Hardly a week goes by without some of our guests at Calabash Cove asking ?have you done it??
Gone SCUBA diving?
Been to the Gros Islet Friday night street party?
Walked the rain forest birdwatching?
Flown through the tree tops zip lining?
No, none of the above. It was always the same question. Have you climbed the Pitons?
The time had come to put myself in a position to say: yes of course.
So here I was slipping quietly into my hiking clothes arranged neatly to the side of the bedroom, trying not to wake my wife at the ungodly hour of 5.30 am on a Saturday morning.
After all, the good European I was, there was no way I would be late for the 6.00 am rendezvous with the other climbers.? So here I was sitting at the mall waiting for my friends and the bus to arrive 40 minutes late. As we boarded the very comfortable 26 seater “Coaster”, the driver mumbled something like?..was only told this morning I am going to Soufriere.? As we were at different stages of awareness it did not phase most of us. After all, had the bus been on time, some of my friends would have missed it. Island time, mooohn.
For the scenic drive to the base of the Gros Piton snacks and power bars were passed around for what I imagine was our resolve to conquer the mountain, while some slept to catch up on the lost sleep from Friday night.
Then, we were there and after paying our fee for our climb guide, we assembled in front of a miniature model Piton for a briefing of what lay ahead of us. In addition to being allocated a guide we were implored to take at least 2 bottles of water each with us.
In single file we headed out on the trail, initially flat over large boulders before we reached the real bottom of the mountain and had a first close up look at the steep incline ahead of us. Eventually small groups of 4 or 5 people established themselves as we all settled into our own pace. After all this was not a race. Initially the stops were far apart and we made good progress to the first spectacular lookout facing the south coast of Saint Lucia. It was a breath-taking taste of what was yet to come.
After about 45 minutes we reached what was identified as the half way point, and for the first time we were treated to a spectacular view of ‘Petit Piton’ across the blue Caribbean Sea.? There was time to pass around a few snacks and sweets and allow all to catch up and get the group together again. Some of our more mature companions announced that this would be as far as they would go and they made themselves comfortable as the remainder of the group headed on up the steep path to the top of Gros Piton.
Over the next hour our steps seemed to get taller every few yards, the boulders larger and larger and the trail steeper and steeper. This also meant the stops became more and more frequent. By now it was a question of who will make it and who will just chill in the shade under one of the spectacular canopy or head back to base?
The group morale was good and we felt we were now only minutes from the top. Every turn promised to reveal the peak, only to show another step in the steep trail.
And then, all of a sudden the trees became small shrubs and the terrain opened up where there were no more trees, just blue sky with cotton wool clouds. The ground flattened out and we were there? at the peak. So stunning was the experience of making it to the top with the amazing view, that the weight of our back packs was no longer noticeable. We waited for the 19 out of 26 climbers that had started to summit. The group was all smiles, everybody was reaching for his smart phone to take pictures and no, there was no signal. So the world had to wait for the good news that we had made it. It took only seconds for more food to come out and be shared. One of our French friends had carried a most delicious chocolate cake to the top while others shared candies, nuts, fresh and dried fruits.
Reluctantly. it was time to head back down. While the climb had taken the greater part of 2 hours, the descent was much quicker and completed in half the time. All I seem to remember is how wobbly I felt in my legs. The bottom could not come soon enough, not so much because we wanted the experience to be over, but more with the excitement of looking forward to telling those waiting at the resort all about it.? We were elated when we gathered on the beautiful grassy patch to stretch our legs and gaze at the clouds we seemed to have been so much closer to just a short hour ago.
It was to be a day never to be forgotten. A red-letter day. A bucket-list day !
And guess what? When now asked, have you done it? The answer is yes of course, are you going to do it too? Let me persuade you, because, boy, is it worth the effort.
- 4 zucchini, medium
- 1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. oregano, dried
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup tofu, crumbled
- 1/4 cup corn
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle with a spoon or melon baller. Discard or Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix to combine bell pepper, tomato, corn, olives, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Fill each zucchini with a mixture distributing evenly. Place in a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Top with tofu and broil on high for 3 more minutes or until cheese has browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot or cold.
