Guadeloupe | 3 Must-Have Dining Experiences

While my family and I may not have spent as much time in Guadeloupe as we wish we had, we were able to fit in a variety of activities and experiences in our few days there. And when I travel, a lot of the experiences tend to be food-related. We ate some great meals at our hotels – the Langley Resort Fort Royal and Auberge de la Vieille – but we also explored the food scene a bit outside. Here are three of our favorite dining experiences:

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(1) Le Poisson Rouge, Deshaies – or a similar secluded restaurant in the rainforest

This restaurant was recommended to us by the staff at Langley Resort Fort Royal. “Follow the signs to Deshaies, and then right before the town starts, follow the signs for the red fish.” My French lessons had taught me that Le Poisson Rouge meant “The Red Fish” so this made sense. What didn’t make sense was that there wasn’t just one sign that pointed to the red fish, but maybe ten, winding through the rainforest on very small roads with hairpin turns – with no indication of when the signs would stop and we would finally get there. Each sign was a charming wooden outline of a red fish instead of the name of the restaurant. It felt like a treasure hunt.

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When we arrived after many gasps and held breaths from the tough drive, it started raining, and we didn’t see a single soul. We walked around the area, also an ecolodge and spa, we found out later, until I saw a man and asked him if he spoke English. He shook his head but brought me inside to a woman who let me know that the restaurant didn’t open until 7, but that we could get drinks at 6:30. It was around 6 at this point and I didn’t know if my family would want to wait that long, but I could tell this was going to be an awesome spot just from its location and decor, so I was THRILLED when they said, “Okay, let’s wait.” Part of me thinks that no one was ready to make the winding drive again so soon.

We went inside around 6:35 although it was still a little early for them as they were unlocking the doors and setting the tables. It was clear within a few seconds that our waiter did not speak much English and I was going to get a chance to try out my French, so I was excited about that. We had tried planteurs the night before, so I ordered the other signature drink of Guadeloupe – Ti Punch – for us. I’d thought that it would be rum plus a different kind of juice – maybe something like the rum punch I enjoyed in St. Thomas. Our waiter brought out an entire bottle of rum, glasses, and some lemon. It was clear we were not going to get any juice so we ended up switching to planteurs after all, which came in cute mason jars and were much tastier than pure rum would have been.

Since the menu changes daily, the waiter brought a chalkboard to our table with the menu written out. It was of course all in French and there were only a few words I recognized from my Fluent City classes. The waiter explained what a few of the dishes were with his limited English vocabulary but there were still a few that we had no idea about. My sister and I turned on our phone data and furiously googled. We finally had a good idea about what we were going to order, but it felt like a game to figure it all out, which was a really fun experience, because hi, I LOVE games.

Ordering was difficult but also hilarious. We tried to confirm what we had googled with our waiter but I kept switching from (bad) French to English and we were all confused. For one menu item, we hadn’t found the word anywhere online, but the waiter had said it was “shrimp” and I decided that was going to be mine. But then I also decided the second time he said it that instead of “shrimp” he’d said “squid”, which I was also happy to order. I confirmed it was squid with a full-on arms-waving impression of an octopus which he nodded to. I mean, what other option is there to react to someone doing an impression of an octopus?

We didn’t necessarily receive what we thought were going to, but we did enjoy it all. My sister ordered the fish of the day, the Mahi Mahi and my mom ordered a local guinea hen with a chocolate sauce, which was similar to chicken. Two out of four wasn’t bad, considering how much trouble we’d had with the menu. My dad started eating what we’d thought was the duck and about a quarter of the way into it realized it was the filet of steak instead of what he ordered.

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Turns out my octopus impression looks a lot like a prawn impression because that’s what I ended up with. The waiter was right when he said “shrimp,” thought they are quite different. They were still really good but it’s hard to peel them out of their shells without making a mess so I felt like a slob. My family kept joking that we were being judged by the whole restaurant every time the waiter went back into the kitchen – for the rum, the octopus impression, and the way my plate looked after I attacked the prawns. We finished up the meal with some crème brûlée and headed back to our hotel, much to our waiter’s delight, I’m sure.

(2) Entre Ciel et Mer, Le Gosier – or a similar beachfront restaurant for fans of people-watching

Despite growing up at the Jersey Shore, I can only remember a handful of special nights where we remained on the beach way past sunset. But in Le Gosier, this seemed like a common occurrence for the locals, given the crowds and the bright lights shining down into the ocean.

We sat down at Entre Ciel et Mer {French for Between Sky & Sea} on our second-to-last night on the island. We could feel the sea breeze drifting in the windows and hear the locals enjoying a beautiful night playing in the ocean. This night was when my French shone the brightest as I was able to ask (simple) questions about the menu items to ensure I wasn’t going to be surprised with prawns again.

The rest of my family ordered tuna in some form or another and I ordered two appetizers – the pork ribs and the stuffed crab. Everything was delicious, but strangely enough my favorite thing on the plate was the white rice that came with every meal. Not sure how they could have made it any differently than I was used to but rice is one of the main crops in Guadeloupe, so this might have something to do with it.

(3) Bokit – a traditional Guadeloupe sandwich from a food cart

The Bokit is a traditional Guadeloupe sandwich developed in the mid 19th century. It’s a pocket of bread, fried in sunflower oil, and filled with sandwich fixings. We’d heard about this sandwich, served typically from food trucks and carts, and I was on the hunt each time we took the car out. We ended up finding a Bokit cart at the beach near Pigeon Island where we snorkeled one morning.

Perhaps it was that we’d tired ourselves out by swimming around for over an hour stalking sea turtles, but when we bit into our Bokit sandwiches, we gave a collective “wow” at how good they were. We didn’t get anything crazy, just chicken salad and ham/cheese, but something about those sandwiches was special. At 3 euro a piece, these were absolutely our cheapest meal of the trip. We also had the honor of eating them next to a crowing rooster which made them feel even more authentically Guadeloupe.

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xx

7 Responses

  1. […] We packed a few too many stops into our trip and spent lots of time driving and on buses and trains before and after we picked up the car. As we both had work to do, we also spent a lot of time in Croatia’s caffes which were sometimes full of cigarette smoke and TERRIBLE music from the ’80s, but we definitely made time to explore as well. We visited the capital city of Zagreb {which reminded me of Prague}, the seaside town of Zadar {famous for its sea organ and Roman ruins}, and Split, {whose old town which made full use of Diocletian’s Palace I couldn’t get enough of}. We drove into Bosnia and Herzegovina for about twenty minutes to get to Dubrovnik where we stayed the longest. The stars aligned and through social media I found out one of my favorite coworkers was going to be in Dubrovnik for two nights while we were there so we met up with him and his friends and drank all of the drinks. We ate wasabi peanuts, made friends with the best puppies, listened to some great tunes and This American Life, and for dinner one night, I accidentally ordered about 100 “small fish” which might have been anchovies or sardines, when I wanted just one small fish, without its head and tail on my plate. Just par for the course. […]

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