A Recipe For Winter In Saint Lucia

 

marigotbay copy

December is upon us and with it comes winter in the Northern Hemisphere.  But there is no such thing as winter in Saint Lucia.  In fact, the high season is just beginning. While there is no bad time to visit this year-round summer paradise, the high season is my personal favorite. With less humidity and rain, the weather permits for optimal pool, beach and adventure-going days.

I’m a big fan of travel and experiencing all seasons in a variety of places, but there’s something about Caribbean sunshine that simply can’t be beat. So I’d like to share with you my top three favorite St. Lucian activities to beat the winter blues.

Zipline In The Rain Forest

edit_MG_2268

A zipline rainforest excursion is a certain cure-all. Being surrounded by lush, green vegetation and interesting tropical plants coupled with the thrill of zipping from treetop to treetop is a great way to get your heart racing.  You’ll practically forgot that winter even exists!

Horseback Riding on the Beach

horsebackriding-onbeach

I like lounging on the beach as much as the next person, but adding the horseback riding element to a beach excursion takes it to a whole new level. Experiencing the sun, surf and sand from a whole new perspective creates such wonderful lasting memories that will keep you warm even during cold winter nights.

Cruising on the Caribbean

sunsetcruise6

My favorite activity resides on the Caribbean Sea itself. There’s something so amazing about sitting aboard a yacht or catamaran with a tropical drink in hand and watching the sun dip below sea level. For added adventure, I like to dive in for some snorkeling to experience the under-the-sea world. Other times, I enjoy simply lounging port-side and letting the rum punch work its magic.

Until we see get to see you here in St. Lucia, I’d like to share a rum punch recipe that will bring the tropics to you in the mean time.

rumpunch

Ingredients:

3 cups orange juice

3 cups pineapple juice

1 cup lime juice

a pinch of cinnamon

a pinch of nutmeg

6 shakes of angostura bitters

2 1/2 cups dark or light rum

grenadine syrup

approximately 1 1/4 cups simple syrup or to taste!

Mix all the ingredients except the grenadine syrup and the simple syrup in a pitcher. Slowly add the grenadine syrup while stirring until the color looks like a glorious sunset. I like adding the simple syrup last so I can sweeten it to my personal preference.

You can drink it right away but it’s best when refrigerated overnight to give all the flavors a chance to come out. Serve over ice, take a sip and close your eyes. You’ll be temporarily transported to palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze. Cheers!

 

Capella’s Moon Bay Chocolate Stout

If you’re anything like me – a fan of both craft brew and chocolate – you’re going to be so excited about Capella’s Moon Bay Chocolate Stout! This delicious craft brew is a collaboration between Capella Marigot Bay, the chocolatier Cocao Carib, and one of the only artisanal breweries in the Caribbean, Antillia Brewing Company.

Antillia Brewing is known for delicious craft ales and stouts, but this is the first time they’ve used cacao nibs.  This is particularly exciting given Saint Lucia’s cocoa history and the access to some of the world’s finest cacao nibs.  And if that weren’t enough, this is the first time a brewery has teamed up with a luxury resort to create a craft brew! I know, I’m really excited too.

Photo by Trinette Mallia Gautreau

Photo by Trinette Mallia Gautreau

Even the name has significance. Capella’s Moon Bay Chocolate Stout was named in honor of the astronauts from the 1965 Apollo 17 mission to the moon who came to Marigot Bay afterwards for relaxation and recovery.

I also learned about Antillia’s process of creation for the chocolate stout. Six different barley malts are used to create a complex ale which is then balanced with hops. Personally, this is one of my favorite chocolate stouts. Rich, smooth and flavorful yet surprisingly refreshing thanks to the hop notes. And of course, a lingering chocolate aftertaste which makes it irresistible. It is precisely the type of chocolate stout you would want to come from the Caribbean.

Capella’s Moon Bay Chocolate Stout is on tap exclusively at Capella Marigot Bay and Marina as well as at the Antillia Brewing Taproom. It is also for sale in liter bottles. Be sure to pick one up next time you’re in St. Lucia or let your Capella Personal Assistant know that you’re interested in acquiring one. Until then, I hope you all get to enjoy some delicious craft brew at a pub near you!

