The Marvellous Tastes, Sights and Sounds of Creole Day 2014 around Roseau Dominica

This prety Chapeau Paille (straw hat) is symbolic of Dominic`s Creole culture.  It was displayed on the stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau.

This pretty Chapeau Paille (straw hat), adorned with madras fabric is symbolic of Dominica`s Creole culture. It was displayed on the thick interior stone wall of Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353) on the Bayfront in Roseau.

Every year, I look forward to the last Friday in October in Dominica.  That’s when Creole Day is celebrated, in recognition and honour of the

The Kai K Boutique adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a simple and elegant dress with a Creole accent!

The Kai K Boutique (440-6922) adjoining the Cartwheel Cafe on the Bayfront in Roseau displayed a casually elegant dress  with a Creole accent  by the door for all to admire!

Nature Island`s traditional culture, comprising food, language and fashion.  This year, I decided to focus on a Creole Breakfast and  a Creole Lunch – both near the seaside – but at two different locations.

I was a little early for Creole fashions on the street that morning and I did not stay in Roseau for too long because I would be savoring Creole Lunch closer to home.  But I did enjoy the glimpses of colour and design that I observed on others  around me who proudly dressed in Creole wear.

When I arrived at Cartwheel Cafe at around 8:30 a.m., I was one of the first diners on that special occasion.  It’s a familiar place for me: I know that staff and they know my meal preferences without even asking.  I always enjoy its congenial, comfortable and casual atmosphere and the historic architectural setting close to the Cruise Ship Pier in downtown Roseau.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

Flavian is one of the friendly servers at Cartwheel Cafe who always welcomes me with a warm smile.

As usual, I devoured the generous serving of codfish, seasoned with herbs, which was accompanied by breadfruit (a starchy ‘provision’ that grows on a tree of that same name), a boiled egg and garden fresh salad fixings.  A cup of coffee complemented the large meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned codfish.  Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

My Creole Breakfast at Cartwheel Cafe included boiled egg, breadfruit, salad fixings (including avocado) and seasoned cod (salt fish). Coffee complements the meal perfectly.

This traditional meal is still a favourite in the Caribbean.  Of course, the salt fish (cod) is imported from countries where it is plentiful and  it has to be ‘unsalted’ by soaking it  overnight in cold water.  Then it is shredded and stewed or fried with various seasonings, including onion and peppers.  For me, it was an acquired taste and now I must have it at least twice a week! This filling food combination gives one energy and following this hearty dish, there is no need for a mid-morning snack.  (But if tempted, or in need of  a take-away to enjoy later in the day, I highly recommend Cartwheel mini-quiches (meat and/or vegetarian) and a slice of their incredibly moist  homemade chocolate cake).  And the price is right too!  You don’t have to wait for Creole Day to eat at Cartwheel Cafe.  At this dining

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion.  She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.  Find her at this shop and she''ll help find something new that is just right for you in quality natural fabrics for a fabulous price!

Simone at Kai K Boutique has a flare for fashion. She is adorned in a vibrant and sexy outfit for Creole Day.Go say hello and she’ll help you  find something new in quality natural fabrics at a fabulous price!

On Creole Day, it's always possible to buy a hand-made creation at varoius shops or from vendors right on the street.

On Creole Day, it’s always possible to buy at the last-minute a hand-made creation  from vendors  on the sidewalk.

establishment, you will always get a taste of Dominican-style fare.  Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

The only other item on my Creole agenda this morning was a ‘sitting’ for my annual Christmas photograph to insert in greeting cards for my Canadian relatives.  As with the last couple of years, I walked over to Lasting Images Photo Studio on King’s Lane.  It was still early in the day, and I had not worked up too much of a sweat yet.  The pleasant photographer arranged me in a few ‘standing’ poses, took the shots and then showed me each one.  I was pleased with his results, which serve as  souvenirs of  my dress-up for Creole Day every year.  While my outfit was not new, I felt like a different person in my mix of madras coördinates that I had gathered over the years.  Someday, I will look back at my participation in this important local event and smile even more broadly than I  did in the photos!

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October31, 2014.  She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt),  a white blouse (bluse), a slightly different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, matching necklace, earrings

Gwendominica dressed the part for Creole Day, October 31, 2014. She is wearing a plaid (madras) jip (jupe = skirt), a white lace-fringed blouse (bluse),  a different patterned head piece and wrist-wrap, coordinating necklace, bracelet and earrings. The shoulder bag is made from madras material too! Photo credit: Lasting Images, Roseau Dominica

After this pleasant start to my Creole Friday, I drove back home to write for a while before my next gastronomic outing: a long-awaited dining experience at the Westport Tavern (276-9513), a quaint seaside restaurant and bar in Citronnier, a short drive south of Roseau.

