A Feast for Canada Day – Dominican style

The Canadian flag complements the lovely red and white anthurium lillies - a perfect blend of my two favourite countries: Canada and Dominica!

While overlooking Roseau, the Canadian flag complements the lovely red and white anthurium lilies – a perfect blend of my two favourite countries: Canada and Dominica!

Although I have lived far away from “my home and native land”  for a long time, I always make a point of celebrating Canada Day  in Dominica.

This year, I decided to treat myself and a Canadian friend to a meal at a Roseau restaurant that was unfamiliar to me.  But I didn’t just splurge, I had a gift – yes, another one (!) from Hike Fest 2013 – a certificate that would cover both our meals quite well.  I was very excited about this other prize, and David, the Administrative Officer at the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) was equally pleased for me.  That only added to the anticipation of an unfamiliar dining experience.  But I should have known – as the DHTA office is right next door to 15 Castle Street, I am sure that David frequents the Old Stone Grill and Bar.

Amooir is a charming bartender who has a knack for mixing  delectable and memorable drinks.

Amooir is a charming bartender who has a knack for mixing delectable and memorable drinks.

And

The Old Stone Grill and Bar is situated at 15 Castle Street, Roseau (on the eastern side of the street, opposite the DOMLEC building.

The Old Stone Grill and Bar is situated at 15 Castle Street, Roseau (on the eastern side of the street, opposite the DOMLEC building. Phone: (767) 440-7549.

now I know why!

When I arrived around 4 p.m., I was greeted warmly and offered help by Marlene, who was our main server that afternoon.  While I waited for Nancy, I admired the tasteful artwork on the walls, warm red table settings and lush green plants surrounding the dining room.

The cheery red tablecloths perfectly complemented my Canada Day attire!

The cheery red tablecloths perfectly complemented my Canada Day attire!

Soon Nancy appeared, looking very refreshed and `Canadian` after her recent trip to Canada for her sister“s wedding.  We did joke about my affinity for celebrating Canada Day, which I honoured by wearing red and white and tacking a maple leaf pin on my lapel.  As my friend teased me, Marlene brought us our menus and asked if we would like something to drink.  Before we made a selection, I spouted out: `Do you know what day this is.` `Why, it`s Canada Day, of course,`she replied confidently.  `How did you know,`I queried.  The pleasant young lady just smiled. No doubt, I had given it away somehow, or maybe she has Canadian connections.  It`s entirely possible on the Nature Island!

When our drinks arrived, I savored the delicious mix of tropical  fruits (mangoes, bananas and others) in my non-alcoholic cocktail.  It was divine. Nancy sipped on a sweet chardonnay wine while she recounted her sister`s wonderful wedding (congratulations Heather and Chris!), described some of the rides at Canada`s Wonderland and impressed me with her attendance at a Toronto Bluejay`s Baseball Game (go Jays go!)

Then Nancy queried Marlene about possible menu choices.  She graciously described several of the items and assured us of their freshness.  There were so many options.  Marlene made this monumental task easier, although there are a number of offerings I want to try next visit!

I chose a cozy corner with a table for two and made myself at home!

I chose a cozy corner with a table for two and made myself at home!

Grilled Mahi-Mahi fish, covered in an herb sauce, with breadfruit croquettes and slightly steamed vegetables satiated my taste buds.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi fish, covered in a herb sauce, with breadfruit croquettes and slightly steamed vegetables satiated my taste buds.

It seemed like no time at all when our dinners arrived and we oohed and aahed over their exquisite presentation before we even

Nancy`s grilled chicken salad and a sprinkling of cheese had definite appeal!

Nancy`s grilled chicken salad and a sprinkling of cheese had definite appeal!

took a bite!  While soft jazz music played in the background, Nancy relished a tasteful chicken salad extraordinaire.  I practically inhaled my grilled Mahi-Mahi  fish  with a herb sauce, lightly fried breadfruit croquettes and delicately steamed vegetables.  Of course, we cleaned our plates! (to use a Canadian expression)

And what would a Canada Day feast be like without a bit of sweetness to round off the meal!  Nancy didn`t waste any time as she spooned up a delectable  slice of cheesecake with strawberry topping.  There were no regrets about my choice either: a springy and light Alsatian cake with home-made coconut ice cream on the side.

It does look like two desserts - and why not! It was Canada Day, after all!

It does look like two desserts – and why not! It was Canada Day, after all!

As we lingered a little longer over the last crumbs, the tables around us filled with eager diners.  Now I could easily understand why this restaurant is so popular.  When the bill arrived, I was very pleased that the gift certificate practically covered everything and we ate a lot, I confess (but with no regrets!).

