Posts Tagged ‘Bequia’

Thank you so much to everyone who entered by sharing their holiday food stories. Each one evocative of place and food. I loved every single one, whether long or short!

As there can only be one winner, the prize goes to Alice Gro and her story about eating tripe in France. She left both Susan and I hungry and laughing…though not necessarily for tripe.

Previously undiscosed: Alice also wrote the story about sailing into Bequia’s harbour and staying for the roti. So appropriate, given the setting of the novel! And Keiko Mori has given me permission to publish her name as the writer of the “Tea in the crypt” story.

So thank you again, and congratulations to Alice! I’ll be in touch to get your mailing address so I can send your copy of Susan M. Toy’s “Island in the Clouds.”

Meanwhile, here are the entries:

  1. Received by email, the first entry for the giveaway contest comes from Kamloops, B.C.:

    “I think it is marvellous to travel and get cooking ideas from where you have been.
    Recently I was in London where my granddaughter treated us to English Tea at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a wonderful experience and I laughingly say that “We had tea in the crypt”, because that is where the tearoom is.
    So I learned what a “tea” consists of and so on my return I have been able to treat my friends to cucumber, salmon and egg salad sandwiches (with the crusts removed), scones with strawberry jam and double Devon cream and meringues and cupcakes.I was delighted to find that I could buy the cream at Safeway that is actually from Devon.
    I was very surprised at how extremely delighted and thankful everyone was with the event. I actually made tea with loose tea and I think that it does make superior tea.
    So I told my friends that that was my souvenir for them as everything in England I found very costly.And, a gift that they do not have to put on a shelf and dust! It is when you go away that you realize how fortunate one is to live in Canada!
    The husband of one of my friends commented, “You are going to an English Tea at the home of a Japanese woman?” I am Canadian but my ancestry is Japanese.
    I have enjoyed your column and many of your recipes and stories of Mennonite life.
    Thank you,” (name withheld)

    *posted by Darcie*

  2. on July 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Replywhatlooksin

    Another entry!
    Marion Soames writes:
    We were sitting at a rustic picnic table enjoying first of the season radishes. I went to take a second bite of my radish and half (yes half) a worm was wiggling back at me. Never took a bite of a radish for the rest of the trip. Marion

  3. on July 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Replywhatlooksin

    And another by email!
    “Hi Darcie

    Well! Today’s Courier article whipped me back to the summer of 1994 at whip-lash speed! Six of us had picked up a 45′ sloop in St. Lucia and began a month long sail along the fragrant Windward Islands (St. Vincent, Granada, Cariacou, etc.) of the Caribbean. After an especially hard day of sailing, we found our anchorage for the night in the stunning little harbour of Bequia. I can still easily recall the brightly painted cottages along the shore, the warm humid tropical air, and steel drums easing the soft evening breezes.

    As it turned out our boat had some mechanical issues (as they always do), and we were obligated to spend several days at this anchorage. (Shucks!) Taking our little dinghy ashore we were accosted with the mouth watering scents of street food! Well, these tired, hungry salty dawgs could hardly restrain ourselves. After a saunter around the harbour, we all converged at the Roti stand. We discovered three types of rotis:
    1. Local (i.e. with bones – chicken necks, backs, and bits of dark meat
    2. Goat
    3. Boneless (for the “softies” i.e. tourists)
    I’ll admit we all opted for the third kind and all became Chicken Roti affectionados on the spot. Over the next couple of days, we seemed to find our way back to that Roti stand several more times – our on-board galley got little use at that anchorage.

    I’ve never tried to make roti back home, but you’ve inspired me to try, so this July, when some of the ship-mates from that trip come to town, I’ll surprise them (or try to!).

    So, Darcie, thanks for the memory, and the inspiration!”
    (name withheld)

  4. I should preface this anecdote with the comment that my husband and I have fairly eclectic and adventurous palates. In fact, my husband has stated that the only food he will not try is tripe.

    Some years ago we were travelling by car through Germany to Provence, France. Along the way we were enjoying the local foods and wines of the regions we passed through. With my Mennonite background I found my German was good enough to make pretty good choices in the restaurants. We entered France from Strasbourg and our first stop was the lovely city of Dijon.

    It was mid-afternoon, so we decided to stop for a snack and our first French wine at a lovely sun-dappled restaurant patio. “Leave it to me, “ I said when we were handed an all-French menu. After all, I had had one year of College French. With some confidence I selected a couple of “small plates” that I thought would go nicely with the red wine my husband ordered.

    When the first dish arrived – you guessed it! – it was a plate of tripe, beautifully napped in a golden Dijon sauce. Oh my! What a dilemma for the husband: abandon this incredibly delicious smelling tripe dish, or abandon his aversion? Well, we are foodies after all, and yes, we did hold our breaths and dip into this amazingly redolent dish. And yes, it was amazing! We tucked right in and then cleaned up the sauce with our crusty bread so there was nary a smear left on the plate.

    “Delicious”, we both sighed.

    Interestingly though, we have never eaten tripe since, and we never travel without our trusty IPod dictionary either!

  5. Hi Darcie,

    While recently on a Disney Cruise, my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law and I spent an evening dining at the adult-only restaurant aboard the DISNEY MAGIC. I enjoyed a meal of roast beef, cooked to perfection and steamed vegetables that were delightful; but the best part of all was dessert. It was the most delicious, sweet and gooey, chocolate-filled tart I have ever devoured.

    Keri Michaud

  6. […] has been running a contest in her food column and over at her blogsite, Nice Fat Gurdie and there’s still another day to enter! You’ll win a copy of my book! Go to […]

Read Full Post »

The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoffs morning. An ex-pat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesnt want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now hes the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, hes drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…

Part travelogue, part mystery, Island in the Clouds takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect…from the outside, anyway.

