Nassau, and the food is fantastic!
We have returned to Nassau and just got back. A three night cruise is nowhere near long enough, but for a weekend getaway, well, it’s ok. This trip I tried a new excursion company, and I’m very impressed! The company is Tru Bahamian Food Tours, and they have a definite winner here. First, a few qualifiers. One…. all bookings must be made in advance. Two….once booked, there is no refund. This is because when the tour is scheduled, they contact the various restaurants and eatery’s and set up the number of people coming, and the approximate time of arrival. The tour normally is set to start at 11:30 a.m. but can be changed, depending on when the first reservation is made. Let me try to explain. The tour is a walking tour visiting several places, generally around 7 or so. The tour lasts 3 hours, plus (it’s scheduled for 3 hours, but can run over by a bit, depending on walking time, etc.) The distance covered is between 1.2 and 1.5 miles. No wheelchairs can be accommodated, and if you are unable to walk up hill, or numerous stairs, then I would say do not go. Our ship didn’t arrive in Nassau until 12:00, so when we went to book, we discovered we were the first ones for that date, thus the start time was altered to fit the cruise ship arrival time. Great! The tour starts on a street corner (well mapped when you get your tickets) and everyone got there fairly on time. Introductions are made around, and there’s a briefing on how we will proceed, cautions to take, and to answer any questions that might arise. Then you take off walking. There are a number of places that are used. In our case, the first stop was a place called Bahamian Cookin’, where we got the most delicious conch fritters, and macaroni and cheese. No, not what you expect, but an outstanding mixture that is pure heaven. You learn about the origin of the place, meet the owner, and get to understand the décor, which includes the local lore and culture. From there we went to the Pepper Pot Grill and Juice Bar, a Jamaican establishment where we sampled jerk chicken, rice and peas, and a really good juice. Again, we learned about the influence the Jamaican culture had on the Bahamian culture, and learned the differences between dry and wet jerk seasoning. From there we had a nice climb to Graycliff Chocolatier, where cocoa is grown on the islands, harvested, and turned into the most amazing treats. We again picked up the history and culture of Graycliff Manor, and got to see the various culture changes it inspired. We then headed to Van Breugel’s Bistro and Bar, where we got a fabulous conch and cocoanut stew. Here we learned about the European influences to Bahamian culture. Next, we went to Pure Caribbean, a tea and spice shop that dealt with local art and herb culture. We learned about some of the spices that help to define the Island culture. Next, we went to the Athena Café and Bar, where we learned about the Greek influence starting around the 1920′s and 30′s. We finally ended up at the Tortuga Rum Cake Company, a fairly new company that specializes in rum, and cake. It ties in the rum industry that started way back when the islands were first cultivated for sugar cane. All in all, it’s a great tour, and depending on when you go, will depend on which eatery you will visit. After the excursion, I headed to a close grocery store, plunk dab in the middle of the tourist area. It caters to the locals, but carries a number of tourist items. My favorite, the spice section at the rear of the store. Here you can get isinglass, sorrel, gum Arabic, tamarind, various spices from the various islands, as well as a commercially available spice company from the U.S. (Badia). While headed to the ship, I went past a “duty free” liquor store, and picked up a bottle of Olde Nassau Dark Rum. Now, this is an interesting rum. The price is down in the “rotgut” price range, but it’s surprisingly smooth. Classy? No, but tasty? Yes! So, is Nassau a good place to try new foods? Based on this new tour company, I would have to say, an unqualified yes! If nothing else, you can use the experience to build on a sturdy foundation of island foods. (As Julia would say, “Bon Apetit”!)
I have had some inquiries as to how to contact the tour company. Their web site is www.trubahamianfoodtours.com and Allena & Murray are really great people. We will be back in Nassau sometime soon, and look forward to travelling with them again.
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