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.

Stranded on a not so deserted island - "Trinidad" and Tobago Film Festival

I live on an island. A small island. But even on a small island, one can feel a chasm between spaces. If you live past the lighthouse as we say here in Trinidad, or really, NOT in or near the capital city of Port of Spain, then salt for you.

The differences between the North and the South of the island are very real. On the one hand, Southerners are known for their hospitality - often deemed as warmer, friendlier and more welcoming than the Northerners. I will not fight that. South is seen as more "country" which I have no problem with, when compared to the smoggy, smokiness I encounter over Port of Spain on my drive in to the city daily. But if you are looking for a variety of things to do, then you will note the mass exodus up the highway as bored Southerners hit the asphalt for the "bright lights" of Port of Spain. This is not to say that there are not things to do in South and Central but we are talking about variety now. I often do not make the trip into the capital for various reasons - too tired, it too far, I have no designated driver, so what's the point. Yet, if the draw is good enough, or the friends special enough, I will make the effort so it is not as if I am dying to be in the capital every weekend.

However, there are things that just should not be either. The Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival is on and this is a great thing. I fully subscribe to this - to getting people involved and invested in our artform, our culture, our talent as a people, as a region. I feel as though every man, woman and child should be exposed to this and should be part of this and be proud of this.

Yet, there is not a single screening in the south of the island, or at the very least, in Central Trinidad. I am not casting any blame on anyone because there could be a variety of reasons. I, Southerner, recognise that not all keys fit in the same lock. Maybe there was not enough buy-in or support, from facilitators or the local communities. I do not know. Maybe it was funding. Bad timing. But the point is, I am still a bit rancid about it, for yet again,  I feel like I am stranded on a not so deserted island where I am obliged to go too far, too many times to enjoy interesting moments on this rock. Most of the screenings are free so where would the loss of earnings be if I was the only person in the place watching a movie? And I am 100% sure that I am not the only one who would have patronised as I know there has to be a similar desire for other varieties of entertainment on a wider scale across the Naparima plains and beyond. I would personally like a reason as to why this is the "North Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival" - whether it is greedy businessmen trying to dig out the TTFF organisers' eyes, not wanting to donate a venue or whatever. Maybe there are plans to have screenings later in the year in South and Central. I do not know. I would like to know though.

So when someone asked me if I was going to the festival, I said no. I don't feel I have the energy or want to make that effort to drive to one area for what is being dubbed a "national" film festival. Maybe "national" means once we include Tobago, but what about the rest of us? However, I do sincerely encourage those who can, to support our film festival, support local talent - support what is ours. In much the same way we can ram out the Stadium when dancehall and hip hop artistes come to the island, we should support local culture. I hope next year we can have some opportunities here in South and Central to be more involved.

For more info on screenings and on the TTFF, click here

Sunday Brunch at Fanatic with Chef Khalid Mohammed (Chaud)

Sunday Brunch Goodie Bag
Sundays will never be the same thanks to Trinichow and her Sunday Brunch series at Fanatic Kitchen Studio.

It takes a special event to get me out of the house on a Sunday. I NEVER leave the house on a Sunday.


But the combination of brunching with Chef Khalid Mohammed of Chaud/Chaud Cafe, and the fact that Tuesday is a holiday and thus I could risk a bit of Sunday fatigue saw me on this very very hot Sunday, heading up the highway to Fanatic Kitchen for brunch.

I don't need to get into too much detail except to say the food was remarkable as expected. The menu included:

The bread board - Homemade coconut bake and salt butter

Red Snapper Crudo with Saltfish Accra, Green Fig Chips and Tomato Choka Vinaigrette. Sorry, no photo.

Sancoche: Corn Soup with Pig's Trotters Croquetta and Provision

Boneless Stew Oxtail and Dumplings, Plantain Crema and Organic Poi Bhagi

Shrimp Creole, Coo Coo, Callaloo Fondue and Crispy Ochro (skipped this as you all know already I loathe callaloo and anything with ochroes)

Sunday Roast Chicken Dougla with Cassava Risotto - this was brilliant!

BBQ Pork Belly a la Valencia - gorgeous looking and tasting.

