St. Kitts - 69 square miles of Peace and Relaxation

Having grown up on an island (Barbados to be exact) it is sometimes very easy to take for granted the pristine, diamond kissed waters of the Caribbean Sea, the swaying palms, warm sunshine and cool refreshing breezes. And so the thought of visiting another Caribbean island - as opposed to a big city filled with endless shopping, amusement parks, subways, fast food and broadway shows - doesn't often cross one's mind when planning a trip. After all aren't all islands alike - sun, sea, sand? What could one island have to offer over another? Well I'll tell you...

As you may or may not know, all islands are not formed equally. Some islands are the result of volcanic activity while others are formed by coral polyps growing together to form a land mass. St. Kitts is a volcanic island. This fact alone makes it different from my homeland. Lush tropical vegetation and majestic central mountains adorn this little island. Added to that the warmth of the people and care free pace of life - it's the ultimate island getaway if you want to truly getaway from it all. Imagine a place where there are no traffic jams, no overcrowded beaches, and no loud noise preventing you from hearing the waves lap the sand as it slowly lulls you to sleep....Imagine St. Kitts.

Now don't get me wrong, the people are very much alive and there's lots to do like golfing, gambling(yes there's a casino at the Marriott), island hopping, taking a scenic railway tour, carnivals and more - but if you just want to sleep all day go right ahead. Me? I wanted adventure as always! So I got out there and took an island tour. You might think that a place that's only 69 sq miles wouldn't have much to see. But you'd be wrong. I didn't even get to see all the places I wanted to (so I guess that means another visit is pending). The places I did see were well worth the visit though. One place that stood out was Caribelle Batik. In all my life I have never seen so many different styles of batik clothing for men, women and children all in one location. It was a case of "too much choice dilemma" as we say in the islands. I was impressed. Needless to say I bought a nice wrap (which came with an instruction manual for different ways to wear it..amazing!) and a summer dress. The others with me bought shirts, wraps and dresses - and we were all eager to wear them. If you want authentic Caribbean wear...and a nice souvenir for friends this is a winner. Trust me!

Another place that stood out to me was the last possible stop on the southern tip of St.Kitts where you can look across the water and see their sister island, Nevis. There we found a rustic little restaurant/bar right by the water, next to a pier. This was the most hilarious stop of all. A bunch of us including children were all sitting around looking at the water when this huge pig came over to check out the new arrivals. Of course it scared the living daylights out of all of us, which then caused us to all break out laughing hysterically. Wilibur is his name! Yes the big brown pig is a regular in these parts and he wanted to give us a warm hello.

Now my trip would not have been complete without some "real" adventure. St. Kitts is actually the first place that I rode a quad bike and if I'm honest I would have to say that it's the best all terrain tour I've ever been on. It was like a roller coaster ride, up and down steep rugged hills, and in and out of lush forest and fields of cane....mind you I was terrified at first but boy did I have a blast riding at top speed and experiencing a true off road adventure!

So if you're ever tempted to think that all islands are alike...DON'T! Each has something unique to offer whether it be the people, the food, the landscape, the history or the way of life.

Now for a taste of the islands with this exotic yet truly refreshing drink perfect for the hot summer days.

Cherry Coconut Fizz


2 parts Fresh Coconut Water
1 part Cherry Flavored Carbonated Beverage


Mix ingredients together and serve chilled.

Cherry Coconut Fizz on Foodista

Wonderful Wine...with an amazing view!

If you're like me and you have an appreciation for wine, you would've enjoyed my recent visit to Callaway Vineyard & Winery in the heart of Temecula, California. It was a bright, sunny day with a nice cool breeze - just perfect for a nice outdoor lunch complete with wine. This is the stuff that makes life oh so pleasurable!

Callaway Vineyard & Winery has been making quality wines since 1969 and they have a lovely outdoor restaurant called Meritage where the menu features a nice selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts wonderfully paired with wine. The views from this restaurant alone are well worth the trip! Panoramic views extend for miles - rolling hills, clear blue sky - just awesome! And the crisp fresh air - it's holiday for the spirit!

Being my first time there (or to a vineyard period) I found it hard to choose from the menu. Everything looked so good! From the salads to the pasta to the bread to the prime rib. Ooh! Finally I decided to try the Hangar Steak "Frites" - tender cuts of Beef in a light garlic sauce. Excellent choice! My partner decided to go for the Short Ribs prepared in a well-balanced red wine sauce. Another excellent choice! For dessert we had a berry cobbler with cream sauce. It was hot out the oven and the sweetness was just right, but not enough crust on top for me.

