Chubby’s Famous Grill – Trinidad’s “Must – Eat “ Street Food Tourism

The Double Stacker with Additional Toppings of Bacon and Pineapple
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Street food plays a huge role in a destination’s culinary tourism. It transcends age gaps. It unites people from all socio economic, gender and racial backgrounds. Street food curates a destination’s food culture by linking a specific place with a food experience. The local street food scene faces the toughest critics who want tasty, affordable and convenient meals fast. This niche demands not only creativity, consistency and a keen eye for detail but an ascertained grasp on earning respect from the people. Johann Benjamin is one such professional who decided to bring this same “ all or nothing” attitude to his brand, Chubby’s Famous Grill. Undeniably, food tourism takes a renewed approach in Trinidad’s street side culinary food scene. The tenets of sustainability, economic remuneration and stability are closer knit to underlying themes of community empowerment and holistic development.

Chilli Cheese Fries
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


Chubby’s Famous Grill offers authentic culinary tourism experiences to the hearty soul food eater. This Chef turns tables as a prominent DJ in local parties. Often performing his famous DJ sets late at night into early mornings, the entertainment industry leaves one famished. Johann affectionately known as Chubby would search for street food options during these post performance hours. Unfortunately, he was always confronted with a bold and daring redundancy in choices of street food options. He felt that he could truly make a difference in the street food tourism niche. Over time, Chubby began to consider his options. Johann felt that it was only fair to set up in East Trinidad where he grew up in a heavily fostered community upbringing era and strived to evolve into all-round built individual with resilient character and morale. After some research, proper planning, and a few culinary skill acquisitions Johann opened Chubby’s Famous Grill two years ago. Today, the grill that used to be a pop up food cart is now a full-fledged food truck.

Chilli Cheese Fries with Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Families, couples and after work crews frequent this street side food stop at its convenient location obliquely opposite Chicken Hut on the Southern Main Road in Curepe. Usually, Chubby’s Famous Grill is open from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. (or until sold out). He is there on Fridays, Saturdays and mostly the night before a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. The service at Chubby’s Famous Grill is impeccable. The menu is always dynamic and expanding, the food tastes fresh and the quantities are more than enough for light weight foodies. Chubby buys most of his ingredients from local markets supporting the farmers in his area. He tries to bring as many homemade products to his menu. One of the reasons he decided to set up in the east (other than being from there) is the access and the availability to fresh ingredients for his business. Johann differentiated his product market and brought restaurant taste and quality to his brand, Chubby’s Famous Grill.

Sweet Chilli Barbecue Wings, Crinkle Cut Fries and Macaroni Salad
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

On his menu the prices start at TTD 10 and can go up to TTD 50. There are lots of items to choose from such as classic chilli dogs, classic beef burgers, sloppy joes, veggie burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and grilled shrimp sandwiches. Then there are signature items like The Monster Burger (all beef patties topped with cheese and mouth-watering meat on top), The Boogie Man (2 beef patties, minced meat and cheese topped with jumbo sausage), The Double Stacker (2 beef patties drenched in barbecue sauce topped with cheese), The Cheef Burger (all beef burger patties topped with cheese and succulent grilled chicken). Recently, he added popcorn chicken, sweet chilli barbecue wings and macaroni salad to the menu. Secret signature sauces are quite the highlight including his specialty pepper sauce and honey mustard delight. Last but not least the sides featured on his menu are onion rings, pineapple, bacon, egg, salami, fries and cheese. Drinks are also made in house and range from all natural, refreshing, thirst quenching juices like grapefruit, orange, fruit punch, mauby and in December one can find the seasonal sensation, sorrel. Johann’s health and safety standards are always on par with quality control. He does his due diligence which comforts the foodie’s mind from any dubious concerns over street food and its imminent risks. 

Popcorn Chicken and Fries
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


The nature of street food tourism in Trinidad is so profound that culture immersion is inevitable. Johann has learnt his mother’s cooking traditions and married that with contemporary food innovations and techniques. He passes this on to his customers. When they taste his food they immediately get the best of both worlds. It is also worth mentioning that street food honour commands an armoury of respect for the food quality and the customers, loyalty to providing the best experience for food adventurers and trust in food safety and sanitation. All of these attributes Johann possesses and more. After all he is beloved by his community for his many strides working with youth in sport and leadership. Often fortuitous to the food tourism niche is the ability of food entrepreneurs to empower and inspire others. Chubby’s Famous Grill brings persons from all walks of life together. His most loyal clients come from as far as Point Fortin. There is off road parking and al fresco dining with the scenic backdrop of the Northern mountain range amidst shady trees. Why is this place so incredible that people risk long insufferable drives to East Trinidad? (The commute is 6 hours; that’s 3 hours to Chubby’s Famous Grill in Curepe and 3 hours return trip to Point Fortin). There has to be some justification other than the facts that patrons can park, sit and enjoy street food dining on a cool breezy evening or late night before they journey home.

Barbecue Wings, Fries, Macaroni Salad and Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


Whilst street side food tourism has many social enigmas its very essence is food science and technology. If we shall consult anyone on this matter it should be Nikola Tesla. He advises if one wants to know the secrets of the universe one should start thinking in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. Chubby’s Famous Grill has become quite well-known because of just that; Johann’s love for the people, the passion for what he does and his ability to fill a need for delicious, high quality and diverse street food. He harnesses the most powerful and highest energy, frequency, vibration in the universe, love. He channels that into his intentions, his thoughts and his actions coupled with his street food execution and service delivery. Innately, energy transfers from him to the food and to the foodie. Cognizant or incognizant of his holistic role in Chubby’s Famous Grill, this street side chef reverberates more light and love in a world that desperately needs it.  If there were ever a taste equivalent to describing love then this would be it. The foodies who line up every Friday and Saturday night to order any combo or side dish off Chubby’s Famous Grill menu can vouch for and identify with this feeling. The results of his hard work and tenacity oblige in his favour by guiding him to a purpose driven life where he brings love and happiness through one of his many passions, Chubby’s Famous Grill.

Chilli Cheese Hot Dog with Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Albeit, food tourism conditions have never been riper in Trinidad and Tobago for development and promotion but the power is ultimately left in the hands of the citizens, the international tourists and the food tourists. When the masses rise to the occasion and own their buying power in this capitalist destination they work to mend leakage and focus repatriation on destination Trinidad and Tobago. The decision to buy from a local small business ensures that a strong, stable and sustainable economy is built. One is left to discern that the role of food tourism and by extension street side food tourism is not only an antidote for plodding the way forward for diversification in our economy and destination. It culminates in a far from obtuse rationale for closing generational gaps and cultivating a social fabric that is so hinged on making heirloom recipes and communal fortitude cool again. Chubby’s Famous Grill is more than just an established street food tourism initiative. It serves as a striking example of decisive action to cause an effect and create a positive change in the food tourism landscape and our destination.

