Monday, February 22, 2016

Vacation = Tasty Souvenirs & Snapshots

Mid-month, January saw fit for us to travel. This time on a cruise. First we flew to San Juan for an overnight, which meant DINNER! I'd love to return to San Juan if not for any other reason than to go back to Casita Miramar for another delicious dinner. It's all a blur at this point, but drinks were awesome, service was stellar, and everything we ate was tasty. Here's one photo we managed to snap of the Maharajah's dinner, which was a traditional cod stew served in a big-assed avocado:

I believe the first port for us was Bridgetown, Barbados, which was nice. We just took a casual bus tour, where we were able to visit Farley Hill Park. Glorious and picturesque, and the weather was so pleasant. Not too hot and humid. I don't recall where we went to lunch as part of that tour package, but it was lovely. And I hate to say this but by and large, I find most of the food in the Caribbean nearly indistinguishable from each other. There might be some variations in produce (like I've never seen Ackee other than in Jamaica), but it all seems to be variations on the same theme. ALL DELICIOUS mind you, I just am not well versed enough in the subtle nuances of each place, I see some differences, but not big loud screaming differences. But one thing is key: every place offers up lovely seafood and in the Caribbean, CHICKEN IS KING!  

Behold the first edible souvenir: Barbadian curry powder! (Which, I am sad to report, is IDENTICAL to the "sweet" or "Madras" curry powder I have at home--I thought I was getting something special--turns out the only thing special is the label on here. I have this identical blend at home.
Our second port was Antigua, and rather than take a tour, we wandered about the port area, in search of lunch and a pharmacy. I also happened to pop in at Best of Books and picked up a book on Caribbean cooking, which spotlights each of the different places we have managed to visit on this trip as well as previous trips we've taken elsewhere in the Caribbean. I'm going to find this useful for summertime grilling, parties and get- togethers!  

Lunch was at Hemingway's--so if you get a chance to go there, DO SO! Everything was delicious. Our cocktails went quickly, and the food pictured here is conch curry w/rice and peas, and some conch fritters.

Now, a photo of a glorious dessert we had while on our ship, the NCL Jewel.* This was one of the available desserts at the specialty restaurant named Chops.  *This is the second NCL cruise we've been on; total # of cruises we've been on is something like 8 or 9 thus far.
Thanks to the scopalomine patches I wear to keep from getting sea sick, as well as the volume of adult beverages I "partook," I cannot recall the sequencing of the remainder of our itinerary. I believe next up was St. Lucia (which the Maharajah refers to as "St. Expensia" due to the fact that we ended up taking a cruise that was less expensive than to stay in St. Lucia for a few days--truly $500 a night in a hotel? No thanks! Cruising is the way to go!). Anyway, the food was the SPICIEST/HOTTEST in St. Lucia, and I did manage to buy nutmegs and fresh maces, and some tamarind candy while on our excursion. No photos of our lunches were snapped either.

The next day was St. Maarten, and I have to say out of the other islands, I rather enjoyed this one the most. And perhaps I'd say the same thing if I visited countries in the French West Indies. I loved how half the island was Dutch and half was French, very much reminded me of Belgium--a place I found confusing and I loved it.   

Next edible souvenirs procured were chocolate as well as Guavaberry liqueur (something very specific to the island) and the biggest bottle of Mount Gay (Barbadian) rum I could get my hands on, as I failed to get it in Barbados (and also failed to get the special "casked" variety, too.  

To be honest, the chocolate was a bit of a let down, IMHO. The assortment we picked out in the white box were "okay" and the 80% cacao sugar free bars were quite good--but overall I'd say MEH about the chocolate. Having experienced the heaven-on-earth that IS true Belgian chocolate, I was a bit let down with this stuff. But whatever. CHOCOLATE!

Evidence of my grocery shopping while on vacation. This is an exception for me. As we normally travel with "carry on" luggage only. Given the large bottles of booze, I could not carry these on with me, and had to waste time checking my luggage, which then took so long, only to get queued up in the line for TSA. But in the end, when we got home and cracked open our bottles of booze, in the end it seemed like a worthy sacrifice in time (both, waiting to check the bag, as well as waiting 20 minutes for it to appear on the conveyor belt at JFK).

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