Tyler’s Parents Vist: Part 3, The Chocolate Factory

Grenada Chocolate CompanyThe minute I found out that Grenada had a chocolate factory, it was added to Tyler and I’s bucket list. Tyler and I had been trying to visit the area for a while. We tried to rent a car for my birthday to go, but couldn’t get a car. We tried again after midterms but learned that it was closed on Saturdays. So, third times the charm, we planned to go while Tyler’s parents were here after spending the first part of the trip on the south side of the island snorkeling, exploring and eating lots of fish.

Belmont Estates is located in Heritage, which is up toward the North-Eastern side of the Island in St. Patricks. Belmont Estate actually grows the cocoa beans for the Grenadian Chocolate Factory. It is quite a long drive up there, about an hour or so, but totally worth it. Windy Grenadian roads and lacking road signs make all road trips an adventure. Mom didn’t handle the drive so well, but she survived and the tasty food and amazing chocolate I think we can agree made it all worthwhile.Belmont Estate

We decided to tour the plantation first. We got to see what a cocoa pod looks like – which honestly, I never would have assumed that this was where chocolate came from. We even got to taste what the cocoa pod seeds taste like. Then we went through the process of how the cocoa seeds are fermented and darken to form something more closely resembling something I might assume makes chocolate. Next the beans dry out in the sun for some time and the beans are regularly walked. Yes, walked! Tyler contributed a little to the chocolate making process even.

The cocoa pod The fermenting cocoa beans Tyler walking the cocoa beans Some local Grenadian goods

The best part of the tour was the fact that it ended with samples of cocoa tea (which was incredible, mostly because it was a less-sweet version of hot cocoa) and some of the chocolate made at the Chocolate Factory. It was hard not too eat the entire tray of chocolate pieces as they are so, so good.

Drinking cocoa tea

Our tour of Belmont Estate ended with eating lunch at the plantation restaurant. Let me just say that I still dream of this meal. It was an amazing 3 course Grenadian meal that made me so full that it hurt. The best part, hands down in my opinion, was the ginger-pumpkin soup. It might have been the cold I was fighting, but the soup was SO good! I want so very bad to learn how to make it because I think I could eat that soup all day. But the soup was followed by a buffet main course with delicious beef and fish and veggies and an amazing baked breadfruit cornbread-like thing. And since all meals are not complete without dessert, Grenada’s famous nutmeg ice cream followed. Can you see why I was so full it hurt? To top it all off, it started to rain as lunch ended and when it stopped, the most beautiful, full arc rainbow was visible through the tropical foliage.

I loved our visit to the Chocolate Factory. It was such a fun trip to all make together and such a fun experience. It is so beautiful up there. I am already secretly hoping for a return trip this December once finals are over.

Tyler and I had a blast while Mom and Dad were here – it was so nice that they came. It was like a vacation for us too! We hope we can leur more family and friends to come visit – we promise we will go to the Chocolate Factory…and that sure makes it worth it. Plus Tyler and I are pretty cool too!    🙂


Roasted Vegetable Pesto Sandwiches

So one of our favorite restaurants here in Grenada is Umbrellas. We love it mainly for the fact that it is right on the water and has an amazing view of the ocean sunset and because they have a 5EC happy hour Tuesdays-Fridays. We also like going there because they have really good food. While we often praise them for being out favorite nachos on the island (although we REALLY miss SoCal’s Mexican food) but they have some really good sandwiches. We often order a grilled vegetable and a grilled fish sandwich, an order of sweet potato fries with jalapeno dip and share. It is delicious, especially with a rum and Ting to go with it.

Anyways, I got inspired by the deliciousness of those veggie sandwiches and the overabundance of eggplant in the markets to try my hand at making my own sandwich. I clearly do not have access to a grill so I decided to roast my vegetables. But ever since my discovery of the greatness of roasted eggplant, I am obsessed with incorporating it into every meal possible.

What You Need:

2-3 eggplants
2 carrots (local Grendian carrots are small, so you might need more)
3 green bell peppers
1 small onion
goat cheese (strongly recommend the cheese from Belmont Estate)
pesto sauce
salt and pepper

olive oil
balsamic vinegar
focaccia bread (I actually found some good tomato and parmesan focaccia that worked well, so you can find some)

The trickiest part of making these sandwiches is that the vegetables take different amounts of time to cook. I found that getting the carrots to be soft took way more time than the eggplant took – and of course onions and bell peppers really don’t take that long to roast. I sliced the carrots into thin, wide slices and I cut the eggplant along the diagonal to yield larger slices. I simple sliced the onions and left the bell peppers whole with only the stems removed. I first placed the carrots into a baking dish and seasoned them with sea salt, pepper, a little olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. I put the carrots into a hot oven to roast, about 400-450 degrees. I gave them about a 15 minute head start before adding the other veggies.

