A Short Series: Returning Home for One Amazing Week – St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean

I started 2022 strong. In the first month of the year, I was able to take two vacations back to back. Before we get into it, I know I just completed my St. Lucia series not too long ago for my trip there in 2021. In January, I rushed back, thinking my sister would begin college and move abroad later that month. This trip was meant to give us a chance to enjoy touristy things around the island together that we have not. Though her start date was postponed to the upcoming semester, this trip was not made in vain. There is not much I enjoy more than spending time with my loved ones and being home.

Since I just completed my St. Lucia Itinerary, I won’t make another. For the most part, with a few exceptions (which I will include below), we visited the same places and did the same things. I also spent a lot of time with my granny, attending to granddaughter duties. For this short trip, similar to my Texas trip, I will create a short series simply to fill in the blanks of what I did not do in the St. Lucia Itinerary. The two will be linked and can be found in the Itineraries category or searching on the #InSentLisi tag if you need it while visiting the island or making preparations to do so.

In this post, we’ll cover two experiences and one review. I’ll go in the order that these took place, starting with a delicious meal because our bellies always come first. Happy reading.

The Harbor Club: 14° North

The Harbor Club is a luxury resort located in Gros Islet, north of the island. It took me writing this post to realize that this resort is owned by the Hilton. Not entirely a bad thing, but I don’t like the thought of our little island being taken over by large chain hotels. Anywho, this resort has gained popularity. I’ve seen it all over my Instagram feed as the people I follow spend the weekend having a blast and eating well here. We originally came here to pick up sushi for my sister and dad’s girlfriend. This was meant to hold them over as we continued to look for a restaurant that we’d all enjoy. We picked up the sushi and headed out to another restaurant on the beach.

Unfortunately, at the moment (fortunately in future tense), the restaurant we intended to go to was closed. With Covid cases rising, it was not unusual for places that attracted loads of people to close before the rush or curfew. After weighing our options, we decided to head back to the Harbor Club.

We completed our walk of shame, doubling back into the space that we left for elsewhere. Overwhelmed with the many restaurant options and which cuisine we were feeling for, the staff strongly recommended 14° North, the newest addition to the Club, offering an Asian-Caribbean fusion.

It was late, past curfew, but the staff agreed to seat us and gave us ample time to enjoy our meals. We took the elevator to the restaurant, and I was taken aback. It was stunning, to say the least. Seated by the glass wall, our view overlooked the pools below, palm trees, the water and boats that sat on it, and the night sky. We sat directly across from a large enclosed glass wine cellar and had the entire restaurant to ourselves. Old reggae music played in the background while we enjoyed one another’s company. Ambiance: 5/5

Feeling a little frisky, we all opted for frozen margaritas. Two words: big mistake. If you’ve read any of my food reviews in the past, you’d know that any alcoholic beverage I consume has to taste like juice. I do not want to taste an ounce of alcohol. This was my first time having a frozen margarita, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I asked the bartender to make sure it wasn’t too strong, but either my wishes were ignored, or it simply wasn’t possible. None of us finished this as it tasted like 100% pure alcohol, maybe even rubbing alcohol. I wasn’t willing to try again. Though the drinks were not my cup of tea, I had a gut feeling that the food would live up to my expectations. Drinks: 0/5

For an appetizer, my dad’s girlfriend ordered the chicken gyoza. Not too sure what to expect, I was open to giving it a try once it arrived. Plated beautifully, I couldn’t help but steal one or two of the small servings that sat in front of us. It was delicious. I’m not typically a fan of dumplings like these, but the spices and especially the tamarind dipping sauce did it. The Caribbean twist on this classic Asian dish allowed me to enjoy it much more than I typically do. There isn’t a single way that adding tamarind to a drink, recipe, or snack goes south. It elevated the appetizer.

