Dominica’s Desiderata: Delightful Dining in the Capital City of Roseau

Le Cafe Desiderata is centrally located at 8 Old Street (entrance on King George V St.) in Roseau, Dominica. It's found very close to the historic Old Market in the French Quarter of town.

Le Cafe Desiderata (448-6525) is centrally located at 5 Old Street (entrance on King George V St.) in Roseau, Dominica. It’s found very close to the historic Old Market Square.

During the unrelenting oppressive heat wave in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean in May 2015, I have been fortunate to

The colours and decor in Desiderata invite patrons to sit down, relax and escape the noise and haste of the city while enjoying a delicious meal.

The ambiance in  Le Cafe Desiderata invites patrons to sit down in comfort, relax for a while and escape the noise and haste of the city while enjoying a delicious meal.

escape  some days to the cooler climate of the mountains. But that is not possible everyday, as it is frequently necessary to do business or run errands in Roseau, the main commercial center on the Nature Island. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to ‘sweat it’  in the sweltering heat for hours in the city without a cool break, thanks to the offerings at  Le Café Desiderata  –  a restorative oasis –  in more than one way!

That’s what I have been doing at least once a week to cope with the extremely hot weather when running around Roseau.  Sometimes, I may start  with breakfast at Desiderata before I hit the streets, and other times, I’ve finished all tasks and go there for a tasty lunch.

The ingredients in the substantial omelettes change every day. Have you tried one with brie? How about artichoke?

The ingredients in the substantial omelettes change every day. Have you tried one with brie? How about artichoke?

If I arrive around 8:30 a.m., I am often the first client, which is perfectly fine with me.  While I wait a short while for a delicious omelette with brie, or a mouth-watering smoked marlin and cream cheese bagel or a perfectly-made- to-my-liking creamy cappuccino, I  get a little writing  or reading done on my laptop or tablet, thanks to wireless in this serene setting. And the comfortable climate-controlled temperature seems to be conducive to creativity! I am usually amazed at the number of words I can churn out before I eat, or when sipping on my coffee or herbal tea afterwards.

The Breakfast menu offers selections for a light meal, or one that will last all day!

The Breakfast menu offers selections for a light meal, or one that will last all day!

Whenever I look at the specials on the board, I am always amazed by the diverse dishes that are offered, and even more surprised to see that they change every day!

I enjoyed this delicately seaoned mahi-mahi with mixed mashed potatoes and tender-crisp vegetables.

I enjoyed this delicately seasoned ginger-sesame mahi-mahi with mixed mashed potatoes and tender-crisp vegetables for lunch.

My friend Nacny enjoyed this delightful goat cheese/beet salad.

My friend Nancy really liked this delightful feta (goat cheese)/beet salad.

Look at all those choices for lunch, at great prices too.

Look at all those choices for lunch, at great prices too.

Lunches are definitely a gastronomic experience, and as a person who does not each much meat, I am always thrilled by the variety of vegetarian and fish offerings.  But I also appreciate that if I want a soup, salad or sandwich/wrap, I can order it off of the regular menu.  As the staff well knows, I love the fish wrap, and the generous salads are filled with goodness! I am not the only one to say that Chef Nickie assembles the best salad in Dominica – the ingredients are varied and the end results are exceptional!

Chef Nickie Esprit, Dominica's Island Chef 2014 is an exceptional culinary talent, and is recognized as such.

Chef Nickie Esprit, Dominica’s Island Chef 2014 and 2015 has an exceptional culinary talent, and is recognized as such.

Chef Nickie Esprit, the mastermind behind these creations, is a young lady with a real talent in the kitchen.  She’s the reigning (2014) Island Chef in Dominica, but I knew she was special long before she was awarded that prestigious title. I have consistently enjoyed her savory concoctions for several years, in fact, from her early days in the food service industry.  It was always evident to me that she had a real knack for making an ordinary plate into something extraordinary.  Call it a gift, but in terms of her cooking, she is a natural!  She is the perfect fit at Le Café Desiderata.DSCF6052

I also enjoy conversation with Dominique, the lovely and knowledgeable wait-staffer.  If I don’t know what I want, she is always ready to make a suggestion.  It amazes me that I am never disappointed with her idea. Then she follows up to ensure that I am

Dominique is a lovely wait-staffer who 'raises the bar' in terms of impeccable service!