I added the slices carrots and bell peppers to the same dish as the carrots and gave everything a stir and added in the eggplant on a different dish. However it works with your kitchen, the goal is to wind up with all of your veggies soft.

I sliced the bell peppers into usable slices once everything came out of the oven. I had previously warmed my bread a little in the toaster oven on a low setting. To make the sandwiches, I spread pesto on each slice of bread, placed on heaping amounts of eggplant, carrots, onions and bell peppers. Then I crumbled on some goat cheese (or a lot) and presto – yummy sandwich!

If you want, you can also add some fresh sliced tomatoes or some lettuce to your sandwich too. I also found that a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the finished product was also good, but these are all up to you.

We were quite pleased with our try at this sandwich – it came out really good. You won’t be sad making some of these up for dinner one night.



Roasted Eggplant

Roasted EggplantThe eggplant season is in full swing. And let me tell you, they are beautiful! I have always liked eggplant, but honestly they can be a little expensive in the states. I also never really used them to make too much outside of Italian food. An eggplant parmesan here and there was generally the extent of my eggplant usage. But when I learned I could get a couple pounds for about 3EC, I decided I needed to branch out.

I wanted to use up some eggplant as a side dish for a simple weeknight dinner so I suddenly realized I should give roasting a try. I found a sweet, simple recipe online and gave it a try. I proceeded to fall in love with my new roasted eggplant discovery.

What You Need:

A few eggplants
2-3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper 

All you need to do is slice the garlic cloves into thin chips and then slice the eggplant into about 1-1.5″ thick slices. Arrange them into a lightly sprayed baking dish or baking sheet, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then press into each eggplant slice one (or a few) garlic chips. Then place it into a nice hot oven (somewhere around 400 degrees or so) and roast for about 15 minutes or until soft and golden brown.

The roasting highlights how buttery and sweet the eggplant is and the garlic tastes oh so good. And if you are looking for a fun alternative or want to add some extra flavor, I also tried adding a light drizzle with balsamic vinegar before roasting with great results.



Savory Baked Snapper

So one of my favorite things (as those who have read other posts can attest to) are these little spice bundles that are sold along with green onions at the local market here. I love that I can get some fresh herbs and spices for basically free around here. But I had picked up a couple really nice bundles at the market and they always include this little leafy herb known here as shadow benny. I have only more recently actually learned what it is called, but it smells so savory and delicious I have thrown it in a few meals here and there when it just felt right. But inspired by this savory, almost stew-like herb – I decided to play around with a savory snapper dish.

What You Need:

2 snapper fillets
green bell peppers, sliced (or any other color, but green are local here)
onion, sliced
4 bay leaves
2 shadow benny leaves (optional)
2-3 limes, sliced
green onions, chopped
black pepper

What I did was I first constructed some aluminum foil baking pouches. I sprayed the inside lightly to prevent the fish from sticking. Then I quickly sautéed the bell peppers and onions to give them some flavor and assure they would be soft and added about 1/4 to each pouch. Then I placed in a bay leaf and then laid my fish filet, skin down, on top. I seasoned the top well with pepper, placed my shadow benny leaf, and then covered it with lime slices. Then I added another bay leaf and topped another 1/4 of the vegetables in. Fish in the pouches ready for the oven!

I closed up my little foil pouch and placed them into the oven, at about 350 degrees or so (my oven has numbers, so I went with 3 in my 1-4 scale, whatever that is). Once the fish was cooked and flaked easily, I considered them done and served them up with some fresh veggies and probably some rice, Tyler’s favorite. The fish was so moist and so flavorful!Cooked and Ready for Eating

We were in love with this dish. I highly recommend it. And for all of my oven-less friends on the island, a toaster oven is your best friend so don’t forget it can bake too! You so need one. Enjoy!