Chubby’s Famous Grill
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Chubby’s Famous Grill can be reached at the following link and contact number below :

Instagram: chubbyfamous

Phone: 728.5043

12 by Rishi – A Culinary Tourism Adventure

12 by Rishi
“The Blessing”
Goat Cheese Tiramisu Panna Cotta with a Cracked Pepper Cassava Pone Biscotti with a Roasted Ripe Fig and Pepper Chocolate Mousse
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Worldwide, food is fast becoming a popular motivating and defining factor for the new tourist’s final decision in travel destination choices. Culinary tourism, gastronomic tourism or food tourism is quickly ascending into the role of storyteller for any and every destination. The immersive experience of visiting specific locations for food and beverage, food festivals and participation in food activities distinguishes destinations’ cultural identities from each other. If developed and promoted effectively, this niche can serve as a sustainable model for destinations going full throttle behind culinary tourism. There is infinite potential for revenue generation with multiplier and economic trickle-down effect for communities. Overall, national policy makers and planners should strive to include clustering of industry sectors and show economic infrastructural support for small micro and medium enterprises.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Gold Plated Shrimp Pholourie with Tamarind Sauce Foam
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

In Trinidad and Tobago, we have changed so many hands of ownership that our food is now a reflection of our history. It gets a bit more complex than that, as what we eat, where we eat, how we eat and why we eat are interlinked and juxtaposed to provide any outsider with a first hand intrinsic view of our people. We celebrate Christmas with an array of dishes paying homage to our Spanish influences. Similarly, Divali, Eid, Indian Arrival Day and Chinese Double Ten Anniversary are earmarked by delicacies from our ancestors from the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. Strikingly, these recipes are not untouched ancient relics but modernized and innovatively curated to suit the West Indian palate which gave birth to Trinbagonian Cuisine.  Iconic and emerging chefs have risen to the occasion and challenged themselves as the game changers and champions for development and promotion of this niche tourism; culinary tourism.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Pholourie Tempura Pepper Roti with a Mother in Law pickled Morai/Carrot Slaw
Woubles with Cucumber Chow Slaw
Aloo Pie Pizelli topped with Creamed Aloo Pie Filling
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Trinidad and Tobago is keeping up with the demands of the new tourist with the supply of culinary tourism. One such professional who is shaking up the local culinary scene is Chef Rishi Ramoutar. He is a true son of the soil hailing from Arima in East Trinidad. His work compels the viewer to wonder what a walk through his creative mind would look like. One can only imagine it would be far from complacent or boring. Chef Rishi grew up in a space where his immediate environment exposed him to the seeds of hard work, entrepreneurship, customer service excellence, humility and consistency. Of course, the love for food and helping his parents in their local roti shop also sparked his culinary interest.

12 by Rishi
“Palate Cleanser”
Mother in Law Frozen Sorbet
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

Chef Rishi saw his parents labour in love for the community and environs through their passion but the young chef was a picky eater. Often, he was found experimenting and creating his own culinary masterpieces in his makeshift home kitchen lab. However, he understood and adopted a zero wastage policy in his kitchen. Whenever there were leftovers he found a way to use them to innovate a new culinary creation. Little did he know that when your intentions are pure in heart and you are desirous of pursuing a particular path the universe listens and conspires to get you just what you asked for. Chef Rishi continued to create and share his passion for food with friends and family at events and social gatherings from beach limes to river limes just to name a few. His social circle realized his potential, talent, creativity and skill and supported his culinary quests.

12 by Rishi
“The Salad”
Ham cured Beets with Honey and Rum Whipped Goat Cheese and Burnt Garlic Powder
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Chef Rishi’s unwavering food inquisition and innovations backed by support from his loved ones led him to enrol in Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (one of the top culinary schools in the region). There, he honed his skill and talents and grew thankful for his culinary mentors one of which includes the icon, Chef Khalid Mohammed. In due time, Chef Rishi graduated and took over his parents’ business; C & J Roti Shop otherwise known as C& J Restaurant and Bar. Notwithstanding, his culinary adventure did not stop there. The advent of social media began to bridge a gap with the overwhelming desire of domestic tourists to experience Trinidad differently. People found themselves living vicariously through Chef Rishi’s mind blowing culinary creations and explosive food fusions on various social media platforms.

12 by Rishi
Mini Lion Fish served on Callaloo Taco Shells with a Blistered Salsa (Scorpion Pepper Oil)
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

If only there was a way to bring people together to experience such creativity and culinary expertise. In 2019, there was a major “light bulb” moment and Chef Rishi decided to bring the supper table dining experience to Trinidad and Tobago. A supper table is somewhat like a supper club where persons socially gather to dine at a specific location. It can also be referenced to Chef’s Table. The dining experience is called,”12 by Rishi”. Chef Rishi has already hosted several events for this year with his competent and experienced team. Together, they aim to host “12 by Rishi” twice per month. The supper club has been well received by food adventurers locally. This is not a surprise as the more Chef Rishi creates the more creative he becomes and the more he works in tandem with the universe to live his purpose during his time with us. Patrons who miss the event may have to join a waiting list because “12 by Rishi” seats only twelve guests. Once the event is advertised on social media it is usually booked and sold out within a few days. The cost of attending “12 by Rishi” is affordable and on par with the quality, taste, service, food diversity, attention to detail and presentation.

12 by Rishi
BBQ Shrimp and Cou Cou Creme Brulee
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

A creative dining experience such as “12 by Rishi” elevates niche tourism, in this case culinary tourism. It creates a sense of pride for nationals that this is a home grown event. Chef Rishi uses local, fresh, home-made and high quality produce that satiates the senses and makes tourists taste the difference. He buys from local farmers and suppliers lending support to sustainable best practice. When Chef Rishi shares his passion through his purpose he directly and indirectly inspires others to do the same. His work is tastefully and artfully crafted to the point that it engages learning interface through conversation over food. This instinctively provokes the mind of the food adventurer to think creatively. The food explorer discovers Chef Rishi’s concepts, his creative process of ideation to execution which includes problem solving. These food tourists are now subconsciously nurtured to apply creative thinking to their own lives to design and apply problem solving there.

12 by Rishi
Crix, Market Cheese and Kutchella Stuffed Chicken Breast “atomized” with a shot of Chardonnay
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

” 12 by Rishi”, a modern, authentic, creative and culturally sustainable initiative is a step in the right direction for culinary tourism. The event diversifies the domestic tourism product in Trinidad and Tobago. It makes the destination even more attractive. So next time domestic tourists feel the need to escape they should stay to getaway and enjoy one of the best culinary experiences this island has to offer. As our nation’s motto boasts, ” Together we as aspire, Together we achieve”, we should band together to support local and buy local because when one of us is victorious, we all share in the victory of being Trinbagonian.