Geera Crusted Lamb Chop with Dhal

Cocobel Chocolate Delice with Organic Soular Cocoa Nib Ice Cream and Espresso Cream - winner!!!

Caramelised Banana Tarte Fin - I passed on this as I hate bananas but everyone who had it had seconds.

Sweetbread Biscotti - a nice local twist to one of my faves treats.

A Sunday well spent though the diet took a major, major hit. I had 3 glasses of pinot grigio, 2 glasses of sangria, a great mimosa at the door and I am stuffed from all the goodness. But the company and the culinary magic were well worth it.

The Tough Week That Was

High heeled life is often taxing and tiring. This was a really really REALLY hard week. I worked late almost every day this week, and today, I woke up with a headache, back ache and completely exhausted. It was also a challenging week for the "Bringing Sexy Back" mission. Like today. I woke up feeling sick and also with an uncanny, mind numbingly overwhelming craving for something I hardly ever eat - KFC. So I had it. I had it and I enjoyed it. Every last greasy fry, and every crumb of my one greasy chicken leg. Fail.

Don't judge me.

Still, the week had some moments. My extraordinary friend's extraordinary birthday dinner at Aioli, which also greatly tested my willpower - a test I failed I admit. I mean, it's Aioli for crying out loud. It's kinda hard to not fail the willpower test with a menu as awesome as theirs. I did well to stick to protein as my main but this was the downfall right here.

Aioli's awesome Napoleon

This, and the strawberry mojitos and Prosecco - my first alcoholic drinks in over 2 months. On a work night. Fail.

And I did not make it to the gym the morning after, or the morning after that and I was too tired to really make a solid sweat investment the morning after that as my Savannah run became a Savannah nightmare and every step felt like I was running through quicksand. Fail.

I will however give kudos to Allister, our server, who held up extraordinarily well against the cheeky, good humoured assault from 14 mischievous women, with yours truly probably being the worst offender. He was a good sport though (but I did hear him utter "My God" under his breath, just behind me, after about an hour and a half...and I don't blame him one bit. I laughed) and proves me to that brilliant customer service is not dead.

Shopping deliveries are always a highlight as well - especially when they are speedy.

Gotta love a sale. And friends who facilitate your lack of retail willpower in the face of company's reluctance to accept international credit cards. Do better than this, NY&C I have supported you so well for so many years, so let's work on this. Fail.

Kudos as well to my skybox delivery guy - a guy I have had run-ins with in the past for his farseness and general outta-timing behaviour and comments. Even when he called a few days earlier to attempt delivery on a sick day, he was just generally obnoxious. But this time, when he came to make said delivery, he was as sweet as that Napoleon. It was bizarre but in a good way. Again, my hope for great customer service was boosted.

And speaking of sale...one sale in particular has gotten me thinking of my vacation of nothing again. I think it is meant to happen, so I better just make it so - especially with more tough weeks ahead.

Not Zumba, but Carumba!

Studio A
Photo credit: Studio A
So last evening, the girls and I had a different kind of girls' night out. No cocktails. No dinners. No pulsating club music.

We went to a fitness class. Yes, a fitness class. On a Saturday night. lol. But it was awesome, and we had a great time.

Being a working girl, and a working girl who works at one end of the island and lives on the other end, workout time is always a sacrifice. I start my day by waking up at 3am to make it to the gym so I can be back at my desk in time for a 7am start. With the disgusting traffic every day, staying behind late is not even an option as many times I have left the office near 7pm and still face the traffic at that hour. If I am to workout in the evening, I would rather do it out of a traffic zone and so I am always looking for good workout options nearer the "home" end. So when I found out about Studio A, I was curious.

Studio A is a new dance and fitness centre - a labour of love for Arlene Wilkes, a professional dancer and teacher, who has a pretty impressive background, having done countless productions in Norway, where she once lived. Now she is back and she is bringing her love for dance to the Southland. Her studio offers jazz for kids, teenagers and adults, ballet for the 12-16 group, modern dance, Ashtanga and Restorative yoga and carumba. It was the carumba class which saw us replace heels and maxis, for sneakers and tights for the Saturday night pump.

