Out & About // Cafe Mariposa

Payol runs through my blood so I was more than excited to see Cafe Mariposa, a restaurant in the Lopinot Valley featured on this year’s TT Restaurant Week schedule.

Like many kids, I spent a lot of time in Lopinot during my childhood. I have very distinct memories of eating multi-coloured cheese paste sandwiches and catching tadpoles in the river there. What I did not have a distinct memory of, however, was the extremely long and winding road that one had to take to GET to that tadpole hunting ground. Like it’s worse than Maracas. So if you’re prone to motion sickness, consider yourself warned.

Anyway, undulating journey behind me, I was very excited to arrive at Cafe Mariposa. Waze was actually sending me another few kilometres down the road…but thank God for relatively sharp eyes because I spotted the Cafe Mariposa sign just as I was about to go trekking to whatever far off land Waze wanted me to visit. It’s literally on your left, just a few metres down from the periphery of the historic site.

Our dining area for the day was the patio space overlooking Mariposa’s “Farm-a-see”, or, you know…garden. Hummingbird feeders were strung up along the edge of the roof, attracting what had to be more than 20 different tiny iridescent dive-bombers. They were very unafraid of people…coming uncomfortably close at some points.

Mariposa’s menu was good old country cuisine with lots of ingredients you can tell were sourced from just beyond their door step.

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The starters were dasheen sticks and tostones (smashed plantain slices) served with a home made chutney. I love dasheen in any form so those went down great. The tostones I wish were a little sweeter but I know it’s the luck of the draw with plantains sometimes. The sweet, tangy chutney really elevated the taste profile of both these otherwise rustic dishes though.

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Tostones

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Dasheen Sticks

Next up was the soup course. Every time there’s pumpkin soup on a menu, I will order it (it also helped that I’m not a big fan of eggplant). It’s definitely a departure from the thick, creamy version of pumpkin soup that I’m accustomed to. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup

Finally! The main course. I eat lamb on occasion so I was sorely tempted by the Cocoa Crusted Leg of Lamb. However, our lovely waiter recommended that I try the Fresh Agua Viva Tilapia. I do not regret taking his advice. The tilapia was wonderful…and that Green Banana Casserole. was. every. thing. It was hands down my favourite thing on the plate. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was the rice, and I suspect that’s because I normally only eat brown rice. The stuffed christophene was….christophene.

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All in all the entree was pretty good but I would have been happy with just the tilapia and the green fig casserole to be totally honest.

Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for…DESSERT.Now I generally don’t do ice cream. That over-processed, super creamy, high in fat sweet stuff just doesn’t do it for me on most days. But when you see something cited as ‘award-winning’ on a menu…you really have little excuse not to try it. I’m a big fan of cocoa so the Award Winning Cocoa Ice Cream was a no-brainer for dessert. I loved everything down to the presentation.

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The only disappointment in this dish was that I couldn’t eat the cocoa pods they used for the presentation, so I recommended they swap those out for a dense sponge cake soaked in cocoa liqueur or something.

After our meal was done we got serenaded by the lovely proprietors (who I later found out are my friend’s mom and aunt).

Only thing to note before you head off to Cafe Mariposa…I should let you know that this isn’t the salty, season-y dishes your palate is probably accustomed to. I am a serious salt mouth and I felt compelled to declare that pretty much everything needed more salt. But when you rock back and really study it though…did it? Does anything really need THAT much salt? I don’t know…enough of the meal was tasty without the all too familiar saltiness we’ve come to expect from our food.

Once all was said and done…the verdict is, I would go back to Cafe Mariposa. But I wouldn’t just go for a meal…right now my mind is on a weekend away from all the noise, all the pollution, and all the bullshit of ‘civilisation’. Instead I’ll take fresh air, a dodgy wifi signal, all the cocoa tea my heart could desire, and see how well I can fare without air condition for a few days. There seems to be so much more to explore at Cafe Mairposa besides the food, and I love how much of their ingredients is either grown in their garden or sourced from people within the area. Sustainable living. I approve wholeheartedly.

So just a heads up…if I randomly go missing one weekend, don’t be alarmed…I’ll be unplugging in Lopinot.

