I remember my childhood, specially the exam time , when my mother give me almond with milk in the morning and says that it helps you to keep alert and specially almond sharpen your mind and memory. And it really happens. Almonds or Badam as we call them in India.
Though the years we have discovered that almond have many other honorable qualities. Besides being used as a garnish in for everything from muffins to halwa, milk and lassi, almonds are basic ingredients of any sweets in india like khoya burfi and Boondi ka ladoo.
But before we begin to wax lyrical about the almond, lets backtrack for a little bit of history about the wonder nut.
Almond have also been one of the earliest cultivated foods, originating in Western Asia. From here they were taken to Greece, Turkey and middle east. Jews regards almonds as the symbolic part of the dinner that breaks the Yom Kippur. In India, Its customery at weddings to give five suger-coated almonds to signify the five qualities of happy marriage – health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity.
Almonds have been always favourite in Indian kitchen much before the health benefits of almonds was discovered. In India , a basket of nuts – almond , cashew, pistachio and apricot are must in a Diwali festival gifts. From Shreekhand to Sheera and Thandai to Malai-kulfi, almonds add a rich taste to the food.
St Vincent and the Grenadines are a group of islands that make up one country. Other than being next door neighbors, they bear no relation to Grenada, despite the similarity of the name. These special islands have a similar feel to the British Virgins in that you can easily sail or motor from one to the other while remaining in the same country. The similarity ends there in that these islands are still less developed and far less “discovered” than the BVI. No jet skis, aquascooters, or spearfishing are permitted in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which make it perfect for a relaxing charter (see our boats in the Grenadines). There is a conscious effort toward protecting the spectacular natural heritage of the islands.
The prevailing winds and currents are north to south, especially in the winter months. It is comfortable to sail southward from St. Vincent down to Union Island , with the wind and the swell. Steaming north can be more of a struggle but the islands are close together and a round trip can easily be accomplished in a week to ten days. But…the main point of the Grenadines is not to “accomplish” anything. As one visitor put it, “There is never enough nothing to do….”
St Vincent is a rugged, hilly volcanic bit of real estate that still houses a 3,000 foot volcano named Soufriere, which last erupted in 1979. There are no white sand beaches to attract tourists, and, thus, the island has remained largely unspoiled. The interior is undeveloped and, in a sense, nothing but “wild nature”. There are not even roads crossing the island. A true “eco-tourist” will enjoy climbing the volcano or taking a trip by boat to the Falls of Baleine on the north end of the island. For the less adventuresome, the Botanical Gardens near Kingstown are the oldest in the Western Hemishere and quite beautiful. There are still specimens of breadfruit left by the famous Captain Bligh.
Bequia (pronounced Beck-way)
This beautiful island is only about eight miles from Kingstown or Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent down happy-suger to Bequia. Bequia is the largest of the Grenadines (7 square miles) and has a rich history of boatbuilding and whaling. For years it was only possible to get to Bequia on a ferry from St. Vincent or a private boat so the island has maintained a very authentic West Indian character.
The main stopping point for yachts is Admiralty Bay/Port Elizabeth. There is a long walkway around the bay with various local shops, bars and restaurants. Try the Gingerbread Café, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and also sells gourmet special ty goods including wine, coffee and caviar…or Auberge Des Grenadines, famous for fresh lobster…or Frangiapani (right on the water), known for lobster (grilled lobster, lobster cocktails etc), curried conch and its Thursday night “jump-up” and barbeque. A little outside of town, Le Petit Jardin is a special treat. Its owner/chef trained at the Culinary Institute in the US , but his style is definitely mouth-watering French gourmet. At the southernmost end of town is the Plantation House, an old West Indian-style plantation resort with cottages and a restaurant and bar.
This island hideaway (only 3 miles long and a mile and a half wide) is about fifteen miles from St. Vincent and ten from the West Cay of Bequia. Mustique is a privately-owned island sprinkled with only about 90 homes, many belonging to the rich and famous. Gently sloping manicured lawns and beautifully kept houses are characteristic of the island. The best way to get around is to rent a “mule” (heavy duty golf cart) or a motorbike (Mustique Mechanical Systems 488-8555).
Competing with Foxy’s for the most famous New Year’s Eve party in the Caribbean is Basil’s Bar ( ph# 784-488-8350 firstname.lastname@example.org). Basil’s also hosts a Blues Festival each year (from January 19-February 5 in 2007) and a Wednesday night bbq buffet and “jump-up” with a steel band. Yachties in search of a drink, a great sunset and a little Caribbean music dinghy right up to the pier where Basil’s is located. You can buy a kaftan (for which Basil’s is known) in shop adjacent to the restaurant.
Cotton House, formerly a suger mill was completely renovated in 2004, is the only resort on the island. It is small with only 20 rooms, and like just about everything in Mustique, offers complete luxury in a small, private setting.
For provisions, try Corea’s Food Store or the Mustique General Store in the harbor. (The harbor is quaint and boats hosting more than 25 people are not allowed in.) There is a lovely French pattiserie, Sweetie Pie Bakery that sells baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat.
Canouan was a quiet island virtually untouched island until Italian developers bought it some years ago. Now it hosts a large Raffles Resort, the Tamarind Beach Hotel and Yacht Club, the Villa Monte Carlo Casino, the Amrita Spa and the Trump International Golf Club. It is not a favorite of yachties in the Grenadines, but if you have had enough tranquility, it is the perfect place for an afternoon on the golf course or evening at the casino!
Further to the south are the Tobago Cays, famous for amazing snorkeling and for the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean ” and “Dead Man’s Chest”. This cluster of cays inside a rim of reef (Horseshoe Reef) are becoming more popular but are still far less crowded than places like the Baths in the BVI. Every morning, the “bread man” will come around to your boat offering bread and ice, two necessities. Sometimes, there will be fishermen offering fresh fish or lobster (beware the underweight/illegal lobsters!). Islanders sometimes host beach parties or bbq’s, but the Cays are by and large a natural phenomenon and remain a completely undeveloped national park. Be sure you are well provisioned before going in. Once there, soak up the beautiful sights around you, both under the water and above.
Saltwhistle Bay in Mayreau is not to be missed. It is one of the most perfect beaches in all of the Grenadines. If you arrive too late in the day during high season, you will have to anchor in Saline Bay on the far side of the island (a nice hike over the crest of large hill). (Beware of anchoring anywhere near the ferry that comes barreling into Saline Bay in order to dock at the enormous concrete pier over to one side).
Saltwhistle Bay is home to a spectacular resort called the Saltwhistle Bay Club (ph: 784-458-8444). Visiting yachties are welcome to lounge and swim at the beach (pretty much like being in a postcard that is too good to be true). For a luxury experience, reserve well in advance for cocktails at the Saltwhistle bar and dinner at the stone tables under the trees at the beach. For a little “local flavor” or a less expensive dining experience, walk up and over the hill to some of the local bars and restaurants. The food is fresh and delicious, and the people of the island are very welcoming and friendly.
Just a mile to the west of Union Island and south of the Tobago Cays is Palm Island . There is a narrow strip of sand just off the island, which looks like what you always imagined a deserted would be. Many of the palms that were planted here have been stripped off by hurricanes. You can anchor and go snorkeling in an area that is protected and clean.