Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Guadeloupe! Fine French Creole cuisine at La Table Coloniale - ti farci de lambi or conch, fricassee lapin or rabbit and amazing guava gelato dessert!

From our food adventures in St Lucia, we sailed into Guadeloupe and had a warm welcome with a live band and dancers dressed in colonial garb. After a morning touring the mangroves and snorkeling incredible coral reefs teeming with fish in the middle of the aquamarine ocean and a quick shower... we hiked into town for a late lunch.  It seemed like the island ran on France time - most shops and eateries were closed in the afternoon (whoops!), but we persevered and found a gem of a French creole restaurant! 
The awesome live band on the port
Our appalling lack of French amused no few locals with our miming and half remembered phrases of French from elementary school.
 
After hopping off the ship, we started walking towards the fish market, and after roasting for a few minutes in the sun, I could see why most shops were closed in the afternoon heat!  Not sure why, but in Guadeloupe, a lot of drinks and foods had ginseng in some form or another added to it.  We zipped into a small convenience store to pick up a few mediocre ginseng added but most importantly cold drinks and asked in extremely broken French where we could find food the locales enjoyed. 

Lady luck was shining upon us, as the storekeeper's face brightened, said "I know!" and led us to a dim hallway just adjacent to her shop, up a flight of stairs... and into a little slice of paradise.  La Table Coloniale was like stepping into a beautiful elegant brasserie, totally unexpected from the tinny and practically impossible to see signage (which we took a picture of after the meal) that was hidden by large signs from other storefronts.

It even came with a little serene and cool patio...

since we were still a bit warm, we stayed in one of the two air conditioned dining rooms decorated with a touch of sophistication and whimsy.

Since our grasp of the French language was minimal, combined with a hand written menu, it took the chef (who spoke the most English), 2 waitresses and 2 friendly patrons cobbled together English to translate the menu.  It was a combination of fun, hilarious and charades lol!

the DRINKS
It was too early for wine, though many other patrons were indulging, so we went with some bottled water to rehydrate and nibbled on some cheese crackers (just like when we were little kids!) while we waited for the food to come out.  The crackers were ingeniously kept in the fridge to keep them crisp from the hot humid weather.

the FOOD
As an appetizer, we had a ti farci de lambi or which was roughly translated as "like fish" turned out to be...

a delicious melt in your mouth rich conch pâté /spread simply and beautifully presented!

Served on fresh sliced mini baguettes, this creamy savory and rich spread was soooo yummy!  It was served with some fresh spring salad greens with a tangy garlic infused vinaigrette on the side to help cut some of the richness from the conch. So. Darn. Good!!

Next up was our shared entree of fricassee lapin.  Translated roughly into "bunny!" lol! About half a little bunny is fricasseed to perfection and served in a little casserole dish. The grilled/roasted? mashed plantains on the side add a sweet note to this savory dish and was served also with the same greens and garlic vinaigrette as the conch appetizer and savory buttery herbed rice.

The rabbit was a moist, fall off the bone tender, drenched in its own cooking juices and its usual slight gaminess is hidden cleverly with a mix of creol spices.  With just the right amount of seasoning to really make the dish shine, plenty of carrots, sweetbread (like sweet potato) soaked in the tomato based sauce rounded out the dish nicely. Nom nom nom... my happy noises as I ate needed no translation lol!

the DESSERT
I had kinda figured goyave was guava, and our waitress kindly led me to the kitchen where the chef showed me the gelato container.  Guava gelato it is! And it wasn't just a simple scoop or two into a bowl...

It was totally loaded up with fresh cut sweet dragonfruit, kiwi, and watermelon!

*Sigh.. if I were only 2 inches tall so I could dive into this...* The crisp salted caramel chocolate twigs were nice, and oh yeah, the creamy light super guava-y gelato was a nice end to the meal.

After thanking our lovely waitresses and chef (in the blue shirt), we had a hilarious time trying to explain tip to them.  "Money pour vous" finally got across and with the efforts the staff went to cross the language barrier, they definetely deserved it!  Guess folks don't typically tip in Guadaloupe, but its built into us Canadians! 
Thank you lovely ladies for a wonderful meal!  C'était vraiment délicieux ! Merci beaucoup!!
We went out to take a pic of the hallway and staircase leading up to the restaurant... that we had earlier so trustingly sauntered into...

And headed deeper downtown to take pictures of Cathédrale de St Pierre et St Paul - called the Iron Cathedral for the iron supports added for hurricane/earthquake prevention, admired the beautiful colonial garb at the Museum Saint John Perse - housed inside a quaint 19th century colonial house and shopped at lots of spice stalls by the port and in the central downtown square.
Mmm.. vanilla beans!!

And I mean lots of spice stalls....
Cinnamooooon!

Love the variety of spices to be had!!!

Next stop... St Johns, Antigua!
And the nutmeg!!
La Table Coloniale
Address 29 Rue Achille René Boisneuf, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Phone 0690-507-287
Hours Tues-Fri noon-4pm, Fri-Sat nights
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