Carriacou – A Cooks Nirvana
Carriacou is in the southern region of a chain of islands known as the ‘Grenadines’. It is part of a country comprised of a trio of islands, including Grenada, the largest, and Petite Martinique, the smallest. Together they are also known as the ‘Spice Islands’ because they have more spices per square mile than anywhere else on earth.
Foremost among those spices and herbs are cloves, cinnamon, mace, nutmegs, ginger, turmeric, vanilla, bay leaves, tonka bean and pimento or all spice. Cocoa is also grown on the islands. In other words, this is a cook’s dream destination…so leave room in your bag to stock up on provisions for your kitchen at home!
During my layover in Grenada my wife Sue and I tried a national specialty, Oil Down at BB’s Crabback in the town of St. George. The recipe includes breadfruit, hot green peppers, chives, thyme, parsley, celery, saffron or curry powder, salted meat (pigs tail or snout) and coconut milk. The trick is to briefly soak the meat in water to remove some of the salt. Then place it in a pan, cover with cleaned and cored breadfruit then add all seasonings (except saffron or curry which go in a bit later) then pour coconut milk over the hot mixture and boil until the liquid is absorbed, and oil is seen floating around the breadfruit. Then serve! My Oil Down was made with salted chicken pieces and included plantain and squash. The tastes were intriguing and delicious… I struggled with the bread fruit as it is quite ‘chewy’ and difficult to eat a lot of…otherwise, a nice introduction to traditional Grenadian cuisine.
While in Carriacou we visited the Round House restaurant in Bogles. The owner, Roxanne Russell, besides being a delightful person and host, is an award winning chef. There was an article about her and this beautiful restaurant (which is a perfectly round stone building) in Gourmet Magazine which was posted by the entrance. We dined on the roast of the day, pork belly. It was accompanied by roast potatoes, callilou greens, pumpkin, green beans and, of course, crispy ‘crackle’. The meal was a major hit with our group – we were entertaining my cousin Val and Jeff as a way of thanking them for inviting us down to this jewel of an island – and we finished up with nutmeg ice cream, a complete revelation, and an aged rum for digestion. We waddled home and turned in early – satiated and supremely happy.
The rest of our days in Carriacou were spent mainly walking on various roads and paths. We came across an old lime factory that once supplied the Rose brand. It had long since been abandoned. The only ‘industry’ we came across were the boat builders in Windward Parish. We saw three wooden boats in varying degrees of construction. The workers were using tools first introduced by Scottish settlers who started the boat building industry over two hundred years ago.
Our last three days included a terrific meal at the Slipway Restaurant located on Tyrrel Bay. The ambience, basically outside, was enhanced by the many yachts moored in the bay, and included many tables and pieces of décor from equipment ship builders had long abandoned. The owner of Slipway, Daniella, an immigrant from Italy, has created one of the finest, and most popular, restaurants on the island. The bread, the best I tasted outside of France, is worth the visit alone.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include our boat ride to Union Island, part of St. Vincent. The island itself has some very dramatic mountains and two decent harbours. What’s not to be missed is Happy Island. A tiny piece of land just large enough for a bar. It’s hilarious! Their Pina Coladas and Rum Punches are terrific. If you drop by say hello to Jonty, the owner, who not only runs the place, but lives there too!
Favourite places in the Grenadines:
Kayak Kafe in Hillsborough, Carriacou
Round House Restaurant, Bogles, Carriacou
Slipway, Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou
Green Roof Inn (outside Hillsborough), Carriacou
La Playa, Hillsborough, Carriacou
BB’s Crabback, St. George’s, Granada
Happy Island Bar, Union Island