?Spinach and Honey Vinaigrette
- 4 tbsp. white wine vinegar2 tbsp. peeled fresh garlic
- 8 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 tbsp. chopped lemon zest
- 4 tbsp. chopped fresh spinach
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- ? cup honey
- 11/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the dressing: in a small food processor combine all ingredients and blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute until emulsified.
Yield:8 Tomato Servings
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat (it should be hot enough so you can hold your hand about 1 inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds before pulling it away from the heat).
- Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise (imagine the tomatoes are globes; cut them along the ?equator?). Lay the tomato halves cut-side-up on a large baking sheet or tray. ????????????????Brush the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt.
- Lay the tomatoes oiled-side-down on the grill. Close the lid if using a gas grill. ????????????????Cook until grill marks appear on the tomatoes, about 5 minutes.
- Brush the other sides with oil and sprinkle them with salt. Turn the tomato halves over, close the lid on a gas grill and cook until grill marks appear on the other side, about 5 more minutes.
- Use tongs or a spatula to transfer the tomatoes back to the baking sheet or onto a serving?s platter.
Serve grilled tomatoes hot or at room temperature.
Crispy vegetables salad
- 1 medium carrots
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1/2 cup snipped fresh dill, loosely packed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Peel carrots, and cut them into 3-inch lengths. Using a mandolin or sturdy vegetable peeler, slice carrots, cucumber into thin, translucent strips. Place strips in ice-water bath, and let stand until curly, about 20 minutes. Transfer carrots to a paper towel; blot dry.
- Combine carrot, cucumber strips, dill, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the salad, and toss to combine and service.
Yield 2 servings
- 4 oz. Green Beans
- 3 Radishes
- 2 oz. Arugula
- 2 Summer Sweet Peppers
- 1 Tomato
- 1 Romaine Heart
- ? lbs. Red Potatoes
- 1 bunch Tarragon
- 2 oz. red Olives
- 2 Tbsps. Red Wine Vinegar
- 1? Tbsps. Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
- 1 Shallot
How To: Blanch
- Blanching is an essential cooking technique for any chef. Boiling ingredients for a short amount of time, then stopping the cooking process by placing the cooked vegetables in cold water will preserve their delicate crunch and bright color. Check out the video to see how it’s done.
- Wash and dry the fresh produce.Heat 1 medium pot and 1 small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Peel the shallot and mince to get 2 tablespoons (you may have extra); place in a bowl with the vinegar.Snap off and discard the stem ends of the greens beans. Quarter the potatoes. Cut off and discard the root end of the romaine; roughly chop the leaves. Cut out and discard the stems, ribs and seeds of the peppers; cut into ?-inch-thick rings. Core the tomato: cut into 8 wedges. Cut off and discard the ends of the radishes; thinly slice into rounds. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems; discard the stems.
- Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Add the green beansto the medium pot of boiling water and cook 4 to 6 minutes, or until bright green and slightly softened.Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked green beans to the bowl of ice water, leaving the pot of water boiling. Let stand until the green beans are completely cool. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large bowl.
- While the green beans cook, add the mustard to the shallot-vinegar mixture. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the potatoes to the pot of boiling water used to cook the green beans. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Off the heat, add half the vinaigrette and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To the bowl of blanched green beans, add the romaine,olives, peppers,tomato, radishes, dressed potatoes, arugulaand tarragon;season with salt and pepper. Add enough of the vinaigretteto coat the salad (you may have extra vinaigrette).Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with jerk tofuEnjoy!
Tofu and jerk sauce
- 2 to 3 habanero peppers, seeded and ribs removed
- 4 stalks of green onions, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 to 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown?sugar
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon tomato paste, depending on your taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 12-ounce package of extra-firm tofu
- 4 to 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Drain tofu and wrap it around paper towels. Press it down with something heavy. ????????????I used my skillet for this. Set aside.
- Blend jerk sauce ingredients in a blender. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and pour in jerk sauce. When the sauce starts boiling, turn off the heat and set aside.
- Chop tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Pour tofu into a gallon-sized freezer bag, and add about 4 tablespoons of cornstarch. Give everything a shake. If all tofu pieces are not coated with cornstarch, add another tablespoon and shake.
