Colombo’s booming café scene

Posted by Charmaine Stephen on April 25 th, 2018 in Accommodation

 

An evening in Colombo is not quite the same as it used to be a couple of years ago. With swanky cafés that have opened up throughout most of the commercial capital and its suburbs, some good coffee and

cake is never too difficult to hunt down. Here’s a quick lowdown on a few of my favourite spots for a quick bite in the city.

 

Whight & Co: With freshly ground coffee and an extensive menu which even includes cocktails, wine, spirit and beer, this café is prepared to treat you any time of the day. They have a range of starters, mains, wraps, burgers and salads to satisfy your appetite, along with the sea views (provided you choose your seating wisely). If you are a caffeine lover and enjoy making your coffee with freshly ground beans, then Whight & Co also offers coffee bean pouches for a partial café experience in your own kitchen!

 

Milk & Honey Café: Hidden away towards the end of their store catering to children, the Milk & Honey café is a delightful space in the heart of Colombo. While offering a variety of fusion dishes including wraps and salad bowls, Milk & Honey also serves refreshing fresh juices and smoothies. They don’t really do coffee though, so this is not ideal for the coffee crazies. The space is welcoming and ideal if you’re with the kids. Be warned though that the kids store through which you must pass through, is full of interesting books and goodies for them, so be prepared to spend a bit extra.

 

Nutritious goodies at Milk & Honey

The Brown Bean Coffee: Having started small as part of a local market promoting small scale entrepreneurs, The Brown Bean Coffee café is now thriving at its own store. They offer a wide variety of hot and cold drinks, made with their organic Peruvian coffee. The offering here is really a no-nonsense, fairly-priced approach which also includes a few food items like waffles which you might like to try.

 

Hansa Coffee: This small yet cosy café tucked within a busy street is a quiet hangout serving coffee, tea, brownies and their own chocolate. Hansa Coffee is ideal for spending some alone time, perhaps doing some reading or writing if that’s your cup of tea. Hansa Coffee used to be the venue for a much loved poetry evening for several years. Nevertheless, this spot is an authentic place for some simple food and great coffee.

The cosy interiors at Hansa Coffee

Kopi Kade: If you are serious about coffee, this is the place to go. With simple neat interiors furnished with wood, Kopi (Coffee) Kade (Shop) has a strong focus on their coffee and its origins. In case your timing is good and you bump into the owner, then you are highly likely to enjoy an interesting and insightful conversation about the weather. Sorry, I meant coffee, obviously. Kopi Kade also has some absolutely delightful snacks on the menu, prepared to high standards. This is definitely an experience, rather than just good spot for coffee.

Kopi Kade’s simple, clean interiors allow you to enjoy some delightful food

March madness in the island

Posted by Charmaine Stephen on March 17 th, 2018 in Activities, Culture & Heritage, General

 

Venture out on the streets during most weekends between February and March, and you will be bombarded with noise – of school boys and cricket lovers going on parades in bicycles, cars, vans, trucks and by foot. These are the months of the ultimate cricket battle of schools – better known as Big Match Season.

 

Big Match Season brings together past pupils of some of the most prestigious boys’ schools in Sri Lanka. The cricket encounters take place between traditional school rivals, both for fun and for good sporting camaraderie. Some of these matches have been played annually for over 100 years; in fact, the Big Match between Royal College and St. Thomas College, referred to as the Battle of the Blues (as both schools have blue in the flags), is the second oldest match in the world. Having started in 1879, the Battle of the Blues is older than the Ashes Series and even continued unhindered by World War I and II. This is perhaps the match that draws in the biggest crowd; no matter which part of the world they are in, old boys from these schools flock to their motherland to partake in the revelry of this annual event. Birthdays, weddings and illness can wait – this reunion cannot be missed!

Gearing up to support their school

More than fifty schools from across the island take part in the Big Match Season. Like the Royal-Thomian encounter which is dubbed the Battle of the Blues, all the other matches too have nicknames. The most interesting ones are perhaps the Battle of the Saints (St. Peter’s College Colombo vs. St. Joseph’s College, Colombo), the Battle of the Babes (St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy vs. Vidyartha College, Kandy), The Lovers’ Quarrel (Richmond College, Galle vs. Mahinda College, Galle) and the Battle of the Mangosteens (Kalutara Vidyalaya v Tissa Central College).

 

©san_atty on Instagram

So, this year too, the parades with the flags, the loud annoying pocket horns and the jumping continues. Hang on, what is jumping you might ask…well, this is an activity, now quite traditionally associated to the Big Match, where school boys jump into their sister schools, cause a little bit of a stir and head off. This is in no way a threat to anyone, but is merely a fun activity that happens during the Big Match Season. Just don’t ask why it happens (because I don’t think there’s a good reason for it).

 

What I can say for sure though is that Big Match Season is pretty much a part of the Sri Lankan culture on one hand, a social gala on the other and most importantly perhaps, an opportunity for old boys to renew loyalty to their alma mater every year.

 
Food plays a huge role in Sri Lanka, whether it’s the traditional rice and curry or the evening favourite short eats, the streets of Colombo are teeming with various cuisines. While on a walk around the city, you’re bound to come across a Chinese restaurant (with a Sri Lankan twist to it), a ‘bath kade’, which translates to rice shop, among other eateries in almost every corner, and every once in while you’ll see a restaurant that serves Jaffna styled food. “What is Jaffna?”, I hear you ask. Hold on to your fish and chips, things are about to get spicy.