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Westport Tavern is conveniently located on the seaside by the main road just south of Roseau

Just after midday, I left the car at home, and was quickly picked up  by one of the buses that frequents my neighbourhood.  The main road from the south of the island to Roseau was getting very busy, as  school had finished for the day and everyone made their way to their chosen Creole lunch destination.  Fortunately, I didn’t have far to go, although my friend Nancy from Springfield did got stuck in the city traffic for a while.  Eventually, she made it through, and by that time, we were both more than ready for our festive meal!

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was a delicious repast for celebrating a  very special annual event.

Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern in Citronnier, just south of Roseau was ideal for celebrating a very special annual event. There were a number of traditional dishes from which to choose on the menu.

I was craving a Crab Back, and Nancy had kindly pre-ordered this popular Creole treat when she made the reservation. This

There's my crab back. Yum!  This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield. She has a knack for doing up this seasonal dish.

There’s my stuffed crab back. Yum! This delicacy was prepared by Chef Sandra from Springfield for distribution at various venues. She has a  unique knack for doing up this particular seasonal dish.

delicacy is only available during the Independence season, as hunting of this crustacean is permitted for a few months each year.  I also ordered all the side dishes on the menu. How could I resist!?! Nancy enjoyed Lionfish Couboullion ( a type of traditional stew with herbs and other seasonings).  This particular fish has a bad reputation as it eats other types of marine life. There are concerted efforts to harvest it in an attempt to control it in Dominica, as it is very tasty to eat.  Westport Tavern often serves other dishes with Lionfish to great acclaim.  You can read more about this predator here.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kind of tempting beverages.  I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol).  Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

The expansive bar at Westport Tavern offers all kinds of tempting beverages. I had unsweetened ginger beer (no alcohol). Its strong taste perfectly complemented my Creole meal.

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners.  You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

Chef Jessica knows how to dish up very delicious dinners. You should go to Westport Tavern of an evening, and find out for yourself!

The lovely covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too!

The covered dining room offers lovely seaside views and refreshing breezes. Boaters can anchor nearby too! There’s a wharf that leads directly to the dining room.

DJ David Sorhaindo played wonderful tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

DJ David Sorhaindo played plentiful  local and regional tunes in keeping with the Creole season, which complemented the cheery atmosphere at Westport Tavern.

As we gazed out on the serene Caribbean Sea, we savored every morsel of our delectable lunches. Fortunately, we were there a bit before  other eager diners filled the spacious restaurant.  I lingered over every bite of my Creole lunch, and especially enjoyed the Plantain Madras Pie.

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right: mixed provisins;  stuffed crab back; plantain pie; salad; pumpkin rice. Yum!

My Creole Lunch at Westport Tavern: from upper right (clockwise): mixed provisions; stuffed crab back; plantain pie; avocado/farine ball; salad; pumpkin rice; red beans in coconut milk. What a feast!

Award-winning Chef Jessica knows how to put a wonderful meal together – and I was fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries!

It might not surprise you that I had no interest in supper that evening.  With two wonderful Creole meals ‘under my belt’, I would say that my 2014 celebration of this aspect of Dominica’s culture was complete!

 

 

 

 

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Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital – Part 1

Hurricane season is here – and the heat and humidity are turned up high!  As you might imagine, the Nature Island is showered with rain, sometimes gentle and sometimes fierce at this time of year.  Although it doesn’t stop me from hiking, I am mindful of approaching storms and  inclement weather, as there are increased risks of flooding and landslides.

It’s no matter really – I can still get a good work-out around the capital city Roseau – and a sauna on the streets if I am there in the heat of the day.

This charming Caribbean capital is filled with history, gorgeous views and diverse shops and houses – both old and new.

For me, this town provides endless fascination, as its mood and temperature can dramatically change from early morning to late afternoon.  And every day is different too!

I like to walk up to the top of  Morne Bruce, which was once the island’s largest military fort.  It is situated above the Botanical Gardens.  It’s a lovely spot to take in a bird’s-eye view of Roseau on a quiet Sunday morning or a late afternoon, when the sun is sinking low over the Caribbean Sea.  The roughly half hour climb up the road is steep and is  good preparation for any future foray into the forest!  The following pictures depict some of the sites/sights  seen from above the town:

The 12,000 seat cricket stadium features prominently when looking down from Morne Bruce. The Botanical Gardens are in the foreground.

People often light memorial candles at the base of the Morne Bruce Cross which overlooks Roseau.

Behind the cross, one can gaze inland up the Roseau Valley to Morne Micotrin (Macaque), a dormant volcano.

Scotts Head is seen in the distance when walking up or down the road to Morne Bruce.The village that appears to be in front of the promontory is Pointe Michel.

