About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Mind the Foodie Gap in London Town

So the final leg of my holiday adventure has been back in the UK, where I met up with friends and relatives. It's funny how we bond and communicate over food and drink, isn't it? A shared love of food can often be that common thread and whether it is eating out, or cooking together or for each other, some of the best memories can be created over food.

And so I wrap up another amazing trip with some of the best food creations and best people, starting off with my girls' catchup session at Shutterbug, a great little creperie in Shoreditch, and which I am now in love with. Such a pity that I only had that one moment to enjoy it, but enjoy I did. Having already had a wonderful savoury snack with another friend, I decided I would order a sweet crepe creation - red velvet crepe with marscapone, strawberries and chocolate. To say it was delightful would be a gross understatement. My friend had a savoury crepe with goat's cheese, spinach, walnuts and fig relish. They also serve some awesome cocktails and coffee. I love this place. I cannot make a crepe to save my life and love them so, so this find so late in the game is almost a tragedy for me.

Later, I journeyed into the macaroon kingdom with yet another friend, at Ladurée in Covent Garden. It was a tolerable enough evening that I could brave outdoor seating overlooking the shenanigans in the courtyard below from street entertainers. The real stars were our treats, mine being the religieuse pistachio, and my girlfriend had the rose raspberry.

Finally, I brought it back home, almost, when I had lunch with my cousin the day after, at Mango Room in good ole Camden Town. Though initially I was averse to going to a Caribbean restaurant, only because I live there and can get authentic Caribbean dishes anytime, I changed my tune when I saw the menu and then tasted the food. We both ordered the Jamaican curried goat, which was fall-off-the-bone tender, well seasoned, and in one word, fantastic. The one letdown was that the one guy who seemed to be on the frontline was not a bartender and so it made the fabulous drinks menu and the well stocked bar behind us, very pointless. Still, what a wonderful meal that was.

The hardest part of it all though, is the reality that over the next few weeks, I will need to live on carrots and rice cake to tackle the damage done to my waistline by this culinary carnage over the past 3 weeks. Still, it was all so worth it, from the tapas of Madrid, to the pizza and pasta of Rome, to the hodge podge awesomeness that is London and beyond. I loved it all. Life is beautiful.

The Final Moments of La Dolce Vita

It's a very tired tourist writing this blog entry.  Rome was a lot of fun, and sometimes fun can be exhausting.
So the last time I checked in, I was preparing for an outing to Villa Borghese and a meetup 20 years in the making with a childhood penpal.   Galleria Borghese is a small museum but boasts a very rich collection, mainly featuring works of Bernini. Getting there is just as amazing as the museum is located at the end of the beautiful Villa Borghese grounds - a beautiful stretch of open, green space which as a park is clearly much loved and appreciated by both locals and tourists alike.

I will confess, the morning was soured by the rudeness of the bus driver, and I would go further to say that he just could not handle or appreciate this awesome dark brown girl, and that is as diplomatic as I am going to be. Generally, I felt an overwhelming unfriendliness in Rome, which some may not appreciate me saying, but it was certainly my personal experience. Not generalising but just stating my own opinion based on MY experience in this gorgeous city. The brown tourist experience is a unique one cause in some places you never blend in, but then who wants to be a faceless other anyway? Still, between the rude stares, impolite behaviour or the often aggressive adoration of black hair, and brown skin, it was often a test of my patience.  
However, the warmth and love were most apparent when my penpal and I finally met during the second part of my trip. As I had mentioned before, we forged an overseas friendship in our pre-teen years, when snail mail was in, and social media was not even an option. And she is as lovely as I hoped she would be. There were hugs, kisses, laughs. It was really something else. She also introduced me to her sister and her friends who made the Roman experience a truly memorable one, with their light heartedness, humour and inquisitiveness. Of course, as always, I sold my own country as the place to visit so hopefully our second such meetup will be on my side of the pond.  

On the first night, we attempted to take in a music festival at Piazza Farnese, but soon traded that for drinks, which is always the best way. The night after, I had the chance to experience typical Italian nightlife in Trastevere, where we had aperitifs, gelato, street entertainment, and a walk along the river, where the summer fair had recently started and all the booths set up. Along the entire length of the river - lungo di tevere (Jason should he impressed with my power of recall) - there were booths showcasing art, hawking various wares, peddling cocktails and other such uplifting substances, all against the backdrop of a beautiful, albeit cranky looking Tiber river at night. The throngs of people were evidence that Italy was clearly welcoming the first days of summer.  

