Article

A Day Exploring St Lucia & Eating (Cocoa Plantation, Orlando’s & Rainforest Hideaway Lionfish)

Sitting here in Soho looking out at the rain and surrounded by buzzy media types on their phones, tablets and what not, it is hard to believe that this time last week I was in the Caribbean and my biggest problem was being stalked by mosquitos. I love going away, but I also love coming home, and I don’t mind the rain. An Irish person with an issue with the rain, might as well have an issue with the sky, blades of grass, cows that moo, and anything else everyday and not extreme.

It rained in St Lucia too. Quite a bit. Lush misty rain that waters the cocoa trees, the giant rainforest, towering palms, gorgeous eclectic flowers, the vivid greenery, and the occasional boa constrictor (true). We drove along the coast and into the rainforest along windy steep roads dotted with small villages, seashores, luxury resorts and finally, our destination, a cocoa plantation. Rabot Estate is owned and run by Hotel Chocolat in the UK, but it is run entirely by St Lucian staff, and supports St Lucian cocoa farmers, producing a single estate cocoa for production in the UK (they are building a factory in St Lucia now too).

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A Postcard from Barbados

The wild and gorgeous east coast of Barbados

The wild and gorgeous north coast of Barbados

Well, hello there! And greetings, now from Barbados. I am on the second leg of my Caribbean break, nearing the end of it, this time at The Club in Barbados.

It has been a super week. I have gotten under the skin of Bajan food, learned to cook it, had lots of gorgeous fresh local fish and a few cocktails. Typically, I finish with a backlog of all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t. So, I start at 8.30am tomorrow with a trip to see some turtles, cooking in the kitchen here and getting a recipe for pepper sauce (I love that stuff!) and I am going to finish it all with a massage and facial. Then back to London overnight on Wednesday and straight back into meetings and insanity.

Here are some photo highlights. Back soon with recipes, stories and lots more photos.

Bajan fishing boats, Barbados. And people swimming behind!

Bajan fishing boats, Barbados. And people swimming behind!

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

Cornmeal cou cou which I learned to make at Enid's Cooking School at The CLub - recipe along with others, soon

Cornmeal cou cou which I learned to make at Enid’s Cooking School at The Club – recipe along with others, soon

Bajan fish cakes in Bridgetown

Bajan fish cakes in Bridgetown

Mural at the Catholic church / school

Mural at the Catholic church / school

Bridgetown, so colourful

Bridgetown, so colourful

Taking it easy in Bridgetown

Taking it easy in Bridgetown

Morris Greenidge, a local historian, who I went on a fascinating tour of Bridgetown with

Morris Greenidge, a local historian, who I went on a fascinating tour of Bridgetown with

The synagogue in Bridgetown - fascinating history, more soon

The synagogue in Bridgetown – fascinating history, more soon

Granny's at Oistins

Granny’s at Oistins

Playing dominoes at Oistins

Playing dominoes at Oistins

Soaking it up at Oistins

Soaking it up at Oistins

Lobster on the grill at Oistins

Lobster on the grill at Oistins

Oistins, Barbados

Oistins, Barbados

Uncle George at Oistins

Uncle George at Oistins

The grill at Uncle Georges with flying fish in the foreground

The grill at Uncle Georges with flying fish in the foreground

BBQ pig tails, possibly the best thing EVER

BBQ pig tails, possibly the best thing EVER

Bathsheba, Barbados

Bathsheba, Barbados

Bajan surfer at Bathsheba, Barbados

Bajan surfer at Bathsheba, Barbados

Old plantation windmill

Old plantation windmill

This crazy little bird was trying to steal my biscuits

This crazy little bird was trying to steal my biscuits

Cotton growing in Barbados

Cotton growing in Barbados

Cotton field in Barbados

Cotton field in Barbados

Door

Door

The wild and gorgeous east coast of Barbados - up close

The wild and gorgeous north coast of Barbados – up close

The Cliff - amazing location and beautifully designed, good food too!

The Cliff – amazing location and beautifully designed, good food too!

A rum baba at The Cliff, with some Mount Gay Very Old Rum

A rum baba at The Cliff, with some Mount Gay Very Old Rum

Mar-tea-ni at The Cliff, Barbados

Mar-tea-ni at The Cliff, Barbados

Travel Info: I am in Barbados on the Barbados Blogathon, sponsored by Tropical Sky & Elite Island Resorts.

Article

Recipe: Chef Baka’s Banana Fritter Recipe (from Palm Island)

Chef Baka's Banana Fritters

Chef Baka’s Banana Fritters

Every morning on Palm Island, I would ask what the local breakfast was, and almost always order it. I love Caribbean breakfasts.