Dominique is a lovely wait-staffer who ‘raises the bar’ in terms of impeccable service! She is seen here in the tapas bar section of Desiderata.

satisfied with what she has recommended.

Proprietor Portia Bird-Astaphan has definitely got a

Gwendominica often wears outfits that seem to blend into the serene surroundings at Desiderata. At least, that's what Proprietor Portia says!

Gwendominica often wears outfits that seem to blend into the serene surroundings at Desiderata. At least, that’s what Proprietor Portia says!

good thing going at Le Café Desiderata.  Her vision of creating a true oasis in Roseau, with complete consideration for her clients’ comfort,along with the presentation of a varied, tasteful menu at reasonable prices make Le Café Desiderata a ‘must-go’ when spending time in the city.  And if you’re in a rush and need to get out-of-town, they do take-out orders too!

Would you believe I have only just scratched the surface?  Check Le Café Desiderata’s Facebook page here to learn more – you might also enjoy the tapas bar on Friday nights and Saturday evening dining!  They are closed on Sundays for a well-deserved rest – but you can enjoy their offerings on the six other days of the week.

I can’t wait for my next taste of something extremely special at Le Café Desiderata!

Advertisements

A Canadian Thanksgiving on Dominica, the beautiful and bountiful Nature Island

Anthurium lilies perfectly complement my celebration of Thanksgiving in Dominica.

Anthurium lilies perfectly complement my celebration of Thanksgiving in Dominica.

It`s a special weekend in my `home and native land.“ And although I am far from the `far north,`I am taking time to celebrate Thanksgiving,

Despite being a dark day, a beautiful rainbow touches Roseau, as seen from my porch.

A beautiful rainbow touches Roseau, as seen from my porch. I give thanks for the exceptional natural beauty found on Dominica.

Canadian style. For those readers who were unaware, this annual celebration of the harvest takes place on the second weekend of October, and is not to be confused with the larger festivities of the same name that our American friends celebrate on the last Thursday of November.  In Canada, the primary purpose of this holiday is as it says, to `give thanks“, in both sacred and secular ways. Thanksgiving was proclaimed an official holiday  in 1957, but has actually been celebrated  since the time when European explorers traversed the northern terrain in the 16th century.  It`s a weekend when families gather together and eat a huge meal (or more) in anticipation of the dark winter days ahead.  The harvest is now in and it`s time to savour it.

While I think of my brothers and their families in Ontario, my aunt and cousins in Nova Scotia and other friends scattered across Canada, I will be with them in spirit as I dine on a divine Thanksgiving feast that I have prepared at my home in Dominica. I also feel that it is timely to personally express gratitude for all the good things that life has to offer  me on the Nature Island, and to thank all the people in Dominica who have helped me in various ways, both personally and professionally.  I am also thankful for opportunities that I have had here that I perhaps would not have had in Canada.  My life is that much richer due to the fascinating people I`ve met and the adventures I`ve had on the Nature Island, many of which are documented in this blog!

As I write this piece, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is in the area, but the sombre weather does not deter my excitement about the  home-cooked meal that awaits me. Of course, in Dominica, with its rich volcanic soil and temperate climate, the harvest is endless!  Part of  the fun is the enjoyment of different types of produce in different seasons.  For example, in the rainy season (now) avocados are found in abundance.  However, free range eggs are harder to find because the hens prefer a little drier ground for their laying endeavors. Suffice to say that it would be extremely difficult to starve on Dominica!

I coudn`t wait long once the pumpkin pie came out of the oven, as you can see.  The gluten-free flour made tasty pastry!

I couldn`t wait long once the pumpkin pie came out of the oven, as you can see. The gluten-free flour made tasty pastry!

