A Taste of St Lucia Cuisine
I knew from the first bite of fish cake at the manager’s reception that I was going to like the cuisine of Fond Doux Resort and Plantation. It wasn’t a morsel of food pulled from the freezer, thawed, and then heated. Nor was it a perfectly shaped masterpiece surrounded with an artist’s drizzle of dipping sauce, meant more for the eye than the mouth.
Instead, each fish cake on the platter was unique in its shape to represent the soul and passion of the hands that prepared them. That first bite was an explosion of both crunch and flavor as the batter, heavily laced with chunks of conch and salt fish, melted in your mouth. It reminded me of a food you’d find at a fair, only better. Way better. I couldn’t help but to sneak another and then another, probably eating more than my fair share. A zingy, creamy dipping sauce accompanied the fish cakes, but in my opinion, they were perfect without it.
Other hors d’oeuvres at the manager’s reception included fruit skewers, bruschetta, and bacon wrapped plantains. While the dishes may sound rather plain, the cooks did a nice job of highlighting one of the features Fond Doux is known for – the majority of the ingredients used by the restaurants are organically grown on premise.
The bacon wrapped plantains were a brilliant contrast of flavor and texture with the crisp bacon and soft plantain. Think everything that is good from a chocolate covered pretzel – the salt and the sweet – and then multiply it with a gooiness from pulling the sugar from fresh fruit. They were served with a mildly spicy BBQ sauce.
This was real St Lucian food prepared by real St Lucian chefs
I think this is where many resorts get it wrong. As they follow the trend of the Michelin Star chasing celebrity wanna-be chefs, they’ve created a dining experience filled with artistry yet void of passion. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been served a beautiful plate that lacked the essential element to a good meal – flavor!
Flavor can only come from passion, not show. The cooks at Fond Doux, mothers and grandmothers from neighboring villages who grew up in kitchens watching their mothers and grandmothers, bring a sense of soul with them to work that outweighs a Michelin Star any day.
The kitchen’s passion continued to shine with the rest of their St Lucia Cuisine
As Fond Doux only has one restaurant open for dinner, Jardin Cacao Restaurant, they rotate dinner menus to prevent the choices from getting stale for guests not wanting to leave the resort for dinner. Our favorite evening was St Lucian Night. The same soul we found in the simple hors d’oeuvres during the manager’s reception was found through the offerings on the dinner menu.
For our St Lucian dinner, we split an appetizer of coconut-curried shrimp. Giant sized, hand battered shrimp were served in a heaping mound topped with a refreshing ginger curry sauce. From the seafood to the coconut batter to the sauce, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted something this fresh. And it was deep-fried! It was the perfect example of how quality ingredients can completely change a dish.
My main course was the Fond Doux Special Local Pepper Beef Pot. I found the dish to be a perfect balance of savory and spice. Even though there was serious heat, the spice didn’t overpower the dish. This was by far a fan favorite as guests throughout the week were hoping it would appear on the menu outside of St Lucian night so they could order it again (a subtle hint to management).
St Lucian night was followed the next day by St Lucian breakfast. The buffet consisted of a cucumber salad, smoked herring and salt fish, and local bakes. They also served Fond Doux famous cocoa tea, which is served daily but tastes better when paired with native dishes.
The vegetables in the salad were finely sliced and served without a dressing. Normally, I prefer a little something to moisten up a salad, but when vegetables are as ripe as these, no dressing is required. The vibrant salad paired perfectly with the smoky and woody seafood dish. At first I was a little intimidated, not knowing if all parts of the fish were edible (some pieces looked like tails or fins), but after one bite of the smoky, woody goodness, I didn’t want to leave anything to spare.
Dessert for me was the local bakes, or johnnycakes as they’re called elsewhere. These also appeared on the menu daily. Each day at breakfast, I finished up slowly picking at the fluffy fried dough and sipping on my second cocoa tea. The cocoa tea was a lot like hot chocolate but a touch more savory. The cocoa is steeped with nutmeg, cinnamon, and bay leaves. To add a subtle thickness, flour is whisked in.
We also dined at Fond Doux on a non-themed night to sample their standard menu.
I started with a Pumpkin Purée Soup Scented with Fresh Herbs. In the US, we tend to over sweeten anything with pumpkin in it forgetting that it was first a savory ingredient. The squash like character was highlighted nicely with fresh herbs. I washed it down with a Fond Doux’s signature drink, a Cocoa Fond Doux – a tropical mixture of coconut, cocoa, milk, and rum. The Cocoa Fond Doux is quite addictive with its plantation harvested ingredients (I had several throughout our stay).
Mrs. G. ordered Stuffed Crab Back with Cheese for her starter. It was much like a deviled crab, but loaded with a funky, creamy cheese that went oddly well with the briny crab. It was finished under the broiler to crisp the outer layer of cheese.
My main course was Blue Marlin with a Tomato, Ginger, and Lime Sauce. Blue Marlin has a meaty texture like shark or swordfish that can be tough to cook. Fortunately, the team at Fond Doux knew how to cook blue marlin and delivered a beautiful dish with a bright sauce. Having reached her pregnancy quota of seafood for the week, Mrs. G. opted for the Passion Fruit BBQ Pork Chop. The sauce was good enough to lick the plate dry with a tang from the passion fruit followed by a hearty molasses flavor. Unfortunately, the pork chops were overcooked and hard to cut.
For dessert, we spilt the Mango Crumble, which highlighted the best of Fond Doux and was a perfect ending to our dinner. An otherwise standard dessert was elevated by mangoes that were picked just hours before and drizzled with a chocolate sauce made from Fond Doux grown cocoa beans.
Fond Doux combines passion and only the best ingredients.
Which is why it is one of the leading resorts when it comes to St Lucia cuisine. Guests can expect an authentic St Lucian experience not only in the resort’s location, commitment to the environment, but also in its cuisine. A vacation at Fond Doux Resort and Plantation is truly a vacation unlike any other that you will experience.