I would like to thank Leonard Lewis, proprietor of  Old Stone Grill and Bar for his generous support of Hike Fest through this wonderful donation of a complimentary dinner for two. As well, I am very grateful to the Hike Fest Committee of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association for awarding me with this delectable prize.  It was worth every step!

This flavourful  and substantial meal was the perfect way to celebrate Canada Day – in Dominica!

Celebrating ‘Canada Day’ in Dominica with Yoga, Friends and Snakes!

I flew the Canadian flag on my Dominican porch.

When I am away from my “home and native land, ”  I give little thought to Canada’s birthday unless I happen to be there.  Otherwise, it’s just another ordinary day in my adopted country.  But this year was different. Not only did the Canadian holiday fall on a Sunday, but  I was invited by Dominican/Canadian neighbour friends to a class for a small gathering of yoga enthusiast friends, to be followed by brunch on an expansive porch overlooking Roseau. We didn’t actually see any snakes until we took a tour of the property after we ate. (More on that unexpected but exciting surprise later!)

Trudy Prevost has lived in Dominica and taught yoga classes here for more than 15 years.

At least a dozen of us were keen on this special Sunday morning class.  It was lead by Dominica’s popular certified Canadian  yoga instructor, Trudy Prevost of Rainbow Yoga. There were  also some other Canucks* living in Dominica in the group, as well as American expats and of course, Dominican friends with whom I often associate, be it hiking, singing , dining or yoga!

View of Roseau from the porch of a special yoga class with friends.

Majestic royal palms mark the way to my yoga class among friends on Canada Day.

For 1 1/2 hours, Trudy’s gentle approach to poses for all muscle groups soothed everyone and definitely put all of us in a relaxed and refreshed state of mind by the end of the class.  We were also mesmerized by the lovely location of our host friends’ property.  The stunning views of Roseau, the stately royal palms along the driveway, the beautiful home surrounded by  lush green forest made us  mindful of  this tranquil Sunday morning in paradise.  It was the perfect place to personally celebrate Canada’s birthday from far away!

Gwendominica focuses on the camera lens in a balance pose with Yoga Trudy after the class. Photo taken by Wendy Walsh.

After having been stretched and soothed in our yoga session with Trudy, we eagerly tucked into a delicious potluck brunch.  The fixings were definitely filling and included fresh sweet pineapple; crisp cabbage salad; Daria’s delectable vegetarian chick pea delight; hearty natural cocoa tea; Dominican fruit cake; my maple walnut muffins (made with real Canadian syrup!) and other tasty treats.

We chatted easily and reacquainted with those in the group with whom we had not had the pleasure to catch-up in some time. After a while, the conversation came around to Canada Day, as one friend had just been there, and another was about to leave for the “true north” next day.  All of a sudden, my Trinidadian/Dominican friend, who loves the Maritimes,  mentioned that she didn’t know the words to the Canadian National Anthem, but she certainly knew the tune!  As she commenced, what could I do but fill in the words to her melodious, exacting and rhythmic vocal accompaniment.  Very quickly, I was not alone as other Canucks both big and small raised their voices to the rafters with our patriotic rendition.  Tears filled my eyes.  I truly felt the collective spirit of the occasion – celebrating Canada’s 145th birthday with wonderful friends of various cultural backgrounds, from thousands of miles (I mean kilometers!) away!

The high spirits continued as our host took us on a little tour of his family’s property.  A group of young girls ran on ahead of the adults, but suddenly stopped short and seemed to scream in terror.  “Snakes, snakes!” some of them shouted.

Dominica’s boa constrictors are well camouflaged with their colouring. They are apparently endemic to the island.

There are several boas in what is called a “ball.” The local name of this snake is “Tete-Chien” in Creole language.

With camera in hand, I rushed ahead.  Over several minutes, I saw not one, not two, but several boa constrictors taking their afternoon siestas in the sunshine.  I was astounded!  I had lived on the edge of the rainforest, walked and hiked all over the countryside, and had never had the pleasure of admiring these stunning serpents in their skins until now.  As my camera clicked, a little girl held my arm tightly.  The rest of the adults gathered ’round.  Then the frightened children calmed down when they saw us quietly admiring and speaking well of these  reclusive boas. It was really a sight to behold – and a wish come true for me.

I am grateful for our gracious hosts, Trudy and her gift of yoga, good friends, great food, the stunning scenery and those beautiful snakes for giving me a very memorable Canada Day on Dominica.

*Canuck = Canadian (slang)

Some more poses from our special Sunday morning class with Trudy Prevost of Rainbow Yoga.  She always encourages everyone to go at their own pace, do what  feels best in each pose and never feel pain.