An added perk, which is a bonus to me due to  numerous food sensitivities, is the establishment of a “health food“ store on Great George Street in Roseau.  It`s called Fresh Vitamins and apart from  stocking a variety of supplements, they sell gluten-free flours and dairy-free products, among other healthful items. This year, I baked my pumpkin pie with gluten-free flour (a mixture) and rice flour.  The pastry turned out well, although the consistency is a little denser than with regular flour.  I substituted almond milk for dairy. I really like the flavour!  But I do confess to using Libby`s pure canned pumpkin.  The local variety of this gourd is lovely and sweet, but I find its texture is stringier than northern varieties and can be too wet to bake well.  Yes, I have tried it before!

Roots Farm is always my first stop at the Saturday Roseau Market. Their delectable produce is beyond compare!

Roots Farm is always my first stop at the Saturday Roseau Market. Their delectable produce is beyond compare!

When I shopped for produce at the Saturday Roseau Market, I was delighted with the abundant finds.  My first stop was the stall of Roots Farm, where I found a selection of greens, as well as buttery lima beans, the best bananas  and the uncommon fruit called mangosteen, a treat from organic farmers Karen and Roy.  They are very serious about their sustainable farming practises and I always enjoy their nutritious offerings to the max.  You can read about their successful venture here. Then I purchased other  local fruits and vegetables from trusted vendors who offer the freshest produce at the best price.  I always appreciate tangy watercress from the river banks in the island`s interior, and I like to sample different `provisions,` that is, starchy root vegetables.  For my T-Day  (Thanksgiving) dinner, I chose very sweet  sweet potatoes.  I also found some young beets, which are not so common on the tables.  I also picked up a package of hibiscus flower sepals, to make a spicy red drink called sorrel, with fresh ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon sticks.   This particular ` red flower`seems early this year. Perhaps humid rainy weather is too its liking!

This variety of sweet potato is so creamy and buttery that it melts right in my mouth!

This variety of sweet potato is so creamy and buttery that when baked, it melts right in my mouth!

These mangosteens are an uncommon fruit on Dominica.  I was thrilled when Karen from Roots Farm offered me this naturally sweet treat.

These mangosteens are an uncommon fruit on Dominica. I was thrilled when Karen from Roots Farm offered me this naturally sweet treat.

The Nature Island`s offerings never cease to amaze me.

The Nature Island`s offerings never cease to amaze me.

The variety of fruits found on the Nature Island is astounding!  Here is a sampling: clockwise, from left, organic bananas, pineapple, papaya, avocado and mango.

The variety of fruits found on the Nature Island is astounding! Here is a sampling: clockwise, from left, organic bananas, pineapple, papaya, organic avocado and mango.

The Saturday Roseau Market is a cornucopia of fresh seasonal produce from around the island

The Saturday Roseau Market is a cornucopia of fresh seasonal produce.

The local chicken was seasoned and sauced with my own mixture of ingredients found on Dominica.

The local chicken was seasoned and sauced with my mixture of ingredients found on Dominica.

Locally-made pepper sauce, honey, thyme, parsley, green onion, lemon are all found on Dominica.  I just added a little olive oil to the seasoning  mix.

Locally made pepper sauce, honey, thyme, parsley, green onion, celery and lemon are all found on Dominica. I just added a little olive oil to this home-made seasoning mix.

I was lucky to buy the last locally grown chicken in the cooler at the Whitchurch IGA grocery store in Roseau a few days ago. They are small and tasty, even more so (I think) because I stuff them with herbs and coat them with a little olive oil, lemon and salt.  I wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and roast them while the chicken cooks.  The lima beans, carrots and arugula are steamed lightly.

It may not be a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, but it`s a  Dominican feast, for sure!

My Canadian-Dominican Thanksgiving feast.  I am going to make short work of it right now!

My Canadian-Dominican Thanksgiving feast. I am going to make short work of it right now!

Before I `break bread“ and partake of my delectable meal, I once again give thanks for the goodness that grows so easily on the Nature Island and for the numerous opportunities I have had to grow as a person here.  `We are indeed blessed,`to use a local common expression.

As for the calories sustained, an abundance of walks and hikes are planned for the near future.  You`ll read about them soon.

I give thanks for the countless gorgeous sunsets over the Caribbean Sea that I see right from my porch!

I give thanks for the countless gorgeous sunsets over the Caribbean Sea that I see right from my porch!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, wherever you live on the planet!