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 Islands Information

Grenada:
Spice up your life with a True Blue Taste of Grenada

By Jane Cassie
Photos by Brent Cassie

Close your eyes and let your imagination take you to a tropical place where aquamarine seas sparkle in the morning sun, floral scents hang heavy in the air, and balmy breezes provide a warm embrace. Add to it coral reefs teeming with multi-colored fish, spicy and flavourful Creole cuisine, and people that are as friendly as long lost relatives. Then click your heels three times, and if you're as lucky as Dorothy was, you'll wake up from your dream at True Blue Bay Resort & Marina on the West Indies isle of Grenada.

Feathery palm fronds, deep green sea grape trees and a rainbow of tropical blooms adorn the boardwalks and terra cotta pathways that lead to the thirty-one unique accommodations. They range in size from intimate guest rooms to larger style villas and whether perched just above the water's edge, nestled among tropical garden settings, or next to one of the two shimmering pools, each is cloaked with bright Caribbean colours and commands an exquisite south coast view.

Grenada's main hub of St George's and famous sandy strip, known as Grand Anse Beach, are conveniently just a short drive away, and for those who prefer to stick close to home base, there's lots of water fun in store. As well as complimentary kayaks and hobie cats, the marina and Aquanauts dive shop is at their front door. Here, they can arrange a tour to either cruise above the aquamarine waters, or check out the bountiful sea life beneath. Others may choose to languidly spend their days next to one of the two pools. The infinity pool appears to spill into the embracing True Blue Bay and its rimming sandy strip is the perfect spot to splay out on a beach towel or shovel sand into a bucket. A tropical splash can also be enjoyed in the hillside pool, where shading cabanas offer a reprieve from the sun and the elevated perch boasts a vista that stretches over bobbing boats to the Caribbean's horizon.

We discover during our week long stay that owners Magdalena and Russ Fielden really know how to do things right. Since purchasing this property in 1999, they have not only earned the distinction for creating top notch accommodations but have also developed a waterfront restaurant that is rated, by the Grenadian Tourist Board, as one of the top three places for dining out.

Cantilevered decks extend well beyond the craggy shoreline to capture the True Blue Bay feel and while feasting on culinary creations that range from Caribbean classics to a mix of Mexican, nautical activity provides ongoing entertainment. Most nights offer a different theme, and whether it's Tuesday's Grenadian gastronomics, or Thursday's curry creations, Chef Charles and his team of culinary experts make sure that there's something to please every palate.

Brilliant fabrics add Spanish splash to the tables during Friday's Mexican night when we have the privilege of dining with Magdelena and Russ. They both exude a genuine interest in their guests and it's obvious that their homespun hospitality and personalized service is a secret to their success. "Meeting our guests is the best part of running the resort," Magdalena shares. "And because our focus is so personalized, we have repeat guests coming back again and again." The lively activity around us attests to this fact. During the course of our meal, most of the tables become occupied and the adjacent jetty perch, where Stuart's bar serves up casual fare, is bustling with business. …And as we dine on scrumptious chicken enchiladas embellished with an array of fresh vegetables (one of the many recipes passed down from Magdalena's grandmother) and melt in your mouth khalua cream cake, we realize that the Fielden's success is also attributed to a number of other tantalizing ingredients.

During the week we seem to be mesmerized, by a number of other aromas while touring this island dubbed the 'Isle of Spice,' and like spellbound victims of the Pied Piper we are lured into other delectable diners. Here are a few other flavouable favourites that we discover.

The Aquarium Restaurant
The brochure provides a pretty accurate account by describing that this dining establishment is in a jungle by the sea. Swaying palms throw shade over lush tropical undergrowth and a trickling waterfall resonates with the rolling surf. While fronting a pristine strip of Grenadian sand, and integrating divinely into the lush tropical landscape, this open-air restaurant imbibes the very relaxed West Indies feel. Long time island resident, Uli Kuhn, is the brainchild and creator of this quintessentially Caribbean eatery where epicureans flock for innovative fare that ranges from West Indian to classical European. "I wanted to create a restaurant where folks could enjoy the setting and even bring their families," Kuhu shares. While some come just to dine and admire distant night lights of St George's, others combine the daytime meal with a bit of beach-side snorkeling or a paddle in a kayak. Callaloo cannelloni, cilantro Thai chicken, and shrimp lightly doused in a coconut sauce are just a few highlights, and during our Sunday evening visit we discover that both the grilled swordfish and lobster barbecue are worth writing home about too.

