Monday, February 17, 2014

Morne Coubaril Estate and Plantation - Soufrière , St. Lucia

On my recent cruise on the Seabourn Pride one of the ports we visited was St. Lucia. My sister and I decided to go off on our own to explore, we paid a visit to the Morne Coubaril Estate and Plantation. The Estate and former Plantation grows cocoa, coconuts, coffee beans and is home to many many beautiful plants and flowers grown in their wonderful climate. The estate is open for tours and has a zip line installed later for the more adventurous. The 250 acre property showcases traditional growing methods and gives a glimpse at how cane juice was squeezed from sugar cane. Guides show how coconuts are opened by hand on a stake. Cocoa is grown, fermented, dried on racks in the sun, oiled, polished by foot by a man dancing on them, crushed and then formed into chocolate sticks for cocoa or shaving onto desserts.There are also buildings depicting life on the plantation. The current owner of the Plantation house itself is French, from Martinique and had to rebuild the original plantation house after a fire. Not far from the sulfur springs and Volcano, the trip is hugely worth your time. The rich volcanic soil makes for excellent crops all of which you can sample fresh picked. Please enjoy some of my photos.
Cocoa Pod in the tree
Coffee Beans

Coffee Beans
Cocoa House on the Plantation
 Below are pictures of the cocoa making process. The fruits are opened, you can suck on the white pods, the locals call them M & M's, then they are dried, polished by foot and ground into cocoa powder or made into stick form that can be grated.
The just picked Cocoa Pod - beans are inside the whitish soft fruit, which we were given to suck on while we visited, pretty cool.

The cocoa beans

Beans placed on long trays which roll out the side of the building to dry in the sun

polishing bowl

polisher doing his job by foot !

finely ground cocoa powder

Below is a look at a machine used to squeeze cane juice from sugar cane . You can see the can coming through the large metal cylinders. The Donkey is the power for the turn of the cylinders and his reward is the crushed cane. Don't think he has great teeth.

The Donkey

Donkey making the cylinders turn

Cane squeezed through the cylinders

The next process demonstrated was how coconuts are split, using a sharp metal stake the hard outer skin is split quickly by an estate worker, we drank the fresh coconut water and ate the delicious coconut meat and the root. Our friend then described how the coconut is used to root a new tree.

splitting the coconuts

splitting the coconuts

coconut water

coconut root, a grainier taste than the flesh
if you let your coconut sit out to dry it will root

successful day on the plantation !

There is so much to show I will end by some of the scenery and produce that the plantation grows and harvests.

Yams and other root vegetables

Sadly I can't recall the name of this it is in the banana/plaintain family but has another name

Breadfruit and assorted other fruits from the estate

Sorrel, tastes kind of like hibiscus, Chef Jes made a wonderful sorrel sorbet onboard

The vine growing wild  is  vanilla and there were bean pods all the way up the tree !

If you ever get the chance to visit St. Lucia and you can pull yourself away from the beach, a visit to Morne Coubaril Estate and Plantation is definitely worth the visit !

Monday, February 10, 2014

Be Our Guest ! Galley Tour of the Seabourn Pride with Executive Chef de Cuisine Jes Paskins

Wow that title is a mouthful. I have just returned from a wonderful adventure on the Seabourn Pride one of the smaller ships of the Seabourn fleet. I believe capacity is 208 passengers, there were 201 passengers on our trip and 171 in staff ! Sadly the Pride is being retired this year and was sold to Windstar who will continue to use the ship in future sailings. Good news is there is still one more year to try the Seabourn Pride's sister ships the Legend and the Spirit, especially if you love intimate ships, beautiful ports of call, exclusive side trips and amazing meals. If you like something a little larger I have travelled on one of their larger ships the Sojourn and had a great time as well. As you know I will be posting gorg photos of some of the dishes I sampled in another blog, possibly with recipes. This blog is about a very special afternoon tour of the Galley Kitchen on the Seabourn Pride. Executive Chef de Cuisine Jes Paskins, hence to be known as Chef Jes was our delightful guide for this great opportunity to see such a special place ! Thought I would take a moment to share with you .
 Chef Jes has a staff of about 30 in the kitchen on the Pride, that number doubles on the larger ships in Seabourn's fleet, which Chef Jes has also led. The Galley Kitchen is an amazingly small space and highly efficient, full of wonderful machines that help make the 1700 breadsticks daily or cool down the garde manger station, or heat up the stock pots that are constantly simmering something delightful ! There is almost no waste as every dish, Jes explained, was prepared " a la minute".  Whatever is wasted is what you did not clean off your plate ! The kitchen runs 24/7 and each dinner that leaves the kitchen is checked by Chef Jes on the way to the table. Chef Jes and his amazing staff provided us with meals that are not easily forgotten. As the lyrics from Beauty and the Beast suggest below please enjoy some of the goings on in the kitchen !

