06 July 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, part IV

Grenada Day 5

Woke to sunshine, so after a quick breakfast of toast & fruit, we hied ourselves over to Morne Rouge, one of our favorite beaches on the island. We rented two beach chairs from Bernard for only EC $10 each and spent a happy two hours alternating between swimming, walking the beach, and reading under the almond trees. We made the fortuitous decision to pack up our stuff and have lunch at Sur La Mer and had just arrived at the bar when the skies opened up once more.

It rained rather heavily for nearly two hours, so we whiled away our time with a few speed rounds of Bananagrams and a spectacularly mediocre lunch. First of all, it was dark, hot, and stuffy inside the bar—the website for the Gem shows a light and airy dining room but we saw no evidence of it. The server was indifferent at best and the food itself was forgettable—I had a chicken roti and DH had the BLT. The rum punch was just this side of awful and the coffee was instant. We had lunched at Sur La Mer once before and had a similar experience, but after reading other reviews online and looking at its website again, we decided to give it another chance. Never again!

Below: Bernard with the
beach chairs
By the time we made it back to our beach chairs we decided to just pack up and head back to the villa. While we were eating lunch, Bernard had very kindly folded up our towels and tucked them inside the folded chairs in an attempt to keep them as dry as possible for us. He told us that he’s having a hard time of it these days now that the new Kalinago hotel is open. He’s been renting out beach chairs on Morne Rouge for years now, but Kalinago is offering free chairs with the purchase of a drink from the bar. Folks, if you head to Grenada, please go to Morne Rouge and rent the yellow & white chairs from Bernard. They’re only EC $10 each for the entire day and Bernard will take care of you!

Before heading back to the villa, we stopped at a few shops to see if they had any umbrellas for sale, but we couldn’t find any for love or money. Next time we’ll be sure to pack our own, as we could have done much more in the rain, such as tour the botanical gardens or the fort at St. George’s, with a brolly in hand.

But things could only look up for us that day because we had reservations with Boots for dinner. Boots and his wife Ruby operate a small restaurant out of their home not far from LAE, and I don’t think it is overstating it to say that they are one of the main reasons we keep returning to Grenada. They are kind and gracious, and I don’t know how they do it with all of their customers, but they remember us from year to year, which in turns makes us feel special. For EC $80 per person, they serve up a 5 course meal, and when we call to make reservations, we always try to make them for a night when Boots will be serving lambi. I’ve eaten lambi (or conch, as it’s known elsewhere in the Caribbean) on every island I’ve visited, but nobody, and I mean NOBODY serves it up like Boots does. He has a well guarded secret to make it so tender that you’d swear it couldn’t be lambi.

For that night, Boots and Ruby started us of with a johnnycake and a spicy pumpkin soup, followed by a saltfish fritter, and a small salad. He always offers three choices for entrees, and beside the lambi that night, we could have chosen goat or fish stew. The lambi was done in a Creole style with onions & peppers and it was just out of this world. The entrée is always accompanied by a variety of provision, and that night we had plantain, breadfruit balls, and some root veggies. The papaya custard pie with rum raisin ice cream was the perfect end to a perfect meal.

After dinner, the four of us sat around chatting about food and recipes and kitchen techniques until we were all yawning. We parted ways with hugs as we left because that’s just the way they are—so warm, so embracing.

Grenada Day 6

Yay—another sunny morning! So after breakfast at the villa we head back to Morne Rouge and rent some chairs from Bernard again and spend some hard hours reading, swimming, and napping. The rain clouds roll in around 1:00 pm this time, so we pack things up and head to lunch at Flamboyant’s Beachside Terrace restaurant. It seems to be everything that Sur la Mer is not—bright, airy, cheery—and just feet from the water where we can hear the waves. Our server is young and in training from NEWLO, a program that trains young Grenadians with various sets of life skills, and she’s trying so hard to remember everything that the concentration shows on her face. It’s clear that she’s trying to make a good impression and we’re utterly charmed—in fact, she reminds us of one of our granddaughters back home.

Anyway, for lunch DH had chicken & chips and I had the Greek salad. Two sodas, two iced teas (which were phenomenal!), and a shared ice cream brought our lunch to about US $35, plus tip. When the rain let up after lunch, we spent a little time walking that end of Grand Anse, which we had not visited before. Lunch at the Flamboyant will definitely be on our itinerary for future visits to Grenada—the good food and the great, casual atmosphere make for a good value, indeed.

Clockwise from top left: Eponymous tree at Flamboyant, Beachside Terrace restaurant at Flamboyant, view of Grand Anse from top of Flamboyant property, view of Grand Anse from a different vantage point at Flamboyant.

By late afternoon, I’m starting to feel not-so-well, so I have a nap in an attempt to ward off whatever is ailing me so that I can be refreshed for dinner at Aquarium. In fact, I feel worse after waking up, but we don’t want to cancel our reservations, as we really like this restaurant (and as I’m the only driver on the rental car, DH would go hungry if I didn’t make the effort to drive him somewhere for dinner). Well, in retrospect, it might have been better if we’d canceled. We arrive to obnoxiously loud dance music blasting through the speakers, which might have been appropriate during the day for the beach bar part of the restaurant, but which was hardly appealing for a nice night out. It was so loud that it completely obscured our ability to converse without shouting (my husband has a hearing disability), but my request for the volume to be lowered went unheeded. I suppose, viewed in the right light, that the music was actually a blessing to us because it kept us from wanting to linger over our meal. Our servers were perfunctory, not at all what we had come to expect from our previous meals at Aquarium, so they gave us no reason to linger, either. I’m happy to report that our food was excellent, starting with the amuse-bouche of seared tuna. My tummy was still feeling fragile, so I ordered the penne pesto made with local basil, and DH ordered a coconut shrimp dish with the most succulent shrimp I’ve ever tasted. The portions were ample and neither one of us finished our entrées, so we took them home to eat the next day. Two glasses of wine brought our total to US $66, plus tip. We remarked on our way back to the car that we made it out of there in just under 45 minutes, perhaps the fastest dinner ever taken at that restaurant!

By the time we get home, I’m feeling very puny, as my father might say. I take the last two Advil and crawl into bed at 8:30, hoping that an early bedtime will lead to a full recovery by morning.

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