Port of Spain Style by Maya Cozier

A while back I was asked, rather spontaneously, to be interviewed for a short film that Maya Cozier was shooting during her summer break from school. Of course I obliged, and yesterday, Maya posted the finished product for all to see. Kudos to Maya for great production quality, fab story-telling and a cast of super interesting subjects, all of whom I respect for having a distinct sense of style that I think is very true-to-self. I feel very honoured to have been considered along with these fab folks – Shandelle Loregnard, Sanian Lewis, Aaron Fingal, Rhys Thompson, Shannon Alonzo and Arielle Williams.

Check out the video below and share it round! You can peep me at 3:02 touting my fave local labels like Lend & Borough and Koko Karibi, and honourary Trini (but really she’s Dominican) Kristy Collado’s Chejo line.

Port of Spain style from Maya Cozier on Vimeo.

Treasure Hunting // The Shop

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Simply but aptly named, The Shop occupies two units at The Normandie Hotel’s quaint Market Place, which already houses gems such as the Paper Based Bookshop and Gillian Bishop’s fine jewellery store.

Conceptualised as a space for local small businesses, artists, designers, and pretty much anyone with a creative passion to be able to showcase and sell their goods, The Shop hosts a variety of locally made treasures. Fashionistas and fashionistos alike can find apparel here from The Cloth, the queen of black and white – Meiling, quirky aprons from Jade Drakes aka Duck Girl and an array of colourful children’s clothing by Lisa Gittens of Sew Lisa.

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I was super excited to see Lend & Borough, a line of handmade leather handbags produced by Melissa Darbeau, sunglasses by my girl Sanian of Sanianitos, Mark Eastman‘s appropriately titled ‘Dappered’ collection of…well…rather dapper bow ties, intricate jewellery from Rachel Rochford and wonderful upcycled jewellery from Nature Seekers Craft & Jewellery.

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For the foodies there’s local fruit preserves by Terre Benie, who also sells at San Antonio Green Market, packaged saltfish buljol and smoked herring by Oui Cuisine, honey and honey products (I saw some candles I can only presume are made of bees’ wax) by Bede Rajahram, and my favourite cocoa tea and cocoa products from Exotic Caribbean Mountain Pride.

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An unexpected surprise was The Palette Project – household items made from repurposed wooden palettes. Sustainable and affordable, I saw quite a few wine racks and some unique shelving options that had a real raw, unpolished feel to them. Very organic and special.

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You get the vibe that The Shop is going to be one of those places that provides a new experience every time you visit. One of the owners of The Shop, Charisse Parsons promised to have even more designers and artisans showcased in the future. I’m always happy to see the #SupportLocal movement expand, particularly to brick and mortar establishments. Go check out The Shop when you get a chance!

Introducing // The Decorative Pillow Collection by Toni Crockett Design

I don’t think there’s a single woman in the world who wouldn’t want her home to be as fabulously outfitted as she is. We’re blessed in Trinidad to have a wealth of interior décor stores and interior designers to bring our homes up to the standard we hold for our own personal style. One such fabulous interior designer, Toni SuratSingh of Toni Crockett Design has introduced a beautiful, locally conceptualised and produced line of decorative pillows, inspired by motifs that are so integral to our Caribbean living. With themes like Amerindian, Bamboo, Coral and Cocoa, her line invokes a sense of subtle patriotism as we are given a tangible avenue to appreciate all the little things about this island life that make it so special and unique to us. As a bonus, these beautiful pillows are hand painted by Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales of Lisa’s Fabrics…giving you an extra helping of specialness for your home.

Amerindian is my favourite…for what I hope would be an obvious reason! :D

From Toni’s Facebook Page:

The Toni Crockett Design Decorative Pillow Collection is produced in small editions and proudly made in Trinidad. We take an artistic approach to home décor; by creating a collection that represents local talent and prints that are heavily influenced by Caribbean beauty.
Inspired by nature and local history our premier prints are Amerindian, Bamboo, Cocoa and Coral. Each organically expressed and personally interpreted to create our decorative pillow collection. We consider each pillow to be a work of art; handmade from natural materials of raw silk and burlap to create a striking balance of structure and imperfection. Hand painting can be somewhat unpredictable, but we embrace these subtle colour variations as part of the production process. By welcoming these variations, each pillow is unique; no two are alike. The Toni Crockett Design Collection is always evolving but stays true to our design approach of attainable home décor that is uniquely Caribbean.

We hope you enjoy your one of a kind piece!

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Loved Lisa's abstract interpretation of Bamboo.

