Friday, 26 June 2015

Lakeland - Rollie Introduces Vertical Cooking

I have been sent the cutest little kitchen gadget ever.  It is called a Rollie and it has made it’s way over here from America (where they have a plethora of little kitchen gadget for every need!).
It is simple and portable, you may want one at work and at home. I know The Little People will get a kick out of my Rollie!

You heat it up, the light changes from red to green when it is ready.  Spray the inside with a non-stick spray or you can put a teaspoon of sunflower oil in and roll it around to coat.
Then simply crack two medium to large eggs inside, insert a wooden skewer and wait 6-8 minutes until the perfect cooked egg roll pops up. 
There is a little recipe booklet that come with the Rollie helping to create wraps or canap├ęs for entertaining.  Pop one inside a buttered long roll and you have an instant egg sandwich.

Use it again and again and when you are finished just use the brush that comes with it to wash it out (never immerse the whole thing in water) and put it away till you need it again.  It does not take up much room either in the cupboard or on the surface.
Took mine to visit my grandsons last weekend and The Littlest One really loved it. So safe and simple that even a child could do it with an adult supervising. 
We got through quite a few eggs this weekend!

Thanks to Lakeland for supplying me with my Rollie. All opinions and photos are my own.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Grenada: Blue Horizons Garden Resort

Our first three nights in Grenada we stayed as guests of Blue Horizons Garden Resort - a lovely resort about a 5 minute walk to the famous Grand Anse Beach (Two miles of beautiful white sandy beach).

Blue Horizons is owned and run by Mr Arnold D Hopkin who has grown up in the hotel and leisure industry and who adds a touch of luxury with a home from home resort assuring the visitor to the island a warm welcome and enjoyable stay.

Upon our arrival at our semi-detached cottage we were greeted in true Grenada style - a big smile and a local rum punch! What a fantastic way to greet your guests.
The self catering cottages are slightly spread out saving you from being on top of someone else's accommodation and although slightly steep (not great for me with my asthma in the heat) the view you are rewarded with is worth the incline!

If you do have mobility issues ask for one of the lower down accommodations. 

The rooms were furnished with a touch of island design and very very comfortable.  Although we were out all day and out for meals it was still nice to make a coffee and have a fridge to keep our water and chocolate stash cool.

The Blue Horizons has an established restaurant and pool-side bar both serving local cuisine. 
On one evening we joined Mr Arnold Hopkin for a meal and he kept us intrigued all evening with his stories and knowledge of the island and its history, past and present.
The resort was lush and green and very warm with a nice breeze blowing once you walked up to your cabin.
I try to eat a healthy breakfast and the fresh fruit platter became my morning addiction, off setting all the lush, luxury food and chocolate we would be consuming on our daily adventures.
Of course some days I gave in and had the pancakes and nutmeg syrup, equally as addictive!
I thought it was lovely to see the day's fruit arriving and being sold from the back of someone's car! You know it is fresh.
Even though we were on the go there was always time to sit awhile and have a chat and listen to Kendra Hopkin, Arnold's daughter telling us all about the resort with her passion and love for her resort and beautiful island home.

Thank you Blue Horizons Garden Resort for you hospitality on our recent trip to Grenada courtesy of Grenada Tourist Authority.  All opinions and photo are my own.

Coffee Brewer - A Simple Idea

You know the feeling. You turn up at your hotel desperate for a cup of coffee and there on the tray is a selection of instant coffee and budget tea!  Aarrgh!!

Now you have an alternative. Coffee Brewer from Growers Cup offers the traveller a simple solution.
Flat and lightweight packets of freshly ground, single estate coffee in a packet that doubles as a caffetiere! Genius.
The coffee is Fair Trade and the packaging recyclable.

Each bag will, after the addition of 300ml boiling water and a brew time of 3-6 minutes (depends how strong you like it) produce two cups of freshly brewed coffee!
The coffee comes from countries like Brazil, Guatemala, Columbia and Bolivia.

For the tea drinker there is also a range of teas for when you want a perfect cup and forgot the tea pot! There is a range of black teas, green teas and fruit teas.
We stayed in a hotel recently to visit family and tried these out!
So light and easy to pack, there will always be one or two packs in my suitcase!

Thanks Growers Cup for my selection. All photos and opinions are my own?

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Grenada and the Nutmeg

When I found out that Grenada was the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world I became obsessed with picking my own nutmeg from the tree!

As part of our island tour we stopped at the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Plant.  From the outside an ordinary shabby building not holding much promise of the size and enormity of its position to process this special little spice used all over the world and held in such esteem with home cooks and professional chefs alike.
As we entered the air was permeated with the faintly familiar smell that would conjure up all sort of mind pictures of mum and grandma baking or a rice pudding in the oven for Sunday tea time. 
I knew that mace was a spice directly associated with nutmeg and that it grew around the nutmeg but I never knew that nutmeg and mace grew inside a small apricot looking fruit.

Mace grows around the outer shell of the nutmeg but inside the nutmeg fruit.  I had only really used mace in pumpkin pie and other pumpkin baked dishes but didn’t know much more about it.
A visit to the Guaye Nutmeg Processing Plant put things into perspective and was really educational.

A nutmeg tree takes up to 30 years to reach maturity so imagine the destruction and devastation caused in 2004 when hurricane Ivan swept through the Caribbean and quite out of character passed through Grenada.  The whole island was devastated and in really rough shape and the nutmeg trees decimated. It has taken a long time for them to recover.

Since then (2004) the island has worked really hard to rebuild their nutmeg producing status during the long slow process back to production.

