Sunday, March 6, 2016

I Got an Oildown

No I didn't get a massage with oil, and no I didn't get an oil change, but instead finally found one of the last three servings of Oildown, the national dish of Grenada at Babes.  Oildown is a culinary staple of the island, and the reason there were only three servings left at Babes restaurant is because when they make Oildown, there is, as Andre our driver said, "never any left".  If Oildown is available on the menu, that is what the Grenadians have.  Unfortunately for Andre who took us to Babe's we got the last three servings.  It was better than I expected. I'd heard about it; how you layer assorted meats or seafood, breadfruit or root crops, green bananas, yams, coconut milk and greens and stew it down until what remains is a savory stew with a coconut oil sauce.  I asked Babe how she made it and this is how she described it. She sauted the green spices: green onion, celery, thyme, possibly dill, and any assortment of green herbs, but very likely Shadon Benny the cilantro-like leaf. Then she lays that in to the stew pot with the chicken and pork, adds a West Indian curry, breadfruit wedges, green bananas, yams wedges, coconut milk and tops with callalloo leaves.  It was perfect, the meat and vegetables tender to the bite, not mushy; the sauce a golden gravy, not too salty or under spiced.  Babes is a sweet roadside bar and restaurant on the highway near LaSagesse area of Grenada. The shady verandah at lunchtime is a pleasant oasis. Babe cooks and serves her customers with a smile and a joke. As we were leaving, happily content, another woman came out of the kitchen, quietly standing in the doorway as if to see who these folks were who were raving about the Oildown.  When we asked her name she too said, Babe!  We figured that that is why the place is called Babes, not Babe's. It's Babe One and Babe Two.

I had wanted to be sure to have Oildown before we left and I figured I could probably get it at the Friday Night Fish Fry in Gouyave.  Luckily I got it at Babe's because there was no Oildown in sight at Gouyave. The Fish Fry is a weekly event in the fishing village north of St. George's.  Canopies are set up over the street where vendors stand over stovetops frying fish and grills for lobster. There is every type of side dish you'd expect such as fried plantains, Johnny Cakes and much more.
Gouyave Fish Fry
Picnic tables between the food vendors when not filled to capacity are the place to sit while you eat  your lobster topped with garlic butter wielding a plastic fork.  It's a unique experience and something everyone must do at least once while in Grenada.  Buses ply the routes between Gouyave and St. George's, packed like Sardines we return to the capital city sated with piscean pleasure.

I celebrated my fifteenth birthday this last week on Leap Day, February 29th.  Our friends Jim and Martha came down from Minnesota to spend the week and help me celebrate. We went to the Beach House Restaurant.  This highly recommended restaurant was in a beautiful setting, on a beach south of us, with open air, white napkin service.  Very special and romantic.  I have to admit that the day or two leading up to my birthday, I was feeling strange, sort of depressed.  At odds with my normal 'even keel'.  I questioned what I want to do with my future.  I just felt strange.  But the nice dinner with friends and my loving Yata and I was back to normal.
Birthday Dinner
 We had also gone snorkeling that afternoon and that is one of my favorite activities.  I saw a turtle, a pair of French Angelfish, and many more unique underwater corals, gorgonia and more.  It was lovely. We revisited the Underwater Sculpture Garden but this time, with a guide to be sure we found all of them.  Although it's a really unique concept I realized, that you just can't beat a beautiful healthy reef for beauty and awe.

The next night we went to YOLO Sushi Bar & Restaurant at the Port Louis Marina near our apartment. Yata was unsure about this choice as he associated Sushi with raw fish and isn't interested in eating raw fish.  But we were very satisfied and delighted by YOLO (You Only Live Once). I had the signature Volcano rolls served with a cup of flaming rum in the center of the rolls.  Like many of their rolls, they were wrapped in crispy salmon skim instead of seaweed.  Yata had the Alaska rolls which had Shrimp tempura wrapped in rice and seaweed.  Excellent.  We also enjoyed a bottle of Montepulciano wine.  Dining was al fresco, lit by the harbor lights of the marina, the carrenage and the port of St. George's, wow!

We realize how fortunate we are and strive to appreciate all we are able to do, eat and enjoy.  If only everyone was able to do the same.

We return home this Tuesday and we will definitely miss this lovely island. It has been great. Unless we are deluding ourselves somehow, we'd say this is the best destination in our seventeen years of travel in many ways.  Especially for us at this age.  It's safer than anywhere we've been, including the US, I believe.  It's very clean and relatively litter free.  The poverty is minimal. Education is good. There aren't lots of feral dogs running around like so many countries we've been.  The telecom/internet is excellent. The public transport is excellent. The healthcare appears to be excellent (there is a large medical college on the island, St. George's University). The climate is warm with a rainy season. There is abundant fresh water due to the mountains as well as abundant fresh fruit and produce. The sailing/cruiser culture is strong and brings a nice element to the island. There are a few things that could be a problem, such as hurricanes (this island was seriously damaged in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan), it gets really hot in the middle of the day, public transport although it's prolific, can be a bit dangerous with aggressive driving on narrow roads (we saw the aftermath of a serious crash not far from our apartment).

But it'll be nice to get home and see our wonderful grandkids and their parents, our friends and to sleep in cool comfort (we've been sleeping in temps from 75 to 87 every night here).

We will be back, maybe next year. We are thinking we might like to spend more time too on the island of Carriacou, just north of here.  And maybe some sailing around Cuba???


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