12 by Rishi
“The Offering of Love”
Parsad Beignets with Cardamom Pastry Cream Powdered Yogurt and a Roasted Grape Salad and an Apple Chip
Photo Credit: Antony Scully


Avid food explorers and culinary enthusiasts can discover more about the supper club, ” 12 by Rishi” from the listed contact information below:

Instagram: chef_rishi_ramoutar

Instagram: 12_by_rishi

Facebook: Cooking With Rishi

Youtube: Cooking with Rishi

Phone #: 643.2189 or 384 – 2200

Location: C & J Roti Shop

#6 Paradise Lane, Tumpuna Road, Arima

The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception

This year I met with some tourists from Virginia U.S.A.  They were also well travelled global citizens who remarked how much Trinidad reminded them of Hawaii. Something about our chill island vibe, the beaches and the abundance of readily available roadside fruit made them feel this way. They also compared us to Saudi Arabia because our oil and gas refinery nightscape resembled one of the many nights during their stay in the Middle East. However, the one thing that stood out to them was our architecture and the disregard for segmentation in geographic development.  By this I mean there is little separation between residential and commercial areas. Now I am not saying that we absolutely do not have separation or zoning because in some areas we do. However, more often than not one is met with fancy dining restaurants smack in the middle of an industrial or manufacturing sector with residential and commercial plots within walking distance from each other. Needless to say they all coexist in harmony.

Quite interestingly one can travel to any other destination and easily identify the architecture and the zone in which a specific type of design style belongs. We have been privy to many influences and the architecture that thrived during the reign of each passing era and the change of hands of ownership. Diversity does not stop there as those who survived the post emancipation period were able to build and design their own homes and businesses using knowledge, skill not forgetting design from their own cultural backgrounds. Hence the result todal is a multifaceted island designer collection of architecture and interior design. The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception is one of those relics that has survived to depict this tale. It sits in the capital city, Port of Spain, a bustling district that is also not exempt from (my aforementioned rambling about) lack of zoning. The Cathedral beams magnificence in plain sight. She graces us with her poise and beauty. She is an emblem of hope for the future signifying the strength and power of a nation that has been through a lot but still stands today.

(Photo Credit: “Part 1 The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception,” Trinidad Guardian)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception was the first Catholic Church in Port of Spain. It was built by the then Spanish Governor in 1781 and at that time it was not yet a cathedral. An English Governor decided that there was a need for a bigger and better church to accommodate the growing catholic population. In 1816 the foundation stone was set. The shape of the building took the form of a cross. The materials used to build this church included blue metal and limestone sourced from the Laventille quarries. However, iron framework was imported from England for the doors and windows. It was not  until 1822 that this church became a Cathedral. In 1851 Pope Pius IX ranked the church as a Minor Basilica.

(Photo Credit: The Front View of The Cathedral of  the Immaculate Conception , Pinterest)

The design of the Cathedral is heavily Gothic Revival which borrows some features from the gothic era (1150- 1400). There is no surprise that the cathedral’s design was inspired by this style.  Aptly, the timing of design and construction coincided with the gothic revival movement that took place whilst the English Governor was in Trinidad. The gothic revival was a movement that began in England in the second half of the 18th century. This style of design reveals a pious mood, one of righteousness and high minded thinking evident in most religious and scholarly institutions. We owe the architects of that era our gratitude. At that time they used creative thinking and design management in technological advancement to conceptualize and execute their design theories. The end result were a few marvelous design solutions to reduce building mass whilst trying to increase space and light in this gothic revival style.

(Photo Credit: The Inside View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Fidelity Electronics Limited)

 The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception maintains pointed arches which take the weight off the ceiling to balance an overall irregular structure of the building. Yet, it keeps a common ceiling area. There are pinnacles, spires and lots of window tracery. There are ribbed vaults with thinner walls to increase space in the cathedral.  The flying buttresses act as a form of support for the walls and ceiling. They take the weight off the walls and transfer them to the ground. This meant more space was used for window installation. Thus more natural light can enter the cathedral. The overall emphasis throughout the design style is vertical. Amidst the beige colour scheme going on for the cathedral’s exterior there was the incorporation of artistic and decorative elements  with bursts of colour on the interior. There are statues inside the building as well as a prominent virtuous lady on the upper exterior of the building.

(Photo Credit: The Side View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Wikimedia)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is listed as a heritage site at  #31 Independence Square Port of Spain. She has been given much care to maintain her structure and stature. If you live in this destination you should definitely find your way to the capital to see what all the hype is about. If you intend on visiting Trinidad, our citizens would love to host you and they eagerly await your arrival. I guarantee you that we are second to none in our cuisine, culture and lifestyle. You just have to experience it to believe it!

 

 

 

The National Aquatic Centre

I have developed a very acquired sense of creative design. It has become so odd that when I experience a designed space, fashion or art piece my mind discerns it’s creative value immediately. My brain literally screams “WOW!” in that fleeting moment of first impression (provided that I am impressed). I have also discovered that my brain’s interpretation of what makes something uniquely creative is heavily associated with the impact of how the designed space or thing makes me feel (I mean to say that the designed space or thing evokes some type of emotion rather it moves me).  Moreover,  the designer’s ability to manifest differentiation via harmonious alignment of the elements and the principles of design is a major contributing factor.  The National Aquatic Centre is a recently designed space that catches my attention in Balmain, Trinidad. Here are my casual design thoughts below.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The vision for this facility fell nothing short of creating an opportunity to develop the swimming potential of athletes to perform at national and international competitions, to support a high performance sport, to host  competitions at national and international levels, to promote sport tourism by offering training programs for international swim teams during winter months, to generate income and revenue for maintenance and upkeep of the facility. The  National Aquatic Centre has a seating capacity of 700 persons. It features a 50 meter swimming pool, a 50 meter warm up pool and a 25 meter diving pool. Additionally, there is an aqua gym, Turkish baths, a fitness room, a sauna, a cold water pool, concession outlets, ticket booths, VIP/Official, media, public seating and multipurpose rooms for event organizers. There is even an aqua park.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

There is a lot of use of glass, concrete and steel. There is an apparent mix of what may be modern, contemporary and  feng shui styles. Albeit the designers were faced with the task of creating a space that is kid friendly, slip and mildew resistant not to mention durable yet suitable for accommodating huge crowds of varying backgrounds. The facility is in a shade of reddish orange that is strong, warm, passionate and vibrant. This is the welcoming hue used on the exterior walls of the facility. The interiors like the lobby are kept more on the monochromatic and achromatic colour schemes. There is a viewing area here where one can see the tournaments through huge glass windows. The ceiling in the lobby has textured straight lines adorned with curves that include lighting systems. The seating arrangement in here does not feel static allowing guests to converse without feeling too formal. It is easy to enter spectator stands to view  and the view is not bad at all. The concession area and bathrooms are also close by. There is ample parking and security is available.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The building has rhythm and flow. The proportion and scale used is appropriate. There is use of symmetry. I like the  striking balance between vertical, horizontal and curved lines which soften any stark macho vibes from the concrete facility. The tall columns help to create an illusion of grandeur but the horizontal columns keeps the overall look grounded. The open air concept is modern but suitable for this tropical location. Visitors can bask in the natural backdrop of a lush green environment and the refreshing sight and sound of  divers splashing water as they take off to meet each other at the finish line. This ambience is quite therapeutic and invigorating at the same time for athletes getting in their frame of mind before plunging in the pool. There is a certain magic in the air where premeditated design philosophy and execution collide. The diagonal lines that form triangles add a transformational quality to this international water stage. It appears to be setting up a scene for athletes to journey into another phase of their swimming game.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

 Already the centre has hosted national tournaments. This gives the secondary school circuit an empowering outlet for local students to thrive in another area not previously accessible at this caliber of competition. This year seven swim teams from North America have chosen this location to begin their winter based training camp. The Centre is doing exceptionally well however I have a few pet peeves with the design of this facility. On tournament days patrons may find themselves parking at more available parking spots which are further away from the facility.  I would suggest installation of a covered walkway because rain is not very scarce in Trinidad.  I would recommend installing some sort of screen or acrylic window treatments to keep the rain out from spectator stands. Rain  is often accompanied by wind (I do not know if it falls differently anywhere else?!). The pools are covered by a roof but the open concept design does not cater for the wind blowing in the rain to the stands or pools. If you are seated in public stands the rain will shower you with infinite blessings from every direction that our Caribbean breezes decide to blow their kisses (walk with a sweater, a rain coat and or a towel).