- Heat a skillet or pan over medium-high heat with 1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. When the pan is hot, add half of the tofu cubes. The tofu should sizzle upon contact with the pan. Lightly brown each side of the cube (about 2 minute?s total cooking time). This should take about 2 minutes.
- Dish up tofu, add remaining sesame oil to the pan, and brown remaining tofu. Dish up tofu and set everything aside.
Serves 4 – 6
- Blend everything until smooth. If using raw beet, blend it first until as smooth as possible and then add all other ingredients.
- Serve immediately for a soft-serve look, or freeze in a container for more ice cream-like look.
- 1 lbs. strawberries
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Chop strawberries and add them to a medium sauce pot, heating over medium heat.
- Add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well.
- Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Use your immersion blender to puree strawberry mixture. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or a food processor.)
- **If you will be using sauce in frosting or some kind of cream filling, strain puree to get rid of leftover chunks.
- 220g thick rice noodles
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
- ? cabbage, chopped
- 2 cups broccoli, halved
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 zucchini yellow, remove center and julienne (cut into fine strips).
- 1 to 2 oz. ginger soy sauce (Gluten-free alternative to soy sauce)
- Oil spray
- A small bunch parsley
- Bring a large saucepan half-full of water to the boil.
- Once the water has boiled, add the sweet potato cubes to the saucepan. Simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft.
- Meanwhile, Heat a non-stick medium fry pan over medium-high heat and spray lightly with oil spray. Add the broccoli, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage and parsley to the pan. Fry until they turn golden brown.
- Place the rice noodles into the saucepan with the sweet potato and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the noodles are soft. Drain.
- Add the noodles and the sweet potato to the vegetables in the frying pan and stir to combine. Fry for a further 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
- Sprinkle walnuts and parsley over the top, along with some ginger soy sauce to taste. Add a pinch of Himalayan salt if desired.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
In this world of Facebook, Instagram and the multitude of communication apps, we have become used to some amazing reviews and articles written by Travel and Restaurant bloggers from many different countries. Here are three favourites from recent visits….
St Lucia is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world and after a beautiful week of utter paradise on this gorgeous island, I can certainly see why!
We stayed at the luxurious Calabash Cove Resort and Spa in the North of St Lucia island and opted for the all-inclusive package due to the high praise their restaurant, Windsong, has received. We were blown away by the beauty of the resort and the quality of the accommodation, food and friendly service!
We picked Calabash due to the high praise it has received as one of the best St Lucian all inclusive honeymoon destinations, due to the level of luxury, service and the fact that it is adults only too! ?READ MORE
I think I’ve literally found a piece of paradise!?Tucked away on the north-west coast of the island lies the?Calabash Cove Resort and Spa. On the way to the resort, you have stunning views of the island. Let me tell you the people of St. Lucia are some of the most genuine and beautiful people -?not much to not be happy about on the island. Hehe, but in all seriousness, I have never met such kind people 🙂
Right when you arrive, they welcome you with their special cocktail!??What a way to kick off your vacation! READ MORE….
I have spent a lot of time chasing my dream of this place called ?paradise?, and in St Lucia, I feel as though I?ve come very close to finding it. A perfect combination of tropical jungle, white soft sand and crystal blue waters, where life takes on a slower, more relaxed pace. Still relatively undeveloped, St Lucia combines rustic charm with five-star luxury making it easy to see why so many people choose to honeymoon in St Lucia. I stayed at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa, an adults-only boutique resort, tucked away, along with its?soft sand beach, on St Lucia?s west coast. READ MORE….
A History of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival was launched 26 years ago. The interim period saw much change: in the size of the event, the music content, even the name. Let us fill you in.
The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival kicked off back in1992 as a way to boost tourism during the then relatively quiet month of May. The team behind this innovative idea faced opposition as some believed that jazz would not pull in the crowds ? the music did not have a huge following in Saint Lucia plus other islands had tried to establish jazz festivals but had not succeeded. With limited resources but plenty of dedication, the Lucian pioneers organised jazz performances in Rodney Bay, Castries, Vieux Fort and Soufriere. The first festival did not receive much fanfare but the seeds had been sown.