Loved Lisa’s abstract interpretation of Bamboo.

Who doesn't love cocoa?

Who doesn’t love cocoa?

Obviously...

Introducing AMERINDIAN, inspired and reminiscent of the primitive petroglyphs of the first people of Trinidad and Tobago. Embracing the simplicity of basic shapes and lines, our Amerindian print expresses national pride of our Amerindian Ancestry.

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All photos sourced from the Toni Crockett Design Facebook Page. Click to see more.

Design and Concept by Toni Crockett Design

Hand Painted by Lisa Sarjeant Gonzales
Sewn by Sew Chic Interiors
Photo Credit: Rene Ortiz Photography
Photo shoot location: Private Residence

Beauty Bomb // L’Oreal-a-palooza

I’ve said it before somewhere that I never get too adventurous with my makeup. I think if I had to describe my ‘look’ it would be ‘minimalist’. I couldn’t live without moisturiser, a decent BB cream and the blackest eyeliner and mascara combo I can manage.

L’Oreal Trinidad & Tobago was kind enough to give me some goodies to try out the other day and I finally got around to ripping open the packaging and getting down and dirty (not so much) with a few stellar products.

First up and at the top of my list is the Voluminous Butterfly mascara. I posted a pic of this on Instagram and quite a few folks were interested in hearing my opinion on it. First up, let me say that the Voluminous line by L’Oreal has always been a cult favourite amongst the beauty vloggers I follow, and with good reason, I think. As one of my girlfriends put it – it’s the same formula as Lancôme (can’t confirm) at a fraction of the price. The formula is great – not too drying and doesn’t cause my lashes to clump together. I wouldn’t call it super volumising per se, but what it lacks in volume it makes up for in length. The wand is also pretty nifty, and no doubt, one of the key reasons for its success with me. The L’Oreal website had this synopsis of the innovative wand

Its revolutionary Butterfly Brush with asymmetrical lash line shape extends and lifts outer corner lashes to give you a winged-out effect, instantly volumizing lashes at the roots and stretching lashes outward. The unique Cocoon Fibers instantly wrap lashes in a soft, delicate veil to create silky, spectacular lashes that flutter.

I also appreciate that the smaller combs are perfect for your lower lashes, if you’re so inclined. The only downside I can find to this mascara is the fact that because of the angle of the brush, it works perfectly on your right eye…but you’d have to use your left hand to apply to your left eye if you want the same effect. Otherwise, the longer bristles on the wand end up on the inner corner of the eye when they should be on the outer corner. Ya dig? So yeah…I’m going to have to get a bit ambidextrous with this mascara application if I want the same results on each eye. This has made it into my everyday makeup bag nevertheless.

Next up is the L’Oreal Infallible Silky Pencil Eyeliner. I don’t usually go for eyeliners I have to sharpen…because laziness. However, if you don’t mind the extra work, the Infallible eyeliner is not a bad buy. It’s highly pigmented with good colour pay off. I use pencil eyeliner on my waterline…and this pencil is pretty soft, so you have to be careful not to apply it too close to your tear ducts otherwise you’ll end up with some streaky black marks near the inner corner of your eye. It stays on ALL day…I usually have to use my oil-based makeup remover to get it all off. I’m not sure what more you could want from an eyeliner, barring not having to sharpen it of course. The colour wasn’t my favourite because of the sparkles in the Charcoal version but I would opt for a Black in this, easily.

Next is a lip product called the Extraordinaire by Colour Riche in Ruby Opera. Now I almost never wear lip colour, but it’s nice to have an option if you want to get a little dolled up for a special occasion. The formula is super moisturising but I didn’t find it sticky. The colour itself is rich, vibrant and long lasting, which is great since I almost never remember to reapply my lip products.

Last but not least was a hair product that I didn’t even realise was working super well for me until of course…I forgot to use it one day. The ends of my hair are bleached so naturally, it’s split end central. I began incorporating the L’Oreal Advanced Haircare Total Repair Extreme Split Ends Fixer after every wash, before my blow dry. Now I can’t say for sure that my split ends reduced in number (I think they did), but I can say that the one time I neglected to include this product in my regimen, my ends were awful – very dry and brittle. Thankfully I can apply this serum to wet or dry hair so two pumps later and they were looking and feeling a lot healthier.

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So concludes my L’Oreal-a-palooza tour. I actually have one or two more products that I was given that I’m yet to try so perhaps I’ll incorporate those into a follow up post.

