By Anita Carmin
One of the Lesser Antilles’ Windward Islands, this beauty queen with her tumbling waterfalls, tropical rain forests, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Piton Mountains has long been synonymous with romance. But these days, there’s another reason to love this lush isle.
Thanks to its revitalized chocolate industry, thriving organic farms, envelope-pushing chefs, and foodie pursuits from rum-tasting to truffle-making, epicures are discovering that upscale Saint Lucia has much more to offer than conch fritters and jerk chicken.
“Dishes show a combination of Creole, French, and Indian influences – flavorful and yet light,” explains Michelle Harvell, a Fort Worth, Texas, Virtuoso travel advisor who married and honeymooned on the island.
To be sure, Saint Lucia possesses all the ingredients for a great meal:
Speaking of Cacao…
Organic farms ripe with a year-round supply of diverse fruits and vegetables.
Indigenous cacao that finds its way into everything from designer cocktails to fish and meat rubs – not to mention spa treatments.
A number of plantations offer tours, tastings, and chocolate-making lessons:
Get in on the Culinary Action
Rabot Estate – This 140-acre estate offers a three-hour Tree to Bar Experience where you can create your own chocolate bar from cacao nibs, cacao butter, and powdered sugar – using nothing but a heavy-duty mortar and pestle.
Boucan – Chocolate for dinner? This estate restaurant will have you sipping cacao Bellinis while perusing the “cacao cuisine” menu, featuring such dishes as cacao gazpacho, yellow fin tuna with cacao pesto, and prime beef with dark- chocolate port wine sauce. And at neighboring
Dasheene – Located at Ladera resort, cacao vinaigrette enlivens sautéed shrimp, while cacao nibs flavor mahi-mahi ceviche.
Should you want to replicate some of Saint Lucia’s specialty dishes – whether sweet or savory – at home, the island’s star chefs readily share their secrets.
Tag along with Jade Mountain’s Jonathan Dearden while he selects Surinam cherries, plump mangoes, and peppery arugula during his weekly harvesting excursion to the resort’s organic farm, Emerald Estate. Later, take a hands-on cooking class with Dearden, or invite the chef to your suite overlooking the Pitons for a private demo.
You can also spend the day with Sugar Beach chef Daniel Hurtado. On the menu: ingredient-gathering jaunts to an enormous organic farm and a tiny fishing village, a lesson in sushi making, and a multicourse lobster lunch paired with wine.
More in the mood for rum? Head to the resort’s Cane Bar for a tasting with the professional “rummelier.” Later, continue your spirited education at St. Lucia Distillers – producers of the island’s Bounty and Chairman’s Reserve rums – on a guided tour.
“The best beach bar on Saint Lucia: The Naked Fisherman Beach Bar & Grill on Cap Maison’s Smuggler’s Cove. I’m partial to the local Piton beer, but if you want something stronger, have the bartender concoct a potent TNF rum punch.” – Michelle Harvell,
Fort Worth, Texas
Discover more about Saint Lucia – get a taste of Saint Lucia hot spots, and find out where to stay and sail in Saint Lucia.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Traveler magazine, October 2014.
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