As a chef, I always make a point to visit local markets whenever I travel - memories are made through tastes and smells and where better to experience a new destination than through a culinary food adventure?!
Now that I live in the Caribbean, I have to say the local markets on St. Vincent Island are a truly special and a must when visiting Mustique. All your senses truly come alive with the smells, the bustle of the crowd, the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of local fruits and vegetables... it really is a sight to see.
The stalls offer a wide variety of items that have been picked and cultivated by hand, and these farmers really know their stuff! The mountainous rich soil of the island provides the perfect fertile climate to grow some incredible produce from pigeon peas, bread fruit, and avocado to more exotic delicacies like eddoes, dasheen and arrowroot. The market-sellers love to share their personal tips on how to prepare these vegetables and fruits that are unique to the island and community, and to boast that their recipe is the best. It's been a real treat learning from them over the past few years and experimenting on my own to create exciting new dishes for The Beach Café and Veranda at The Cotton House, letting these unique local ingredients inspire me. Some of my favorites are:
- Eddoes -This intensely flavoursome cousin to the potato is a great way to reinvent classic dishes you love. This nutty, subtlety sweet root vegetable can feature in your Sunday roast, or as a light breakfast fritter.
- Dasheen - The Carribbean name for Taro, this vegetable is the base ingredient of popular local dish Callaloo. This stew is made with bundles of dasheen, salted meat, potatoes, and local spices in coconut milk and I can't get enough of this hearty dish. I try to stop myself at one bowl, but...
- Arrowroot - Or, as the local sellers call it 'Cassava,' this amazing plant has a rich history in St. Vincent and is one of the last places left in the world where its grown for trade. The cassava is peeled, dried, and then ground into a fine flour, which is actually gluten-free and makes an amazing soufflé. (See below for the recipe for my Passion Fruit Soufflé made with local Arrowroot.)
Every time I board my boat for the trip back to Mustique after a trip to the market, with an array of goods that are bursting to the seams, I think excitedly at the dishes I will make and the new flavours to explore. I find the markets give me a deeper connection to this area and islands, all paved through the culture and storytelling of food.
PASSION FRUIT SOUFFLÉ MADE WITH LOCAL ARROWROOT
For this recipe you will need to make three different components - a passion fruit base, Crème Pâtisser and an egg white mix - which will be blended together to create a beautiful soufflé.
- 125g Sugar
- 50ml Water
- 350ml Passion Fruit Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Flour (diluted with a little water)
Bring sugar and water to boil and then lower heat; simmer for 5 minutes. The add the passion fruit juice and Arrowroot flour mixture. Bring to a boil over a medium heat and stir constantly to prevent clumping.
- 250ml Milk
- 250ml Passion Fruit Juice
- 140g Sugar
- 6 Egg Yolks
- 1 Dessert Spoon Plain Flour
- 1 Dessert Spoon Arrowroot
- 1 Vanilla Pod Cut In Half
Mix all the ingredients together well and then boil over a medium heat in a sauce pan, constantly mixing. Cook for 5 minutes then pass through a sieve; allow the mix to cool.
- 300g Whites
- 120g Sugar
- 200g Passion Fruit Base
- 100g Crème Pâtisser
Whip the egg whites while gently adding the sugar, bit by bit.
Blend the Passion Fruit base and the Crème Pâtisser together. Once thoroughly mixed, gently fold in the whipped egg white.
Place in buttered ramekins and bake at 180c for 8 min.