The main course. The three of us all ordered off of the “smoked” section of the menu. As my sister and I are the same, we ordered the beef short ribs, while my dad’s girlfriend ordered the duck breast burnt ends. If not for our incredible, attentive, and highly animated waiter, this probably would not have been my first choice considering everything else on the menu sounded so exotic. However, he did not steer us wrong. The presentation alone was spectacular. Drizzled with Asian barbecue and a white (possibly having a hint of ginger) sauce, layered with zucchini, it satisfied every last taste bud. The meat was tender and effortlessly glided through my knife. Juicy and bursting with flavor, I simply could not have been more satisfied with my entree. However, I will say that the portion for the price is tiny at best. This is usually the case with upscale restaurants, but I’ve never really experienced this on the island. Knowing it is owned by an international chain hotel, it makes sense. There was not a single side included in my meal, and the portion of ribs would be decent if something was accompanying it on my plate. See for yourself below. Judging the food on flavor and serving: 4.5/5, simply because the taste outweighs everything else.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Okay, so let’s consider all aspects here for a final rating. The drinks will be omitted as it was made at the Harbor Bar and brought to 14° North to accommodate us. This leaves food, ambiance, and service to be weighed. Honestly, I have never experienced such excellent service ever. Anywhere. And I doubt I will, unless (and until) I return to this restaurant. Overall, I’d give this establishment a deserving 4.75 stars. (I can’t get the other quarter of a point on this widget, but y’all get it.)

Project Chocolat

Project Chocolat has been on my list for at least two years now. I suddenly felt a sense of urgency to go once Jordyn Woods posted this as a baecation activity during (funny, because we’re still in) the pandemic. Believe it or not, I’m not a fan of chocolate. Not being a fan of what this entire activity was based on did not deter me from wanting to experience it in the slightest.

Before we dive further into my experience with my two little sisters, let’s talk a little bit about what this is. Project Chocolat is an immersive agri-tourism experience in which guests learn about the process of the creation of chocolate, as they like to say, “from bean to bar.” From planting and naming our cacao tree; to touring the rain forest and being able to pick ripe cacao ready for the next steps; making chocolate from scratch; and enjoying a meal with cacao in every bite, this excursion was different than anything I’ve ever experienced.

Back it up, back it up, back it up (Tik Tok reference, if you get it, you get it.) This day started rough. Our driver picked us up over an hour and a half later than I asked him to. Given that we were in Gros Islet and Project Chocolat is in Soufrière, the drive alone would be at least an hour. This meant that we missed the tour we scheduled. Extremely annoyed and frustrated, we gave them a call hoping that our reservation could be pushed back. Thankfully, they were not only understanding but accommodating. The caveat: the possibility of making it to the next available tour was rapidly declining.

Speeding in and out of hairpin bends, we made it just in time. We handed over the arm and the leg that this excursion cost, and were instructed that our group would grab lunch first, spend about half an hour eating and then receive further instructions about the tour. Lunch first ended up playing out well. With the journey it took to get there, we needed a bite. This also ensured that hanger would not slowly creep up during the tour. God knew what He was doing.

Our first real introduction to this experience was the food, and you can always tell a lot by the food. I was in awe of how beautiful this place was. Not that it wasn’t expected, but because I didn’t realize how much attention to detail they would pay. Here’s our view at this very moment ⭣

So, I’ll be honest. Here’s where this gets a tad foggy for me. (It’s what I get for being behind on content.) However, I wish I knew more of the operational details before diving into this experience, so I’ll share what I recall. When we paid, we were given vouchers for food. If I’m not mistaken, each individual received a voucher for a main dish, two sides, one drink (other than water), and a dessert from the Market. Typically when activities say something along the lines of, “light lunch/meal included” it’s nothing like this. The Market blew every possible expectation out of the water and then some. Everything, and when I say everything was cacao or chocolate-inspired. Here’s what I ordered: the cacao burger, white chocolate mash, and potato wedges (boring, I know). Before I dive into how chocolate was somehow incorporated, take a look at what I shortly devoured.

As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of chocolate, so the menu here had me on my toes. Unsure of what to expect, I fully submersed into this experience and didn’t (always) stick with the safer options. My main course was the cacao burger, as pictured above. I won’t lie, this made me nervous. Chocolate in a burger? That did not sound appetizing. As usual, my sisters and I made friends with the staff, and they steered us in the right direction. I voiced my concerns, but my people had my back. They told me their favorites and even suggested what to stay away from.