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The National Aquatic Centre is an interestingly created space with a significant contribution to the design culture and architectural history of Trinidad and Tobago.  I can’t say enough how much I love the impact of design. I have already seen the way this created space has been a beacon of hope for the youth in Trinidad and Tobago as a place they can be proud of and one they can call their own. They are able to project themselves in a trajectory that is triumphant of building physically stronger, mutually respectful and team spirited young men and women in this nation. It is my only wish that the facility is thoroughly engaged to serve its purpose and that it is continuously maintained in the future. If you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago you should definitely visit and experience a swimming tournament here.

The T-Room Review

Have you been to the T-Room at Hotel Normandie located at Nook Avenue in St. Ann’s Trinidad?!  Peep their work on their social media sites. The T-Room is not a tea room so don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s a salon run by Tanja Banduwong, a German and her powerhouse creative team. Germany among other nations has understood creative culture and the value of it for their society. They have done exceptionally well in providing innovative contributions to the world in the past decades. They have taken the time to value learning about creative culture and design management and teaching this to their own citizens via various institutions in their society. Their whole creative thinking process, their mindset to progressive culture and education seem to be constantly evaluated and improved upon. They understand the critical success factors of creative culture to their country’s national development and diversification. This is one of the reasons I like the T-Room among others because here lies the most honest and authentic example of the birth and growth of a creative culture in a stable and eponymous field of hair styling.

 

Photo Credit:  The T-room Squad

https://www.facebook.com/pg/HairbyTanja/about/?ref=page_internal

Tanja is a qualified and skilled professional in hair and makeup styling. Although she is an educator in this field she has her fair share of stripes and stars to prove that she has the caliber of experience to take salon style in Trinidad to the next level. Her leadership style is open and collaborative without compromising respect among her team. She has managed to foster a work ethic and creative culture that is second to none in Trinidad. Although Tanja is the girl boss here she is far from being the stereotypical aloof “manager” as she is also on the floor “working it” with her squad. The team is constantly learning and expanding their skills. The squad is professional and the family type of camaraderie she has fostered with her staff is reflected in how they treat each other and  their clients. Tanja took the ladies of the T-Room to  Italy for training and development and creative culture immersion last year. A great experience in one of the more established fashion destinations in the world!  The ladies at the T- Room set the bar high as one of the few examples I have seen of women supporting and advocating for each other to be and do their best in the creative field. The T-Room is a fun and exciting salon where their love for what they do emanates from their A-class  haircuts, colour treatments, corrections, keratin treatments and styling services for men and women (and of course their overall aura and vibes).

Photo Credit: Pastel Hair

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Undercut

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Bridal Hairstyle (On Location)

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Every detail of design has been accounted for at the T-Room.  The logo is pretty cool too with strong lettering enclosed by a wreath like crown.  The salon even has a  mascot, his name is Chino. He is a well behaved groomed family member of the T-Room. The staff members come in all shapes and sizes with so much soul and passion for their job. They usually wear black but there is so much flexibility and personality that they get to play with outfitting and expressing themselves without the confines of a uniform. The interior design of the salon is another major appreciation factor about this creative space. People underestimate the role that design plays in our lives. For instance you may wear a particular silhouette, style, colour or fabric because it makes you feel some type of way. You may love a salon or spa because it makes you feel special. In these instances people neglect to ask themselves that one question, “why?”  Why do I like this space? What is it about this shirt or this hairstyle that makes me feel this way? Why do I want to cut or colour my hair? Why did I choose this cut or colour? Some of us are not even conscious of the power behind “wearapy” and design therapy which is a “must have” for any thriving creative lifestyle and culture.

Photo Credit: The T-Room Squad at Milan Fashion Week

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 The interior design for the T-Room was done by Christy Maingot, a local interior designer of CMID in Trinidad. The T-Room looks like a combination of modern, contemporary styles and a bit of glam. This is no easy task for an interior designer to acquire the skill of mixing styles. Christy’s management of elements and principles of design in this space is magically harmonious. Although the salon works by appointment only, the spatial planning is sensible, on point with proportion and scale, rhythm and flow for easy breezy functioning during peak times.  The colour scheme looks more monochromatic as the shades of white, cream, brown, gold and bronze are well placed throughout the T-Room. The space is perceptually bigger with the application of vanity mirrors, white washed walls and the obvious reflection of light from the artificial light sources on the smooth and shiny surfaces. There is open and closed storage with shelving which makes the perfect balance in a room that is neither too warm nor too cold. The salon has a huge glass window so the positioning of a window bench with the view of the hotel lobby was an ideal use of space. The throw pillows are nice additions as their textures and patterns soften and accentuate the style and vibe in the salon without emasculating it. The use of leather (if not leather like upholstery) for salon chairs and benches appeals to the sleek modernist in all of us whilst being easy to maintain and durable.  Intriguingly, the flooring has a wood grain finish appearance and the ceiling hints to subtle industrial vibes. Another example of style mixing is seen here. The dynamic diagonal lines on the ceiling beams are painted in white to blend in but still stand out by creating some transformational, directional and exciting energy in the room. These diagonal lines form triangles which pair up with the geometric shapes of the overhead rectangle lighting to manage earthly grounded feelings.

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 I love that this space is a haven where anyone, any age can feel safe to put themselves in the hands of internationally trained professionals. The T-Room squad allow their clients; to explore and experiment, to challenge style status quos, to redefine, to reclaim and redeem an unprofessed love and care for themselves that has been long overdue and often resonates in the mantra, “I am beautiful and I am ready to take on the world, now hear me roar.”

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

The T-Room gets my 5 stars for excellent customer service, professionalism and creativity.

Keep up the fabulous work ladies !!!

To see more of T-Room

Visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HairbyTanja/

Visit their Instagram Page : https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Book an appointment: 1.868.235.3679

Email: tbanduwong@gmail.com

 

 

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen – The Review

If you are as selective as I am with what you expose your mind, your heart, your eyes and your taste buds to the world can still be a fabulous place, especially the world of culinary adventures. I have never really been a fan of Indian cuisine but I must admit that it has been something I grew to love over the last few years. I mean I am Trinidadian and us locals, we love to add a bit of heat to our food. Yet the difference in our palette may concern itself with adding pepper rather than flavour. In these instances we burn off our tongues so much that if we eat another bite we would be torturing ourselves. Yet still some of us  do it for the “thrill” I guess. However, Indian food has these spice infusions that play twister with our taste buds but still allows us to satiate our craving and return for seconds.  I found Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen at One Woodbrook Place. It’s a mini trip to modern India without leaving home sweet home, Trinidad.