A lot of farmers have nutmeg trees on their land and they collect the nutmeg and bring it to the processing station in large amounts to be dried and processed.  The farmers remove the mace and bring that in a few weeks later in large bags of the bright red ranging to yellow spice.

The nutmeg is laid out in long multi-tiered trays and left to dry in the open air which takes about a month.  They are turned regularly to ensure the drying is even.
 
At the processing station there are bags and bags of nutmegs at different stages in the process.
 
We also saw bags of mace waiting for processing and bagging up for shipment.
When the nutmeg (which is still inside its shell) is dry enough it is sent by hoppa to the ladies that crack the outer shell, leaving mountains of cracked shell discarded on the floor.  All over the island hotels, restaurants, cocoa farms and more sprinkle the cracked shell on the ground or around trees and shrubs.  The shells act as a sort of mulch, breaking down in time to feed the soil underneath.  One of the side effects of scattering the shells around is the crunch and smell of nutmeg as you walk over it.
 
The ladies cracking the shells sit and chat to each other quietly as if humming a secret song.
 
The nutmegs are sent around the world in large bags, each stencilled with the destination country where they are going.  
The bagging station has loads of stencils that seem to have a history and story of their very own.

I bought enough nutmeg home with me to last a life time.  In fact if fresh and in the shells it should last around 10 years and cracked open about 3 years.  How long has the nutmeg in your cupboard been there?

What to use it for, sprinkle liberally on top of rice puddings and other milk puddings is the most traditional way. In Grenada they use it everywhere, puddings, stews, drinks all have a background of nutmeg.  They make a sticky sweet nutmeg syrup to pour into drinks and over ice cream and even use the fruit that the nutmeg comes out of for jam and jelly!  

I had wanted to pick my own nutmeg from the tree and would get to do this when I was a cocoa farmer for the day so look out for that post coming soon.
I was a guest of the Grenada Tourist Authority. All opinions and photos are my own. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Grenada; Island Paradise - part 2

Grenada is an island paradise that I was invited to visit and to blog about upon my return home. The southern tip of the island lies along the line 12oN of the Equator offering it a pretty stable climate averaging around 23oC/80oF year long making it a perfect place to grow chocolate!
I was there, along with Mr R and a group of journalists and bloggers for The 2nd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival. Chocolate Festival host hotel, True Blue Bay Resort was the setting for the opening of the 2nd annual Grenada Chocolate Festival. Last year was such a success that Mexican born Magdalena Fielden and her British husband Russ repeated the event which although mostly based at True Blue Bay Resort also had events taking place at other locations on the island.
The opening ceremony was attended by Grenada's dignitaries such as Grenada Governor  General Daime Cecile La Grenade, Hon Minister of Culture Mrs Brenda Hood and Minister of Implementation Hon Mrs Alexzandra Otway-Noel as Magdalena welcomed everyone and declared the 2nd annual Grenada Chocolate Festival open!
The events included Yoga Chocolate Meditation Session, not my cup of chocolate; 

True Blue Bay have a micro brewery on the premises and they had a chocolate beer especially made for the festival.  Mr R really liked it but he is a beer drinker.  I tasted it and the chocolate flavour was subtle and inviting - you sort of looked for the bowl of chocolate!
Healthy Benefits of Chocolate Hands on Workshop where we got to meet and listen to Ana Rita Garcia Lascurain who had travelled from the MUCHO-Chocolate Museum in Mexico City to share her passion and immense knowledge of chocolate with us and getting some of the audience to participate (yup, you guessed it I did help!);
A chance for the energetic and fit to participate in a Chocolate Hash. I thought this was food but in fact it is a run high into the rain forest and back and you get to eat chocolate at the end.  I didn’t feel this was for me so Mr R and I chilled out at the pool and the bar – that’s a surprise!

One of the highlights of the Chocolate Festival was a day at Belmont Estate with a bean to bar tour, fantastic chocolate lunch and cocoa & chocolate tasting worship.  Belmont Estate grows the cocoa beans that The Grenada Chocolate Company turn into fine grade chocolate which is available to buy at select retailers in the UK!  Belmont Estate and The Grenada Chocolate Company will be talked about further in a future post – there is too much to fit in here.
Dinner at the renowned Calabash Hotel, one of the luxury hotels on the island, whose restaurant menu was designed and is overlooked by Chef Gary Rhodes.  Director Adele Garbutt, daughter of the owner of Calabash Hotel treated us to unique island food and great hospitality.
The final day of our first week (most of the group were only staying one week but Mr R, myself and one other blogger were staying for a second week) we had a chocolate tasting conducted by Mexican expert Chocolatier Ana Rita Garcia Lascurain, learning how to eat chocolate and appreciate it as it is meant to be appreciated. None of this unwrap the Mars bar and eat it in three bites stuff!

We made our own lunch under the guidance of the well known Grenadian chefs, Esther and Omega and sat down together to eat our Curried Chicken Stew with Chocolate.  Delicious and really interesting as you wouldn’t necessarily know it contained chocolate just that it was an intriguing flavour.
Then with the sun overhead we waved goodbye to the members of our group who were heading home, went to the bar Doggy Dock and planned to have a pizza for supper.  We had eaten more in the first week than normal and were full to the gills!
Already I had unique experiences but it was to be next week that would change my life – keep an eye out for the blog post of my day as a chocolate farmer and a visit to a local primary school.
I was a guest of the Grenada Tourist Authority.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own or taken by Mr R unless otherwise stated.