As the organic food trend seizes the gastronomic imagination of the Caribbean, four taste-full resorts prove that you do not need to go to the ends of the earth to sate the modern palate.
Words by Juliet Austin.
Commenting recently on the Caribbean’s heavy dependence upon foreign food imports comprised mostly of processed products, Secretary General of CARICOM, Erwin LaRoque, indicated the importance of sustainable food production in addressing the region’s staggering US$4 billion bill. Lucky for him, four fine dining resorts are ahead of the game, intent on bringing ‘soon come’ back into the belly of the Caribbean experience.
Canadian architect, Nick Troubetzkoy, bright mind and creative spirit behind Anse Chastanet, a soulful boutique resort nestled into the hillside between St. Lucia’s legendary iconic peaks, has long been familiar with the spellbinding power of the exotic. Passionate about nature, his intoxicating art-filled nirvana frames beauty at every turn. Built on a 600-acre former colonial plantation north of Soufrière, with achingly insouciant views out over its namesake beach, undulating rainforests and pavonine seas, what can be more splendid than plucking the fruits of paradise to please the palates of those in search of an authentic Caribbean experience?
Indulging the full five senses, Anse Chastanet’s appeal supersedes the visual, auditory and tactile by offering ‘dinner in the sky’ at its Treehouse Restaurant – a taste sensation guaranteed to win the hearts and minds of guests time after time. From vanilla beans to microgreens, farm fresh produce grown from certified organic seeds on Emerald Estate, the resort’s farm located close by in the Soufrière hills, combines with a bountiful harvest of tropical fruit – guava, mangoes, passion fruit and coconuts – from the on-site garden, delivering meals that feed both body and soul. Invoking the essence of St. Lucia in every mouth-watering creation, Executive Chef, Ivan Silks serves up both contemporary Caribbean cuisine – a feast of fresh-caught fish and just-offthe- vine fruits – and Creole-infused dishes that tell the gastronomic history of the Helen of the West Indies in every bite. Tempted? Grab a fork, and dig in.
Leading the seismic culinary shift towards locally sourced, organic foods, Anguilla’s Cuisinart Resort, situated on the breathtaking Rendezvous Bay, pulled out all the stops in 1999, when it became the first resort to feature its own hydroponic farm. Managed from its inception by the learned Dr. Howard Resh, the 18,000 square-foot greenhouse produces healthy, pollutant-and-pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and edible flowers, used to create the French and Mediterranean-inspired gastronomic masterpieces for which the resort is renowned. From lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli and aubergine to sweet peppers and papaya, just one bite of a Cuisinart mango is all it takes to experience the taste superiority of home-grown produce over imported fare flown in frozen from the U.S.
Encouraged to pick their own from colourful groves of bearing trees and fertile orchards, the resort’s hands-on cooking classes enable guests to savour the flavours of a garden-to-table lifestyle. A world away from the culture of distrust in food industry standards and widespread media misinformation, where global industrial farming serves up bland homogeneity at the table; here, titillating the taste buds is an adventure in eating; a delicious cultural experience that casts each guest in the role of a gastronomic Indiana Jones. At the Cuisinart Resort, what you see is what you get – no need to decipher food labels or agonise over high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, growth hormones or artificial sweeteners; just pure, natural flavours, bold and intense; unadulterated ingredients ripened fully under the Caribbean sun. Embrace this slow food movement that accepts no substitutes.
Described by co-owner and avid environmentalist, Andy Thesen as, “the perfect antidote to modern, hectic life,” Hermitage Bay’s beachfront cottages and hillside suites were, quite literally, carved by hand into a hidden cove on Antigua’s western coast. A contemporary luxury resort guided by a gentle hand, it is perfectly placed for the new upsurge in Health and Wellbeing tourism which, guided by the acronym L.O.A.F – Local, Organic, Animal-friendly and Fairly traded – answers locavore demands for more ethical and genuine dining experiences.
Accompanied by a soundtrack of crashing waves, rustling leaves, harmonic sea breezes and insect melodies, guests start their day with the exotic, freshly squeezed juice-du-jour – guava and soursop, watermelon or papaya – enjoyed whilst taking in the sweeping panorama of sea and sky. Later, a visit to a local farm gives the opportunity for a whirlwind taste bud tour of the island, experiencing a sort of anthropological bite of its culture. Senses ignite with each colourful encounter from ackee, custard apple, cashew, guinep and noni to no less than fourteen varieties of mango.
The recipient of awards and recognitions too numerous to mention – most romantic, sexiest, hottest… each superlative speaks to the resort’s desire to exceed guest expectations, no more so than in its provision of mouth-watering menus that have never made eating one’s greens quite so much fun. Aspiring to minimise food miles and support local agriculture, its commitment to using organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from its own kitchen garden, thriving local markets and island suppliers is indicative of the importance placed on food security and ethicality. In a nutshell, Hermitage Bay is one resort guaranteed never to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Set in the southernmost Caribbean, Grenada’s Mount Cinnamon boutique resort is distinguished and defined by its stunning mountainous topography and its complete immersion into the culture of what was once called ‘The Spice Island.’ Now owned by mover and shaker and international entrepreneur, Peter de Savary, the property is a contemporary reincarnation of the former colonial plantation once belonging to British Lord Edgecombe of Devon. Surrounded by tropical flower gardens and sublime views out over Grand Anse beach, the collection of bedroom suites, villas and haciendas are ablaze with the colours of the Caribbean, tempting guests to feast their eyes upon the rich bounty of Mother Earth and live in unity with nature.
Exotic, mindful and pure, culinary offerings seek similarly to capture the island’s unique terroir. Characterised by justpicked herbs, nutrient-rich fruits and crisp vegetables grown at de Savary’s private plantation estate, menus feature exotic local fish freshly plucked from the sea and tender meats seasoned with a kick of the spice – nutmeg, cloves, ginger and its namesake cinnamon. What on God’s green earth could compare to the taste-full bliss of dinner at Savvy’s Restaurant overlooking the twinkling lights of the capital, St. George or, failing that, the sensual pleasure of being wrapped in warm banana leaves and embalmed in Moi Spa’s nutmeg butter soufflé?