St. Lucia's First Annual Food and Rum Festival - Page 2

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The St. Lucian head chef, who’s ready-made for the Food Network, was one of 15 chefs participating in the festival. Other culinary maestros included Paul Yellin of Barbados, Brit Andrew Rose, and Robert Oliver of New Zealand.

Besides leading cooking demos (where sampling was encouraged), the chefs also prepared multi-course lunches and dinners at surrounding restaurants and resorts. The meals were as much an adventure sport as, say, scuba diving. For a first course, Canadian Jason Inniss, who cooked at Almond Bay Resort, prepared a ceviche of dolphin with spicy Mount Gay sorbet, grapefruit, and blackened corn salad. Chef Richardson Skinner of Coco Palm’s Ti Bananne shocked the senses with an appetizer of lobster pudding with toasted banana bread. The most recognizable foodstuff on the table was the dinner roll.When not eating, I was digesting or drinking. The rum producers set up shop inside the Rum Pavilion, a long tiki-style building on the grounds of the Coco Palm Resort. Food stations, complete with cloque-topped chefs and sternos for on-site frying, offered sustenance between sips of rum. Like the chefs, the rum reps from Mount Gay, Guyana’s XM, and others were eager to share their bounty and hold forth on the caramel-colored liquor. With little prodding, I learned about the history and manufacturing of rum, the Holy Grail of cocktail mixing (balance sweet and sour, strong and weak) and this crucial tidbit: If you drink rum and water, you won’t have a hangover; add coke or juice and you’ll get a sugar overload that manifests itself as a thumping headache.

Of course, most festival goers drank responsibly (eating was another issue). With a packed itinerary, there was no time to baby a hangover. On the first day, I opted for an all-day catamaran cruise and lunch at Ladera, set against the Piton Mountains. That night, it was a kingly feast at Sandals, followed by a fresh-air reggae show featuring Third World. The following day I was in full demo mode, which included a cocoa workshop where my mouth became a lab for mixing chocolate and rum. Late night, after a stultifying eight-course meal at Buzz, I did my best to jump off the calories to Arrow’s “Hot, Hot, Hot" hits.

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Ladera Resort

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