On my first morning, the local breakfast was banana fritters. Well, yes please. The bananas here are fantastic, rich and sweet, almost like they have been soaked in a rich banana syrup. I made banana fritters in school at Home Economics and was quite taken with them. These, however, were different.

My school banana fritters were slices of banana, fried in batter. Just that and for a 13 year old Irish cailín a revelation. These Caribbean banana fritters are more of an intense banana American pancake with some gentle spicing. Fluffy, light and like a morning banana tickle. Except that sounds quite rude. It isn’t!

Like banana bread, they are made with bananas just on the right side of brown – speckled skin with some yellow bits – mashed until soft (do you remember banana sandwiches?! I used to love them) and then added to the fritter mixture. Perfect for bananas that have gone too far to eat. Frugal & a wee bit healthy too.

I loved those banana fritters and I ordered them regularly, so I asked Chef Baka for the recipe. He went one better and showed me how to make them. He does weekly cooking demos on Palm Island so he did this one for me.

Cooking Banana Fritters with Chef Baka

Cooking Banana Fritters with Chef Baka

So, here it is. Enjoy! Do let me know how you like it.

Note on the recipe: the recipe is in American cups which I have converted to mls / g. I have included both. Our bananas are not as sweet as the ones here, so it may be wise to add the sugar if not completely ripe, or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Enjoy!

RECIPE: Chef Baka’s Banana Fritters

Ingredients

3 big ripe bananas, mashed
1 & 2/3 cups / 250g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg (more if you like it – I do!)
1 tsp Cinnamon
2/3 cup / 160ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
Oil or butter (for frying)

Method

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in a bowl.
Beat egg well, then combine mashed banana and milk.
Add dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the batter is smooth.
Heat a frying pan to medium-hot and add enough oil to coat the flat area.
Scoop a tablespoon of the batter onto the pan when the oil is heated to medium hot.
Fry on one side until small bubbles start to come through the batter, you will know then that that side is done.
Flip over and flatten the batter slightly.
Fry for a couple of minutes until medium brown.
Place cooked fritters on a few layers of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Best served warm but cooled is good, too.

Further info on Palm Island, and on Tropical Sky’s package to Palm Island.

Article

Last Postcard from Grenada

I spent my last couple of hours in Grenada putting together this post. I hit publish, boarded the plane, and got back today. Only when I hit publish, my post disappeared into some unknown ether. Gone from drafts to nowhere I can find, so I have just put it together again, with a very sleepy head.

Recipes, Grenada restaurants and more soon. Enjoy my last postcard for now :)

Grenada

Buying Jacks (small fish) in the blazing sunshine in Grenada

Selling jacks on the key in Grenada

Grenada

Old phone boxes, Grenada

Happy Hill, Grenada

Fisherman, Grenada

Buying nutmeg in the shell at the nutmeg factory, Grenada

Victoria Secrets, Grenada

The wild Atlantic, North Grenada

Met this guy sun drying his own cocoa in his driveway – most people have their own trees and do this

Bananas, Grenada

The Pink Palace, Grenada

Lush gorgeous rainforest in Grenada (the monkeys are in there!)

Avocados on the tree, Grenada

Vanilla on the vine, Grenada

Charlie at Charlie’s Bar, Grenada

Article

A Postcard from Grenada

Grenada

Grenada

I can’t quite believe that my week on this beautiful Caribbean island is coming to an end, but it is. It has been quite the non-stop adventure. I am busier here than I am in London, simply because there is so much that I want to see, and taste.

Lets start with an overview, and I will be back with more details and videos soon. More photos too, as this is really just the very tip of what I have taken.

Nutmeg in the shell, Grenada

Nutmeg in the shell, Grenada

Mace drying the sun, Grenada

Mace drying the sun, Grenada

Sun dried mace, Grenada

Sun dried mace, Grenada

Nutmeg, with mace, in the fruit - all parts are used

Nutmeg, with mace, in the fruit – all parts are used

Met this young guy on the road, Grenada

Met this young guy on the road, Grenada

The lovely folks at Belmont Estate, Grenada

The lovely folks at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Grenada Chocolate Company

Grenada Chocolate Company

Selling fresh fish from the back of a truck - jacks, very popular and in season now

Selling fresh fish from the back of a truck – jacks, very popular and in season now

Sorrel at the market, Grenada

Sorrel at the market, Grenada

Land crabs at the market, Grenada

Land crabs at the market, Grenada

The fish market, Grenada

The fish market, Grenada

Selling offal soup at the meat market, Grenada

Selling offal soup at the meat market, Grenada

Eating Crab Back at BB's Crab Back, Grenada

Eating Crab Back at BB’s Crab Back, Grenada

Land Crab, at BB's, Grenada

Land Crab, at BB’s, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada

Harvesting cocoa at Belmont Estate, Grenada