 

 

NB: These products were sent to me for consideration. I am not being paid for this review. This is my honest opinion folks…you should know I wouldn’t give it to you any other way :)

Ceola does Colombiamoda // Day 2

My Day 2 and Colombiamoda’s official Day 1, Tuesday was a very long but very exciting experience.
It’s not every day you get to see how a world class fashion show and convention is orchestrated and executed. Not to say I took a glimpse backstage or anything, but the entire operation from the point of view of a spectator was seamless.

The day began with the herding of the press into our cool Inexmoda/Colombiamoda mini-buses to get us to the venue – Plaza Mayor – in time to go through the rigorous security checks and get seated comfortably for the inauguration of the trade show. Present was the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who spoke about the tremendous growth the country has seen not just holistically but especially with regard to their position as the fashion hub of Latin America. The fashion industry of Colombia accounts for some 15.7% of employment in the country and there has been a 20% reduction in imports since 2013, an indication that far more preference and support was being shown to the national product. Those are statistics we in Trinidad & Tobago can only dream of seeing one day. If I’ve learned anything from this experience so far…it’s that Trinidad & Tobago has a long way to go before it can reasonably claim to have anything even resembling a fashion industry.

When I worked in government, we used to host a few developmental forums, and invited representatives from places like Singapore to conduct workshops and lectures on how to move from third world status to first world status. While Colombia may not be, on paper, a first world country (yet), I would not be surprised in the least if we would find more relevant and poignant solutions to our current crime scourge and societal issues by looking to countries like Colombia.

Anyway, enough politicking, on to the fashion! And fashion there was! This entire complex is basically a fashion mecca – so large  I haven’t even been able to see more than 30% of it’m sure. I hope to rectify that in the time I have left here. Yesterday was mostly a day of runways or “pasarelas”.

First up was the Non-Stop Runway, featuring four designers – Andrés Pajón, Bastardo, Mariangélica Guerra and Purpuratta. Andrés Pajón was my favourite in the lineup, due in part to his bright, colourful designs, heavy embellishment and distinctly feminine aesthetic. It also helped tremendously that he sent his models down the runway to Busy Signal’s Tic Toc :)

I also really enjoyed the intricacy of Mariangélica’s collection. Her largely neutral colour palette allowed the details of the interwoven fabric  to shine through. Loved the pops of teal throughout as well.

The next show I hit up was presented by fashion magazine Fucsia – Ashes by designer Vanessa Gomez. It was a collection inspired by rock and roll bohemian and it showed. I loved the incorporation of fragmented knitwear throughout the loose, flowing fabrics. There’s no way you can wear this collection and not feel like a rockstar. Loved the styling as well.

La Alcaldía de Medellín…or the Mayor’s Office to us English-speakers, presented three designers, all of whom went above and beyond my expectations – Natalia Londoño, Love Citizens and Andrea Landa.

Natalia Londoño was soft structure with amazing prints. I´ve noticed, throughout all the collections, a subtle but very consistent attention to and respect for detail. Natalia’s was no different.

The super cool Love Citizens were next. While they were principally beach wear, their outerwear and separatess stunned, particularly the white mesh & neoprene (I think) skirt and jacket pictured below.

Last for this segment was Andrea Landa. She blew me away…so much detail – both the hand crafted macramé and the slashed leather were stunning, juxtaposed with the relaxed fit of her garments. Easily one of my favourites for the week so far.

Next on the agenda was a super fun show – the Ipanema x Paradizia presentation. The suits were bright, colourful and detailed…pretty much everything we seem to want from suits nowadays. It’s only kind of amusing how little we purchase swim wear now for actual swimming.

Last but not least was one of the few brands I knew about prior to arriving in Colombia. Custo Barcelona, in partnership with Haceb, produced a beautiful collection. It was cacaphony of colours, prints and textures. It’s amazing how one does not even question the combinations presented…it just makes perfect sense once you see it in motion.

And so concludes the first official day of Colombiamoda! Hope you enjoy the clothing as much as I did :) Time for bed…10+ hours of fashion looks a lot better on paper than it actually is in real life – exhausting.