Sadly, it all had to end sometime, and after one last stroll through St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, I bid Rome farewell. It was truly a magical experience and one I will treasure forever. Of course, I will be back. Duh. Thanks to my new, beautiful Italian friends who opened their hearts and their city to me, to the lone Brit for just speaking English and being a bit funny as well, and to the various people I met along the way. It was grand.

The lush greenery of Villa Borghese
Borghese museum
Gelato cornucopia 
Cannoli - so sweet.
Awesome sculpture on the bank of the Tiber

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Roman adventures continue

Yesterday I was a tourist on speed. By the time I got home, I could barely walk, so much so I took the elevator to my room, rather than climb 10 steps. My feet are really suffering on this trip. Being flat footed means my feet are usually problematic. Having poor circulation adds to that. Add mucho walking and intense heat to an already bad situation and it has been the worst part of my vacation. I packed a few different pairs of tourist-appropriate shoes, which in the past worked fine but after trying, swapping and failing,  today I left the hotel wearing my shower flip flops. Between wearing those and really taking it easy today with the walking, it was a much more enjoyable day today.

I also did not want to get back to my hotel looking like roadkill, and scaring the staff and guests, so really relaxed today.  Sometimes I go on vacation and want to see everything but it is just not possible. Today, I sat on terraces, strolled, met people, and most importantly, my hair held up, and I did not look like a shiny blob. Lol.

Spent part of the morning in the Colosseum. Roman architecture never fails to amaze me. I walk through this city and everything is larger than life, and breathtaking.  Today was the day for all my expectations to be surpassed. Noone told me the Trevi Fountain was so fantastic. I mean, sure you see it in mags or movies but what an incredible piece of work. But it was the Pantheon which just did it for me today. Larger than life, and stunning. I sat inside and just took it all in for half hour, from the incredible dome, to Raphael's tomb - beautiful.

I think I have had all the water in Italy by now. The heat is intense, and water and Jesus continue to deliver me, for at every chance, I ducked into a church, an oasis of coolness and a good spot to take a load off, refer to one's map and not be scared that someone will nick your wallet. Like every European city I have been to so far, there are the guys who sell knock offs on the street, or souvenirs, or beg, or try to scam you or rob you. My breakfast mate yesterday told  me she was pickpocketed on the bus - a common thing here in Rome. I make no apologies for suspecting anyone who looks at me too hard. Then there are the guys who try to scam you with flattery or as we say in Trinidad,  mamaguy. They walk up to you, flatter flatter flatter - you are so beautiful. Take this rose, no charge. But of course when you take the rose, they ask for just one coin...just one. Yeah right.

The eye candy is better for sure though it is a mixed bag of Italians and tourists. I had a glass of wine on the Piazza Navona, then another at a Pantheon tourist trap, before making my way to Piazza di Pasquino and all in the name of people watching. Eventually had dinner with a lovely German couple, and a yummy dinner at that at Terra di Siena. I know it may have been a bit sacrilegious to dine at a Tuscan restaurant in Rome, but it was close, was not part of the tourist fare around the monuments    large squares, and it was recommended. Dinner was lovely. Lovely smoked salmon and arugula, followed by ricotta and spinach ravioli in sage and butter sauce, and tiramisu. I know...tiramisu again.  I can't help myself. Lol.

Tomorrow, an even easier day spent in Borghese, and a relaxing stroll through the city so as not to wear myself out as my penpal, the one I used to write 20 odd years ago, and whom I have never met, will be my "date" tomorrow evening. Roman rendezvous.

Next - The Final Moments of La Dolce Vita

Inside the Colosseum

The stunning, breathtaking Trevi Fountain

The Pantheon

Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona

The view from the bottom of the Spanish Steps

Smoked salmon and arugula salad

Spinach and ricotta ravioli in butter and sage sauce

The best tiramisu ever

Sights, sounds and smells of Rome

What a day! So here I am in Rome, where it has truly been a new experience. But before we get there, I feel the need to backtrack to Tuesday morning and another awesome experience with Ryanair. My God, this has to be the worst airline in the history of the world. I get to Barajas airport in Madrid at 5.15am to catch this dreadful flight to Rome at 6.25am. What a meat market. Total chaos at check-in and noone seemed to care. Certainly not the Ryanair customer service rep who seemingly misplaced a customer's passport, resulting in a not so minor disturbance in the check-in area. Certainly not the chick who took her time to check people in causing us to make a mad dash for the boarding gate as the meat market made its way onto the aircraft. I had said never again, and had meant it but the difference in fares was too  significant at time of booking. But Ryanair still sucks. Thankful my return flight will not be with them.

