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.

Tapas in Trinidad - Aioli Restaurant does it again!!

Blue Cosmo - great start to the evening!!
(noun) Tapas -  (especially in Spain) a snack or appetizer, typically served with wine or beer.

I have written a few times on this blog about Aioli Restaurant in Maraval, Trinidad. The reason I can write about the place so often is because they keep bringing out new stuff for me to eat. There are many places which serve the saaaaaaaaaaaaaame thing, as yummy as they may be, but the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame thing month after month after month after long month. So it is really nice to be able to go to a familiar place, see the same friendly and familiar faces, but not always eat the familiar.

So back to tapas. My little rotating banner shows the link to my "Tapas in Madrid" entry. Tapas in Trinidad is the subject of this blog entry, as the good folks at Aioli kindly invited a few good souls for a tasty introduction to its new tapas menu.

Tapas - small and snappy enough that you can have a bit of everything, and take an exciting psychedelic, gastronomic trip through a variety of small morsels
Tapas - varied enough that there is always something for everyone - there will always be at least that ONE thing that you just cannot get enough of - your tastebud soulmate
Tapas - quick bites you can share with friends, which can be the culinary soundtrack to a great evening.

The Menu:

Aioli Signature Tapa 
Goat Cheese | Red Pepper Pesto | Cherry Balsamic | Olive Crisp

Marinated Manchego Cheese 
Tomato Pulp | Roasted Walnuts | Rosemary Olive Oil

Venetian Frito Misto 
Oysters | Calamari | Rock Shrimp | Spicy Marinara | Caper Remoulade

Baby Octopus Ceviche 
Meyer Lemon | Cilantro | Jalapeno

Aioli Meatballs 
Spicy Lamb & Pork Farce | Spicy Marinara

Spicy Oyster Shooters 
Champagne Vinegar | Fennel Pollen | Cilantro

Tuscan Bruschetta 
Tomato | Cucumber | Basil | Olive Oil | Rosemary Crisp

Cheese Plate 
Chef's Selection of Cheese | Walnut Raisin Bread | Truffle Honey | Fig Jam

Jamon Iberico 
2 year old Pata Negra | Manchego Cheese

Grilled Artichoke 
Caper Remoulade | Beurre Limon Sauce

Aioli meatballs - a personal and classic favourite of mine

Venetian Frito Miso

Marinated Manchego Cheese

Spicy Oyster shot with marinated manchego and my meatball!! *nom nom*

The verdict:
Everything was yummy, and packed with flavour. Of course there will always be favourites, and for me, it was the Aioli signature tapa, along with the Venetian Frito Misto, and of course, where there is a trace of pork, there will my commitment lie - the Aioli meatballs and the Jamon Iberico. I love Jamon Iberico. It is unlike anything and so delicious and addictive. The sample bites were not enough!

While I had neither wine or beer, I had my alcoholic beverages of choice - cocktails! I  tried three cocktails, two of which were very yummso and more-ish:

Blue Cosmo - Blue Curacao | Vodka | Cointreau | White Cranberry Juice | Lime Juice
Oriental Twist - Chai Rum | Peach vodka | Goldschlager | Cinnamon | Cranberry Juice  | White cranberry juice

And no evening is ever complete without one of these -

Thank you Aioli, for the cappuccino. Much appreciated!!!

The new tapas menu will be available from as early as next Thursday - just in time for the long holiday weekend. I see girls' lime/after-work lime/"do I need a reason to go to Aioli, other than going to experience awesome food" lime.

Aioli, once again, for the virgins out there, is located in Ellerslie Plaza, Maraval. Tapas are just a great excuse to meet up with friends and catch up on the day or life. And now you can do just that in Maraval, Trinidad at Aioli.

Why I love Coffee Shops

After a couple of weeks which were signposted with 2 working weekends, an accidental dump of my MAC eye-shadows in the garbage (the trauma), getting a minor burn during a routine eyebrow wax (double trauma) and cutting a massive chunk of hair by accident while trying to snip my ends (the trifecta of trauma), I just wanted a day off, spent with my laptop to catch up on emails, vacation planning and online shopping. I wanted my coffee shop moment.

When I lived in London, I spent a lot of time in coffee shops. A lot of time. When I head back to the Big Smoke for vacation, I always always end up in a coffee shop. It's a way of life almost. The free wi-fi is also a big draw, of course. Being back home, I have found that my coffee experiences have been either at home, or quick in-and-out moments, aka coffee-to-go moments. But there is something very attractive and comforting about coffee shops.

To me, a great coffee shop is about great coffee, of course, but it is also about the "something" that makes me want to do more than just buy a coffee. Some places - you get in, you get out, with a disposable coffee cup in hand. Other places, you set yourself up in a corner - whether it is at a table in an upright chair with a laptop to work, or on a couch or single armchair, lost in its plushness while sipping on your favourite brew alone, or with a friend or special someone, for 15 minutes or 3 hours.