5-minute Chocolate Cake

Seriously, this recipe is bomb! And a major go-to for emergency chocolate cravings, stressed out medical students, moody girl time, and treating hubby’s belly. A friend of mine found this and posted it on a Facebook group for all of us students. I must say that even though I do, in fact, have an oven – this is so easy to make. Plus, I don’t have a mixer or a huge supply of baking dishes here but I do have coffee mugs. We have played around with the recipe a little and we definitely recommend adding a chocolate bar in if you don’t have chocolate chips (so far M&Ms, snickers, and Grenadian Chocolate Bars have all been fine contestants). I would also say feel free to add a little extra liquid, I found that mine came out a little dry but one I added a splash extra milk – it was pure delight. Last tip, don’t overcook! Nothing like a dry, hard cake. But by the second try I had a delicious, fudgey, warm chocolate cake right out of the microwave – literally taking only 5 minutes. Check out how to make it here, or watch the video below. Enjoy!



Tyler’s Parents Visit: Part 2, Devouring Lots of Fish

Fish Friday Lobsters

The men with lobsters!

After snorkeling, we took a much needed nap and headed out for the Grenadian Friday night tradition, Fish Friday. Fish Friday happens about 22 miles up the coast of the Caribbean Sea in a town called Gouyave. Stefanie and I were hoping to have a little better experience than we did the previous time we were up in Gouyave when we got stuck there for a few hours longer than we would’ve liked and I puked multiple times into the local gutter.

It takes a little over an hour to get to Gouyave during rush hour. Unless you drive like a maniac you don’t go too much faster than 25 miles an hour on average on the island due to the windy narrow roads. The drive up was quite the adventure – though I’d driven in Grenada before, this was my first time driving a car with a steering wheel on the right and I was still getting used to having a lot of car on my left, especially so on our full-size SUV. Also, Grenada doesn’t really bother with putting up guard-rails, which would just make too much sense on a road with scores and scores of tight turns on the side of gigantic cliffs.

Mom Eating A Whole Fried Fish

Mom eating a whole fried fish!

But alas, we didn’t die and I got over my fear of driving right through the center of downtown St George’s so it was time for some delicious seafood! Fish Friday is essentially two perpendicular alleys filled with lots of tents of people selling all the local seafood cooked Grenadian style – well done. I made my way straight to the lobsters and we grabbed a bunch of other items to accompany them – fish and shrimp kebabs, egg rolls, fried fish balls, fried fish patties and a fried whole fish to name a few. We ran into a bunch of our friends and got to introduce them to my parents and afterwards we finished off our meal with some excellent homemade nutmeg ice cream! It was a real fun night.

The next morning we rallied and woke up early to take my parents on a reggae bus to downtown Grenada for Saturday morning market. Saturday morning market is a big part of our experience here; a lot of weeks we’re really busy with school and work and don’t get out too much, so Saturday morning market keeps us feeling in touch with local life here.

We made our way over to the fish market and it had been an excellent week for fishing! We saw the biggest Red Snappers we’d ever seen and immediately bought two of them and took them over to the “fish master” to be filleted, which is a always a bit of a show, at least to us foreigners.

Tyler with Sailfish Weighing Sailfish Red Snappers The Fish Master

After we got our fish we then made our way over to market square to check out the world famous Grenadian Spice Market to smell and pick up a few of the local spices, mingle with the locals and also buy up our vegetables for the week.

That afternoon we used the car to go down to Morne Rouge beach, a first for Stefanie and me. Morne Rouge is a quiet bay just to the south of Grand Anse with more of a local feel to it. After spending an hour in the water, we were in the mood for…more seafood!

Rice & Fish at BB's CrabbackI had heard from various sources that BB’s Crabback was the restaurant to try in Grenada so we headed down to Le Carenage, navigated through the government restored French colonial buildings and sat down on the water for dinner. We of course, ordered the crabback as an appetizer, which is a local Grenadian speciality. Stefanie and I had a little trouble with the idea of eating the funny land crabs that primarily seem to roam Grenada’s storm drains – but with BB’s special sauce boy were they good! We got four different local fishes prepared four completely different ways for entrées and they all were delicious and had a lot of personality to them. To close it off the meal, Stefanie and I ordered a dessert that was lit on fire!

Mom with BB's GranddaughterBB’s is a completely family run restaurant. BB crafts up his creations in the kitchen while his son and daughter-in-law run the dining room. They were all incredibly friendly. BB’s adorable baby granddaughter had been hanging out in the restaurant all night. My mom had her eye on her and let her parents know that if she needed to be held, she was up for the task. So at the end of the meal, they brought the baby over and my mom got to give her some loving. It was very cute and very my mom.