Anyway, Roma is hot! Very very hot. I slept most of yesterday as the late Madrid nights had finally caught up with me, but ventured out in the evening for dinner. And at 9pm it was still in the 30s (Celsius). Tonight I came home after the longest and hottest day ever in my career as a brown tourist, and sure enough, there were the tan lines.

But it has been fun so far. As the title of the blog suggests, lots to see, as underscored by my amazing, amazing, amazing day at the Vatican, roaming through its fantastic museums, and the piece de resistance, the Sistine Chapel. I was surprised that the chapel was smaller than I expected, but what a masterpiece. Reading about it and seeing it yourself - two very different things. For a guy who was not confident of his talents as a painter, as he was of his sculpting,  and in fact who up to then had not really painted before, Michelangelo was gangsta. It's simply breathtaking. 

Did not see the Pope though today would have been the day to catch him during his Wednesday Mass, but not devastated or anything. Especially since getting to the museums took some doing. I am not ashamed to admit yet again that I am hopelessly directionally challenged. Lol. Maps do not work. I am just rubbish. The Rome bus system was the first problem. What a nightmare this is. I tell you, London has it under control. This is simply abysmal. Buses are not regular and certainly cannot accommodate the mass of tourists that plague the city. So when I saw a swarm of the ever ubiquitous Japanese tourists approaching my stop, I cried to myself. The bus got there after 35 minutes of standing in the blazing sun and then I had to literally swat tourists off me as they converged simultaneously on the bus doors. Nightmare. It did not help that it took me a good 45 minutes to find the f...g stop in the first place.

Tired and hot, I was now in the bus and of course cannot see where I am going with all the little tourist heads in baseball caps blocking the windows. So going with God, I say to myself, they could only be going to the Vatican.  The bus, unlike other bus systems, does not visually or verbally announce stops so I think to myself,  Japanese tour guide dude will tell them when to get off. And he does, and they do, and I did. Guess what? It was not the Vatican. Lol. Introduce, the map. Nightmare. After maybe 20 minutes of walking and not seeing any sign of the papal frock, and using too many cuss words for such a holy adventure,  I realised I was walking AWAY from the damn...darn place. A hiccup or two later, I was inside - hot, tired, sweaty and looking like I truly needed a blessing. Introduce wet wipes, oil absorbing sheets and a hair brush and life was back to normal.

This after a mini-excursion to the Roman Forum, and Il Vittoriano, which were much easier to find. lol. Last evening, after dinner, I got the chance to see the breathtaking Colosseum at night. Clearly something my Roman companion thought was a bore but a sight I am still more than impressed by.

The smells. Well, some good like the wonderful dinner last night at a small corner restaurant in Via Cavour. I gave some new things a go and it was all very good. Add the wicked smell of calories via the delicious gelato - my first so far during this trip - from Old Bridge Gelateria near the now personally infamous Vatican museums. I asked for the smallest serving and the guy looked so disappointed. Hello? Have you seen my ass? And still, this small cup was subject go not one but THREE different flavours in one serving. The people just wicked. But it was delicious.

The not so good smells came from some of the people. Now while we know there is an economic crisis, there also seems to be a deodorant crisis. The bus/metro experience is further aggravated by the rank smell of perspiration at any time of day. Now, my own Lady Speed Stick protection was put to the test in a serious way today but my underarms held out, much to my relief. It's bad though, this pervading smell of sweaty humans. Speed Stick!

As for the sounds, my room is on a very loud street but then again, Rome is freakin' loud.
So much more I can write about but there is an episode of Hannibal I still need to watch, so off I go for now. Dead tired and I do it all again tomorrow.

Next - The Agony and the Ecstasy - Roman adventures continue

The Roman Forum
The Colosseum at night
Inside the Vatican museums
The courtyard of the Vatican museums
Il Vittoriano - spectacular
What they call a SMALL serving of gelato - three flavours in one cup.

La vida en Madrid...in summary

Hello lovelies. I have fallen behind on the blogging haven't I? But it is challenging to blog in between all the fun and all the late nights. I must say, I love Madrid and the different layers of the city. From the art, architecture, food, the people, it has been a remarkable experience.

