I am here in this ancient city to oversee yet another move. It’s been a year of heaving stuff. None of said stuff is my own. I’m still trying to figure that out. When I do, I’ll let you know.
My eldest will begin an internship here in Athens on Monday. While she’s at it, she may just unlock the secret room to her father’s character. We all have them. His may just be in the country of his birth. There could be profound truths. Or maybe she’ll just learn how to make the most delicious snack this side of the Atlantic.
Screw you spring. So you want to take your time? That’s okay. I’ll make do with hot blooms*, and well…there’s always mangoes.
Living in a big city like Toronto means finding these fruits will not require a trip to the Caribbean. Mango lovers can find a fantastic variety of this juicy stone fruit at most grocers, and they’re in season now. I found these beauties, the Palmer variety from Brazil, at Longos this week and cranked the music up. Grab your sarongs. Yeah baby. It’s a mango party.
Showing off in the Tropical Treats chapter in my food memoir is a very dangerous cake. I usually make it with four small Ataulfo mangoes, but if you’re able to get your hands on one of the Palmer mangoes, one mango will do the trick.
You’ll need rum too. Sip it slowly as you make the easy peasy caramel that coats the bottom of the pan. Thanks Mom, for this tiny perfect copper pot: my new go-to for wee cooking matters like the caramel syrup in this recipe.
The amount of rum that actually goes into the cake is tiny and no, you can’t taste any alcohol, just a gooey rich mango-banana flavour that is (almost) as good as a trip to the beach. If you want the recipe, I’ll happily send it, along with my buzz sheet that goes out to subscribers. Sign up is easy on the top right of this site. Or order my book and you can have all the recipes to yourself.
Throwback Thursdays (colour therapy after all) in the long slow thaw are a little easier with a crisper full of the tropics!
Coming up soon…Coconut mango crisp. Mmmmmmmmmm…..
Can’t find mangoes? Hop down to the Shrangri-La Hotel where this incredible virgin cocktail is on the bar menu. Hong Kong Lemonade, a sheer shot of
adrenaline sunshine, is a blend of juices including ginger, yuzu,orange, cranberry, and lemonade.
*blooms courtesy of Kindness Queen Stephanie Black, who popped into Anne’s kitchen with Junior Star Baker Chloe for this week’s edition of with love and sugar bakes. Who will be our guest next time?
Spring cleaning is a ritual in these parts, clearing space to make room for green daydreams. Tools are easiest to find near the equator, where they get a jump on these things.
Find me some ferns to whisk away winter gray…
some rainbow blooms to brighten any smudges…
and swaths of sea water for dousing doldrums.
Traveler alert: The Gros Islet Jump-Up in St. Lucia is held every Friday night year round. If it’s been awhile since you got down in the thick of it, the island of spectacular mango valleys and rainforest magic is also a very reliable source of spring cleaning know-how. All sorts of mental meanderings are possible. Rumour has it four Toronto students cleaned house by climbing to the top of the island’s iconic Piton peak. Steep and just this side of dangerous? Phooey. There’s one way to shake your booty-from the top of the mountain.
Best spot to bury dreary thoughts: in the basket on a wire heading down to a private table on the rocks. Let the waves crash. You’re just getting started.
(View from The Cliff at Cap Maison, home of the divine passionfruit mojito and other heady delights)
Best way to determine if all your winter pilates classes have paid off? Get this guy to judge.
(Limbo show/fire eating entertainers at The Windjammer Landing
Best reason to endure a long and bumpy road that gives new definition to hairpin turns, then a water taxi gliding past ginormous yachts that just might hide a Matt Damon or two? Dinner at the exotic Rainforest Hideway in Marigot Bay.
It helps to have the Most Interesting Man in the World on your next trip. That is, find your own. This one’s all mine.
Stop hissing, whiners. There’s other ways to get at spring. Get thee to a market and find some rhubarb.
HAPPY SPRING!!!! Time to dig out the polka dots!!!!
( yes, this is same island, same jump-up fans circa 1992)
I flew to the tropics when the ground was frozen and the schedule wasn’t. If there was poetry to be found in winter, my ankle wasn’t finding it, healing from a fracture last fall. Colour me snow happy when I can ski and skate. I’m not one of those who glom on to the winter hysteria either. It’s CANADA. We’re supposed to be cold. Yet, stuck inside to stare out at a relentless white, the mood withers. Snow isn’t the only thing that drifts.
Turns out I needed only a new palette and a punch, straw being optional.
Bring along my favourite crew and….
Travel the world and still, find spots stained forever in your heart. We tumbled onto St. Lucia as newlyweds and behaved in unoriginal fashion.
