Dominica Part 1 of 5
I have been away from blogging for a while as you noticed. I was busy preparing for Dominica’s 3rd Annual Health and Wellness events sponsored by Discover Dominica Discover Dominica’s Tourism Awareness Month which was three days of events focussing on health and wellness. This year I was invited as the guest chef for the events and initially getting into it I had no idea what I was in store for but in the end it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life and I left the island with a new sense of direction as I had been looking in the wrong places for guidance and acceptance in the past.
Trip to Dominica…flight and journey
I arrived in Dominica on the 10th of May at 6 pm and was met with some rain. This is my first time on this island but I had stopped once in transit a few years ago to Guadeloupe. I grew up in flat Barbados so approaching a mountainous island was something that took my breath away the first time I flew into Dominica. Immigration was quite fast and
I was outside within 15 minutes. I was greeted with this sign and a smiling team member of Khatts Tours greeting me. We were starving as the stop over in Antigua did not provide me with any vegan options so I was ready to eat in 20 minutes. When I got into the van the driving introduced himself as Johnny and he will be my driver for the next hour and a half to 2 hours!!!!! What!!! Where was I and where was the hotel? Later I found out Melville Hall airport was in the North and we had to make a long journey to the capital Roseau to get the Anchorage Hotel, Whale Watch & Dive Centre. The drive was beautiful and I could feel a big different in temperature from St Martin and the roads were winding and both sides were lush sometimes with a few houses peeking out and a slight activity of the late Caribbean evening. I saw lots of people walking with large backpacks on their way home from work and many tried to hail the taxi I was in for a ride as taxi also double as buses. After an hour we came to what I later learnt as Carib Territory and I saw a man placing flat cassava breads on a big metal disk for baking but before I could say stop to let me get out to buy my driving zipped up the road in the thickening dark roads. Hardly any road was straight and one must have great dexterity and experience to master these roads and we watched Johnny drive in admiration. After an hour and a half I started to feel a change a temperature …a drastic one…we were coming out of the mountains and into the city of Roseau and I could see more lights and we met more cars…I was getting excited and nervous and could not wait to get out to see my new home for the next 6 days. Finally we arrived at The Anchorage Hotel and Whale Watch Centre and I was quickly escorted to my room which was one of the biggest hotels rooms I ever stayed in. It consisted of two double beds and the large windows opened up and I was face to face with the sea and a jetty. I loved it. I quickly put up my cold items I was travelling with and made my way to the bar where I was offered a rum punch that was out of this world. A total 360 from the recipe in Caribbean Vegan I loved their rum punch and I crave it even as I write this.
We were then escorted to the restaurant which had a beautiful view of neighbouring hotels and the glittering sea. The waves lapped the shore and the warm sea breeze tickled my face. I was hungry and excited to see what the hotel was going to serve me. I was greeted with a menu which had a section called Vegetarian Selection and there was an Asian Tofu dish. As I had spoken to the hotel before about what I wanted as my first meal I knew that there was something else in the kitchen for me. We were first presented with a
1. Anchor Salad which is a fresh salad with a vinaigrette
2. Creole Red beans, rice and a fresh fresh fresh steamed string bean and spinach warm salad. It was a great start for the night and the beans were mildly spice and the vegetables were all one dreams of organic vegetable..
3. We were then served with a fruit plate which consisted of Mangoes, watermelon and papaya (or as I saw paw paw)
4. Then!!! yes then they listened to my request and offered a complimentary flask of fresh coconut water….I could not move after this meal. ( Please note I was not a regular guest at the hotel but an invited guest so I got some extras but this does not mean that the hotel will not provide you with the same)
We got up and perused the menu at the Anchorage and saw they had a Vegan high protein breakfast menu and also offered vegan porridge as well…
It was time to go to sleep and get ready for my only full day of vacation.
The next morning I woke up early as I do when I sleep in a strange bed and we were up at 7 am and I was hungry to say the least. I went up the restaurant and tried to put my meal together. I wanted a heavy breakfast as we were going whale watching later in the day and would be out at sea for a good couple of hours.
This is what they served us
Ok so the juice you can see is passion fruit. I got fresh tomatoes every single morning and hash browns. We also got a bread basked which consisted of fresh toasted bread and freshly made bakes.
The day rolled on and I went on the weekly whale watch where no one saw a whale. I did get a glimpse of a tail of a whale but it was too fast so I could not alert the other on the boat or snap a photo. Whales come to Dominica to birth and it is common to spot whales off the coast. These whales are not fed or aided to come up, we go out on a boat and watch and wait. For lunch I was given a
Spinach, chickpea and potato roti with sweet mango chutney.
After whale watching I grabbed a pina colada which was not too sweet and I got ready for dinner. Since I was going to be having tofu and seitan later in the week I asked Chef Nelson (Barbadian trained) chef to make me a fast bean or pea dish and I wanted something spicy.
He made a rustic dish which reminded me of home which was an oven roasted butternut squash with a beautiful chickpea fusion curry.
That was it for the night and I knew what tomorrow meant..my first test to cook for 40 people and run a kitchen staff to pull of the first vegan training course for chefs in Dominica. I knew it was a lot of work and knowing that the staff never made my recipes before I did not know what to expect and still I did not see the kitchen…But, tomorrow also meant I had a quickie island tour and I would have lunch with the organizer of the event Terri Henry at one of her favourite Ital restaurants.
To be continued….