More and more food
Let me just say Spanish food is incredible. Truly amazing. Oh, but my waistline. I joined an awesomely wonderful couple - the amazing Nicolsons - for a late breakfast on Sunday. God help me, but chocolate for breakfast is just plain wrong. Delicious, tempting, but goodness - where do the Spanish put all this food?

Gay Madrid
It being a girls' weekend, of course, a major part of the fun was market research, as we call it - the sometimes earnest, but most times, idle man hunt. Lol. I know I will draw the ire of many, but the market research in Madrid was poor and bore no fruit worth picking. If the guys weren't hobbit sized, they were not that appealling. Until...gay Madrid. So after a day of shopping, we headed to Chueca for cocktails, Chueca being a very modern, chic hub for the local gay community. But while clearly it was the wrong target audience for us girls, the eye candy was considerably better, as was the company. Very amusing, very enlightening, and with the best sangria blancas ever. Great time!

Parque de Retiro
Beautiful. I love green spaces that are also great communal spaces. I love London's parks for example. Retiro Park is stunning. Besides that, if you are looking for free amusement, this is a good place to start. From puppet shows, to musicians, you name it, and it is sure to be there.  Post-shopping lunch break and conversation went down well here.

The Prado
I know. I know. It is surely sacrilege to mention gay cocktail hour with the almighty Prado, but blogging on this touch keyboard is a real pain, not to mention the Blogger app is junk and maddening. I had some "me" time and used it wisely to explore Museo Nacional del Prado. There are just certain things I must doin any city, and museums are always on the list. Prado certainly did not disappoint. Impossible to do it in a day, so I selectively explored the vast halls of the museum, including Goya, of course, Velazquez, Titian and El Bosco (Hieronymous Bosch), and discovering new artists I, carefree art lover, did not know of before. It was a great outing, one I truly enjoyed. What was also amusing is this chick and her daughter who were visiting from Atlanta,  who came over to say hello, simply because she has made it her mission to say hello to the handful of brown people she ever sees.

So what next? After what seems like tonnes of tapas, great girlfriend time, lots of halting, non-existent Spanish, I turn to pasta, pizza, Michelangelo, ruins, penpal adventures, the Pope. Ciao Roma!

Next - Sights, sounds and smells of Rome

Churros and rich milk chocolate - breakfast of sinners

Beautiful lake in Parque de Retiro

The fantastic Prado museum

Another one, please - Foodie adventures from Madrid

Madrid is super hot which for a Caribbean girl like myself is saying quite a lot. We did quite a bit of walking through this beautiful city yesterday, going the Royal Palace and surrounding areas. Just beautiful. I will share some of the photos of the sights later.
But yesterday was all about the food. Tapas. Oh, the tapas. I am actually rushing out to meet up with some of my friend's friends but will share some of the delicious highlights from yesterday. While I cannot remember all the names, they were all very delicious. The first is really some Iberian ham on toasted bread. The second was a bit of a venison dish, which was very well seasoned and went nicely with some bread.

The third photo below is of migas which is a mixture of bread fried with onions and herbs. The final photo is of a serving of morcillas on toasted bread. I had actually enquired about this earlier in the day while in one of the city markets and decided it sounded like something I would not eat. It is made using pig's blood and is pretty much black pudding, similar to what we have in Trinidad, but much tastier. We had two servings of this cause it was so good. And of course,  many many drinks. Loving it all, my friends. Loving it all.

Next - La Vida en Madrid - in summary

Who needs gym when you can go on vacation!