A Visit To The Rum Distillery

edit_MG_3057

Rum and the Caribbean go hand in hand. There isn’t any other drink that will recall the quintessential Caribbean island setting quite like it. St. Lucia has a rich history of rum production and boasts a wide variety of different types and flavors. When my Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant let me know I could visit a genuine rum distillery and see how the entire process works as well as sample every variety of rum created there, I couldn’t resist!

edit_MG_3044

The creation of rum is highly connected to the organized production of sugar. The fermentation of molasses, the by-product of sugar production, is the first step to rum creation.

edit_MG_3052

At first, it appeared to me as if the molasses was boiling. I learned, however, that what I was seeing was the fermentation process in which yeast is introduced into the molasses to begin creating alcohol.

edit_MG_3056

After fermentation comes the distillation process. I was fascinated to discover that in order to create rum, the fermented molasses is sealed in a vessel that heats the liquid so the alcohol evaporates. The evaporated alcohol is then re-condensed and collected, ultimately becoming the raw rum spirit!

We also learned that each of the stills, (the primary apparatus used in the distillation process), can vary widely from one to another. Each variant can have a profound effect on the outcome of the rum. The distillation process can also yield a number of by-products that are useful in other industries.

edit_MG_3054

The raw rum spirit is often aged in barrels or infused with herbs, fruits, spices or juices to produce a specific type of flavored rum. It is also diluted with water to the specific alcoholic potency desired for its type of rum.

edit_MG_3060

Even though I was aware that many different types of rum exist, I was surprised to realize just how many and impressed that one distillery could create varieties so vastly different from one another.

edit_MG_3064

Here at the St. Lucia Distillers Group in Roseau Valley, nearly 30 different types of rum are made! We were able to sample a good portion of those which was both delicious and fun. After everything we had learned, it was even more fascinating to note the differences in taste, texture, sweetness, color and alcohol content of each!

edit_MG_3031

My personal favorite was the Nutz’n Rum, a deliciously sweet peanut flavored rum cream.

edit_MG_3035

I definitely left the distillery with a newfound appreciation for this amazing product and the wide variety of cocktails that can be created with it!

Is it any wonder that I spent some time at The Rum Cave afterwards learning how to mix some of my favorite rum cocktails?  And, in case you missed it, here’s a rum cocktail you have to try at home:  Capella Marigot Bay’s The Rum Goddess!

Enjoy!

How to Make Chocolate – Saint Lucia Style!

ChocolateExperience

Chocolate plays a major role in Saint Lucia.  There are festivals and even a month dedicated to its glorious properties.  At Capella Marigot Bay guests have the opportunity to learn how to make chocolate, a skill I definitely wanted to acquire for myself!  Fortunately, the task did not prove too difficult and I thought it would be fun to share the secrets with you!  After all, who can say no to some delicious chocolate?!

edit_MG_2986

You will need:

A pestle and mortar (preferably warm)

Cacao Nibs

Cocoa Butter

Sugar

edit_MG_2987

Place your cacao nibs into your mortar along with the cocoa butter. Grind the cacao nibs with the cocoa butter using the pestle. If your pestle and mortar are warm, this process will be much easier. The idea is to work the cacao nibs and cocoa butter into a smooth, creamy liquid. It is important to note that you cannot actually add any liquid to your chocolate. If your prefer milk to dark chocolate, use powdered milk. Liquids will cause your chocolate to separate.


edit_MG_2992

Now it’s time to add sugar to taste! The less sugar you add, the higher the percentage of chocolate! For the particularly health conscious, add less sugar or try substituting the sugar for organic stevia in granular form. Be sure to grind the mixture a bit more after adding your sweetener to achieve that desired silky consistency.

edit_MG_3012Once your mixture is free of cacao or sugar granules, you can pour it into a plastic tray and refrigerate or freeze it overnight.  At this stage, you can also add some goodies to your chocolate! I like adding salted almonds or cashews, pretzels, or dried fruit.  Experimenting with different flavors and textures is one of my favorite parts about this process. There is no limit to what you can create!

Now you’re ready to give it a shot and treat yourself to some delicious and healthy chocolate of your own creation! If you come up with an interesting combination of flavors I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to tweet me at @CapellaStLucia!

Horseback Riding In Saint Lucia

horsebackriding-onbeach

There are so many activities for guests to experience when visiting Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.  For example, just a few minutes drive from the hotel is a lovely stable where guests can go to experience horseback riding in Saint Lucia.  Recently, I had a chance to try this popular activity for myself.

