Lunch today at Kallaloo

I went to lunch today with my friend Donna.  We get together once in awhile to go out and eat some Caribbean food.  Since we met a couple of years ago in Jamaica (we live only about 5 miles from each other) she is my connection to all things Caribbean in the area.  Her husband is from Haiti so they are always on the lookout for Caribbean food and music.

We chose Kallaloo for our lunch today because with the cold, dreary Seattle weather, we agreed we didn’t want to have to drive too far, and we wanted easy parking.  We had eaten here before, but it’s been awhile.  It seemed to both of us that the lunch menu used to have more variety.  According to our waiter the restaurant was really busy last night so they were out of a lot of things today.

 That was ok.  We had enough trouble deciding what to order.  We finally settled on Crab Cakes as an appetizer and one entree – the Creole Fish to share, with a Ting to drink.  The fish was excellent.  The crab cakes came after we had started on our main course, and didn’t impress – they didn’t have a lot of flavor.  The Rum Soaked Raisin Bread Pudding was a great ending to the meal. 

Donna ordered the Creole Fish and an order of Jerk Chicken to go for dinner.  I tried to order the Goat Roti, but the goat wasn’t ready so I decided to behave and eat my leftovers from last night.  When Donna checked her to go orders, the chicken was a very small portion for the price – I haven’t heard yet how it was. 

The service was a bit lacking today as well.  There was only one waiter on duty, but there were only about 5 table full so we felt he should have been able to handle it.

 Since we’ve both eaten there before and enjoyed it, we will definitely go back.  Maybe for dinner when I can get my curry goat!

After lunch we visited for awhile and talked about our past Caribbean trips and the future ones we look forward to.  Donna loaned me a Caribbean cookbook because I mentioned that I wanted to start including a recipe in each of my newsletters from now on.  (I will share them here as well.)  Culinaria The Caribbean, A Culinary Discovery includes a chapter on each Caribbean country that discusses historical, cultural and culinary aspects.  There are also tons of fabulous pictures of the islands, the water, the food, the people. 

 I’m really looking forward to reading through this book and learning even more about this wonderful region that I love.  I will share with you from time to time some of the things I learn.

HOW Many Places to See before I Die???

Happy New Year!  I wish you all your best year ever in 2008! 

When I was in Las Vegas last month with my friend and co-travel agent, she asked me if I had the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die“.   I told her I don’t because my list of places expands everyday – when I read my travel trade magazines, when I watch the travel channel, when I research a destination for a client.  I don’t need any additional ways to add to my already very long, and growing, list.

 As I was watching the Seahawks beat the Redskins in the playoffs yesterday (Go Seahawks!!!), I was reading one of my trade mags during the commercials.  I came across 2 places in Hawaii that are fairly new and unique attractions – they have been added to my list for Hawaii now and I wanted to share them with you.

The first is on the Big Island and just opened to visitors in September.   Anna Ranch Heritage Center in Waimea was opened as a museum at the request of the owner, Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske, who passed in 1995.  She wanted a place where visitors could learn about the rich ranching heritage of the area. 

The ranch house, which was built in 1910 and is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places, has a theme in each room to pay tribute to Anna’s family who settled in the area in the 1840’s.  The living room honors the family’s love of music; the porch has samples of her mother’s tatting as well as her father’s desk; the bedroom highlights Perry-Fiske’s love of style, including a mannequin displaying a ruby-colored dress that she designed herself, as well as her collection of fashionable hats. 

 Anna was an accomplished rider, who prefered to be called a cowboy rather than a cowgirl because she did all of the chores of any rancher.  She was dubbed the Queen of Pau Riders, a uniquely Hawaiian style of horsemanship.  There is a saddle room in the house displaying her saddles and boots, as well as a trophy room filled with her riding trophies. 

Anna Ranch Heritage Center appeals to me because I love tropical places, history and horses.  If anyone has been there, or gets there before I do, please give me a first hand review.

The second place I read about involves Chocolate!  Need I say more?  Well, I suppose I should tell you where to find it.  Steelgrass Farm on the eastern side of Kauai offers 2 tours a week of their farm.  Unfortunately, they are not actually making chocolate here yet, although they do offer a chocolate tasting at the end of the tour. 

The tour, called Chocolate from Branch to Bar, appeals to lovers of tropical trees, flowers, fruits and, of course, chocolate.  The owner of Steelgrass, Tony Lydgate, has developed this property, overrun with invasive species when he bought it, into a completely organic property with a spectacular range of plants including 20 species of bamboo.  His plan is to start a chocolate industry on Kauai and they have planted 1,500 new cacao trees on Kauai so far.

Lydgate has been working with the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory on the Big Island (another thing to see on my next visit).  He says the owners of the Kona farm have been very generous with their knowledge – it is hard for them to keep up with the demand.

I’ll keep sharing the places that I add to my list in places like Hawaii, Mexico and especially the Caribbean.

Solo Traveler–Tales and Tips for Great Trips

By Lea Lane

If you have ever considered taking a trip by yourself, this book is a must!  And if you haven’t, you might reconsider after reading it.  Ms. Lane addresses everything from planning and saving for your trip to how to be comfortable eating alone.  She includes tips on safety, packing, shopping, and etiquette. Many of these tips are helpful for any traveler.  Her book is full of anecdotes about her own travels, including her meeting with a young Jude Law!  You will find many resources for finding festivals, tours, traveling with pets, and much more.  She even addresses how to have some solo time even if you are travelling with others.  I think you will find this to be an enjoyable and informative read. 

You should be able to find this book at “>Amazon.

A Trip to the Beach

by Melinda & Robert Blanchard 

Have you ever thought about moving to a tropical island and opening a little beach bar? I think many of us have had that dream after a stressful week at work. A Trip to the Beach is the true story of a couple who did just that!  They packed up and moved to their favorite Caribbean paradise, Anguilla. 

The little bar quickly grows into a gourmet 4 star restaurant, staffed with Clinton & Ozzie, the dancing sous-chefs; Shabby, master lobster wrangler; and Bug, the dish-washing comedian.  They face many challenges, but have many triumphs as well.  You will learn a lot about living on Island time from the Blanchard’s – the good and the bad.  This story will make you laugh and maybe bring some tears as well.  I just read this for the second time and enjoyed it more than the first time.

Their restaurant is called Blanchard’s and is still open on Anguilla.