Just in case you were looking for a bit of inspiration for a really special holiday, can I suggest Grenada? It’s a small island at the bottom of the Caribbean, very close to Venezuela, which is full of lovely people (Grenadians are very friendly), spices (the island is known as Spice Island for all the nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and other spices it grows) and does the best rotis in the Caribbean IMO.
Middleagedad and I first went there 26 years ago, when we were child free, thinner and thought each other the hottest things on the planet. Going back was a treat as very little has changed- apart from our waistlines and the children. It’s a little shabby around the edges, nothing much happens and when it does, it happens slowly, but we like this. It’s hard to recommend a holiday destination, everyone wants something different, so I’ll just tell you what I love about Grenada and you can take it from there….Part two is Thursday’s post.
Jessamine Eden Botanic Gardens. Run by Jerry Edwin (above) and Dr Valma Jessamy, this gorgeous 60 acre estate on the west coast of Grenada is a delight, full of beautiful examples of indigenous trees and flowers, including all the spices grown on the island, with walks through the forest and along the river.
They also produce the world’s best honey (made outside of the UK), as awarded last year at the World Honey Awards in London. It was quite a shock to win as it was only the second time Val and Jerry had entered the competition.
They have 125 hives of wild bees that roam free through the forest from which they collect the organic honey three times a year. They never blend different batches, instead they label them 1st (spring blossoms) 2nd (early summer flowers) and 3rd (a mash up of every flower out at the height of summer) season and sell them in small jars to anyone who is passing.
You can taste the honey ‘seasons’ – a little like wine tasting- in the little office/shop. Jerry explained on our visit that they’d been rather overwhelmed by their success, with chefs and food emporiums from all over the world phoning up to order boxes of the award winning nectar. ‘What people don’t understand is we have a very small supply, which goes very quickly to enthusiasts’ Jerry told us, “we had one guy come in off his boat on Friday and buy 6 cases of this year’s 2nd season and that’s pretty much all we had’.
Needless to say I bought everything left on the shelf, which was not much. The honey is stunningly good, it tastes like liquid flowers, a golden-coloured nectar so complex and rich, with fruity hints of mango, banana, pine and jasmine, that I might weep when my stash runs dry.
When Val isn’t busy working on sustainable water projects all over the Caribbean -she is an engineer- she makes organic skin products out of the remaining beeswax, which sells so fast you probably need to be a local to get the heads up on the latest batch.
They have a small cafe, Eve’s Kitchen, selling organic food made entirely from local products and there are two new apartments for rent. If we are luck enough to go back, middleagedad and I will certainly stay here, it was a magical place.
My Place Roti Shop, Grenville. Middleagedad and I didn’t sit on the beach much for the week we were in Grenada, although there are some gorgeous ones if you fancy that (Grand Anse is beautiful and two miles long). Instead we went about busily at pottering speed having hired a car (quite a few of Grenada’s hire cars have seen better days), to search out vintage reggae vinyl, unusual spices (tonka beans, bright red mace still clinging to its nutmeg shell, a weird nut known only as ‘cake spice’), good rum and roti.
On our 26-years-ago-visit, we drove up to Grenville, through the tropical forest lush with amazing flowers and dripping ferns, where we bought roti from Nobi’s roti shop on the high street. We’d never had such delicious things; fish or chicken (with the chicken bones left on) cooked in a fragrant curry sauce, encased in pillow-soft doughy wraps to soak up the juices. We have dreamed of these ever since.
On day two of our holiday, we crossed the central mountain-scape with a sense of determined purpose. Would Nobi’s still be there? Would the roti be as good as we remembered? We found the shop pretty much exactly as it had been, but renamed and without Nobi.
Instead his now ex wife Donna runs it, still making the same roti and ‘doubles’ – deep fried chick pea doughnuts, sandwiched together with a bit of coleslaw as a token-gesture to healthy eating. “I got rid of Nobi a while ago, he was no good, now I run the business with my daughter” she told us, warming to the fact that we were returners. We went back over the mountains three times over five days, who needs fancy food?
Grenville is a busy small town, full of noisy, patriotic Grenadians. There’s a good market, full of fruit and seasonal vegetables and spices. I bought some fiery hot hot sauce from Catherine, below, who makes it to an old family recipe and sells it in recycled 500ml water bottles. It is beyond hot.
More about the spices and food on Thursday. Rather than go all trip-advisor on where to stay, if you are really interested in going, drop me an email and I’ll fill you in.