Island in the Clouds, the debut murder mystery (first in a trilogy) by my fellow-Humber grad Susan M. Toy, is fun in the sun. With shady characters, some murders, and an island that refuses to be what it seems.

In honour of her first book, Susan has allowed me to host a contest and give away a signed copy of Island in the Clouds. All you have to do it comment and tell me about your favourite vacation meal. It doesn’t have to be from a trip to the Caribbean, or an island destination. Just wherever you went and found an amazing, unforgettable dish, whether in a restaurant, from a food truck, on the docks…

For more on Island in the Clouds and the origins of this contest, check out this week’s food column in Kamloops This Week (also being published in the Okanagan Sunday and Prairie Post). But you don’t have to be a subscriber to enter the contest. Just sit back, have a read, then tell me about something you ate.

The best travel/food story wins!

If yours isn’t the winning entry, however, Island in the Clouds is available in print and as an e-book. For how to purchase, click on THIS LINK.

And enjoy!

(Contest closes July 16.)

Read Full Post »

The start of something sour:
Hi Darcie ,
My wife has been baking bread since we were married , that was in 1957  and it went from the ugly to the bad to the best , it’s a learning process  of course  . One kind of bread she has not been able to bake is a  REAL sourdough  bread . I don’t mean the N. American type but the European  type . We come from the Netherlands   , I come from the southern part of Holland near the German border and there was baked  sourdough bread that was sour .  By the way , she never buys yeast  , she grows her own  , makes lovely bread . She tried  different yeast  recipes  that I found on the net , but no luck  .  So  the question is : do you have by chance a recipe to make that sour yeast  that’s used in   those breads  .  I talked to German baker in town and he knew what I was talking about but did not  want to give  a recipe .
So we keep on hoping  , maybe your the  answer .
Gerry and Erica Vermey
Dear Gerry and Erica,
I began sleuthing out answers to your question back in the middle of July, having little idea just how right you were. It’s no easy thing to part professional bakers from their sourdough secrets!
After some (understandably) blank stares and unanswered emails, and knowing already that I’m not half the baker your wife is, I grimly turned to my own research. Days later, I had only gotten as far as France (where they like their sourdough nice and unsour), and was overwhelmed by internet innuendo and conflicting cookbook advice. How would I ever come up with an answer that’s better than I am? How would I know when I’d found it?
So when my friend, Susan Toy, took some time off from her too-busy-to-bake business as an independent author rep., I quickly went over my head to a better baker. Susan is the most consummate one I know outside of a professional kitchen.
As luck would have it, while visiting her alternate home in the Caribbean, she was already on the case on behalf of an island restauranteur who turns to her for the development of any recipes having to do with leavening.
Said Susan:

“You’re in luck. I had planned to develop an extra-sour sourdough starter while I’m on Bequia. So today is the day I will ‘start,’ so to speak, although it’s pouring rain again, and may be too cool to get the fermentation process properly working.

“Of course, German bakers use rye flour almost exclusively to make their sourdough starter. Rye definitely already has a stronger taste, so will give a more sour flavour to the bread. I don’t have any rye left in the freezer, and I might not be able to buy any at this time of year. One of the drawbacks of Bequia – we’re limited in the ingredients we have readily at hand.

“The secret to sourdough is in the amount of flour and water (and only flour and water are used), then in the time allowed for fermentation. A stiffer dough is required, so 50% hydration is what you’ll want to mix, ie. twice as much flour to water, by weight. I’ve now mixed together 12 oz. of flour with 6 oz. of water and the resulting dough is indeed stiff. Now, if I leave it sit for a few days and don’t feed it, I should have a highly acidic starter that I can then add to a bread recipe, and will hopefully be rewarded with a stronger biting taste, as well as a crunchier crust, as a result.”

A few days later, after incorporating the starter into a San Francisco-style recipe, Susan had two loaves of very sour sourdough. The following week, after discovering some rye flour in her Island freezer, and after five days babysitting the new batch (which she refrigerated for part of that time, as she suspected bread mold was trying to gain a foothold) she adds that “There’s no comparison at all! The rye is a far superior, bordering-on-vinegary taste.” Exactly what she, and hopefully you, were looking for.

News to note: Susan Toy is the author of  Island in the Clouds, a mystery set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where she developed this starter.



The following recipe is from Sourdough Cookery (circa. 1987) by Rita Davenport. Susan swears by it and uses it to forms both baguettes and boules.
San Francisco-Style French Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F, 40C)
1 envelope active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
1 cup sourdough starter
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
Water for tops of loaves
Warm a large bowl. Pour 1 1/2 cups warm water into warmed bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water. Set aside to soften 5 minutes. Stir in sourdough starter, sugar and salt. Beat in 3 cups flour until blended. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place free from  drafts. Let rise 1 1/2  to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet; set aside. Stir down dough. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a medium-stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead dough 8 or 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if necessary. Shape kneaded dough into two 10: x 3 1/2” loaves. Pull out ends of each to make them narrower than center of loaf. Or shape into 2 round loaves.
Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place free from drafts. Let rise 1 to 2 hours or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Pour water 1 inch deep into a 12” x 7 1/2” baking pan. Place in bottom of preheating oven. Use a pastry brush to brush tops of loaves with water. Use a razor blade or very sharp knife to cut kiagonal slashes across tops of loaves. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped with your fingers.
After 30 minutes, if loaves are golden brown, cover with a tent of foil to prevent further browning. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on a rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Read Full Post »