Each year saw refinement and progress towards a more professional programme. In 1994 BET Television began to cover the event, giving the festival a major boost and garnering for it international recognition. As the number of patrons grew, the festival?s time-frame increased, as did the number of performance venues. Pigeon Island, a national park steeped in history, became the location for the finale.
In the early days, the emphasis was on jazz music with an element of R&B. Aficionados came to revel in the sounds and sights of jazz giants such as Al Jarreau and George Benson. Over the years the pure jazz aspect softened and the festival evolved to showcase international crowd-pullers including Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Patti La Belle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Jeffrey Osborne, Smokey Robinson, R. Kelly, and the Isley Brothers. The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival was on the world map ? up there with the likes of Montreux!
As the years passed the music moved further away from jazz but audience numbers were still high due to the likes of celebrities on stage such as, Air Supply, John Legend, Kassav, Santana, Seal, and Kool & The Gang. But then the festival seemed to forget its roots; reggae and ?pop? took over. Established bands such as UB40 and Third World were better at crossing the divide and appealing to the middle-aged fans. Amy Winehouse and Rihanna were definitely A-list but there was discontent amongst many local and international jazz fans when artists such as Shaggy and Shabba Ranks were billed as the headline acts. This was not jazz!
On the plus side, Saint Lucian artists gained exposure. Boo Hinkson, Carl Gustave, Irvin Loctar, Rob Zi Taylor, Barbara Cadet and Teddyson John performed main-stage at the final weekend performances on Pigeon Island, much to the delight of the local population; other local acts featured at fringe events around the island.
In response to the distinct lack of jazz, the festival was rebranded in 2013 as the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. The new look included dance, art, crafts, theatre and culinary experiences as well as a phenomenally successful fashion show ? Saint Lucia Hot Couture.
In June 2016 Saint Lucia went to the polls and voted in a new governing party. One of its early tasks was an analysis of the cost and benefits of the Jazz and Arts Festival. The result was a new format: the Saint Lucia Summer Festival encompassing not only music but food, rum, arts, heritage and our carnival.
The Summer Festival features an event each month from May to October. This year’s Saint Lucia Jazz takes place between 04-12?May 2019 and will thrill jazz music lovers. ?For more information visit www.soleilsaintlucia.com.
This article was originally written and published by The Saint Lucia Star
Did Kevon tell you it is poisonous?
What is poisonous? The Ackee you are eating, said Evelyn.
I was about to enjoy another bite of my Ackee salad sitting in front of me in a beautiful ceramic bowl and sparkling in the perfect olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. As my fork remained frozen, suspended between the white linen-clad table and my mouth my mind went into overdrive. What am I going to do? As a priority measure, swallow hard and smile.
Pretending I have this covered, there is nothing to worry about.
Of course, I could not resist asking. So I asked Kevon what do you mean poisonous?
From Kevon?s facial expression it was pretty clear this was not the first time the subject matter came up with a guest. Well, not really he said with that island smile.
Not really? But still a little? What do you mean?
And then he explained. Ackee is part of Jamaica?s national dish, Ackee and Saltfish with Johnny Cakes or roasted breadfruit. The fruit, that is prepared like a vegetable grows on a beautiful medium-sized tree.
The trees at Calabash Cove will produce 2 harvests every year. And Chef Thierry always has an eye on them.
The fruit initially green, will turn a bright pink just before it is ripe. Pink you may say, screaming ?don?t eat me I am poisonous?. At the last stage of the ripening process, the pink shell will open up in 3 wings, exposing the actual yellow fruit. This yellow fruit is removed, while carefully taking out a pink vein. It is then poached in saltwater. This will render the fruit save to eat.
Some lovers of Ackee will saut? it right away in large quantities of oil, onions and saltfish.
This particular Calabash Cove dish calls for the Ackee to be cooled off before being mixed with kale, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, olives or other fresh garden vegetables like smoked pumpkin or zucchini.
But Kevon, what happens if the Ackee is not boiled properly?
Well, that could be a whole different story???..
