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Saint Lucia’s Home Away From Home

Only a day into our stay at Calabash Cove, we felt our Watersedge Cottage had quickly become a second home. Was it the smell of coffee freshly brewing? Or the comfortable king size bed? Our own private pool? What really was it that made me feel such comfort on vacation?

To begin with, imagine drinking fresh coffee on the patio daybed while your partner swings in a nearby hammock. Every morning we looked over into the vast ocean fascinated by the different shades of blue. These shades, only a stone?s throw from our beachfront cottage, changed with the angle of the rising sun. Who would have thought there were so many shades of blue to be seen?

Majestic St Lucian Flora

Of course, the exuberance of life in St Lucia did not end there. The blues only competed with the shades of green exploding from the lush gardens all around us.

Naturally, the garden is made up of a variety of local flora. Most plants I encountered bore exotic names like Bougainvillea named after French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville or Allamanda in honor of?Swiss?botanist?and physician?Fr?d?ric-Louis Allamand. Every one of these names meant to tell a story, the story of St Lucia.

Remembering these names now, with their histories described to us by Alban, the properties head gardener, I’m disheartened to be away from our perfect getaway at Calabash Cove. I often wish I had written down every plant name.

Comfort We Couldn’t Resist

We are not usually the type of people who stay within the walls of our room… and this wasn’t even our honeymoon. With the warm feel of the living room and it’s (believe it or not) old fashioned books, we were too cozy to leave. Even with all of our technology, the books added such comfort on vacation. Although, I will also admit that the all-inclusive bar with a real fridge may have contributed to our feelings of happiness and occasion.

For now, I can only dream about our Watersedge Cottage with the coffee smell and the old fashioned books. One thing is for certain, we will be back.

Author: Heidi? Berger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tempura Lionfish and Bean Thread Noodle Salad

A word about Lion Fish

Until the Nineties there had been no sightings of lionfish in the Caribbean or western Atlantic, but some reefs off Florida and South Carolina now harbour 1,000 per acre. Lionfish rodeos, in which spearfishers hunt down the species, frequently harvest 1,400 in a day. Numbers have doubled annually since 2010, and the invasion has spread from the United States throughout all the Caribbean islands to Venezuela, then westward through the Gulf of Mexico.

Nobody knows for sure how the lionfish got here. Some blame it on an incident in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew smashed a seafront aquarium in Florida, releasing lionfish into the wild. It’s more likely the first specimens came in the ballast tanks of ships from distant oceans or were discarded by amateur aquarists who had simply grown bored with them.Seeing them on Soufrière reef, it is hard to see how. Confident of their place in the food chain, they never dart or hide but float gracefully above the coral with their venomous spines extended like a mane and twirl slowly like ballerinas, as if to say: “Look at me.” It has clearly never occurred to them that anyone might take a potshot – pot being the operative word, since a campaign has been launched in St Lucia by the Department of Fisheries, dive operators and others to encourage fishermen to catch lionfish and sell them to local restaurants.

WHY?

The Lionfish has been a terrible plague to the Caribbean especially, being called the worst invasive marine species in history. With reefs already suffering from climate change and bleaching, Lionfish are predatory fish that feed on smaller reef fish. They’ve been known to wipe out entire reef fish populations. The problem is that here in the Caribbean, the Lionfish has no natural predators, so they’re going on eating and reproducing unchecked. Actually, it’s said Giant Grouper can be predators to Lionfish, but there are no longer sufficient numbers of them here in the Caribbean to really make a difference. The solution: Have them on every restaurant menu. The fact is they are delicious.

Ingredients yields 4 Servings

  • 6 ounces wide bean thread noodles
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2oz soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large cucumber julienned
  • 12 oz lionfish filet
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, julienned
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1 cup torn fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted cashew nuts, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro
  • 2cup of tempura batter

Preparation

Place noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let noodles soak until tender but not mushy, 15?20 minutes; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, ginger, and pepper in another large bowl. Add soy sauce, cucumber, and carrots; toss to combine. Let sit 10 minutes.

Fry the marinated lionfish with tempura pad try and keep warm

Add noodles, oil, half of cilantro, and half of cashew to bowl; toss to combine. Top salad with lionfish filet remaining cilantro and cashew.

Tempura batter

  • 1cup cornstarch
  • 14 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  1. In bowl mix first 5 ingredients;
  2. Add water and egg and then mix to a smooth creamy batter.
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Mount Gimie: St Lucia’s 8th Wonder of The World

Restaurant with a View

Next time you are sitting in our Windsong restaurant, on a clear day, take a moment to survey the southern horizon. It is hard to look at anything else ther then the unmatched view from the dining tables over the deep turquoise Caribbean sea, but the surprise is that looking south, there nisa unique view of Mount Gimie.

Breakfast munching on sweet, homegrown fruit such as bananas, pawpaw, passionfruit, pineapple, and mango whilst lazily gazing across the turquoise bay, taking in the colorful roofs of Castries, is something else. However the greening hills behind us and Mount Gimie in the distance with its peak bearing a hat of puffy white clouds, watching over the unspoiled and magnificent tapestry of nature, sits like a god from Mount Olympus.

