What started off as just a crazy idea to move to Puerto Rico, turned into a not only a new learning and living experience, but opened up our eyes to all of the Caribbean, each island with its own unique culture, charm and cuisine.
These were taken last week at Dulcina's going-away party with her daughter Dhakiya in Crystal's front yard. Next top model in the making? Her mother, Dulcina asked her to strike a pose and this 7-year old started bringing out all these poses!
I've since been asked to shoot a wedding in March!!!!!!!
Yet another food post, but 'tis the season, right? :-)
This one I have to admit I'm pretty darn proud of... Geoff and his coworkers organised a multicultural cook-off - one guy from India, another from Dominica, another from Trinidad and one guy from "The South" :-)
Then there was us - Chinese and German heritage. Geoff knew right away what he was going to cook, and with some asian herbs and spices available on island, it wasnt too difficult to get his ingredients together. German on the other hand..?! I wanted to bake a Mohnkuchen (Poppyseed Cake) but after realising that the only poppyseed available on island was that in 50gr containers (i needed 2-3kg), I decided that a $70 was out of the question.
So.... I attempted Laugen Bretzel! You know the ones with the nice brown, crunchy outside and the coarse salt on top? They turned out really good and everyone loved them! Which means... yes, I guess I'll be baking them on more occasions now!
I have to share my new favorite local food with you all - the famous Caribbean "Double".It is a sandwich made with two flat fried "breads", called "bara" filled with curried chick peas or garbanzo beans, commonly called channa (from Urdu/Hindi/Bhojpuri "chanaa"). Topped with a variety of spicy chutneys (mango, cucumber, coconut, tamarind - I had the mango) and extra pepper sauce made from Scotch Bonnet peppers (ranging from a dash "slight" to much more), this delicacy is undoubtedly the most popular fast food in Trinidad and Tobago. It is usually eaten for breakfast, and sometimes lunch, but can be a late night snack as well (which it was in my case).
The bread is a quick bread made of flour, baking powder, salt and ground turmeric, which gives the bread its yellow color. It is flattened to a thin round disk about four or five inches in diameter and fried until golden brown. The bara (from Hindi/Bhojpuri "bara") is then filled with the channa ready to be sold. There is no set recipe for the channa, which can be just curried or mixed with curry and dhal (split peas, usually the yellow variety, from Hindi/Bhojpuri "dhal").
Today my friend Mary Ann and I took our pups to the beach - Jack and Isaac's - which involves a hike down and a hike up on a one person/dog trail... they're not with keeping one behind eachother, but they are good at sitting when they want a treat, arent they??
On Sunday Geoff got an unexpected day off work (from his crazy hours lately) so we were able to go to one of the 'kick-off to Carnivale' events, called Soup de'Cure. It was an event put on by one of the charity organisations that helps educate youth about making right decisions and teaching them the consequences of drugs, alcohol etc so the money raised went towards that. About 20 restaurants competed and they all cooked up their best soups/stews. You paid 50 c per tasting, but the tasting cups were a decent size. There was no Callaloo (my favorite - traditional Caribbean soup made with saltfish, greens (usually spinach), crab and some sort of starch, like potato or rice) but I had some various Seafood stews, a Peruvian Corn Chowder and Wahoo (a type of local white fish) Chilli.
All restaurants that were there as participants were competing for cash prizes - the winner took home $1000. Unfortunately, my favorite on the night (which was a creamy tomato fish stew from a Puerto Rican restaurant) didnt take a place..but they did give me a big take home container for telling them that theirs was the best :-)
The live entertainment - which was a local reggae band and another local singer, Mada Nile was excellent too. I took a little video with my phone, but dont know how to turn it - its on its side right now! Its kind of noisy from all the people there, but try and watch till at least the part where the couple are dancing - We called them Mr and Mrs Claus for the night :-)
Our landlord's mother is always dipping into our herb garden and cooks up these massive pots of tea.. Since I'm not a big fan of basil or oregano tea (yuk!), I decided to try out some of our spearmint that I havent yet tasted but has been making our garden so fragrant!
I dug out the intense Chinese Gunpowder green tea that we bought in Chinatown Vancouver earlier this year and got to harvesting our mint :-)
I used both stems and leaves for maximum flavor
One teaspoon only of this particular green tea because it can get extremely bitter if too much is used
As for the mint, about 5 leaves does the trick for one cup
Tea is always made best with really hot, but not boiling water
Drop ingredients into pot and let steep for about 10 mins
The result? Tea as black as coffee but super delicious!
I should make this more often... and surprisingly it has more of a kick than a shot of espresso, whilst the mint leaves a nice, cooling aftertaste.
A tradition for the Boot Campers every year is to do a half-full day hike. This time around the group went to the tidepools on the North Shore - a beautiful hike we've done several times before. The pics below are from Roberta's (Boot Camp Instructor) camera.
Roberta and I at the Tidepools
Beautiful view of the North Shore
Roberta at the Tidepools
It was pretty rough!
The tidepool water is so clear!
The rugged North Shore
Some of our group enjoying the cool down after the hike
Most of my island friends know how much i LOOOOOVE Armstrongs gooseberry icecream...and since its a seasonal flavor, what will I ever do once they run out? So, my last batch of gooseberry icecream I devoured, I saved the seeds from it and decided I will try to grow my own gooseberry bush.. then all we need is an icecream maker (is anyone looking to get rid of one by chance?!?!) and I will have gooseberry icecream ALL YEAR ROUND!!!!
So I planted these little seeds, and watched patiently every day for 3 weeks...nothing. Feeling defeated, I forgot about my little pot of dirt with dried gooseberry seeds buried in it until.... I took a close look yesterday and look what I saw!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh - and the end result? Should look something like this:
Living on the East End now, we barely get out west anymore. For most of you, you may think this is funny considering its just a half hour drive to the other side of the island, but weekend chores generally catch up on us most weekends and we dont have the time to really make the most of a road trip and enjoy everything the west end has to offer. Yesterday we just did it!
View from Scenic Road
Carambola Beach Resort and the North Shore
Looking down onto Frederiksted from Scenic Road...can you see the cruise ship?
I love this view looking down onto the North Shore!
One of West End's many hidden beaches
So many rockpools to explore!
Fossilized brain coral
Frederiksted - lunch time!
No sandwich on island beats those found at Turtle's Deli in Frederiksted. Cajun beef, pickles, spanish onion, banana pepper..all smothered with spicy sauce and mayo, served on homemade roasted garlic bread - yes please!