Sweet Lord!  So I am sitting in my seat on Iberia Airways, heading to Madrid,  Spain and what a morning it has been already. With a 9.00am take off, I unwillingly got off the bed at 4.45 since of course, I take ages to get ready and my bags were also in a bit of a helter skelter. Now it was my misson to pack one medium sized bag for this 10 day excursion and lemme tell you, it was a challenge. In the end I did manage it but squashed as much as physically possible in this poor pink contraption.  Being stylish is a bit of a headache when travelling.  
Then try travelling in London peak time - morning rush hour. With a heavy suitcase and cute purse. With changing temps as you move from ground level where it is chilly - jacket needed; to tube level where it is warm - lose jacket; to ground level on tube - scramble to get jacket back on. Then factor in the long walk between trains and no escalator but awesome flights of stairs where you lug the pink burden up what seems like 1000 steps, with the jacket now off, dragging on the floor, and rush hour London hamsters not giving a rat's ass that your bag is heavy and you are doing the best you can. Hell no. They bump into you, and scowl at you and your now evil bag. Who needs a gym membership at this point? I worked my arms, glutes, my core in one walk through Green Park Station with my adventure bag. Last night's rose' is now in a puddle of sweat near a staircase. Lol.
Of course, you then get on the train and there are no seats so you stand while balancing the adventure bag and yourself as the train turns and lurches. What fun! Of course at 6-something in the morning, some guy gets on in what looks like his pyjamas sith a jacket thrown over it, smelling like dried sweat, testing your already strained tolerance as you concentrate on not falling and now also on not passing out from the stink. There is also the smack smacking of soon to be separated lovers kissing for 5 stops - yes, I counted. All good fun, right?
But I got to the airport, got a full body massage from airport security and I mean FULL! From ears to boobs to ass to little toes. Do they hide weapons between toes now or is it just me? Massage over, I grab a coffee, scamper to my gate, get on my plane and "eagerly" await repeating this nightmare at a tube station I do not know in Madrid.

On the other side of the pond

It is cold in London town. So I am here in London my old stomping ground where it is currently 16 degrees Celsius, which for some here is warm and maybe when I still lived here was a pretty good outcome as well, but coming straight from a 35 degree day in Trinidad - in fact a 35 degree life - this is just cold! But as always I am prepared and managed to hit the walks of Greenwich last evening without freezing.

The trip over was more or less uneventful, which for the random traveller is good but for the single girl adventures could be a bit of a buzzkill. There is always that pesky mind game of "spot the best potential seatmate" where you try to find the guy you would like to sit with for 10 hours.  I spotted a couple guys whom I really prayed were not going to sit with me. But in the end, I got an older woman who clearly had some bladder issues and who interrupted my sleep every hour or so as she needed to go to the loo. 

Today is my last day in London, thankfully, at least for the next few days. I love the city but if I wanted a winter vacation I would have planned one for my birthday trip. Tomorrow morning I join the rush hour throngs as I make my way to the airport again, bound for a city where the weather is much better, and is well known for its Golden Triangle of Art, and where girls' reunion #1 will get underway - the beautiful city of Madrid.

Next - Who needs gym when you can go on vacation

The street outside my temporary accomodation in North Greenwich, London. Love the Mini!

Adventure Time!

After a flurry of blog posts, I disappeared again for a bit but only because I was so busy at work and trying to plan vacation as well. The good news is that vacation is here finally and I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to freedom. I am always a better  blogger when on vacation so I hope you will follow me on my trip - wherever it may lead.  In the meantime,  my eyes are peeled for that airport Casanova - the elusive Casanova. Don't believe the hype of Hollywood cause you will not meet the love of your life while stripping for airport security. There is something just totally unappealing about taking one's belt off and risking the exposure of one's underwear to the world, including that hot boy or girl on your radar.

Also trying to blog on a touch keyboard is torture but I do have a backup. Well, let's see what happens!

Next - On the other side of the pond

The view from my seat in the departure lounge of Piarco International Airport, Trinidad

A Bit of Porn to start the day - Book Porn

I have been doing a lot of reading lately - more than I have in a long time. I absolutely love reading but I am generally so tired that when I start reading, I fall asleep a few pages in.

But with a few long weekends and self-imposed social life exile (I do this every now and then), I have been able to get down and dirty with the books. The last book I finished was Dan Brown's latest (you know Dan - that guy who wrote The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons).

The Inferno. I was excited that he was bringing a new Robert Langdon book out as I am a fan. His last book, The Last Symbol, was not a winner for me. It was too predictable and the fact that I just had to Google it to remind myself of the plot tells you something. So I was hopeful for this one. I will not add any spoilers here but the book, overall, was entertaining and certainly better than Symbol. It was also a return to Italy, which is probably another win. The non-American formula seems to work. Symbol was set in Washington, DC - not as awesome as Rome, Venice and Istanbul, where Inferno takes its readers.

However, there were just too many "far out" twists in the plot which really stretched the imagination. I also did NOT like the ending. At all. It was just too...it was almost as if the author was trying to just wrap it up and send the draft to his publisher. Granted, the issue raised in the book is a very testy one, but there could have been a neater ending I think. Still, an entertaining ride.

