Sunday, January 18, 2009

How We Got To Harbour Island

This trip we flew from JFK International directly to Nassau, Bahamas. After passing a restful evening at the lovely Hilton we woke early to catch the Fast Ferry directly to Briland.

At the ticket window. Since it was just several days before Christmas there were many local folk getting ready to visit Harbour Island, as well as other tourists.

The cost was reasonable, seating comfortable (inside and out), crew amenable, nice little snack bar. The ferry actually lifts up out of the water. It was amazing to know as we came close to some of the islands and the channels could not have been that deep that such a large boat could actually navigate shallow waters.The Fast Ferry that we were on is the farthest away in this photograph.

First stop was Spanish Wells. Here is their harbor.

Spanish Wells is a commercial fishing community located in the north-central Bahamas, considered to be the fishing capital of the Bahamas, with crawfish (spiny lobster) being the main catch.

But as you can see from by the number of people on the docks, the beautiful blue waters, and the ease of access by Ferry or other boats, Spanish Wells is a great place to visit, too.

As the ferry pulled away I took photograhs of the main street.

Saying good-bye to Spanish Wells and looking forward to docking on Harbour Island.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Doorways of Harbour Island.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to vacation for several years now on beautiful Harbour Island, Bahamas. Sometimes called the "Nantucket of the Caribbean" because of the New England style clapboard houses, different from those here in New England, but strangely related through a common history . The world-famous "Three Mile Beach” or "Pink Sand Beach" attracts a very cosmopolitan crowd, as well as being the site of many model shoots. In fact, there was a recent Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Issue shot there. While on the island I took a few photographs of the doorways. When I return in the future, which I will certainly do as soon as humanly possible, I hope to photograph more doorways to share with you.

Harbour Island is set off the north east coast of Eleuthera. Known locally as “Briland”, the island is just over three miles long by a mile wide and was once the capital of the Bahamas.

Just a little history for you to set the mood: In 1648, Captain William Sayles set sail from Bermuda with a following of English Puritans looking to escape religious oppression. They named the beautiful Bahamian island where they landed “Eleuthra”, the Greek word for freedom. In time the settlers split off and moved to some of the other “Outer Islands”, including Harbour Island, in order to protect themselves from the Spanish.

Dunmore Town is the only town on Briland and one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas. It is a quaint village with lots of old New England architecture and has preserved more of its old colonial-style architecture than any other island in the Bahamas. Many of the pastel colored, wooden buildings date back to the 1800's. The framework of one building on Bay Street, "The Loyalist Cottage", dates back to 1790.

Many of these old colonial houses were built during the area’s prosperous fruit growing era in the latter part of the 19th century. Some of the homes that remain from this time have preserved the old colonial architecture with balconies, picket fences, lattice work and garrets. Many foreign-going ships picking up fruit and depositing it in foreign parts visited Harbour Island. It was out of this prosperity that Dunmore Town was expanded and eventually grew to what it is today. Known for its pink sand beaches, Harbour Island is one of the most sought after vacation destinations because it is so small and intimate. If you want to visit make sure to book well in advance.

If you really want to get in the island mood, mon, click on Goombay Smash, you’ll have a recipe that appeared in Bon Appetit’s June, 2008 issue courtesy of the Pink Sands Resort. Goombay Smash is a fabulous island drink make with tropical juices and a lot of rum. They are dangerously delicious and trust me you don’t want to drink too many. Most of the island restaurants and hotels make the drink on the rocks, but the first time Paul took me to Harbour Island we went to visit a friend of his who made them slushy – think Margaritaville with rum instead of tequila. I’m partial to slushy Margaritas and now slushy Goombay Smashes.

Whether or not you partake of a Goombay Smash I hope you enjoy a few of my Harbour Island Doorways.


You can't really see this doorway, but you get the idea of the pastel colors in the bright Bahamian sun, the rustling palm trees for a hedge, and the picket fence reminicent of New England, or England, as the case may be.

Bahama House Inn: Not exactly their door but I love the blue and pink, plus it's a fabulous place to stay. Neighbors to the Rock House, convienent to the harbor area, some of the rooms have kitchenettes, gorgeous deck, very friendly and inviting atmosphere. Tell John Paul and Beth sent you. And click on the link, my photo does not due the Bahama House justice.

