Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cake and ice cream, in Tobago

The last time I was in Tobago - two months ago, August - I stopped off in Castara on the way back from Englishman's Bay. An impressive catch of mahimahi was just being brought ashore. I was waiting in line for a nine or ten pound (about 24 inches long) mahimahi to be cleaned. Another visitor whispered to me, "Don't say I told you but if you want fresh bread, you can get mud-oven baked loaves just over that bridge," pointing to a space behind the fish market. Not wanting to lose my turn, despatched my friend to buy bread. She returned with a beautiful crusty loaf in the shape we called "tot-tots bread" when we were kids. Broke off one of the pointy ends, and savored the smell. Warm bread! Munched the crust and the tender "pet" inside! Made a mental note to return any Wednesday or Saturday I might ever be in Tobago.
The mud oven in Castara, stone's throw from the beach!
Wednesday in October, we made a beeline for the bakery, an open shed over tables, and the unassuming oven to one side. Four o'clock and we were already too late. No more bread - all neatly packaged in brown paper bags and kept warm under cloths. One lady there took pity on me, and showed what was left for sale: one bright pink coconut "roly poly"; two slices of fruit cake;  some coconut drops and cookies; sweet bread. This mud oven is operated as a heritage site by community bakers who bring their dough, cake and cookie mixtures to a communal bake-in. The oven is fired with dried bamboo and any other wood available, twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday. Next time, I intend to order early in the day, and pay in advance if necessary!
Bright pink coconut filling in this "roly poly" pastry

So we came home with fruit cake that was moist, fruity and rummy - rum is used for soaking the dried fruit.  
What made this cake different? The way the mud oven works is that it traps the heat given off from the wood burned inside. When the wood has burned away, the interior walls of the oven radiate this heat back to the bread and dough which cook from out to in. The heat browns the outside of the bread or cake sealing it. Cooking continues towards the centre.

We just needed a good ice cream to complement this excellent cake. We were spoiled by Kariwak's coffee ice cream, but that would mean the restaurant route. What is on Tobago's freezer shelves?

We did not have to look very hard. In its unassuming white tubs, J'n'J offers coconut, chocolate, vanilla and  other more exotic flavors. The Passion Mango Nectar was amazingly light, smooth and creamy. Coconut was the perfect foil for fruit cake.
Best ice cream in this unassuming tub!

Next time you are in Tobago, check out the mud oven offerings, on Saturday or Wednesday. And the freezer section for ice cream found nowhere else but Tobago!

Fruit cake and coconut ice cream
Of course, one of the best meals to have in Tobago (not the one you make from fresh fish and fresh bread) - soup to dessert - that satisfies every time, is at the Kariwak. Dine under the ajoupa any night of the week and you won't be disappointed.
Dinner mood at Kariwak!

No comments:

Post a Comment