Right now, I am reading this - Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. My fascination for serial killers continues but rest assured, I do not have any dreams of joining their ranks. I have always been curious as to what circumstances create these types of human beings. What was it in their childhood that gave birth to homicidal tendencies. What was the tipping point. (aside: It is the same reason I like NBC's Hannibal - the same questions, set in a show with amazing writing and great actors.)

This one is a non-fiction about the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and the sadistic serial killer, Dr H.H. Holmes (generally listed as to as America's first documented serial killer) who used the fair as the backdrop for his killing spree.

My next book will not be as dark, but it is still disturbing in a different kind of way. Okay, so my first experience with Lionel Shriver was reading her amazing, amazing novel We Need to Talk About Kevin. If you have not read this yet, you must. It is a bit dark but again, it looks at human behaviour, this time posing the question of whether it is nature or nurture that creates a monster.

Anyway, her new book, Big Brother, is not about killing others, but more about killing oneself - self destruction using food. The summary says,
When Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at her local Iowa airport, she literally doesn’t recognize him. The once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? Soon Edison’s slovenly habits, appalling diet, and know-it-all monologues are driving Pandora and her fitness-freak husband Fletcher insane. After the brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: it’s him or me. Rich with Shriver’s distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: why we overeat and whether extreme diets ever really work. It asks just how much sacrifice we’ll make to save single members of our families, and whether it’s ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.
I will be reading this in the spare moments of my holiday adventure. What are you currently reading? Do share.

Total Devastation: The Game of Thrones Season Non-Finale

Spoilers ahead, so please, if you have not seen it yet and you are going to act a fool cause I am giving away the plot, just disappear! Disappear!

Whether you had read the books or not, I think many loyal Game of Thrones fans would agree that NOTHING could have prepared you for last night's Red Wedding episode. Nothing!! Masterfully done, but the most brutal scenes ever. I mean, they even killed Grey Wind in a most merciless manner.

They killed the man's wolf for crying out loud. The animals!!!

To say I was gutted at the end of this episode would be a major major understatement. I was numb for about an hour and woke up this morning and guess what? Robb Stark was dead.

I mean, Robb, our King of the North and King of the Sexy looked exceptionally hot last night

To take him down at his sexiest is just cruel. I cried for Robb Stark. I cried hard.

I hate Walder Frey. I hope he is sodomised by a giant!

Roose Bolton should be thrown overboard in that body armour. I hate him.

Catelyn Stark endured what no woman should ever have to endure - the annihilation of all the men in her life. Bet she would have loved to see Jon Snow just then.

Her killing was especially gruesome and dying with the belief that her two other sons were dead, when they are very much alive.

Arya is going to need some serious therapy - first Ned, now her mum and big brother? Painful. This kid is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This was by far the best episode of the series, even beating out the beheading of King Robb's dad, Ned in Season 1. I will miss Robb and Catelyn. Robb was really foolish though, and while you understand why he died, it is still hard to swallow. Especially when brought to life in the way HBO brought the Red Wedding to life. I think I will be in mourning for the rest of the week. And what's worse, this was not even the season finale. My heart just cannot take it.

Foodie Review: Girls' Night Out at Aioli

So, with my BFF back on the island (happy dance), it was reason to celebrate...and eat, cause that is just what BFFs do. I was so happy cause we think alike and so I had a riding partner to try the new restaurant, Aioli.

I had previously missed a very early opportunity to dine at Aioli because of work (darn it), so was looking forward to trying the place and of course the food. I had only heard good things, and of course, with the seal of approval from superwoman and friend extraordinaire, LSJ, I knew I was in for a treat.

The plan was almost derailed by hectic flip flop life, with Saturday errands in the sweltering heat making its own meal of me, but nothing a shower, some well placed curlers and a shot of coffee could not fix. Gotta love those curlers!

So first off, Aioli is located in Ellerslie Plaza in Maraval, just upstairs Haagen Dazs. As we parked, we wondered where on earth was this place, and just as I was going to seek a security guard to give us some guidance, lo and behold, I had parked Sophie smack dab in front of the door. Fate! 

What immediately struck me was the sophisticated dark wood decor and the amazing lighting. Those light fixtures were stunning and held my gaze for most of the night. The interior is gorgeous to say the least. First win.

