31 January 2007

A Foodie’s impressions of Saint Lucia

Before the 14th of January, Chefette’s only previous experience of food in the Caribbean was the Americanised offering of a large resort near Puerto Rico about five years ago. (Overcooked Chilean sea bass anyone?)

Fortunately, this time around in Saint Lucia, she and the Husband had plenty of chances to taste the real deal. They munched their way through as many of the local treats as possible. Imagine, if you will, eating freshly cooked fish cakes with hot sauce, bought from a vendor on the side of the road near a waterfall. Or being served grilled blue marlin, marinated in green spices, at a rickety sidewalk table on a balmy evening under the branches of a giant breadfruit tree. Or sipping on a positively lethal spiced rum punch at the Friday night street party in Gros Islet.

The food offering at our resort wasn’t uniformly perfect (at least one of the chefs was far too heavy-handed with the salt). But there were plenty of culinary successes when featuring island’s local produce. Favourite dishes that come immediately to mind included the sweet and tender conch salad with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, and the homemade syrup for the breakfast pancakes infused with nutmeg, mace, bay leaf and star anise. Best of all were the tropical fruits. I think I ate my weight in slices of bright orange, perfectly ripe papaya finished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Yum!

The Husband enjoyed the food, too. But I think his top culinary moment came after dinner one evening in the beachside bar, as he sipped a glass of the locally made Chairman’s Reserve rum – an amber-tinged golden concoction, served over the rocks – while smoking his favourite brand of Cuban cigar.

Anyone interested who wants to see a few foodie pictures from the trip, can click on the pictured link. It’s worth it, if only to see the lack of refrigeration at the butcher’s market stall! (By the way, the cocoa beans pictured at the Fond Doux Estate are destined to make their way into Hershey’s chocolate bars.)

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