Unakanda Blog

Unakanda, Unawatuna & Beyond

‘Ava cado

This family loves avocados.  We love a smear of avocado on nutty multigrain toast with Vegemite,  avodaco slices or cubes tossed into salads and cold pasta dishes, with soft fresh bread and prawns, and as garlicky guacamole.  So it was a lovely surprise to find a huge avocado tree on the property.

The tree provided a bit of a problem when we added the kitchen extension, so we worked it in to the design.

And now she provides us with a bountiful harvest.

‘Poonies Kitchen’ – a happy tummy place to eat in Galle

Yesterday I went looking for somewhere to get a pedicure and found not only a gorgeous spa, but a fab little cafe and a couple of boutique shops too, all in the same space at 63 Peddlers Street (opposite Peddler’s Inn).
I made my appointment at the spa and then off I went to have lunch. ‘Poonies Kitchen’ is situated in a courtyard behind a designer fabric shop and a boutique clothing store. The decor is simple (in a good way), fun and young in design. The menu is reassuringly small. There were 3 vegetarian dishes and I was having a hard time deciding which one. On the recommendation of the steward I chose the flatbread with caramelised onions and grilled veges. It was crunchy, flavoursome and absolutely delicious, especially with an added smear of sweet chilli sauce that came on the side.
There were a variety of fresh juices and other beverages on a blackboard to choose from. I chose a pineapple based fresh juice and it was amazing. The juice arrived in a chilled jar with a big hunk of ice made from mint leaves and coconut water. The lemongrass straw was a special treat. LOVE! I consumed every last bit and then had another.
As I walked out I noticed the dessert menu on a blackboard – I’m thinking with a coffee for morning tea in a few days. Can’t wait! To quote the iconic Aussie, Molly Meldrum…”do yourself a favour” and make a point of stopping by.

Making plans

The ‘White House’ has gone through hundreds of transitions on paper starting as a simple shack to stay in while we build elsewhere on the property; gaining and then losing another level and now, here we are, so happy with it that we would love to retire here some day.

The floor plan: two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, and indoor and outdoor kitchen and dining.

The view you might see if arriving by helicopter!.

A side section of the master bedroom, indoor, outdoor bathroom.

So, hows the weather…?

Obviously one of the things we get asked about a lot when people are considering coming to stay is, “What’s the weather like?” The short quick answer is “lovely!”.

Sri Lanka is a tropical island, which means it has a lot of very warm, humid weather and rain. The weather does vary from the north to the south, but in Unawatuna, the temperature is quite stable all year round with an average of roughly 28C/82F.

As a family, we do most of our travelling during the main school holidays (Apr, Jul/Aug, Dec) and have found that every time we have been there it has been perfect for swimming in the pool or sea and lying in the sun reading a book.

Sri Lanka has 2 monsoon seasons.  And while the monthly rainfall averages appear quite high, the rain tends to arrive announced, with grumbling black clouds, bucketing-down fat droplets for a brief time (we’re talking minutes not hours) and then moves on with barely a change in temperature. A few minutes of rain in the tropics would probably release as much precipitation as several hours of the misty drizzle you find in much more temperate zones.

Most travel guides recommend November to March as the best time to visit the Galle area.  While statistics are certainly helpful when considering the best time to go, really, it might just come down to luck. To date July and August have been our favourite time to go, although we have been a bit disappointed that there has been barely any rain – LOVE the drama of the rain.  

We may have been lucky, but we have visited several times and have never had any issues with weather other than having to reschedule a surfing lesson because the conditions were unsuitable. And if it rains…we go inside until it stops…or walk in it!

 

Jackfruit

There are so many jackfruit trees at Unakanda that we could almost start a side industry of jackfruit farming.   Every single part of the tree can be used.

The timber is lovely.  We have a couple of antique pieces and the dining table and chairs Tim designed are made from recycled jack wood.  The timber is used in Sri Lanka to make musical instruments as well as furniture and in buildings.  The leaves and roots are used in ayurvedic medicine as is the fruit.  And Buddhist monks traditionally used jackfruit to dye their robes.

The fruit hangs from the trees in huge big bumpy oval shaped balls, looking a bit like massive alien eggs.  The fruit itself, is also a bit alien.  The smell  is, well, special.  I have heard some say it tastes a bit like a tart banana.  Our reluctance to eat the unfamiliar jackfruit is a bit of a shame really as jackfruit is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium, calcium and iron, has very little fat and sugar.

The Sri Lankans use the fruit in a variety of cooked dishes and also process it to make products such as flours noodles, ice-cream and polos (pickles and chutneys).  The fruit can be eaten ripe, green (in curries) and dried.  Even the seed of the jackfruit can be eaten.

In the past few weeks I have come across quite a few articles on using green jackfruit flesh as a meat replacement.  As a mostly vegetarian – aspiring vegan, this in principal sounds amazing – but does it taste great too?   My goal on my next visit to Unawatuna is to try out some jackfruit savoury dishes such as jackfruit curry and BBQ ‘pulled’ jackfruit.  If delicious they would be a great addition to our Unakanda recipe book (it’s in the book shelf under the tv!).

 

We’re adding another bathroom!

The official opening has been pushed back a bit, but for good reason – we’ve decided to add an ensuite to the master bedroom!

I am particularly excited about this new development as the design will feature a bath tub.  I love soaking in a warm bath, with bubbles, fragrance, candles and a good book.  The bath is going to make the perfect addition to the cottage for relaxing.  Just like the other bathroom, we are striving for the feeling of an outdoor bathroom surrounded by plants and some other quirky features.

The search is now on for bathroom products.  We are looking for toiletries that are Sri Lankan made, natural and cruelty free.  I have narrowed the choice down to products from two Sri Lankan companies.  One features anti-oxidant green tea with lemongrass and rosemary.  The other is an Ayurvedic product made from aloe vera and watergrass.    Thoughts?

Almost There!

The website has gone public, followers are starting to trickle onto Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and we are starting to finally see the finish line!  We are not quite there yet though.  The grass is to be laid, potted plants potted, cushions sourced and art hung, but we are so close.  So close in fact that we are even taking bookings with huge discount to make up for those ‘not-yet-there’ cushions. Exciting times.

Sri Lankan Hospitality

One of the reasons we love Sri Lanka so much is the beautiful Sri Lankan hospitality. Strolling along Unawatuna beach one morning Tim & Lilli got chatting to a group of locals and next thing you know they are being offered a snack.