Tobago was quite literally a breath of fresh air. I am not sure if it was the fact I was on a different island, the company of great friends or the fact that Robin’s Tobago house is a dream house in a dream location but whatever it was I was relaxed from the second I arrived. I took my Toshiba laptop in case of the odd chance i might have had the urge to blog but sitting with my greyhound ( the vodka kind not the dog) by the pool blogging just seemed morally wrong.
I also realized that I have come to love my Nokia E 71 phone more and more as I go along. It turns out that I didn’t need a laptop since there really is nothing it can do that I can’t also do directly on my phone. I can listen to music, edit documents, watch youtube, check my accounts, email like crazy and take moderately watchable video poolside and post it on this blog.
As you may be able to see in the video the house and pool are located on a small cliff over the ocean resulting in an unbelievable 180 degree view of the Caribbean Sea. Bliss. The only bad experience happened on the evening I left when, despite my better judgment, I went along with the gang to a certain Italian restaurant in Buccoo. It was against my better judgment because in my past experiences with that establishment I knew I had to listen to the owner reciting a geographical history of each food item and after eating would be presented with a preposterous bill. The olives are not just olives they are olives that his second cousin twice removed grew in his orchard in a small valley and they were carried by mule to the nearest town to be transported to his restaurant in Tobago. I have always felt that such elaborate descriptions are just a hoax to distract from the fact you are going to have to pay the equivalent of a kidney transplant a few minutes later. I was right.
High prices for restaurant food are one thing but as a seasoned cook and food reviewer it has to be backed up by impeccable service and good food. It started off ridiculously enough with the expected recitation of the origin and convoluted history of each item on the menu from the owner. This was followed by our request for water being met by a semi-surly waitress bringing us a plastic bottle of water carried in a wine cooler and then a careful pouring of 1/4 glass for each of us. I was half expecting her to present us with the plastic cap for inspection. Bacolet, last week…excellent. I ordered spinach filled ravioli in a sage sauce with a salad ( Italian name which I can’t remember). The salad came in a dish with a floral pattern that looked like it belonged somewhere in a well-meaning middle-class home in Somerset. The dish itself was a tasteless and bland assortment of things that could easily have been served at any fast food outlet in Port of Spain. There was no discernible flavour and while I may not know everything I am pretty sure that shredded red cabbage and rock hard tomatoes are not a feature of most Italian regional cuisines. It was an insult to salads. Robin and Naz said their tuna carpaccios were good but given that that just involves pounding a piece of fish in glad wrap and sprinkling some lemon juice, salt and pepper on it I refuse to count that as an achievement.
My main course was a travesty. The ravioli was not al dente it was undercooked and verging on crunchy. The filling ( of the one I ate) was salty and the sauce was an unpleasant oily mess with an unpleasant aftertaste. Of the 5 raviolis presented to me three were left on the plate and the fourth one was used for me to show Naz and Samuel how unpleasant it was. Samuel’s cannelloni was horrid to look at ( the floral plate didn’t help) and he didn’t even finish one of the two he was given. Naz’s gnocchi, which he let me try since he left most of it uneaten was bland, mushy and stuck to the roof of my mouth like cheap peanut butter. To compound it all the other guys had asked the waiter/sommelier to choose an inexpensive light wine for dinner which turned out to be a highly acidic red that didn’t please anyone. I didn’t have any but I sniffed the carafe and I could tell it was heavy and acidic in one sniff.
The waiter took our plates with no comment on the fact most of the food was untouched and presented us with the bill. It turns out that the wine, which would have been about $12 Canadian was sold at $140 CAN a bottle. The end result was that we each paid about $80 CAN for dinner. A dinner that could have been easily bettered by any Italian neighbourhood eatery in Toronto, London or New York. Hell I could have handily served something a hundred times better at home. The strange thing is that the restaurant was packed with people waiting for seating. Let this be a lesson to you kids…if you have no cooking talent and you are good at talking crap…be sure to open a restaurant in T&T.
Producing news again tomorrow so time to blog off and watch a bit of The Graham Norton Show before bed. So, as my dear blog pal Milo from www.theyearzero.wordpress.com would say goodnight my bloggy friends.
a photograph of the Cannelloni travesty ( courtesy Peter Sheppard)
This last shot was not Photoshopped …just straightened and taken through a polarized lens. My last sunset in Tobago. Naz says the red stripe is caused by pollution.