Rainforest showers were brief, tropical backdrop resplendent.
A minute later, we were back with kids and memories.
There’s been jaunts since, here and there, north and south, east and west-the world’s wonders are endless-but we knew we’d be back. You can’t say goodbye to old friends. You just plan for the next time.
St. Lucia is best seen from the water where the stunning coastline stretches for miles.
Or venture into the rainforest to spot native fruit trees of mango, banana, papaya, coconut, avocado, starfruit, soursop and hog plum. Flowering shrubs of hibiscus, bougainvillea, oleander that I long to grow inside back home but houseplants are for attentive lovers-I’ve only got eyes for the outdoors and my houseplants know it and behave accordingly with a big middle finger.
Friends who ski on their school breaks wonder what on earth do you do all day? I will concede there’s glory in family ski holidays too-my knees still remember-but sunshine restores my merry tribe to their best selves.
Or maybe it’s just as simple as a passionfruit mojito.
We need to quench ourselves in colour and wobble up and down in the warmth of the sea. A breeze floats by and with it, winter, wrinkles and worries.
I hoard moments in my beach bag, guarding time with these young adults that still like beads in their hair.
Can we read in the bed with you? Will you come swimming with me?
Just ordinary miracles, ordinary miracles
But all the same they’re miracles to me
The days that I’ll remember well
Have a simple kind of wonderful of ordinary miracles
Tomorrow…a tropical dessert for those who can’t fly south but need to feel as if they did.
Winter snow, winter blue sky, winter dreams.
A recent video sparked this return trip, in my head anyway, to another blue sky on an eastern high point.
Seeing a whale spout on the ocean from a nearby boat easily counts as a great thrill in my life. We were in the Bay of Fundy, sailing out from New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. As family travel goes, it was as good as it gets.
Our sailboat slowed down, fellow sailors stopped talking. Seeing these great creatures in their natural environment will silence most, as I wrote in my poetry collection Holding Glass.
Easy to see then why this video stood out among a rash of orca spotting videos online. We didn’t see orcas nor were we as close as Laguna Beach paddle boarder Rich German. He encountered five orcas off the California coast recently and shot this beautifully serene video. What rings true is the quiet. It made me remember the magic.
An excerpt from Whale Breath
Motor off, we turn
A shout upfront.
We peer, cheeks raw
eyes squinting from the Fundy glare.
Suddenly a belly,
beyond the bow.
great heart beating,
through wave curtains.
I feel a squeeze.
In my palm, my daughter’s hand
feels smaller, pulsing.
We are soon surrounded,
ensconced in a great mammal ring.
I sense the graceful rumbles
under our rolling feet
and strain to see a whole
but catch mere parts.
A fin spray tantalizing close
grey streaked belly heave,
wet shiny wonders.
I lean back against the stern,
listening for the low hollow rasp
of a whale’s breath.
It is a sound from a child’s toy
a long plastic tube once blown
emits the same strange serenade
out here as we rock in the radiant blue.
We hear it again, again, again
amidst the splash and whip
of our humble boat.
The pod leave us.
From Holding Glass, 2001
Copyright© Anne Langford
For more on family travel possibilities to this great Canadian island of puffins and the best homemade bread in the country, read here. Happy dreaming.
If Monday is get up off it ( the tush) and on it (the work) day, then allow me a brief meander on Tuesday.
My map has more pins on it than ever: Places I want to see. Maybe it’s inverted from Places I’ve been but reminding myself of the world at my door is either masochistic or motivational, depending on coffee intake.
Successful or not, I’ll admit it: This clever and collaborative travel campaign has me that much closer to another land of ice and snow.
Earlier this year, Inspired by Iceland invited fans through Facebook to create a map of Iceland’s secret spots for the winner of the World’s Most Intrepid Tourist.
Here’s the result:
I know. Vistas of cold. Do we not have enough of these here?
The cold there just looks better.
Best evidence of summer’s end is when somebody other than me in this household decides to clean out our kitchen command centre junk drawer (thanks honey) to line up the pencils.
I’m not quite ready but will be soon.
Maybe the school kids itching to get on with it, to see who is taller, rounder, leaner, bolder… Me? I’ll be ready in a day or two, after I reset the frame, currently set at sky blue, thanks to our tenth visit to Prince Edward Island.
My vacation photo slideshows just got old fast.
Where are you going next?
What are you doing this weekend?
We’re headed downtown tomorrow for the Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The roots are green in my tribe so no surprise I wanted to go and sink my boots into that magical place. Three years ago, we fell hard for Ireland and have been planning a return visit ever since.
Look for us at the parade. We’ll be the ones in the goofy hats. Fat chance of finding us.