With such surroundings, you enter the calmest state of mind. As a result, nobody fights with the red breasted finch, edging his way closer to your food and stealing morsels of the freshly baked and delicious smelling croissants.  In fact as they dip their tiny beaks into the cool, fresh coconut water, one’s calm state lends itself to helping them get whatever they desire. Luckily, none dare to challenge you for the French brewed coffee, so it stays all your own.

Mount Gimie

Standing at 3117 ft. Mount Gimie is the tallest peak in St. Lucia. It is located in the rainforest, smack in the center of the island. For those of you in search of a true Jurassic Park style adventure (without the Raptors and T-Rex), you will experience just that. Once in the Rain-forest, if you’re lucky enough, you may catch a glimpse of the shy Lucian Amazon Parrot.

Climbing Gimie is not for the fainthearted. The mountain is covered in a bounty of interesting and beautiful vegetation: grasses, ferns and palms, rich woods (think bamboo, cocoa, mahogany), and fruit trees galore (tangerine, coconut, grapefruit, etc). Accompanying such lush vegetation is an array of waterfalls and miniature pools, presenting themselves to cool your body, mind, and spirit.

On a good day, you enjoy a clear view of all St Lucian coastlines. Along with the coastline, Gimie also provides you with a view of the Maria Islands. There too from it’s peak, Gimie provides you with a vista of its more famous cousins-Petit and Gros Pitons, standing at the gates of the Val de Piton, like two sentinels on guard.

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Calabash Cove’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Recipe

Here’s an old but simply delicious favorite to add to the recipe book

Ingredients
yields 48 cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate

 

Method
Prep 15 minutes | Bake 10 minutes | Cool 45 minutes

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. 2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate.
  3. 3. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. 4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown
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Kestrels at Calabash Cove

When in Saint Lucia, you’ll be struck by the variety of birdlife on the island. The more common or garden varieties such as the Grackle and the Lesser Antilles BullFinch, can be annoying ss they are inclined to steal food right from your plate. That is when you are dining al fresco, which tends to be the norm in the Caribbean. All in all though, Saint Lucia’s birds are beautiful. One of our favourites at Calabash Cove is often mistaken for a Hawk and indeed there are plenty of those as well. We like the Kestrel however.

They look similar to the average hawk and they swoop majestically through the air in search of prey just like an eagle. They are the largest native bird of prey on the island and hoteliers love them for a reason. They tend to scare away the annoying Grackles.

At Calabash Cove, their favorite perch (to take off from for long glides through the air above the resort) is the Pimento tree next to the C-Bar. In spring, they can easily be seen, while you are enjoying sundowners at the bar. If you have the patience, you can watch them put on a hunting show – chasing other birds, lizards and sometimes small critters.

Guests at Calabash Cove like them for their looks, of course.

The manager loves them for the simple fact that they make life miserable for pestering black birds. These black birds, called the Greater Antillean Grackle,  seem to be addicted to sugar, fake or real, and given the chance they love to eat right off of your plate!

Helping to keep these annoying birds at bay, the Kestrels like to plunder Grackle nests when on the hunt, which serves to keep their numbers down or to encourage them to move away altogether.

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Scaling the Mighty Pitons

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Hardly a week goes by without some of our guests at Calabash Cove asking ?have you done it??

Done what?

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 Pitons St Lucia

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.

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Calabash Cove’s Cranberry Cookies

A simple recipe for a simply delicious dessert!

Ingredients
yields 48 cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Method
Prep 15 minutes | Bake 10 minutes | Cool 45 minutes

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. 2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture.
  3. 3. Mix in the cranberries and walnuts.
  4. 4. Drop dough by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. 5. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
  6. 6. Cool.
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Calabash Cove Vegan stuffed Zucchini, Spinach & Honey Dressing, Crispy Salad

Zucchini

Yield:8 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

?Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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

?Yield:12 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

To make the dressing: in a small food processor combine all ingredients and blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute until emulsified.

Grilled tomato

Yield:8 Tomato Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil(you won’t necessarily use it all)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

Method

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Yield:8 Servings

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
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Calabash Cove Jerked tofu, vegetable Nicoise, mustard olive oil dressing.

Yield 2 servings

Ingredients

Method

How To: Blanch

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

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Tofu and jerk sauce

Yield:6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Tofu

  • 1 12-ounce package of extra-firm tofu
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

?Method

  1. Drain tofu and wrap it around paper towels. Press it down with something heavy. ????????????I used my skillet for this. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Dish up tofu, add remaining sesame oil to the pan, and brown remaining tofu. Dish up tofu and set everything aside.
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Beetroot and Banana Ice Cream

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

Method:

  1. Blend everything until smooth. If using raw beet, blend it first until as smooth as possible and then add all other ingredients.
  2. Serve immediately for a soft-serve look, or freeze in a container for more ice cream-like look.

 

Strawberry sauce

  • 1 lbs. strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Method:

  1. Chop strawberries and add them to a medium sauce pot, heating over medium heat.
  2. Add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir well.
  3. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Use your immersion blender to puree strawberry mixture. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or a food processor.)
  5. **If you will be using sauce in frosting or some kind of cream filling, strain puree to get rid of leftover chunks.