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen Logo

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook Page

Svaada is the sweetest mix of modern and traditional interior design styles. The symmetrical balance in this space is impeccable. The use of natural and artificial light give birth to a warmth that beckons the “foodie” to curl up on their chair and dive into comfort. There are circle lights that rim the perimeter of the ceiling. There are incredible pendant lights that look lotus flowers which hang over the tables adorning and serving their due purpose. Rectangles and squares keep this space feeling stable, secure and the infiniteness of the circles evoke feelings of commitment, completeness with graceful, nurturing and soothing effects. The vertical lines make this kitchen appear taller. Effective horizontal lines broaden the space whilst drawing the lines of sight down to be restful and at ease for one to enjoy this cuisine experience.

The use of pops of colour amid the monochromatic colour scheme is quintessential. Red is fiery and full of love and passion. It is also a dominant colour used to stimulate the appetite. The setup of the furniture is a seating arrangement for families and groups to not only dine together but to engage in conversation more. Most of the materials used are wood, metal and glass. The surfaces are smooth and glossy as well as matte. The floor is smooth and feels like polished stone in a dark hue consistent with a dark ceiling which contrasts in texture with its matte finish.  The walls are off white and reign the bold red with the purity and innocence of this cream shade. The table tops are dark brown and match with the wooden chairs. Brown is often associated with stability and security hence its use here. The chrome and plastic chairs match up with the floor as well as the glass/steel combination of doors and windows.

An outsider’s view of the Svadda  Gourmet Indian Kitchen

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook

Colours, lighting fixtures, furniture is repeated throughout the space provoking an ebb and flow to be pure rhythm. The view from the glass doors and windows are the main focus points as are the kitchen and the kitchen island. Yes there is a kitchen island that happens to be a condiment station! The flavours range from sweet to tangy to spicy. They are quite intriguing and are anything but limitless. The proportion and scale to the design in this space works well the open plan concept.  Any room for negative space is avoided with proper placement of food culture photography on these walls. There is even a hot towel station (can you imagine my excitement at this little luxury?!).

Svaada’s staff members are attentive, polite and knowledgeable about their menu. The food is affordable and the wait time is not very long. Usually, one places their order and takes a seat. Then the staff wheels in your order if you are dining in and not taking out. You can have a hot towel to wipe your hands clean. Your meal will be served in traditional styled Indian wares that make a sumptuous picture for all of you “insta” foodie bloggers. I am in love with their naan bread particularly their aloo and cheese (I am pescetarian so I don’t eat meat).  Their naan is so soft and fluffy and really make you feel all warm and cosy. I have relished in their paneer as well which happens to be an exceptionally prepared dish. If you ever consider ordering from Svaada there is a complimentary bread that is served as an appetizer whilst you wait for your food (if you are Trinidadian and you are familiar with shrimp crackers it is basically the same texture except bigger without the shrimp flavour).

Chicken Tikka Masala, Chilli Paneer, Complimentary Bread, Aloo Naan, Cheese Naan

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen may be the closest thing we have to a modern Mumbai Café. It is not overdone. The focus is on the quality of food, customer service and managing that “soon come” factor. This means their customers  are literally in a position where they almost indefinitely crave to return to try more of this “foodie experience”. They are open from Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. On occasion they are open on Sundays. Parking is on the ground floor. Dining is casual so there is no need to get bothered to be fancy unless “being extra” is your specialty (then get on with your “extra” self hunny). They accept walk in customers and they are highly recommended for groups.  Their contact number is 1.868.628.5674. Also you can write to them at geevans@hotmail.com. You can follow them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Svaadagourmetindiankitchen/

Brian Mac Farlane's Cazabon The Art of Living

In 2017 designer Brian Mac Farlane has taken to his mas camp his plight to advocate to the authorities the restoration of the country’s indigenous heritage and architecture. His presentation this year is called Cazabon: The Art of Living. It is his intention through the designs that he can call to action the “powers that be” to do something to preserve the wealth of the nation’s national heritage particularly the architecture from  the artist, Jean Michel Cazabon’s era ( late 1800’s and the early 1900’s). His expectations would materialize in the form of haute couture costumes displayed on persons owning roles from that era in a spectacle bound by a unanimous magnitude of architectural inspiration. This presentation would convene several artisans from costume to fashion designers. Brian Mac Farlane even took under his wing top graduates of The University of Trinidad and Tobago: Caribbean Academy for Fashion and Design.

voyage-de-la-mode-claudia-peagus-female

Voyage de la Mode by Claudia Pegus

Photo Credit:  Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

Cazabon’s paintings are colourful and resemble snapshots of the period the artist existed in and its immediate society. The people during that time wore colourful clothing because they were free to do so (post emancipation era). However, the designers took an all white disposition with several shades of white, hues of gold and brown. Since this is art one has to question the artist’s intention and the message he wants to communicate (which one will only know when one asks the creative director  because art is subject to multiple interpretation). I am under the impression that these characters are cast in white because they are souls of the people of that time.  Cazabon’s art featured stills of life paintings whilst Mac Farlane and his cohort of designers depict this time  capsule through creative costume design and movement of haute couture clothed masqueraders.

madame-mille-fleur-monsiur-mille-fleur-couple-brian-macfarlaneMonsieur Mille Fleur and Madame Mille Fleur by Brian Mac Farlane

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

The regalia, glitz and glamour of Cazabon’s era via this band were launched at one of the Magnificent Seven buildings late last year. Again highlighting Brian’s  fixation with the conservation and restoration of architecture that served its prime during Cazabon’s time. In an interview Mac Farlane was noted for saying that his intention is to use unity to break silence and present splendor, beauty and revelry with a purpose via acknowledging profoundly rich heritage and culture. Designer icons and the local fashion industry’s rising stars occupy the band’s creative cast. Their names include Claudia Pegus, Peter Elias, Dale Angus, Dianne Hunt, Adrian Foster, Heather Jones, Dhisha Moorjani, Fazaad Mohammed, Charu Lochan Dass, Harvey Robertson, Kaleen Sanois and last but not least Brian Mac Farlane.

la-belle-creole-peter-elias-femaleLe Belle Creole by Peter Elias

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

aristocratic-aura-heather-jonesAristocratic Aura by Heather Jones

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

The sections include names like The White Hall Affair (designed by Adrian Foster), Apna Desh (designed by Dhisha Moorjani), Citizens for Conservation ( designed by Harvey Robertson), Felicity (designed by Charu Lochan Dass), Gang Gang Sarah and Tom (designed by Dale Angus), Messenger of Change (designed by Kaleen Sanois),  Le Belle Creole (designed by Peter Elias), Mademoiselle Boissierre (designed by Dianne Hunt), Madame Boissierre (designed by Dianne Hunt), Ministress of  Hope (designed by Dianne Hunt), Madame Mille Fleur ( designed by Brian Mac Farlane), Monsieur Mille Fleur (designed by Brian Mac Farlane), The Gate Keepers (designed by Fazaad Mohammed), Aristocratic Aura (designed by Heather Jones) and Voyage de la Mode (designed by Claudia Pegus).