The only cannon left on Morne Bruce from the 18th century seems to protect Roseau from an imaginary invasion.

The Roseau Public Library is among my favourite hang-outs in town.

Once back down from the Morne, two of my favourite haunts are found nearby on Victoria Street, on the  southern approach to the downtown part of Roseau.  I love the Roseau Public Library – and that’s no exaggeration!  This stately building is just over a century old, and was actually built with funds donated by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I credit this little library with expanding my tastes in literature and always offering me books of interest to take home and enjoy every week.   It’s a comfortable place to study or write, and they have wireless internet too.  The book choice is broad.  I’ve read classics, current and past best sellers, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, foreign authors in English translation and little known gems of literature. I’ve even expanded my familiarity with past and contemporary Canadian and West Indian writers.  There are many generous donors, including authors, expatriates, the Canadian Consulate, the U.S. Embassy and some cruise ship lines.  The library has an online public access catalogue (OPAC), so you can look at their collection, no matter where you are!

The main entrance to the Fort Young Hotel on Victoria Street. This establishment is a very popular place to socialize and/or stay awhile.

As I continue towards the town centre, I always pass by and sometimes go into to the historic Fort Young Hotel, which was originally built in 1770.  It became the Police Headquarters in the mid-19th century and then was converted into tourist accommodation in 1964. However, it was demolished by Hurricane David in 1979 and did not reopen until 1989.  It’s a very popular spot for a cool drink, a seaside meal, special events and meetings. Their famous Friday Happy Hour always draws a crowd.  It’s a great place to meet and greet friends – both old and new!

Remembrance Day 2012 at the Cenotaph in Roseau Dominica. The President of Dominica, Eluid Williams is in the dark suit in the centre of the photo.

On the way to the Bay Front and the Cruise Ship Pier, I take note of the War Memorial (Cenotaph) at the round-about on my right.  That’s where I attend the official Remembrance Day commemorative service every year.  Across the road, Peebles Park offers benches and shady trees, as well as a bandstand, which is always used by the Government Band for its ever-popular annual Christmas Concert.

The cruise ships can anchor  at the pier on the Bay Front in downtown Roseau. Photo by Edwin Whitford

During the cruise ship season, I really enjoy

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. - Apr.)

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. – Apr.)

watching those massive boats anchor along the pier.  It’s also fun to see them off.   I always hope that all the passengers who disembarked on the Nature Isle had a truly wonderful day.

The Dominica Museum is a great place to learn more about Dominica’s history and culture. The Tourist Information office is on the ground floor of this building.

In order to refresh my memory about Dominican history, geography, geology and culture, I occasionally re-visit the Dominica Museum, which is directly opposite the Cruise Ship Pier. It’s filled with artifacts, maps and displays.  I always come away with a better understanding of this country and am constantly in awe of its unique attributes.  Then I like to go behind the Museum and walk around the Old Market.  This particular cobblestone square is rife with history. It was a public gathering place for meetings, as well as slave auctions and punishments in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.   In addition, it was a market where at one time the trade was fruits and vegetables. This is now in another site called the ‘New Market’ – to be described in  another post.   These days, colourful stalls showcase and sell crafts, clothing, local music, and other products of interest to visitors and residents alike.  I enjoy purchasing trinkets, locally made products, T-shirts and beach wraps from the friendly vendors for gifts when I travel to Canada.

This old fountain stands over what was once a well for potable water in the Old Market Square.

The quaint Cartwheel Cafe on Roseau’s Bay Front is situated in a sturdy stone structure that has endured for more than a century and a half!

The friendly staff at the Cartwheel Cafe serve up delicious dishes and make everyone feel at home!

By now, I’ve been walking and looking around for a couple of hours.  It’s time for some refreshment at the Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353), which is  just a few steps north on the opposite side of the Bay Front from the Cruise Ship Pier.  I usually devour their Dominican breakfast, and especially enjoy the codfish plate.  If I’m just looking for a snack, I’ll typically munch on a couple of tuna-filled quiches.  Their local lunches are always large and flavourful. These tasty meals hit the spot after a big work-out (such as this amble around town!). I usually end up taking home a slice of their delectable chocolate cake for later –  in my estimation it’s the best in Roseau!

My walk around Roseau will continue on another day.  In the next post, I’ll be showing you some diverse streetscapes.  They’re an awesome mix of old and new!

References:

Honychurch, Lennox. Dominica: Isle of Adventure. Second Edition. (MacMillan), 1995.

Honychurch, Lennox.  Historic Roseau: The Capital of Dominica. (Paramount), 2000.

SHAPE (Society for Heritage, Architecture, Preservation and Enhancement. Self-guided walking tour: Historic Roseau. (booklet).