The cacao burger seemed just enough of a risk for me. The cacao was somehow incorporated into the thick bun of this juicy burger. I can’t quite explain it, but this was something I never knew I needed. The bun had a hint of sweetness that perfectly complimented the well-seasoned burger, lettuce, and cheese. Though the size of the burger is small, it’s thick, and can start to fill you up quickly. Happily surprised, I enjoyed every last bite wishing my taste buds could experience this for just a tad bit longer.

Up next: even more starch. My first option was potato wedges. They were great and don’t require much beyond that. This decision was me staying in my picky eater’s safety net. Now let’s get onto the fun stuff, my white chocolate mash, pictured above. Boy, oh boy. I’m typically a garlic mash kind of gal, but this was something I could get used to. It’s exactly what it sounds like, mashed potatoes with more than a hint of the taste of white chocolate. I was surprised that I enjoyed this side. It was incredible, and the shaved cocoa on top of the serving enhanced its flavor. Is this something I’d be able to consume daily? No. However, it’s amazing for the occasion and amazed me how creative chefs have the opportunity to be. After eating half of the mash, the sweetness overload became a bit much for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still finished every last ounce served. But, I did make sure to bring it down with some fresh lemonade. The lemonade was so good, that my sisters and I all decided we’d need another serving, and we were happy to pay for it.

After eating well and catching the itis, we spent a few minutes taking photos and signing the walls. With the food we were just served, my expectations were set very high, especially considering that was not the main event. Our group was soon called to meet closer to where we were dropped off. At this moment, I began to put into perspective the amount of walking/hiking that would take place. With a full stomach, our legs slowly inched to the meeting point located downhill.

Gathering our group of nearly 15 underneath a shaded cabana, we were introduced to our tour guide for the excursion. She prepared us with some background information needed, and we moved along to what’s known as, “The Seederie,” where cacao seeds are planted, and baby trees grow before moving elsewhere. The plant mom in me was in utter bliss as we walked through this area to begin our hike.

We initiated our journey into the rainforest, stopping along the way so the tour guide could point out tidbits of information. After a few stops, we crossed a small bridge signaling that we’d reached the main attraction. Suddenly we were surrounded by cacao trees in different stages of development. The guide then schooled us on its stages of ripeness, the long process of how it becomes chocolate, and much much more. Focused on the heat we were experiencing, not much of this stuck with me. It became a bit of information overload. The guide picked one ready cacao and passed it to the group to feel the ripe texture and get a hold of it ourselves. At this time, she decided to quiz us on the information she provided just moments ago. I am not ashamed to say that I did not lead the efforts in passing.

We moved along, but I had no idea what was coming next. Of course, I knew we were in the rainforest, but I was not prepared to live out my dream like a plant mom for the time we spent here. The video most definitely does not do its beauty justice, but take a look at this surprise ⭣

My sisters may or may not have shaken their heads at the fact that I knew the names of every single plant that surrounded us. I most definitely deserve to live in a remote home somewhere in the rainforest surrounded by such beautiful greenery. Anyways, I was overwhelmed with joy for the 10 minutes or so that we stayed in this area before heading back to the seederie.

What I didn’t realize was the quiz given by the tour guide would be important as we would be using the shared information to do some hands-on work. As we entered the seederie, we were met with an expert in the grafting process. Shit was about to get real. My sisters and I split the stem of a 3-month-old seedling and implanted a baby stem there, attaching the two using what I believe to be parchment paper. Unfamiliar with this process, I was intrigued by the multiple ways plants can be reproduced. This process what beautiful, and I appreciated that each family or group was given their plants. Once complete, we were given tags and sharpies to name our plant babies. My sisters and I named this one our last name followed by the word sisters. (My dad later joked that this plant would grow with the least flavor out of the entire group. He’s wrong, obviously.)

I can’t remember the specifics, but groups can keep up with their cacao seedlings as they grow into trees. However, there is some contribution required to do so. Our baby is about 4 months old now, and I’m sure she’s thriving, but I will not be paying to find out.