madame-boisserie-dianne-huntMadame Boissiere by Dianne Hunt

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

The White Hall Affair designed by Adrian Foster is already sold out. The White Hall was formerly owned by Joseph Leon Agostini. Following his death it was then occupied by Robert Henderson and his family. However an account of the interior design, architecture and atmosphere of social events at the White Hall from the author of “The Great Eight”, Mr. Anthony  De Verteuil seemed to inspire designer Adrian Foster. He took reference from this 19th century Edwardian era. He believes that the spirits of Henderson’s guests remained within the walls of the magnificent building. He believes they merged with the Corsican, Moorish architecture forming silhouettes from French style windows and fretwork trimmings to large coral stone pillars that support the structure. He believes their trapped souls continue to roam the hallways and main ballroom as their haunting presence continues to preserve the rich history of time.

white-hall-buildingPhoto Credit: Adrian Foster

the-whitehall-affair-adrian-fosterThe White Hall Affair by Adrian Foster

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane’s Carnival Mas’ Camp

Apna Desh is designed by Dhisha Moorjani of House of Jaipur.  The costumes from Apna Desh- Our Land/Our Country reflect the conservative fashion and cultural design of traditional mas. These costumes feature a full collection of ethnic inspired Indian accessories detailed in silver. The female costumes come in several options. These include Sari or Gharara and top (skirt and top). The Apna Desh costumes are investment pieces as they can be worn again at a non Carnival occasion. Dhisha Moorjani (House of Jaipur) states, “It was Brian’s idea to use this theme and I followed the guidelines for colour scheme; beige and sepia tones. I used lots of cotton. In 1886 Cazabon’s painting of Indo Trinidadians was displayed at The Colonial Exhibit in London (renamed politically by Geofferey Maclean “The East Indian Group and The East Indian Women”). It depicted an Indo Trinidadian family; a mother, a father, a daughter. They are seen standing in their thatched roof house. The men are in their Kurta and Dhoti pants and the women in their flowing saris. The costumes for Cazabon The Art of Living feature options of Sari or Gharara which are sewn and easily arranged especially for anyone who never wore a sari. There are lots of silver pieces as accessories to reflect the heavy adornment of their bodies in jewelry. They did not trust banks during that time and converted their gold coins into jewelry.”

 

apna-desh-tripleApna Desh by Dhisha Moorjani (House of Jaipur)

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane’s Mas Camp

Citizens for Conservation is designed by Harvey Robertson. He affirms, “The conceptual stages of design and learning about the work of Citizens for Conservation inspired my design. The group is most known for its recent efforts to keep historical architecture alive. The demolition of the Greyfriars Church on Frederick Street in Port of Spain also inspired my designs. This church was built in the 1800’s during the Cazabon era. The materials for this costume consist of 100% cotton with shades of white and hues of brown.”

greyfriar

Greyfriars Church

Photo Credit: Joshua Lue Chee Kong

citizens-for-conservation-harvey-robertsonCitizens For Conservation by Harvey Robertson

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

citizens-for-conservation-harvey-robertson-femaleCitizens For Conservation by Harvery Robertson

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

Felicity is designed by Charu Lochan Dass for the brand CLD. In her words, “ Felicity is the bringing together a mix of pleasures and stylishness. It depicts both mid 1800’s fashion and the sobering yet intricate Victorian architecture. It exchanges historical extravagance for modern mobility, keeping the traditional trims; gloves and head scarves to bring to life an era so filled with presence and sophistication.”

felicity-female-cldFelicity by Charu Lochan Dass (CLD)

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

Gang Gang Sarah and Tom is designed by Dayle Angus from Tobago. This costume is detailed using lots of natural materials such as cowrie shells to represent the cotton from the silk cotton tree. The designer had a vision for a rugged, strong look for this costume. She collaborated with Dwayne Trim of  Mudern Mud in Tobago to include this neutral colour element in her design aesthetic. Designer Dale Angus says ” The whole idea around Cazabon is his representation of all aspects of society during that time period. It translates to what was happening in Tobago at that time, you would’ve seen a rise in the folklore. Gang Gang Sarah is a folklore  that originated between the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. When we talk about architecture of that time period and the use of nature, I approached him ( Brian Mac Farlane ) with Gang Gang Sarah. The main focus was the silk cotton tree. The tree stands today in Tobago and it is seen as a historical treasure. “

gang-gang-sarah-and-tom-dayle-angus

Gang Gang Sarah and Tom by Dayle Angus

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

Messenger of Change is designed by Kaleen Sanois. The battymamzelle or dragonfly is used as the symbol for messenger of change. The base of the costume was inspired by this creature. The designer drew inspiration from common details of colonial houses seen in the lace work and the light weight cottons. Despite being a representation from the Cazabon era more flare was added to the look with gems, piping and gold accents. Designer Kaleen Sanois reiterates, ” The Messenger of Change is the mascot of the band. The message is that we need to come together as a people, to be united and to enjoy the country that is our own, and celebrate what we have left of our culture. Anybody can be The Messenger. I believe we’re all artists in some way and should use our art to promote positive change in any way. The Messenger of Change falls into the Cazabon era as a reminder that we are beautiful and unique people just like the battymamzelle.”

art-of-cazabon

messenger-of-change-kaleen-sanoisMessenger of Change by Kaleen Sanois

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Mas Camp

The Gatekeepers section is designed by Fazad Mohammed. In his words he describes the characters’ portrayal, “I am majestically unyielding and a grand sight to behold. My magnificence lives on through the traditions that now unfold. I stand guard at the treasure’s place centuries apart, defy me and to this day you shall know my wrath. We defy the ravages time and stand among the chosen few, we are the gatekeepers of the Estates and our presence beckons to you!” – Fazad Mohammed 2016.

the-gate-keepers-fazaad-mohammed-maleThe Gate Keepers by Fazad Mohammed

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

He goes on to say that he was always  fascinated by the grand opulence of our heritage sites and their presence, which gives people a peek into a period in history that shaped their existence today. The Cazabon era set the tone for inspiring their creations for 2017 carnival and the design team saw it fit to present a collection that reflected the periods fashion and trends as well as stimulate discussion on the preservation of local heritage monuments. Through the portrayal of “The Gatekeepers” Fazad presents a look at the Grand iron and metal designs that adorn the magnificent structures. He also wanted to pay tribute to the men and women that contributed to its preservation. To this day he feels there is a sense of ethereal presence within these structures that stimulates one’s curiosity about life on the other side of the grand gates.

the-gate-keepers-female-fazaad-mohammedThe Gate Keepers by Fazad Mohammed

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

He believes that The Gatekeepers therefore, are those story tellers that brings to life this period in today’s modern world. Furthermore, he asserts that he would like to take the opportunity to celebrate the grand architectural magnificence and craftsmanship of the wrought iron artists. He feels that their creations adorn and protect our heritage estate houses and is a source of great inspiration to our current masterminds and architects. In this collection Fazad confirms that he maintained a strong connection with the actual fine fashionable fabrics of the period, ie cotton, silk, satin, lace and chiffon. He states that the accessories mirrored the opulence of the fine jewelry crafted from pearls, gold and other gems.  Fazad feels that the greatest significance is the wire work done by our local craftsmen to tell the story of the grand wrought iron artisans of the period.

the-gate-keepers-couple-fazaad-mohammed

The Gate Keepers by Fazad Mohammed

Photo Credit: Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp

If you would like to know more about the presentation of Cazabon: The Art of Living then please review the information below.