THE WOODMAN OF CALABASH COVE
A Saint Lucia Tradition
Introducing Stanfield Dolcy,- a joiner by trade, lover of gardens and finally a wood carver with passion. Fifty seven years young, he started his career as a forest officer for the St. Lucia Government. He’s happily married with four girls. Furthermore he has been one of the most loyal, respected and lovable ?Calabashies? since the Cove?s opening ten years ago.
An unassuming and charming ?Saint Lucian?, he delights the guests with his endless knowledge of indigenous plants and trees of exotic wood. Now and then he opens a fresh cut coconut with his machete to have guests taste this truly healthy local libation straight from the palm. Doing so. reciting a famous Caribbean Song?drink, drink Coconut water, drink, Coconut is good for your daughter, think, etc?;-) You can probably figure what that means. Every Saint Lucian will tell you it works ! ?Moreover, Dolcy also knows, where the best Mango and Pineapple grow.
One encounters his work as a passionate wood carver immediately on entering the property. An artistic sentry post carved from a massive single branch of a Saman Tree, sits next to the Calabash Cove sign. Exiting from the taxi, you are faced with a magnificent Welcome Sign before entering the lobby. He’s expert in utilizing exotic local woods like Mahogany, Saman, Bamboo, White Cedar and White Wood.
Dolcy created and carved all the hotel?s room numbers, wooden menu covers, bill presenters, paper towel holders and most signage around the property. He also creates special commissions from a single piece of wood, for guests. Some of his creations are on display and for sale in Memories of Calabash.
In September, which is usually the end of the Turtle laying season until next April, we announced a photo competition. We were looking for guests with the best images and the best story from the Calabash Cove beach.
Among the entries there were two we like a lot, from John Groeger and Jesse Williams.
Here’s John’s story:
John Groeger My wife and I spent a truly AMAZING week in paradise at Calabash Cove for our honeymoon in August of 2013. On one of the days we decided to take the kayaks out and paddle to rat island. When we were about halfway out a storm looked to be heading our way so we turned around and high tailed it back home! As we approached the beach, we saw what looked like 60+ crabs running towards the water. As we got closer we realized they were freshly hatched sea turtles! The experience of watching the sea turtles hatch and head to the water was truly a once in a lifetime experience for my wife and I and made our week in paradise that much more magical!
Here’s one popping up from the nest…
All of the nesting and hatchings and excitement take place here between April and September approx, on the little pretty beach at Calabash Cove.
Then another story from Jesse Williams
Jessy Thompson On August 1st, 2013, at approximately 9:07 am island time, I witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime moment of perfection. My wife and I had been staying at Calabash Cove (Cottage #5) for our honeymoon. It was truly one of the best weeks and adventures of our lives. As the time of our stay was winding down, I decided to walk down to the beach to soak in as much of the Saint Lucian sun as I could, while my wife was finishing her shower. When I approached the beach, a garden attendant called my attention to a hole in the sand from which baby sea turtles were emerging. I quickly went back to the cottage to grab my wife. With her in hand and freshly robed, we delicately made our way back down to the ocean front where the turtles seen in the attached pictures were making their way from their nest and into the ocean. We were witnessing an event that most people will only see in documentaries. We were witnessing life, untouched, vulnerable, and breathtakingly beautiful. From a safe distance, we quietly snapped pictures of the baby turtles. Like Saint Lucia, the pictures are not photoshopped or doctored, there is no need, they are as perfect as the moment my wife and I shared witnessing their journey to the sea. The metaphor is not lost on us. Our marriage was only seven days old and very much buried in the sand when these pictures were taken. But, like the baby turtles, we have been bravely, unabashedly, and with our eyes on our own ocean, making our own journey ever since. The innocence and hope captured in these photos is, for us, the essence of island life, the beauty of Saint Lucia, and symbolic of the love we shared at Calabash Cove. And that, my friends, is a picture of one beautiful turtle.
Isn’t it amazing that our two entries are both from August 2013 and both from two couples on honeymoon. I am not going to look up whether they were from the same town, cos that would be spooky. Still it is not only an interesting coincidences but also I think proves that sharing an event like this is most definitely romantic. That’s why we think Calabash Cove is a romantic place all over and for many reasons.