And then there was the wine - we ordered a whole bottle - perfectly paired with our meal. It was a melange of aromatic cherries, juicy plums and bittersweet chocolate....Mmmm. Too bad we couldn't drink the whole bottle between us!

My first visit to Wine Country left me wanting to return - it was the perfect way to spend a perfect day!

Sangiovese on Foodista

The Arid Zone - Some Desert and Dessert

Tucson, Arizona

I have been wanting to write about my trip to Tucson, Arizona for months now, but alas many things got in the way and I am only now ready to put finger to keyboard :) Special thanks to all of you who participated in my mini-poll - surprisingly you were all in agreement that you wanted me to write about Tucson next!

Coming from the Caribbean my mental image of Arizona was a HOT, dry, HOT, desolate, HOT, desert land. With all those westerns shown on TV how could I think otherwise? Well finally the opportunity came to go and I set out to find out what there was to do in Tucson,AZ . Of course I realised by then that there were nice hotels, restaurants, (it's a US city after all!) and that if I went in the was not only cheaper but FAR from HOT! Actually it was cold to me (yes I do come from a tropical island). In terms of the 101 things to do in Tucson like the Cowboy shows, museums, science & technology exhibits, casinos... oddly enough none of those really appealed to me. I wanted adventure! And...adventure I got.
ATV Tour, Tucson Arizona

Yes, I surely found it in the off-the-beaten-track DIRT roads of the wide open desert, on the back of a red quad bike! It felt like we drove forever to get to this little "western movie type" looking bar in the middle of "nowhere", where our tour into the desert would begin. I was really pumped, until our guide started talking about how to manouevre our bikes if we came across a snake on the trail.... Excuse me?! Did you say the word snake? And did you then suggest that I not ride over it so as not to have it rain on the person behind me? Let's talk about this for a second here...I wanted adventure... but you know the kind without dangerous animals.... Oh well I've already paid, but you can be sure I'm gonna ride right behind the guide!

Turns out there were no snakes (that I saw) but even if  there were, this trip would have been well worth it! Talk about cacti of every size and shape! Talk about just getting away from the hustle and bustle and riding at top speed without a care in the world! Talk about the most spectacular sunset as you ride back!....and then talk about the DUST! This is not a tour for the beauty will not recognize yourself after this tour. But who cares, you would've had a most amazing adventure!
Amazing Sunset in the Arid Zone

Now no trip to anywhere in the world would be complete without some good food! Pinnacle Peak is one place that stood out in my mind because it was so very unique. Not only is it a saloon, fitting in with the whole western theme, but it is the home of the world famous Cowboy Steak.
Pinnacle Peak, Tucson Arizona

They also have a strict policy of absolutely no Neck Ties! I'm serious. I wore one just to test them (mind you it wasn't going with my outfit). As expected, they came around to my table with great ceremony, ringing a cowbell that must have come from someone's ancestor (seriously that thing was old!), and reminded me of their policy. Then they took out a scissors and cut off my tie!!! And proceeded to hang it from the ceiling with the other millions of ties from patrons who dared to defy them! Why I never...?! Can you believe it? They cut off my tie! If it wasn't for the humongous (is that a word?) cowboy steak, that was just oozing with flavor and the great fun I had...I would've sued them for my tie! Just kidding...
Sumptuous, Tender, Juicy Cowboy Steak

The Arid Zone turned out to be a great trip. Good food, adventure (and of course shopping). Now for the Dessert. As promised here's one of my creations:

Mango Crumble

2 - 3 large firm Mangoes
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 cup Water
3 dashes Cinnamon
Dash Angostura Bitters
Brandy or Rum (to your liking)
1 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup Salted Butter

Place water in a saucepan and bring to boil.
Peel mangoes and slice meat from the seed. Slice into strips.
Place mango strips in boiling water. Add sugar, cinnamon. 
Stir till it becomes thicker, like a syrup.
Meanwhile combine flour and butter until it reaches a crumb texture. Set aside.
Grease dish. Remove Mango mixture from heat. Add brandy. Stir well.
Place Mango mixture in dish. Cover with crumble. Bake until golden brown.
Cool and serve with vanilla ice-cream. 
*optional - add dried cranberries, coconut or nuts of your choice to Mango mixture or Crumble mixture for added flavor. Bon appetit!

Mango on Foodista

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