Brian Mac Farlane’s mas camp is located at #49 Rosalino Street Woodbrook.

Telephone Contact: (868) 625-8931

Email Address: macfarlanecarnival@gmail.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/macfarlanecarnival/

Website: www.macfarlanemas.com

The Mac Farlane Carnival Mas Camp is one of the featured stops on my Trinidad Carnival Fashion Tour this Saturday 11th February 2017. If you would like to take the tour then please contact me at letsgotrinidadandtobago@gmail.com

 

 

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Carolyn Mohammed – South Trinidad's Famed Hairstylist

She’s been cutting and styling my hair since my toddler years until now. I have watched her grow from strength to strength just as she has looked on at my life. She had been schooled in hairdressing and styling from as early as I can remember. In those days this art was very much in high demand as it is now. However, she was a salon professional understanding the foundations of the retail of product, the dynamics of hair care, the styles to better frame one’s face and quality customer service. She was not only trained in hair but aesthetics too. She did facials, pedicures, manicures, waxing and makeup too. She built her brand very strongly from then until this week. The advent of social media and new trends in hair and beauty regimens did not leave her behind. She was an exceptional professional who believed in her brand. She always stood ahead of the hair  game by educating herself on the latest techniques, tools, products and styles. Despite her stellar looks and dreamy service she remained humble, her prices were unbelievably affordable and the quality of her work ensured her clients remained loyal. Undeniably, the attention their hair received brought her even more clients.

cm3(Photo Credit: Carolyn Mohammed Facebook Page)

Truly, she grew into a hair icon that believed in her brand, worked hard for what she wanted in life and enjoyed her passion. She loved to challenge herself to be one of the best in delivering extraordinary hair colouring techniques to her clients. Her gift to the world was using her passion to make others happy. She took her role as a hair professional very seriously. She would often talk about the regularization of standards in the local hair and cosmetology industry. During her earlier years in this profession persons in this industry were trained and qualified in their field. They also served a considerable amount of time working with senior professionals and learning from local and international brand ambassadors.

As times changed and the digital era sprung into effect more hair and beauty professionals popped up over Trinidad and Tobago. Some were untrained in proper hygiene practices and others were millennial youtube hair and makeup stylists.  The beauty industry catapulted into one of the most lucrative and at times tax free income earners ( for the increasing number of freelancers who are unregistered business owners) in Trinidad and Tobago. She adapted yet she was still an avid attendee to hair and beauty shows for salon professionals. However she too would notice the lack of regularization, policy, guidelines and standards in the industry. It became as though aspiring beauty professionals were starting to take advantage of clients. They were cutting corners, burning out their clients hair with low quality hair care, diluting products with their own mix ins and selling mediocre products and services at exorbitant prices. She never failed to mention her concern for  professionals’ apathy and her fear for what the booming hair and beauty industry could soon become.

cm(Photo Credit: Carolyn Mohammed Facebook Page)

Albeit there are still quality beauty and hair care professionals in the country  there will be none like this one. She used high quality products. She did house calls to clients as she was saving up for investment into a salon.  She never cheated her clients and always sold at affordable prices. She even had an option where the client who brings her another client gets their next haircut or hairstyle free of charge. Also, since she was a salon professional she had access to salon products (these products are not readily available for the public) for her clients at reasonable rates.  Her hands were so gifted that I trusted them to dye my hair for the first time in my entire life this year. We had that type of relationship where I would say to her,  “I have no idea what colour I want  or what I want to do but I trust you so do whatever you want with it. ” She decided and she went in for the cutting, styling and colouring and I loved it! Despite not having her own salon yet her home was outfitted with salon chairs, sinks and the latest hair products and tools. She gave the most amazing hair wash and head massages.

cm2(Photo Credit: Carolyn Mohammed Facebook Page)

Salon professionals double as clients’ therapists. The experience is a personable one where the client inevitably develops a friendship with their salon professional. She was no exception as her clients offloaded their lives on her while she renewed them with beauty therapy.  She held her own too as she had her own family. She was the “dopest” mom to two of the coolest boys I know. You see even though she had the opportunity to live her passion and use her gift to help others she had other roles to play. She was a doting wife and mother. She did all her domestic duties to her best and took care of her family. She was a soul in a body fulfilling her role here on earth as a mother and as a wife. She never faltered in any area.  She listened to her boys. She disciplined them and she always made sure she spent time with them. They even learnt a thing or two from her styling skills by just being around her. The kids even slayed the latest undercuts during their vacation time.

cm5(Photo Credit: Carolyn Mohammed Facebook Page)

She had an insatiable appetite for life and for striving to be at her best in life. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst yesterday afternoon. I learnt from phone calls and a television broadcast the terrible news that she was on her way to pick up her eldest son from school with her younger son in the vehicle when a truck skidded off the road and slammed into her car. She died on impact, her son was injured and taken to the hospital. Many wailed and bawled and many remain shocked by the sudden death (including myself). We have lost a valuable soul because that is what she was a beautiful soul in a body here to fulfill her role as a mother, as a wife, a sister,  a cousin, a friend and a salon professional to share her gift with others. Whether it was or was not her time to die is something I cannot say nor you or anybody else. No one will ever hear her side of the story as to what happened that fateful day that she passed.  We can only pray for her soul and hope that she finds peace and that she crosses over to the other side (for those of you who believe in that stuff). I believe we will meet again if not in this lifetime perhaps in another lifetime. Until then I will keep her soul in my prayers and the fondest memories of her closest to my heart.

cm4(Photo Credit: Carolyn Mohammed Facebook Page)

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Popeye said what?!