This cute little cottage is just down the street from the Bahama House on the opposite side of the street. That's Paul standing to the right. He's talking to a nice gentleman who was white washing the fence. Paul was particularly interested in this house because it was for sale- and a bit rundown - a number of years ago. He was very happy to see that the new owner had restored it quite lovingly in keeping with the colonial period that the island is known for.

This is the doorway to a home called "Blue Ruin". Many of the homes on the island have names: Bloomin' Luck, True Love, Luna Sea. I know we are on a run of blue here but I'm sure it has something to do with the sky and the clear, blue water, don't you? I love the light fixture to the right with the ball of shells on the top. Above the handle is a dolphin door knocker and the juxtaposition of the tile, stucco and wood is soothingly tropical.

This is one of a number of doorways that feature beautiful wrought iron work. A few more appear below. I love the bright pinks, blues, yellows and greens in the tropical sunlight.

The final doorway for now. We visited over the Christmas holidays and I love the sea shell wreath. I collected a bunch of shells and plan to make one myself so I can always have a little bit of sea and sunshine with me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Baba Ghanoush and Hummus

Baba ghanoush and Hummus are very popular Middle Eastern dishes. Baba ghanoush is a paste made of roast or grilled eggplant and tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, while the main ingredient in hummus is chick peas.

For Baba Ghanoush, traditionally the eggplant is first roasted in an oven for approximately 45 minutes. The softened flesh is scooped out, squeezed to remove excess water, and is then pureed with the tahini.

There are many variants of both recipes, particularly the seasonings, which often include garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin, salt, mint, and parsley. When either is served on a plate or bowl, it is traditional to drizzle the top with olive oil. As an appetizer and dip Hummus is scooped with flatbread (such as pita) but is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or, yes, eggplant. Garnishes include chopped tomato, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, ful, olives and pickles.

Outside the Middle East it is sometimes served with tortilla chips or crackers. Both are healthy snacks that can be eaten in a variety of ways, including as a dip with whole wheat bread or crackers, spread on pita, or added to other dishes. Many Vegetarians use baba ghanoush or hummus as a spread on sandwiches.

My friend, Manda, and I made batches of Hummus and Baba Ganoush for the holiday gifts. Even though Christmas and New Year’s have passed by already, these are easy appetizers to make for entertaining at home or bringing along to a party.

The following recipes Manda has been using for years personally, and for the catering she does at private parties. As I mention earlier there are many variations for spices and accompaniments, so take the basic recipe and modify it to your taste buds. 


4 or 5 cloves of garlic

4 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup lemon juice2 tbsp.

tahini (sesame paste)

salt & pepper, to taste

pinch of ground cayenne pepper, to taste

a few drops of virgin olive oil

Mince garlic first in the food processor, then add the remaining ingredients and process well. Add a bit of warm water to achieve desired consistency. Taste and add more cayenne if you'd like it hotter, but remember that the taste will intensify after it is refrigerated.

Baba Ghanoush

4 or 5 cloves of garlic

3 large, firm eggplants

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)

salt & pepper, to taste

a few drops of virgin olive oil

Put eggplants on a foil-covered baking sheet, poke them a few times with a fork (to avoid explosion) and char under the broiler, turning them several times, until skin is black and they collapse.While the eggplants char, mince garlic in food processor.When the eggplants are soft, peel the skin off and scrape the meat into the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and whir up until all is well-combined.

Manda also recommends.....

“Although you'll need to refrigerate both of these spreads to keep them, I find that they are more flavorful slightly warmed. Either one can be popped in the microwave briefly to bring them to a more tasty temperature. If you want to get all fancy-dancy, sprinkle a bit of fresh minced parsley and a touch of cayenne over the top before serving.

And, heck Beth, while I'm at it... I usually make my own pita chips to serve with these. No big deal: soften some butter, split the pitas and spread them with the butter before cutting them into triangles, arrange on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt, then toast under the broiler. Serve them warm with the dips.”