independent restaurants instead.

** Whether the beach dinner can be organized will, of course, depend on weather conditions.