I finally understand Popeye’s infatuation with spinach when I fell in love with the most adorable baby spinach leaves two years ago. (Of course, I grew up hearing Popeye and others blab about how fabulous spinach is for one’s health but I was young and never took them on seriously). Anyways, this spurred my interest at a time when I was being introduced to the low fodmap diet. Nevertheless, I went into recipe research mode. I also began to include it in my diet and enlist this super food in my recovery diary.  I believe in food care versus pharmaceutical care. This means I prefer the farmacy versus the pharmacy on any given day. However, this is solely my opinion. In some instances advanced medical care is needed and the only functional treatment for some illnesses are from the pharmaceutical industry. Nonetheless, I highly recommend a super food diet for anyone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle. My mantra is based on personal experience and it still states that healthy eating equals a healthy body and mind. You can see for yourself the nutritional breakdown for spinach below.

baby-spinach

Spinach – The Breakdown

Spinach is made up of protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, C, K, beta-carotene, chlorophyll and folate. It is also high in fiber and water content. Spinach also contains alpha lipoic acid which is an antioxidant . Spinach helps to manage diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity. Its green properties help prevent cancer. It lowers the risk of asthma. A clean green diet helps lower blood pressure levels and the green leafy spinach helps to do just that. It increases bone health with its calcium absorption properties. It reduces constipation by helping to regulate bowel movements. Spinach has vitamin properties to nourish hair and skin health naturally. Basically, these finds suggest infinite benefits for a healthier body and mind.

popeye

My Spinach Recipes

Traditional Trinidad and Tobago cuisine includes spinach. Local recipes are available everywhere. There are different kinds of spinach in our local environment. Most people affectionately call it “bhagi”. They eat it with their sada roti for breakfast or dinner. At other times they eat it with dhal and rice. Spinach is also prepackaged at the supermarket with other vegetables for the chef who wants to “bubble a pot” of callaloo. In most homes the callaloo soup is plated with provisions, dumplings, macaroni pie or white rice and a side of cooked crabs, pig tail  or even salted cod . I cook some of these recipes at times but I love gourmet so much that I always try to up the ante in the kitchen (I love to get creative).

Spinach Salad

This salad is great for breakfast, brunch and lunch. You can add what you like and break some rules or bend them as these recipes are always being innovated in my kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/8 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/8 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 apple

Method

  1. Wash spinach leaves and drain off excess water
  2. Add the drained leaves to a plate
  3. Wash and drain off excess water from cranberries and blueberries
  4. Sprinkle the berries over the spinach
  5. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the spinach
  6. Chop the walnuts and sprinkle them over the spinach
  7. Thinly slice the half apple
  8. Add the sliced apple to the plated spinach

N.B.

  • You can add cooked chicken if you eat meat ( I don’t eat meat so I always omit the chicken).
  • You can also leave off the nuts if you are allergic to them.

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Spinach Potato Pie

Ingredients

  • 6 potatoes
  • 3 cups of baby spinach
  • 3 red pimentos
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cups cheese
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup milk

Methods

  1. Wash, peel and wash potatoes again
  2. Cube them and add them to a pot of boiling water
  3. Cover and allow to cook on lowest heat
  4. Grease a baking tray
  5. Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  6. Wash the spinach, drain off excess water and chop roughly
  7. Wash and chop pimentos
  8. Wash and chop celery stalks finely
  9. Heat a skillet at the lowest temperature on your stove
  10. Add the tablespoon of oil
  11. Allow the oil to get a little heated
  12. Add the chopped celery and pimentos
  13. Stir occasionally for about one minute
  14. Add the drained and chopped spinach to the skillet
  15. Toss the spinach in the oil with the celery and pimentos
  16. Cover the skillet with a lid and allow to cook for three minutes (tossing occasionally)
  17. The spinach should not stick to pan or get burnt
  18. It is ready when the majority of it has shrunk and appears cooked and dark green
  19. Test the potatoes with a fork as they should be ready after half hour or forty five minutes of boiling
  20. Drain off excess water from boiled potatoes
  21. Add boiled potatoes to a bowl and smash them
  22. Add two cups cheese, the milk and mash them together
  23. Add the corn and cooked spinach to the potato mash
  24. Continue mixing and mashing the new mixture
  25. Add this new mixture to the baking tray and spread evenly
  26. Sprinkle leftover cheese over the surface of the spinach pie
  27. Bake for half hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or until golden brown on bottom and top layer of the pie. (I used a glass dish so I could easily tell when the pie started to become golden brown)

N.B.

  • If you are lactose intolerant then you can use coconut milk and cashew cheese.
  • You can serve this with some lentils and fish or chicken or whatever tickles your fancy.

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I hope these spinach recipes keep you hearty,  happy and healthy!

Enjoy

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Simply Decadence Ltd – A Premier Gourmet Cafe

I guess you can say I have a “thing” for cafes.  I am not too sure why but I believe it has something to do with my love for mini escapades into a world of soulful delicacies and old world charm (perhaps too much Breakfast at Tiffany’s ha ha). I am such a café fanatic that the minute I see or get whim that a new café is being launched it is inevitable that the café will be on my “must visit soon” list.  I usually visit the south land ever so often every month. Every time I notice a few changes to the scene.  Over the last few months I would see this purple and gold sign with the words Simply Decadence Ltd. Immediately, my thoughts were “oh wow a dessert café in Point Fortin finally someone did it!”  Obviously, this place made it on my list and I eventually got to stop by and get the “inside scoop” (no pun intended).

sd(Photo credit: Simply Decadence Ltd. Facebook Page)

Name

 Simply Decadence Ltd.

Location

#18 Adventure Road Point Fortin (Next to Colfire)

Product

Gourmet Food and Treats (savory and sweet)

Service

Catering for all occasions

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Coffee

Contact Information

https://www.facebook.com/SimplyDecadenceLimited/

simplydecadencedesserts@gmail.com

1.868.284.5338

1.868.745.959

When I visited the café I chatted with one of the owners, Karon Felmine. I found out that the business is family owned. They have been in the catering industry for years prior to opening the cafe.  This café was one of Karon’s dreams since 2012. In July 2016 there was an opportunity to realize this dream when the perfect spot became available. Karon and her family took advantage of the opportunity and today the community of Point Fortin and environs can enjoy being part of the dream.

Café Hours

Tuesdays to Wednesdays breakfast from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Thursdays it is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays it is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sundays it is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The design aesthetic of Simply Decadence Ltd is kept simple with hues of blue, cream, grey and brown. Plant centrepieces adorn  wood tables. Some candles replace the plants on the table that serves as the focal point for the lounge seating area. The lounge area heightens the rustic vibe with its basket weave elements and beige cushions. The lighting is not too bright or too dim for anyone to catch up on some reading whilst having their coffee. The design  layout strikes a balance between an earthy and a modern ambience with a daytime city skyline backdrop on one of the walls. There is also television and wifi. The café area is clean and well maintained.

sd-lounge

Lounge Area

(Photo Credit: David Wears)

Patrons can choose from continental breakfast on mornings. At other times there are local selections of Bees ice cream flavours, punches, hot drinks, smoothies, blended coffees, sandwiches, savory appetizers and decadent desserts. Karon says that they try to offer something different  from the regular menu that patrons can get anywhere else. While I was at the café peanut ice creams with toppings and a chocolate cupcake were the items purchased from the menu by the persons in my pax. They thoroughly enjoyed their orders!

sd-desserts

(Photo Credit: David Wears)

sd-cupcakes

(Photo Credit: David Wears)

sd-brioche

(Photo Credit: David Wears)

I am excited to see the development and progress yet to come for Karon and her family with this new venture. The hospitality is overwhelming and the staff is so friendly. My guests and I were complete strangers to Karon (since we had not met her before) yet we were treated like family. I will continue to recommend Simply Decadence Ltd to many persons who wish to walk in and get away from the city bustle, to celebrate a special occasion, to enjoy quality and affordable gourmet delights, to choose Simply Decadence Ltd as a potential caterer and to list them as a prime option for foreigners and locals visiting Point Fortin.

Congratulations Karon

&

Best Wishes

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