Monday, 3 December 2012

Castries St Lucia - Spice, food market, roti at Auntie's, dolphin, fish soup, St Lucia apples, beer and salted fish subs!

From St Thomas, our next port was Castries, St Lucia which had a Castries Central Market - a craft, spice, farmers and food market located within a short cab ride or ferry ride of the port... so after we asked some locals who seemed surprised we wanted to eat where the locals eat (we did look blatantly like tourists lol), we made a quick stop at the post office to drop off some postcards, shopped at the craft market and then followed our noses to the food market!  Castries was one of our favorite ports as even though the infrastructure needed work, the warmth and friendliness of the folks that live here is infectious on this island where it seems everyone knows everyone.
All 3 markets are crammed in over a few short blocks, and are either adjacent to each other or separated by alleys.. you can't miss them if you wander around aimlessly enough - or like us, with no real sense of direction lol!

The spice market is bristling with tables almost overflowing with enough exotic spices, it would make any chef worth their salt cackle with glee.  It made me wish Canada would relax some of their custom rules, as all the fresh and dried spices weren't vacuumed sealed, we couldnt' bring any back... but it was still a feast for the senses!  Lighting was really dim as the spice market was enclosed to prevent the sometimes torrential rains from ruining the wares.  Right beside the spice market was a small farmer's market.

With lots of local produce and fresh fruits.. yom!

Right beside the farmer's market was the food market, a narrow little street with food vendors on both sides selling a variety of meat on buns, beer and heartier fare like roti, stews and soups.

We headed straight for Auntie's where even in the early afternoon, there was a constant stream of locales lining up.

We had Auntie's beef roti, to save room for fish soup the island is known for later, though with a bit of regret we didn't have room to try Auntie's stews and soups as the rotis, stews and soups was practically flying out the little window... but didn't regret ordering this tasty freshly made roti!

Soft super thin tender roti enrobes a generous serving of melt in your mouth potatoes, silky tender braised beef and a lota Caribbean spiced love... Nom!

We had a local beer - Piton to help wash things down.  It was a bit odd to be drinking in the afternoon, but it seemed like the norm, and it was HOT out.  The Piton was a light pale pilsner lager with a crisp taste and medium-strong notes of hops.  Its also named for the Gros Piton and Petit Piton mountains of in St Lucia.

Sandwiched between the spice market and craft market, is a little street where we found Spicy Delights - previously known as Sugar and Spice where the locals recommended we try their fish soup. 

What to eat...

the owner Paul helped us narrow down our choices.  Popular guy... we had no difficulty finding his restaurant as the friendly locales knew him by name and would point us in the right direction whenever we meandered off to look at things.

As dolphin is a common fish regularly consumed by the locals, we had it as well for lunch as my boyfriend wasn't a fan of figs (which we found out later the "figs" in the dish was actually unripened bananas cooked with garlic), so we passed up on their national dish.  Now before I have animal rights activists jump down my throat - the Dorado dolphin is also commonly known as mahi mahi... a fish we've snorkeled with in Hawaii, and not the mammal dolphin!

We had some spicy ginger beer while we sweated and waited for the food - the restaurant (like most on the island) do not believe in air conditioning.  Oh, and though its pretty standard for women to dump their purses and bags on tables when we eat out in North America, its a big no-no in St Lucia... purses and bags go on chairs/benches.

The dorado was moist and flaky, served in a generous amount of butter garlic sauce.  I found I enjoyed the sauce with the flavorful rice and beans and ground provisions - large chunks of boiled local breadfruit, taro and plantain more so than with the fish, as the fish stood well on its own.

And if anyone wants more flavor and blow their top of their head off... add this sweet and fiery homemade hot sauce on.

The fish broth, is actually a hearty salty fish soup loaded up with the carrots, local breadfruit, taro, plantain and big chunks of fish.  They certainly don't skimp on the seafood or veges!

The soup, though on the salty side, works wonderfully with the seemingly bland starchy root veges - bringing out the natural sweetness of the local breadfruit, taro and plantain. You have to eat it quick as the perfectly cooked succulent pieces of fish can quickly overcook in the hot broth.  Mmmmm!

Stuffed silly, we walked off our meal by exploring the town on foot, passing up street meat stalls serving up jerk chicken wings, roasted sweet potato... but we had to stop and pick up some fruit from a nearby friendly fruit stand

I had to stop and ask what these odd oval squash-like looking fruit were

The owners of the stand were happily noshing into a few that they had peeled and gave us one to try - known locally as St Lucia apples.. its an awesome yummy fruit.  Its flavors a simular to crossing a ripe pineapple with a peach and has the texture of a juicy ripe plum.. soooo good!!  We bought a few more to eat, though wished we could bring back these yummies to Canada!

After a few bouts of torrential rains, we headed back to the ship, we stopped off at a cornerstore Cheryl's Just Taste It (sign is hidden behind a large umbrella)and after deciding we really didn't have room to try the fried bakes (like a donut) and meat sandwiches...

Until we saw...

A local favorite - salted fish sub.  A soft baguette is stuffed with a small amount of moist shredded salted fish a trace of sauce and some lettuce.  Didn't get to try their national dish of figs and salted fish.. was definitely going to try some salted fish before leaving.. and boy were we glad we did! Salty, savory goodness!
Next stop... Guadeloupe!

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