Welcome to the second Flashback Friday! I hope you’re not hungry, because today I’m sharing some photos from the delicious cooking class M and I took on the island of Dominica during our honeymoon cruise.
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, the island nation of Dominica is located in the southern Caribbean. Neighbored by Guadeloupe and Martinique, it sits about halfway between Puerto Rico and South America. It’s lush, mountainous, and beautiful, with rainforests, hot springs, and plenty of flora and fauna. If you’re a nature lover, you couldn’t do much better in the Caribbean than Dominica.
Despite our love of hiking and exploring the outdoors, M and I were intrigued by a cooking class that we found when researching things to do in Dominica. Booking the class ended up being a great decision for multiple reasons. First of all, it was fun, informative, and delicious. Secondly, our day in Dominica was gray and drizzly, and spending a few hours learning about Caribbean cuisine in a roofed but open kitchen was the perfect antidote to the weather!
After disembarking our ship, we and our fellow chefs were whisked away through the capital city of Roseau and into the jungle-clad mountains. As we climbed higher into the hills, the hairpin turns, narrow muddy roads, and blind corners added an element of adventure we weren’t expecting when we booked something as tame as a cooking class.
Soon, we arrived at a large home whose lower level had been adapted to serve as a kitchen classroom for groups. It was open on three sides, allowing views out over the beautiful backyard and mountains beyond. As we entered the kitchen, the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous array of fresh ingredients awaiting us.
Our host, Daria, introduced herself and her assistants before inviting us to gather around the half-moon shaped counter that ringed the kitchen. Almost immediately, we were put to work. Each attendee was given a preparatory task to complete, which ranged from dicing vegetables to manning the pots that were soon bubbling on the stove.
I was assigned the highly coveted task of putting Goya tomato sauce into the bubbling mixture, and, if I may say so, I did it flawlessly.
M’s job was to slice plantains on a sharp angle for frying. It went well at first, but somehow he ended up with a plate of cereal-friendly discs instead of the long, oval-shaped slices he was instructed to create. I think our hosts were a bit baffled as to how cutting a plantain could go so awry, but the rest of us (including M) shared a lot of laughs.
I couldn’t get over how bright and colorful everything was. How wonderful it must be to live on an island where so much fresh produce is available year-round! It was also fun to see and utilize spices in their unprocessed state for the first time.
Under the careful tutelage of our hosts, we slowly turned what looked like a hodgepodge of fruits, vegetables, and other plants into beautiful, traditional Caribbean and Creole dishes.
Of course, midway through our prep work, we had to take a break to sample another important part of Dominican cuisine: rum.
Daria pulled out a row of rums infused with different natural ingredients and offered us a taste or two. M and I were all too happy to accept and toast to our honeymoon.
Finally, after more than an hour of preparation, our meal was ready. It was almost too pretty to eat! Our collective efforts had resulted in fish in a creole sauce, beans and rice, fried plantains, and a fresh chopped salad…
… with rum-soaked grapefruit garnished with raisins, maraschino cherries, and sugar for dessert. Unsurprisingly, we washed it down with a fresh rum punch.
Happily, despite being largely cooked by Caribbean cuisine novices, everything was delicious! Our hosts had done a great job of choosing excellent dishes to cook together and guiding us to success. Even M’s plantains turned out splendidly.
We sat together at long tables and tucked in heartily as a light rain fell outside. All too soon, we were saying goodbye to the ladies and returning to our vans for the trip back to Roseau. My only complaint about the day was that although we had provided our email addresses to be sent the recipes for the dishes we made, none ever came. Maybe someday I’ll do a little digging around on the internet and see if I can recreate our Caribbean feast.
I’ll just make sure that I’m the one slicing the plantains.
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