What is Carumba, you ask? Well, I have never done zumba so it would be remiss of me to compare the two but both marry dance and aerobics. According to the Studio, carumba is a combination of Caribbean folk dance, jazz dance, Latin dance and aerobics to a mix of soca, African, Latin and International music.

Now as I have blogged here, I am hopeless at aerobics and such activities which requires one to have a great sense of coordination. My girlfriends shared the same hopelessness and this is how this Saturday night flex came about - sisterhood in being aerobically challenged, and if nothing else, it would be a laugh.

So armed with a bottle of water infused with wheatgrass, and a positive attitude, I met the girls at Studio A for a free carumba class to kick off the Studio's grand opening yesterday. I was a little daunted by the fact that there were onlookers, especially as I know I do not look cute while working out, but soon we forgot they were there. As the workout started, we soon were just focused on ensuring we got the steps, and after that, well...it was just plain fun. And a serious sweat. Arlene took her time with us first-timers and between her great teaching style and the awesome mix of music, from folk music to Ella Andall, to Bunji - well, we were stomping, twisting, stretching and wining in no time. Fun. It was an amazing class and I think I can safely say everyone had fun and it is for anyone and everyone, regardless of fitness level.

So we will be back and I am adding 1 or maybe 2 carumba classes to the weekly fitness pump to keep it interesting as I get bored so easily with fitness stuff. Thanks Studio A for a fun evening. For more info you can check out the website or the studio's Facebook group.

Kitchen Porn: Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

For the past few weeks as you know, I have been eating better, and this has included no alcohol and no dessert.

No alcohol - not as hard for me as it may be for some, as I am not a huge drinker, but I do love a nice cocktail on a Friday afternoon or a glass of wine every once in a while. I mean, I CAN have it. I just choose not to right now. Saving up...

No dessert - this is a bit harder. lol. Snacking has always been my problem, and while I prefer salty snacks over sweet stuff, I do like a nice cake or Haagie moment. This being said, I have only had one Haagie moment in 3 weeks, after a bad day at work last week - and that was a Haagie mini cup I have had in the "rescue me from life" box in the freezer for the past month. However, I have been dreaming of cake and thus decided to try my hand at a dessert where I had the control. Enter the Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.

So while it is not a fat buster, it is not coming in at the whopping 710 calories minimum at which the regular cheesecake comes in with no kinda shame. I wanted to bake but also wanted to be able to eat whatever I baked.

So again, I am poor with measurements so I will send you to the pros at the end of this, but I started with some wheat digestives, pecans, rolled oats and cinnamon. This crust was going to be to my specifications and you can do as you like with yours. Threw it all in the processor and got me some crumbs, to which I added some butter.

Now, seeing that I had never made this before, and in fact had never even made a real cheesecake before either, I was not committing to a full cheesecake but instead decided on minis, so I thumbed my crumb mixture into some cupcake liners. Thrust these babies into the oven for 5 minutes and then took them out to cool.

Next, the filling and I added 2 cups of vanilla Greek yogurt, as this was the closest to plain that Hi-Lo had available (just lucky they had any at all as last week there was no Greek to be found) to a bowl.

Next I added some Angostura bitters, 1.5 eggs (1 full egg and the white of the other), some lemon zest and a tsp of custard powder as I did not have cornstarch. I tell you, I am an innovator. lol. Whip whip with the hand mixer. Note, no sugar anywhere in all this innovating - the ingredients themselves have more than enough.

I poured my Greek mixture into my cooled crumb cups, and using about 4 tbsps of the mixture, I added some chocolate powder, so I could make some pretty swirls in my mini-desserts. Note - unsweetened.

Thrust these babies into the oven at 340F for 35 minutes, then left them to cool before chucking them in the fridge for another 3 hours. And voila...

Got some edges that were victims to the liners (okay, so I slightly burnt these critters...slightly...lol) but the texture is amazing and the taste - well, it's cheesecake! I am really beside myself with joy.

I added some spreadable fruit and I am having one of these Greek yogurt minis during Sunday primetime.

I must say, they are really good, and shave more than 500 calories when compared to the real thing. I am a convert though I will still splurge on a Haagie and a real cheesecake slice every now and then. This was also my 400th blog entry since I started this blog so good to have cake to celebrate!

For the more step by step, albeit slightly different version of this dessert, click here.

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