August 2014

Thursday 21st

Prickly Bay, Grenada

We are lucky to be in Grenada whilst Bangladesh are visiting for a pair of One Day International (ODI) cricket matches.  For those not of the cricket loving persuasion these are 50 over games and last about six hours.  The Grenada National Stadium is in a lovely setting just to the north of the capital, St Georges…Cricket1

We took the trouble of going to the ground on Tuesday to purchase our tickets ahead of the game.  In the end we needn’t have bothered as there were no queues 15 minutes before the game started promptly at 0900.  Its about the only thing we’ve noticed happen on time here.  The cost of admission was a more than reasonable $10 EC per head (i.e. approximately £2!).  No I haven’t missed a zero it cost less to watch the game here than half a pint of beer at a match in England.

For the record WI won the toss and put Bangladesh in to bat.  They made a modest 217/9 with opener Anumul Haque making an impressive 109.  It should have been easy for the West Indies but they collapsed to 34/5 after only 13 overs.  Fortunately for them Ramdin and Pollard went on to add 145 for the sixth wicket and save the game for the Windies who eventually won by three wickets with 10 overs to spare.  The crowd went home happy as did we after a lovely day out sat amongst some of the nicest cricket spectators I have had the pleasure to be with.Cricket2

The second match in the series is tomorrow, Friday 22nd August.  Unfortunately the weather forecast isn’t great so watch this space.

Tuesday 26th August

Belmont Estate, GRENADA

Grenada has a wonderful, cheap bus system.  They aren’t buses as you would see in the UK, rather they are mini buses that seat up to 15 passengers plus the driver and, usually, a conductor.  Actually the conductor’s primary duty seems to be to tout for business.  The buses are privately owned and compete with each other within a regulated route system.  This means that, for example, the No 1 that we use to do our grocery shopping runs about every two minutes on the route from Grand Anse into St George’s. Prices appear to be regulated as well and we pay $2.50EC each (about 50p) to get to the supermarket. They are flexible and will drop you off route for an extra charge.

Anyway, with such a system it is cheap, easy and fun to explore Grenada by public transport.  To get to the Belmont estate in the NW of the island takes three buses from Prickly Bay.  The No 1 to St George’s, a No 6 to Grenville, Grenanda’s second “city”, and finally a No 9 to Belmont.  Total cost $11.50EC each (about £2.50) and a time of about two and a half hours.

The Belmont Estate produces organic chocolate – “Bean to Bar”.  Neither of us had ever even seen a cocoa tree so this was quite an education.  Here goes….Cocoa-Pod

The picture above shows a fully developed but not yet ripe cocoa pod.  Bottom right you can see the flowers and an embryonic pod.  The tree flowers all year around although production of pods is at a low point at this time of year.  Once ripened the pod turns yellow and can be split to reveal the beans inside…Cocoa-Seed

Each pod contains something like 40 beans and produces enough cocoa to make one bar of chocolate. As you can see each bean is about the size of a large broad or butter bean.  They are covered with a creamy white juice which is quite sweet and tastes absolutely nothing like cocoa or chocolate.

The harvested beans are placed in large fermentation bins, covered with banana leaves and sackcloth and left for about a week.  During this time they are turned regularly to introduce air and ensure consistent and even fermentation.  By the end of this process they look like cocoa beans and are ready for drying…..Cocoa-Beans

This can be done either artificially using heat from wood, gas or the like or in the case of Belmont simply by sun drying.  Whilst drying, the beans are turned either by rake or traditionally by shuffling through them, as above.  Once dried the husks are winnowed off and you finally have a product that tastes and smells of cocoa, because thats what it is!  I watched a film about how they make chocolate but we didn’t see the process and so have no photographs.  Suffice to say that it is excellent chocolate and, for my UK readers, can, I believe, be bought in Waitrose.  I personally recommend the 61% cocoa!

September’s post is here.

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