We hiked back up to what felt as steep as the stairway to Heaven. And thankfully, a staff member met our group with cold towels with hints of eucalyptus oil. It could not have come at a better time. After barely making it in the hot sun, it was needed. Instructed that lemonade was waiting for us at the bar, we crept our way up to more sets of stairs. Infused with ginger, the lemonade HIT. So much so that I went back for more (even though we were only allotted one per person, the bartender understood how parched I was). We were given a few minutes of a well-deserved break and used it to use the bathroom, take photos, and chill. Notified that it was time for the chocolate-making activity, we eagerly moved our three sets of legs down a level.

Now, this was the moment I’d been waiting for. The woman aiding us in the process of this activity held the cacao we picked maybe an hour and some change earlier. This time, the fruit was opened up, and we were allowed to give the seeds a try. This was a first for me, and of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The seeds were sweet and not at all what I expected.

Let’s get into this activity. I would like to preface this by saying that I never realized the labor necessary to create chocolate. I thought the hiking part of this excursion was tiring, but my goodness, my arms. I know this isn’t what we call it back home, but I truly don’t know what it’s called, and according to Google, it’s a mortar. The thick bowl and stick are used to crush spices. The mortars themselves were very hot, aiding in how quickly we could accomplish this process. Additionally, we were provided with plastic spoons, cocoa shells, cocoa butter, powdered sugar, and a plastic form to poor in the mixture to create the chocolate bar.

Here are the steps we took to create dark chocolate at Project Chocolat ⭣

  1. Add cocoa shells to mortar and crush until it’s a paste. (Extremely labor-intensive.)
  2. Add cocoa butter to the paste until it is well mixed.
  3. Add as much powdered sugar as you’d like. (It’s dark chocolate, so don’t be stingy.)
  4. Pour into form, and tap for bubbles (which I did not do).
  5. Cover with wax paper and hand it over to staff to set.

Yes, I’m aware. It doesn’t sound labor-intensive, now does it? Try it out for yourself if you don’t believe me. The pain was worth it, of course. Such a beautiful experience! You never tend to think about what goes into what we consume or what we purchase until we’re exposed to or educated on it. It put into perspective all that goes into making an item that isn’t sold for all that much. I love a fun activity that has so much to teach.

While we waited for the chocolate to set/chill, we spent time doing the same things we did each time we had a free moment: take photos, quench our thirsts, and sign the walls some more. Soon we received the final product of our efforts and prepared to go. At first, I truly believed that this excursion was too expensive for what I assumed was only the last activity we took part in. Spending more than 3 hours with numerous learning opportunities, well-fed, and more than one activity was worth every dime. I couldn’t recommend Project Chocolat enough. 10/10

New Jerusalem Falls

Following the labor-intensive excursion at Project Chocolat, we decided to relax at New Jerusalem Falls. Not too far from Project Chocolat, the Falls are naturally heated pools with varying temperatures. It took a few minutes to hike to the area where the attendant collected payment. I honestly can’t recall how much the entrance fee was as there was a little back and forth, but it was just a few dollars. I want to say there’s a total of 4 pools, so we started at the top and worked our way down. The highest pool was too cold, and those in the middle had many kids, so we opted for the last one. By the time we got there, we had it for ourselves.

The pool was nice and warm. Bamboo pipes flowed the heated water into the small body of water and created a place with enough pressure to gently massage any area of your body. The pipes differed in pressure, but I often hogged the most pressurized to hit my back. The scenery was breathtaking and visiting immediately after the excursion was a great choice. The experience was an easy 10/10.

A few last thoughts…

The week home was jam-packed with activities and spending as much time as possible with my family. Though it was short, I fulfilled the purpose of this trip. I’ll most likely be heading back home soon. Dependent on the activities, I may do another short series and include everything in one post. But if there are more than three experiences to share, I will make it a series, considering how thick this post is. Lastly, I will be updating my photo dumps shortly after this is published to include photos from St. Lucia. (Even though I’ve included so many in this post, there’s more!) See y’all next time.

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