Quick and Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant is everywhere here these days. Neither Tyler nor I would have expected eggplant to be a local produced item here, but it is and it is cheap and delicious! So, we have taken to eating a lot of eggplant these days, mixed into pastas, roasted, on a sandwich, you name it. One of my favorite dishes is eggplant parmesan, but the way I generally make it is a bit time consuming. The breading and the frying and then baking takes a bit too much time for my med student schedule when my hopes are to come home from class and get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so if I can. So I invented a quick and easy version that tastes almost as good as the real thing.

What you Need:

Fresh Basil
Tomato Sauce
Parmesan Cheese
Mozarella Cheese
Dried Thyme
Ground Pepper
Sea Salt

Olive Oil

So what I do is just chop up the eggplant into some bite-sized pieces and saute in a really hot pan with just a touch of olive oil. Eggplant tends to absorb oil and get mushy or oily fast, but I found that a really hot pan with just a touch of oil and some salt and pepper. I found the the eggplant gets crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. Then coat a baking dish with some pasta sauce, add some freshly chopped basil, add eggplant, add more basil, cover in sauce, then top with cheese and pop it in the oven. I generally shoot for an oven somewhere around 350 degrees. After about 20 minutes and the sauce is all bubbly and the cheese golden brown, it is ready for some eating. Serve over some pasta for the perfect quick dinner. Enjoy!

**Sorry I don’t have any photos of the making, my camera battery charger got shot in the move and I didn’t have my new charger yet. It is okay, trust me, it looks and tastes amazing!


Tyler’s Parents Visit: Part 1, Snorkeling

Two weeks ago my parents packed up their bags in sunny San Diego to come to, well, sunny Grenada and see firsthand this crazy place Stefanie and I now call home. Stefanie and I were really excited to see them and have a little vacation in our own country, plus they brought coffee, popcorn and M&Ms!

After an obligatory first evening trip to Grand Anse beach for swimming, sunset and fresh vegetables and seafood at Umbrellas; we woke up early, grabbed our swim trunks and flippy-floppies and hopped on a boat to see what the Caribbean Sea looks like below the surface. Our first stop was the world famous underwater sculpture park. Viewing the sculptures is a lot of fun since you have to submerge about 15 feet to get a level look at them. The works have evolved to a form of their own over the years beyond what the sculptor created as they become more and more apart of their environment and sea-life starts to grow on them.

Photos of some of the sculptures (click to enlarge)

Our next stop was Flamingo Bay where we spent a few hours snorkeling along a reef to get some good views of coral and fish. When we pulled up, there was a kid who had climbed a hundred feet up a cliff on some vines chasing after an iguana – which can apparently grow to be up to ten feet long here! We all watched in both terror and amusement as he tried to shake it out of the vines onto his friends onlooking below so they could kill it and have it for dinner.

After four hours at sea were were all sun-kissed and ready to eat some seafood, good thing that night was Fish Friday!


All Hallow’s Eve – The Night We Took the Off-Route Bus

Last night was Halloween. We knew it was Halloween because as we were walking back from the study hall we saw big groups of people dressed in odd costumes heading to a big party. Yep, we are so cool that we decided to study on Halloween. HAHA. But since Tyler’s parents were just here last week I am still behind on coursework plus I was sick for another week and it has left we with a lot of studying to do these days.

But anyways, we missed the big bus that stops right in front of our apartment by a mere minute or so. At night, the bus runs only ever half hour so this was quite tragic. And for some unknown reason I have been experiencing some really bad neck and back pain the last couple days so walking home with my heavy school bag was just not what I wanted to do. But as we stood there evaluating our situation, the Grand Anse off-rout bus drove up and since it was not full, we figured we would just take that. The school has these little vans that run only at night to take students straight to their door if they live off of the main bus route so they don’t have to walk up the hills or small roads they normally do to get to the bus stop.

Anyways, we figured that we lived not too far away from school so the bus would pass by our apartment before beginning its “off-route” journey. Not so! We ended up going on a tumultuous, high-speed, bouncy adventure through the back roads and neighborhoods of the little part of Grenada we call home. These bus drivers are crazy the way the whip though little roads and up through these neighborhoods, in the rain no doubt! It was quite amusing as we never drove by our apartment at all and we were the last to get off and had to explain to the driver we actually lived on the route, we just missed the bus. He was super cool though and dropped us off no problem.

It was actually kinda cool to see some of the neighborhoods, even if it was dark. We are excited to think about moving into a more homey, residential area and out of our little studio.

That was pretty much the exciting part of yesterday, our crazy scenic route home through the backroads of Frequente, Point Salines and Limes.