Having only been horseback riding one other time in my life, I definitely have no real idea what I’m doing.  But the guides’ directions made up for everything I lacked in experience. They were so comfortable on horseback that they could do it backwards!

ridingbackwards

We rode a trail alongside the banana plantation.  I was still a little nervous so we kept the pace steady and slow.  The experience is truly tailored to the participants skill level and I can’t wait to increase mine– galloping along would have been amazing.

edit_MG_2446

We reached a clearing where we let the horses graze.  As they ate we explored one of the most stunning beaches, Roseau Beach!

horsebackridingbeach

I was truly blown away by the beauty and serenity of this location. And as if that wasn’t enough, we had all of Roseau Beach to ourselves.

edit_MG_2449

Of course we had to take advantage of this and jumped into the crystal clear water for a dip.  Meanwhile, the horses continued to graze on the grassy knoll above us.

horsebackriding-stlucia1

When the time came to leave it was difficult to part with such beautiful surroundings.  But the fun was far from over because we got to ride the horses back to their stables. 

edit_MG_2532

edit_MG_2535

Back at the stables we were able to feed the horses their favorite apples and say our goodbyes.  It was so much fun to create such lovely memories, especially along such endearing creatures.  Added bonus, I definitely improved my riding skills, thanks to the knowledgeable and helpful guides.

eatingapples

Horseback riding on the beach is one of those activities that truly has it all. It is adventurous, romantic, and   just plain fun!  Also, it is an activity that can work for any age and skill level, making it ideal for groups and families.

Don’t forget to ask your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant about all the different activities St. Lucia has to offer so they can guide you to the perfect Saint Lucian experience!

A Visit To A Cocoa Plantation in Saint Lucia

edit_MG_2939

Ah, chocolate! If you’re anything like me, it is more of a necessity than a luxury. Needless to say, I love treating myself to one of the many decadent chocolate desserts at Capella Marigot Bay. So when I found out I could visit a Cocoa Plantation and discover just how chocolate is made, I couldn’t resist!

edit_MG_2889

Our guide, Cuthbert, knew everything there is to know about cocoa! There are three different types of cocoa beans, Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Trinitario is a hybrid of the first two and Criollo is the rarest because the trees are not as robust. Forastero is the most common type of bean and is the one most commonly used in the chocolate we usually eat!

Cocoa beans grow only in tropical climates, making St. Lucia the perfect place to farm all three varieties! The pods can differ greatly in color from green to light yellow to dark red depending on the type. The color of the pod can also reflect its state of maturity.

edit_MG_2916 copy

I was surprised to discover that the beans inside the pod are encased in a white pulp!

edit_MG_2933

In St. Lucia, they call these “Jungle M&Ms” because the pulp is actually delicious! I was so surprised when I tried it for the first time because the resulting tangy sweet flavor is incredibly enjoyable so Jungle M&Ms are now one of my favorite refreshing and healthy snacks.

But the pulp also plays an important role in the early process of cocoa creation because it helps the beans ferment.

edit_MG_2938

Once the beans have sufficiently fermented, they are placed out in the sun to dry.

edit_MG_2922

I was so impressed to see how diligently they keep the beans dry at this stage. Even the slightest sprinkle and the beans are covered immediately!

edit_MG_2943

edit_MG_2962

I also learned that cocoa trees take 3 to 5 years to start producing pods and because of that, a horticultural technique called grafting is used to help trees grow faster and sturdier! I got to create my very own graft which was later planted in the ground and will one day become a productive cocoa tree. Visitors who create their own grafts get to name their tree!

edit_MG_2902

But before the grafts are transplanted for cocoa production, they live in a lovely little green house, where they are protected from the elements.

edit_MG_2944

While at the Cocoa Plantation, they taught me how to make my very own chocolate.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing that recipe with you next time!  But until then, treat yourself to some high qualit

y dark chocolate. Not only is it delicious, it’s also healthy. In a study done at the University of Copenhagen in 2008, they discovered that participants who ate dark chocolate had less cravings for junk food.  Chocolate is also high in antioxidants and theobromine, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.  The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better it is for you. Aim for 55% and above depending on your taste preference.  With so many health benefits, I guess there is no need to feel guilty about my chocolate obsession!

To plan your own cocoa tour, just let your Capella Marigot Bay Personal Assistant know.  They will be happy to plan a visit to a cocoa plantation here in Saint Lucia.  Definitely a sweet experience!