Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fresh is in Fashion

As our bus rolled up to the small beach town called Le Carbet, just past Saint-Pierre, we could see that this restaurant was right one the water. But we didn’t know that we would be actually eating right on the beach. We walked past the kitchen and regular seating area and were told to keep walking to the beach to meet Guy, the chef and owner of Le Petibonum. Guy, a local Martiniquais, was dressed in the tightest cut off denim shorts I’ve ever seen. He was at the edge of the water cleaning the fish that we would be eating for lunch. It was awesome to see exactly where you’re food was coming from and how fresh it is.

Guy had a kitchen set up on the beach next to a big table set just for us. He began by making us fresh mojitos to enjoy while we watched him prepare our lunch. He began with a wonderful and very fresh tuna ceviche. He then served us a huge dish of steamed okra. Meanwhile he was preparing us the main course of steamed local fish that were caught this morning by local fishermen and cleaned by Guy. It was in a light broth with a few local vegetables and grilled plantains. He had that special-and--super spicy pepper that we could dab lighting onto the fish. Each person either got a head or a tail with their meal. He then cooked up these lobster-ish creatures that were much larger than shrimp but not as big as langoustine or lobster. They were alive up until he cooked them up... also delicious. We ate every single one. Dessert was sweet fresh pineapple.

It was wonderful, we stayed hours. I was ready to stay all day with Guy after he offered to take us back to our hotel by boat. I want to go back there with a small photo crew and shoot a fashion story. Guy is the perfect subjet and his outfit was straight out of an issue of Vman magazine.

Le Petibonum
Quartier le Coin, Plage du Carbet 
Le Carbet, Martinique

photos taken with Ricoh GR2 and Canon Rebel T2i

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All Hands on Deck

On one of our last full day there we did an all day boat trip on a beautiful catamaran to visit the surrounding islands. There was about seven of us from our group and over ten French tourists along with us for the day. It was lovely and scenic but I was so surprised to have a sit down lunch on a boat. In the US there’s no doubt that there would be boxed lunched at best so this was a lovely surprise! There were great appetizers served before lunch, “Acras de Morues” of course! Then the food was served. Salad to start, then local fish in a Creole sauce over rice. There was fresh fruit for dessert and they even served espresso after the meal, in mini paper cups… so civilized! I definitely realized that I need to embrace my European roots because there’s really no other way to live! There was even a mini bar set up to fix our own drinks at any time. It was heaven!

I also feel in love with the staff on the boat. Jean-Paul, the local Martiniquais 60-something skipper was wonderful and mixed us Planteur's (rum cocktails) all day long. Suzy, a British woman, was really lovely. Then there was Eddy, the very young and very tall skipper, who showed us the town later that night. It was a wonderful day full of yummy food and scenic sights.

additional photos thanks to Jennifer Kay

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Made With Love

Carole is full of love and probably one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. She is full of positive energy. The minute we came into the restaurant, which is hardly a restaurant proper, she greeted and presented herself to us. “Bonjour je suis Carole, est vous etes chez moi”. Which translated to I am Carole and you are at my place. (although it’s impossible to translate the beautiful subtleties of the French language) Her restaurant is tucked inside the public market in Martinique's capital, Fort-De-France. There are a few simple wooden tables covered in bright placements full of adverts about Martinique. There is a tiny kitchen off to the side
where Carole makes everything herself.

Carole told us all her food is made with love, and we could all feel it. It was so fresh and fantastic, probably the best food I had in Martinique! She served us up all the traditional foods of Martinique. We started with des “Boudins Noir” (black blood pudding sausage) and des “Acras de Morues” (cod fritters). So delicious! For our main, we had the choice of fish or chicken. I had the fish, which was excellent. But I tasted the chicken and it was amazing! It had the typical Creole spices in it called “Colombo”. It's a combination of spices: coriander, chilli, ginger, cumin, black pepper, and toasted rice, all ground together. It’s a very unique taste and it’s delicious! Our glasses were continuously being refilled with their signature drink of Martinique “Le Planteur”, a mix of local rum and tropical fruits… yum! For dessert we had homemade flan, it was messy and so incredibly delicious! Carole said she would send me the recipe via email. I can hardly wait to go back to Martinique to go back to visit Carole and her wonderful cuisine.

Chez Carole
(au Grand Marché)
Fort-de-France, Martinique

Monday, April 4, 2011

La Marine

There’s a lovely marina in the Trois-Ilets which is only about a 5-10 minute walk from the hotel. Our teacher, Anta, who grew up in Martinique knew of this restaurant. It’s actually an Italian pizzeria but they also serve traditional dishes from Martinique. Two of the girls got pizza, which has super French toppings, like crème fraiche and “lardons” instead of the usual cheeses and bacon. The rest of us had the local fish (as usual) which was fantastic. Our shrimp in Creole sauce starter was delicious also! It had these black beans on the side that were to die for. We ended with a typical and very tasted coconut flan.

La Marine
Trois-Ilets, Martinique

Get Punched!

I always like to drink the local cocktails when I go to a new country. It’s always so exciting to me to have something new and different that using local ingredients. In Martinique the two most famous liqueurs are the Ti Punch and the Punch Coco. These are two varieties of mixed rum drinks and can be found everwhere. They are served over ice as aperitifs. Other cocktails are made from these. The very famous cocktail in Martnique the “Planteur” is Ti Punch liqueur mixed with tropical juice. The Punch Coco turned into my usual daily “appero”. It is basically coconuts that have been beaten to a pulp to get this thick yummy milk. It’s almost like a condensed milk version of coconut milk. Delicious in small doses! We would stop at the bar at the hotel around 5pm before our evening French class and take our appero. It was all too civilized and so very French!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Beach Beer

This restaurant is right on the beach and within walking distance to our hotel. It was our first meal outside of the hotel on our first day in Martinique so it was a beautiful scenic experience. The food was good and fresh, they basically were running out of stuff while we ordered and the place is always busy with some locals and French tourists. We tried the local favourite dish “Acras de Morues” (cod fritters) with the local beer of Martinique “Lorraine”, which was actually really good, a bit sweet and light! It’s was the perfect combination and I love the packaging. Beer and fried fish is always a good idea. For my main I got the local fish of the day which was surprisingly tuna. It was nice and came with “crudités’(fresh vegetable salad) on the side.

Sur La Plage
Trois-Ilets, Martinique

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Don't Be Chicken

Our first dinner in Martinique was at La Sirene, the restaurant at our hotel. The two staple foods in Martinique are chicken and fish and this dinner was all about the chicken! It was an organized prix fixe men or some local dishes. This meal seemed more French-inspired to me than the rest of the food we ate after that in Martinique. We started with a little paté dish topped with cornichons and a black olive. The petit plat (appetizer to us) was a chicken dish. It was served cold almost like a chicken salad it was light and refreshing.The main dish was a cooked chicken dish with a very yummy sauce. I’m trying to recall the exact flavours but all I know is it was delicious! It was accompanied by some local vegetables, fried plantain Overall it was too much food for any one person but it was very comforting food and it put us all to bed afterwards.

La Sirene
(à l’hotel Bakoua)
Trois-Ilets, Martinique