A Friday morning coffee at Nichossa's Bakery in San Fernando

I completed many projects and assignments inside coffee shops. I would pack my bag, and with laptop in tow, I would find a nice, warm coffee shop and park myself in there for hours, just working. The great thing was, noone bothered you. Noone cared that you were there all day, even if you only ever had one coffee. Of course I never had just one and a coffee would always be had with a biscotti, or a sandwich. But this snug little corner of some random London coffee shop would become my little corner of heaven, where my thoughts flowed and my spirit was lighter than if I had stayed in my cold, small room.

Coffee shops are a great place to work

Coffee shops are also a great place for blogging for the same reasons.

The atmosphere lends itself to bonding with others, or introspection. Coffee shops are like an urban holiday, but instead of beach chairs or countryside cliffs, you have oversized armchairs. Unlike a restaurant or a movie theatre, it is okay and socially acceptable to be alone in a coffee shop. It's a place where people often just come to work, read, get away from the four walled existence of a house or office, and be among other such people. Eating alone in a restaurant = kiss of death. Sipping a coffee alone in the corner of a coffee shop = who cares? You can read, work, people watch - another awesome highlight of coffee shop life, for as long as you want, without the distraction of thinking people are talking about your "aloneness".

Coffee shops are great for the solo life adventurer!

Coffee is also non-committal. It's quick and spontaneous. Dinner is an exercise - making a reservation, getting schedules right etc. Lunch, for me, means tidying up my schedule so I can take an extra 20-30 mins to break bread. Coffee knows no boundaries. A coffee date can be as quick as 10 mins, allowing for a quick check-in, or it can go on for hours, depending on the companion, the atmosphere, the conversation. For the purposes of dating, coffee shops are a great compromise. If the date goes south, it can be over after the first latte - no muss, no fuss. If there are sparks, then you can have another coffee, and maybe a sweet treat as a preamble to planning the next date.

In the same non-committal vein, coffee shops are not demanding, in that, a pair of jeans, a tank top and flip flops are acceptable. There is no dress code or socially acceptable standard when it comes to meeting up at a coffee shop. Here, where there is always an element of "see and be seen", it is nice to not have to fuss just to go spend time with a friend in public. Coffee shops are like that "easy Sunday morning", just anytime, anyday.

I miss this. I miss it. It makes me want to open up my own coffee shop just so others can have that place where they can just get away, while enjoying a brew. I feel like I am going to find a nook somewhere this weekend, just to renew my spirit.

Tobago Weekend Eats and Treats

I stayed at a self-catering apartment on my last trip to Tobago, but a carton of Dewlands Red Grape juice was the full extent of my meal preparation. While, I ventured to a few regular spots, I also had -

Dinner at Caffe Mia in Lowlands, Tobago. So we ventured to this spot after all the rave reviews about the food - something about it being the best food on the island was uttered somewhere by someone. After sorting out which place this was (minor culinary mix up), it was easy enough to find. One thing I absolutely adore about Tobago is that when I unconsciously during the "beat the traffic rush" walked out of my holiday rental wearing my bright orange shower slippers to go to dinner, I did not panic, except out of vanity. Noone cared. The only person who cared that I was wearing orange rubber flip flops with a green maxi dress, under which one could barely see the offending slippers anyway, was me. Tobago is just that kind of place - laid back, chill, awesome.

So we get there, and the place is small, but cosy. Very reminiscent of European cafe dining, with a patio that sits right on the road. The street is quiet enough that there is no real threat of traffic fumes and kicked up dust. The waitress, Patrice - a real ray of sunshine. So very warm and helpful. I ordered the calamari to start, and the spaghetti ai pollo as my main. I must say though, after all the hype, I was really disappointed. Maybe it was an off night or the fact that I saw who I assumed was the chef entertaining friends, but the meal was not the best. The calamari was super super super salty, as was my main, which was still edible, but just a bit too much salt. The portion sizes - generous. Just too much salt. I however, did not write off the place and will try it again.

Fried calamari 

For breakfast, Kariwak. I had written off Kariwak many years ago after spending time there for a conference and the meal prepared for us after a long day left a lot to be desired. This was back in maybe 2004. Yep. I am brutal like that when I have a bad experience. Needless to say, this was not my first choice for breakfast but I conceded to friendship. I know there are many who worship Kariwak and their foodie goodness, and I will admit, breakfast was pleasant. I am not really a breakfast person so I kept it simple with a basic omelette and some bread and coffee, but I stole some of my friend's coconut bake after the fact and it was lovely. Service was a bit slow and I hate that we attribute this to it "being Tobago". I cannot support that. But hey...it is what it is.

Breakfast at Kariwak Village, Tobago

Then I also tried a new patisserie on Store Bay Local Road - J'adore Patisserie. I had passed it during my trek back to my car after the John Legend show, when you cannot help but see the sights around you during your stroll. lol. I popped in one afternoon to check it out. Really clean and sleek interior and nice presentation of treats - mostly desserts.  I will say, the girls - warm and willing.I enjoyed my vanilla cone and mocha while people watching at the window, including the spontaneous church service at the side of the road, to which the shop owner jokingly commented, "I wonder if I give them pastries, if they will be quiet." He didn't but it earned him a chuckle and made my treat that much sweeter.

Assortment of desserts at J'adore Patisserie, Store Bay, Tobago

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