Then let's talk about the service. As you know, I am the Service Nazi. If you want to stay on my good side, be generous with the hellos, may I help yous and apologies, and don't be farse and bright. From start to finish, Dianna and Jeremiah (thanks LSJ) were top notch - attentive, courteous and helpful. Second win, and a major win at that especially as I am known to get on bourgie rancid over bad service.

But of course, it was the food. Aioli's fare is described as

A European fusion menu with a heavy Mediterranean base (Amalfi coast inclusive of Spain, France, Italy and Greece) with hints of influences from the rest of the world, prepared using classical French techniques.

Now this was always going to be a challenge, keeping in mind that I have been on a fat busting mission and just that morning had almost busted a lung on the hills of my neighbourhood. But the challenge was now magnified by 1000 when I studied the menu, because everything looked amazing. 

It was a great tragedy that my dinner mate does not partake of the pig cause I really wanted to share in the Jambon Iberico experience, but I am not worried as I am sure mi amiga, Sonso will make sure I do not miss out on it in less than 2 weeks. There were proscuitto wrapped scallops (sob), a delightful sounding seafood minestrone which featured the three major food groups - mussels, clams and scallops (sob sob), among others, and that's just for appetisers. However, in the end, hard as it was, I did make an attempt to become more intimate with the food offerings. 

Apologies in advance for the photos, which were taken with my smartphone, in horror, as I am always conscious that I am going to be THAT girl taking photos of her food. I also stuck to taking photos of what was in front of me and not my girlfriend's orders.

I started with the shrimp cocktail, which was served with a very sensational mango salsa. The mango salsa complemented the shrimp nicely, with a nice local touch.

On special for the night were the lamb meatballs, which my girlfriend started with, and these were phenomenal. A must-try. I was really impressed with these, with the flavours bursting in my mouth and of course there was a lovely spiciness which I of course appreciated. I will also add here that when we ordered our appies, somehow the meatballs got lost in technological translation, so that only my shrimp cocktail appeared initially. So while I expected and we got apologies, I did not expect the chef, John Aboud to personally come out and apologise for the mix up. Take note people - THIS is what you do. Don't start me.

For my entree, it was inevitable - no competition. The pork loin. Yes, I bow to the pig. But this...

...this was the highlight of my night, of my week (of my life?? okay, not quite but it was awesome). The pork loin was served with this incredible sweet potato and apple puree and a vegetable medley, and one could really tell that each item on that plate was specifically and lovingly put there to complement the other. That puree, with that lingering appleness, with that pork, with those vegetables - perfection. That puree that was just right - the sensual blend of textures and flavours, not too sweet, but marrying ever so wonderfully with the very succulent cuts of pork. I savoured this, bite by bite. So when as indicated on their Facebook page, the chef says "My cooking is my prayer", this is the kind of spiritual sensation we talking about. lol. It was the best pork dish I have had in a long, long time. It was the best part of my evening for sure. Ku-dos!

By this time, I was really conflicted because now would be the real test of character. Dessert or no dessert. I mean, I got up at 5am to run up hills, in a light drizzle, so dessert would be a travesty. But the bigger travesty was certainly going to be NOT having dessert. I mean, who does that? So I bit the bullet and true to form, ordered the Tiramisu Explosion, while my girlfriend had the Basil Infused Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries.

I must admit, I ate that entire thing, AND sampled the panna cotta, which was so interesting. I saw it and thought to myself "basil infused"? In a dessert? But it worked sooooo well and was delicious, as was my tiramisu, which is always a predictable choice for me, as I am the tiramisu master, but it was not at all disappointing. I promise though to try the Napoleon next time.

I ended my night with a shot of espresso to counter the effects of a long day, and the added effects of a full and happy stomach, to ensure I got my passenger and my good self back home safely. But I do HIGHLY recommend Aioli. I dare say, it has given my fave restaurant a good run for its money and I am excited to take other friends there.

Speaking of money, you must be wondering what type of damage a night like this would do to your wallet. It's not Breakfast Shed, kids, so please don't be confused. Appetisers were in the $75-$110 or so range; entrees in the $130-$230 or so range, and the desserts in the $55-$75 or so range. (please note the "or so"; I did have wine after all). And all delicious, served with the exceptional service that one expects in a fine dining establishment and in a place just compelling you to sit back and enjoy. 

Aioli - Ellerslie Plaza, Maraval
Phone: (868) 22-AIOLI (222-4564)
Email: aiolitt@gmail.com

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