Bel Air Plantation / Water's Edge Restaurant
If you're in search of a secluded setting, head out to Grenada's southeastern shores where this fine dining establishment and luxury retreat snuggles up to St. David's Harbour. A fiesta of tropical blooms sprawl over the eighteen picturesque acres and Caribbean-inspired colours broadcast a warm welcome. The Water's Edge Restaurant offers innovative cuisine that is infused with the abundance from the sea, gardens and local farms, and Chef, Craig Copland, entices with his signature specialties ranging from Grenadian traditionals to international delights. A bouquet of garlic and nutmeg flavours the unique breadfruit soup and both the lobster and Waldorf salads are superbly prepared and presented. While some choose to join us on the restaurant's wrap around verandah, others go al fresco on the waterfront patio. The upper floor also houses a lounge where ceiling fans whirl above rattan and mahogany to create a Casablanca feel. Nutmeg shells trail to a glistening infinity pool and well appointed hillside accommodations where goose down drapes four posters, Italian tiles embrace oversize whirlpools, and private decks lend that awesome water view.

Patrick's
This owner's vivacious personality matches the flamboyancy of his tangerine shirt and his infectious laughter is as inviting as his cuisine is Creole. Patrick's history goes way back to when he worked with 'Mamma's' restaurant and learned all the tricks of the trade. For the past eight years, he has offered Grenadian gastronomics a true taste of traditional treats accompanied by his exuberant love for life. His simple pink and white clapboard cottage advertises the best Grenadian home-style cooking there is, and that's exactly what you'll get, but don't forget to make reservations. As well as limited space, there's no set menu in store, just a sampling of everything and more. And it just keeps coming. Cod fish fritters, lambie in Creole sauce, fresh water crayfish, deep fried plantain and green papaya in cheese sauce were just a few of the twenty two authentic favourites that were served on mass. Patrick advises, "Don't eat lunch if you're joining us for dinner. Make sure you come hungry." Thanks for the words of wisdom, Patrick. We'll make sure to remember them next time.

Laluna
Discreet sophistication could be the watchwords of this boutique-style property that snuggles up to its private strip of sandy shore. Tropical breezes flow through the thatched roof open-air restaurant where up to forty-eight guests can revel in the exploration of fine Italian cuisine against the backdrop of billowy palms. Thai pumpkin and ginger soup, spiced island sushi, chilled seafood salad, spicy Thai peanut chicken curry and bananas flambé are just a few of the tantalizing options. The beach front setting is magnificent, the ambience is relaxed, and as we enjoy exquisitely crafted courses, music flows mellifluously over the sound of lapping waves. "People come here to totally get away from the formalities and stress in their lives," Managing Director, Charles Hossle confirms during our visit, "and we've designed a resort so they can do just that." Guests may also choose to mingle and munch beyond the shimmering pool where the lounge's Thai-style furnishings and overstuffed lounges entice the laid back lifestyle. Or menu options can be delivered to any one of the sixteen Indonesian inspired cottages that dot the lush hillside.

Morne Fendue Plantation House
A roadbed of nutmeg shells trails to this eighteenth century plantation house located within the northeastern area of St Patrick's parish. Blooming bougainvillea trellis over its masonry stone exterior and Royal palm fronds sway above vibrant poinsettias, virgin white oleander and Japanese umbrella plants. Although the property is a living work in progress, visitors are lured by the intrigue of yesteryear and cuisine that is distinctly Grenadian. A lesson in history reveals the plantation's early sugar cane industry, and includes stories about Betty Mascoll, philanthropist and late founder of the guesthouse. It's accompanied by a lunch buffet where the ever-popular callaloo soup, stir fried plantain, peppered pork, and Grenada's signature creation, oildown, made with breadfruit, sweet potato, yams, callaloo, fish, spices, curry, and coconut milk is a definite potpourri for the palate. As well as five rooms in the plantation house, the quarters that once housed servants have been transformed into eight guestrooms. While imbibing the feel of bygone days, they each lend a panoramic view that stretches over the lush hillsides to the distant Atlantic.

The island jewel of Grenada is located one hundred miles (160 kms) north of Venezuela in the Eastern Caribbean.

Jane and Brent Cassie are a travel writer/photographer team. Follow their other adventures on their website - www.janecassie.com.