I would characterize my recent treat to Dominica as short and impactful. I say short because I was only on the island for four days, and impactful since I did so much of what I wanted to do, even though I visited far fewer restaurants and didn’t get to visit an official working farm.
The initial catalyst for the trip was to go back home to get my dad, who had been on the island by himself for over two years, pre-pandemic. It then transitioned into me reconnecting with the island through a culinary lens. So I decided to visit as many restaurants as possible, sampling some of their trademark dishes.
Some dishes I sampled in Dominica
With time being a factor, here are a few places I had the opportunity to sample their food and service: Keepin It Real in Toucarie, Mega View in Calibishie, Tilou Kanawa in Kalinago Territory, Ocean View in Castle Comfort, Fort Young Hotel Restaurant, Banana Tree at C&D in Picard, Water’s Edge in Portsmouth, Secret Bay in Tibay, Jungle Bay in Soufriere, Old House in Roseau, Ital Restaurant at River Street in Roseau, Crazy Carrot in Roseau and Petite Bistro in Marigot. Unfortunately, I’m so bummed that I couldn’t visit a few favorites on my list due to distance from home base and hours of operation not aligning with my schedule. However, when I return to Dominica, I’d love to visit a few more on the list.
As expected, the dishes and drinks were unquestionably delicious, local, and fresh, and although the portions were pretty big, I wanted more. Dominican cooking is rich in flavor and made with love. There was so much variety in red meat, chicken, seafood, and limited time to try everything. So I mainly focused on eating seafood, knowing it was fresh and guaranteed to be local.
I mixed up my experience as I didn’t want to focus solely on the most expensive or traditional restaurants or popular places. Instead, I tried to better understand the entire culinary landscape by curating an eclectic list that balanced my experience. Surprisingly, among all the dishes I had, the one that resonated with me the most was black bean accra from Ital, the lone vegetarian restaurant. The accra was packed with savory flavor, and although it was tender on the inside, the crispy crust that enveloped it created an outstanding balance that erupted on my tastebuds.
While I’m incredibly passionate about our Dominican food, and I honestly think that it rivals other Caribean islands, one thing that I can’t shake is time to table. We need to do better in setting the right expectation for patrons. The wait was incredibly long at a few establishments and soured my experience a bit. We must figure out how to crunch the time. It may involve hiring more staff, proper prepping, or changing our mindset to deliver quality food and service in a suitable timeframe.
I was so excited that my dad had saved me some cow skin used to make fwachine (Souse). So I created a Facebook Live video demonstrating how to prepare it from start to plating. You can view the video here.
Flying dress photoshoot in Dominica
My trip didn’t just have a culinary emphasis but also allowed me the opportunity to highlight Dominican talent. I did two photoshoots, one with a flying dress created by a top seamstress on the island, Bernadette Royer, who now rents the dresses for photoshoots. Photographer Chad Ambo from Ambo Visuals did the shoot. The flying dress shoot highlighted the Red Rock area in the village of Calibishie. Lincoln from Medialinx did the other photoshoot for my book, dress by Bernadette Royer, styling by Jael Joseph, and makeup by Jessia Letang. I also was featured on Ferdina Frampton’s In the Spotlight Show (See Video here), where I talked about my upbringing. In addition, I met with reps from Discover Dominica Authority, where we synced on a few things.
One of the highlights of my trip was getting a personal tour of Jungle Bay, Dominica’s edible resort, from the proprietor, and my husband’s relative, Sam Raphael. Sam has built what I referred to as a museum of Dominica’s edible plants. He’s integrated the edible landscape with the hardscape of the resort and they help compliment each other.
I can’t wait to go back to Dominica to launch my book. I really hope that it will be ready by the end of the year. In the meantime, I’m creating so many interesting and tasty recipes. I can’t wait to share with everyone.