Let me know which are your favourite looks in the comment below! h

Ceola does Colombiamoda // Day 1

Ok so some of you may have figured out by now that I am in the land that gave us Shakira, Gabriel García Márquez and James Rodriguez (no ladies…I am yet to see him or any of his doppelgängers).
To be more specific, I’m in Medellín, the former stomping grounds of one Pablo Escobar, and a city that’s seen a radical transformation since the aforementioned’s reign.
To be fair, where I’m staying is one of the more affluent areas – El Poblado is an upscale neighborhood nestled in the hills just outside of the city centre of Medellín. Here there’s lots of hotels (as it seems to be the preferred domain of tourists), restaurants and malls. I love how green everything is – trees line the streets and there are a lot of green spaces or parques scattered throughout the area.

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I’m here covering Colombiamoda on behalf of Metro Magazine. The actual Colombiamoda didn’t kick off til last night with an inaugural presentation by Camilo Álvarez, a Medellín native and one of their rising stars in the fashion circuit. Anyway, I’m jumping ahead. Will give you more on Camilo’s show later.
The press (and we are a hefty number) was invited to attend an overview of the city and brunch hosted by the Medellín City Hall and the organisers of the event Inexmoda.
One of Medellín’s most impressive features, to me, so far is their Metro system. They’re obviously quite proud of it as well, because we all hopped aboard to head out to Parque Arví, where the event was being held. Their Metro system is new, clean and accessible. Imagine my surprise when I realised that they’ve integrated cable cars into their Metro – a concerted effort to provide more accessible transportation to those who live further up the hills of Medellín (the more impoverished communities here proved to be a stark contrast to the sanitized facade of Poblado). We sailed in the sky above a sea of red brick and galvanize.

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I noted with some amusement that rather than having billboards, some advertisers have actually painted marketing messaging on the rooftops of some homes. Apt, when you consider the length of the journey up to the top of the mountain. Eventually the scene changed from houses to forest and we made our way across an expanse of greenery before arriving at our final destination. – Parque Arví.
Parque Arví is stunning. As soon as we walked out of the Metro station we were greeted with a quaint reception – finger foods and a delicious fruit juice (I think it was pineapple).

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After milling about for a bit, we were all invited to don our cool gardening gloves that we got in our goodie bags and go plant a tree! I named my tree Paco, and with any luck I’ll be able to come back to Medellín in a few years and see him again.

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After flexing our green thumbs, we assembled for brunch. First course was a delicious stuffed portobello mushroom. I was about to dig in when my seat mate Monica (one of the directors of Look Magazine in Guatemala) informed that there was ham in it. Whoops! Don’t eat ham. The caterers were kind enough to organise a ham-free plate for me though. Main course was a tomato quiche and desert was rice pudding and a cheesecake made with a local fruit called uchuva.

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Once we finished brunch it was back down the mountain for us. We headed back to the hotel and I headed out to a nearby mall SantaFe to capitalise on all the ‘Rebajas’ signs in the windows of some of my favourite stores. I also managed to find a sushi restaurant in Poblado – Sushi Light. The sushi was fair to fine considering they didn’t have the variety of rolls I’m accustomed to. It’s always fascinating to me how sushi differs from country to country depending on tastes.

That night was the inaugural runway of Colombiamoda featuring one Camilo Álavarez, in conjunction with title sponsor Cementos Argos. A curious marriage no? Of construction material and fashion…? Not when you think about it though…for many designers, architecture and environment are a key influence and inspiration and for Álvarez it was no different. The press release by Inexmoda had this to say:

This interest for urban themes was taken as a theme of study and analysis, perfect for collaborative work with Cementos Argos – which takes the idea of fashion and the city as a construction – an idea that is becoming both stronger and viable in Medellín as well as Colombia as a whole. The strengthening of these themes is partly due to talented young designers who have started to reconstruct national identity through design.

Camilo Álvarez has been a key player in the transformation of a new generation of critical, creative and original designers. “Desayuno” is an example of the evolution of Colombian design. It is a collection through which the inspiration of the designer is seen through a series of tones which travel from early morning until midday hours demonstrated in a palate of colours that go from cold and neutral colours to warmer shades.

Naturally, I loved the collection. I’m a fan of anything I consider to be ‘elevated casual’ and that looks super comfortable while still bringing something unique and fresh to the table. I was a particular fan of the colour palette, and the way the looks transitioned from white to light blue, to blush, to black, to the metallic copper accents found on many garments later in the show.

Álvarez set the bar quite high for the three days to follow.