Ma chere Mademoiselle, it is with deepest pride 
and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight.
And now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a 
chair as the dining room proudly presents - 
your dinner!

Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin 'round your neck, cherie
And we'll provide the rest

Executive Chef de Cuisine Jes Paskins - Chef Jes

Dinnerware - Classic white, Seabourn emblem when appropriate

What Galley tour would be complete without champagne ?

and caviar…...

Chef Jes explaining the Garde Manger (keeper of the food) station

basically this long trough of steel is flooded with water which starts to
ice over and all the cold foods are prepared here for pick up

The ovens , capable of turning out 120 individual soufflé's at once !

You may weep over the oversize Hobart Mixer and as I think I understand it
 the machine to the right portions and rolls  bread

The breadsticks…. can't really say anything more than the most perfect ones I have ever eaten
still have not made them successfully. They make 1700 daily…no waste folks...


Chef Jes putting loaves in the oven
Explaining the portioning machine

I think my favorite photo, his hand in motion captures the passion he has for his job.
It was evident in his presentation and another wonderful quality is
 he quite obviously adores his staff !

What goodies await in the stock pot - there are 2 on board

Some of the sauces getting ready for their performance, only one pot washer in the place !

No I don't know his real name Chef Jes continues to call him Sponge Bob
he is an amazing Saucier

Just a photo I love of the pots awaiting whatever the next meal has in store…..

Chef Jes wrapping up our tour all too soon

OK maybe a bit of food so you know what comes from the kitchen.
Stuffed Artichoke with wild mushroom ragout and balsamic reduction.

Chocolate Assiette
a surprise trio of chocolate presented at the
Chef's Dinner

With your meal, with your ease
Yes, indeed, we aim to please
While the candlelight's still glowing
Let us help you, We'll keep going
Course by course, one by one
'Til you shout, "Enough! I'm done!"
Then we'll sing you off to sleep as you digest
Tonight you'll prop your feet up
But for now, let's eat up
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Please, be our guest!

Thanks to Chef Jes and all his talented staff on the Seabourn Pride
 for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Worth the Wait

I am finally getting around to posting pics of a marvelous dinner at my pal Laurie's house. She is a busy lady with 3 teenagers so there is not always time to slow down and appreciate a wonderful glass of something while cooking a great meal. I am fortunate that every once in awhile she'll give me a buzz and we create together in her professional home kitchen. Who doesn't love to see a great KitchenAid mixer, copper pans, a big bubbling pots of pasta water, certainly no one I know ! I had been meaning to post this long ago but wanted to get the name of the book where the recipe came from and when I got it I completely procrastinated before typing it in to the old computer. 
The recipe comes from a book called "Italy the Beautiful" by Lorenza Di'Medici.
If you ever run across a copy buy it if only for the pictures, truly a sumptuous read !
We made homemade ravioli with pumpkin filling and a sage butter sauce. To die for ....The filling is roasted pumpkin, pecorino romano cheese and wait for it... crushed amaretti cookies. Yummmmm. A simple sauce of browned butter sauteed sage leaves and a dash of cheese as a topping completed the delicious meal. Do yourself a favor if only once in your life, grab your kids, your husband or a friend  and make homemade pasta. Have some Prosecco while you are making it. It's well worth the effort.

Preparing the pumpkin for roasting
Cut into manageable pieces and roast until tender
The amaretti cookies
Brendan helping by smashing the cookies in a plastic bag

Making the pasta dough
filling on the rolled dough

The filled raviolis
Finished with the sauce

That special drink Prosecco, OJ and St. Germain !