Tuesday, September 9, 2008

St Lucia - The Caribbean Awaits

The UE touched down in St. Lucia in early July, and happily spent his 4th of July sans fireworks and with one of the best mojitos and travel partners he could have asked for. The beaches were gorgeous and sandy white. The landscape was dense with lush green forests, highlighted with a spattering of rich, rosy red flowering indigenous trees. There could not be a better place to relax and regain composure after a long stint in the harsh urban jungle of New York.

Sitting seaside, the UE struck conversation with any and everyone he could – the barmen/women, waiters, wait staff, beach goers. One thing never fails in global travelling: if you ask, people will tell you. I gained intimate knowledge of parties, clubs, and restaurants we absolutely HAD to frequent. It was insisted that to not was to lose out of the
true life of the Caribbean.

So the UE visited places. There were the conch fritters that left him wanting for the fritters made by a Bahaman woman’s mother. There was the braised lamb that was perfectly tender but flavorless. And there was a lot of Piton beer…

But at the end of the day, there were only 2 things the UE remembered the most for their exquisite flavor and ingenious simplicity. The first was a mojito from The Edge, a breathtaking waterside restaurant run by an Australian, specializing in “Euro-rribean” food. The food was decent, I had the swordfish with a delicious lemon and chickpea puree sauce that was exquisite. But the mojitos they served will never leave the memory of his taste buds. The UE lacks the words to stress how important the freshest, most quality ingredients are to making anything. The UE is a heavy mojito drinker in the summer. In fact, on his last day of work, he spent the entire evening downing mojitos at a local mojito factory.

But this one was special, like a diamond amongst broken glass. A distinct twist on the usual, the bartender used brown sugar to sweeten and color the mojito – indubitably a unique additive. But the crescendo was the mint. The Edge grew their own, and fed it some mixture of Miracle Gro and steroids. It was like drinking essence of spearmint – no other mojito could be its equal. When I tasted this amazing concoction, I was taken aback by the freshness of the ingredients and the harmony with which they played on my palette. The unity of brown sugar and muddled green mint flakes with the white rum begat a standing applause from the UE to the barman.

The second dish that put the UE on his feet? Was it the steak at the highly regarded grill house?

The Chairman’s Punch made by a local bartender who connected with him on the basis of his easy smile and charm? The mildly malted and rich English Ale from the local brewpub?

Or perhaps the seafood lasagna at the seaside restaurant on the way to the mountaintop British fortress?

E) None of the above – Fish and chips from the hotel beachside bar.

That’s right, fried fish and pepper seasoned curly fries.

I know what you’re thinking – all credibility to the Urbane Epicurean reputation and sense of taste lost. Well to quote a familiar pseudo blaxplotation film it was “so good, make you want to slap your Mama!”.

If you have had the dish, you have probably had it prepared by a restaurant expeditiously by them splashing a couple of tilapia filets into the deep fryer for 5 minutes then tossing them on a plate with fries and some miscellaneous condiments. But this was different. The batter was light and flaky, with black pepper lightly seasoned into the flour. Each piece of fish was by far the freshest seafaring creature I ingested in the 4 days in the country. Lightly fried alongside the best curly fries out of a bag I have ever had, the dish deftly awoke the UE’s senses, and the subtlety seasoned fish made with a side of rum punch instantly took the crown for best dish of the trip (on the first day). The UE would find himself back at that same hotel bar chatting it up with the bartenders and wait staff while gorging himself on as many as 3 orders of the meal. It was exquisite, and worthy of praise and worship. If you ever find yourself hungry in St. Lucia, visit the Bay Garden's hotel and ask Jason for the fish and chips.

-The UE

1 comment:

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