Trick or Treat! In March???
Yes, I know it is March and I am months from Halloween, but it struck me the other day that provisioning (buying food) feels a lot like going trick or treating.
Entering Clifton after docking the dinghy.
I do not dress up, but I do bring my own bags to carry my “loot” back to the boat and I do go from place to place to see what goodies are available.
So far my favorite place to find groceries has been Clifton on Union Island. The main street is sometimes sleepy and almost deserted. Other days it is teeming with locals and visitors alike. Now, when I say teeming, please don’t think New York! But do imagine a good number of people walking the streets, perusing shelves in various shops and enjoying beverages in shady cafes along a dusty road.
A quiet day on main street in Clifton.
We have provisioned in Clifton three different times and a pattern has developed. First I make a bee-line to Captain Gourmet. This tiny (by US standards) shop is a combination cafe and grocery that caters to the foreigners. I stop in here and scan the refrigerated area for hard to find treats. The last two visits, the freezer has been broken so I chat with the lady at the counter to determine what gems she has hidden in the storeroom freezer. We have scored unusual things here like pork tenderloin and turkey sausage and aerosol whipped cream!
Love this lilac color!
The folks at Captain Gourmet are super helpful and after I pay for my items, they let me leave them in the refrigeration until I have completed my other shopping.
It looks small by US standards, but Captain Gourmet has a lot to offer. Isn’t it cute?
Next we visit ALL of the groceries along the main street, which is about six different places. While items on the shelves at each grocery are often the same, each store has it’s own vibe and a few unique items. One place might be very clean and open, but has relatively few items. Still, I enjoy the clean environment and always buy something in the clean stores when possible.
Kash & Kerry is clean and the proprietor is very sweet.
Another place is dark and very dusty. They have a bit of everything, from used clothing and appliances to canned goods and children’s games. I feel a bit claustrophobic in here, but sometimes it has some unusual dry good that I really want.
You have to look up, down and all around!
This same store also sells “home goods.”
The grocery stores are where we buy canned goods, boxed goods, dry goods and occasionally some cheese or dried fruit, like raisins. But we never buy produce in these stores. Fresh produce is bought from the stands, which are our final stop.
Produce stands in Clifton.
Here in Clifton there is a dirt square with about eight different vendors. Initially I was uncomfortable with this area because as I approached people would try to steer me to one vendor or the other. I didn’t like feeling pressured to buy from just one stand. Even if one stand has everything we want, I always try to buy a little from each person so we spread around our support.
An artist’s palate of color.
On days when they have restocked the produce, the stalls are an artist’s palate of greens, reds and yellows hanging in flimsy mesh bags.
This feels like a step back in time.
With the produce vendors, just like in Captain Gourmet, it is often the secret, hidden areas that offer treasures. We have learned to ask for what we are hoping to find because not everything is displayed. Fresh green beans are a rare and wonderful find and we have been lucky to buy them a couple of times here in Clifton. They were never in sight but when we asked, like magic, a bag of fresh beans was pulled up from the back of the stand.
We have also learned that if we ask one vendor if she has a particular item and she doesn’t have it, she is likely to tell us nobody has those here. I asked for green limes and was told, “They are out of season. No place you can find those here.” But as we made our rounds and asked each vendor, low and behold we found them just two stalls away.
Score on the limes!
Green limes are especially difficult to find and often you have to negotiate to buy just green ones and not have yellow ones included.
The veggies and fruit we buy are certainly different than back in Texas but we are learning to appreciate some new flavors. One really pretty fruit that I had not seen back home is Star Fruit. It is a bit sweet with a texture that is a cross between an apple and a banana. When sliced, star fruit makes a beautiful presentation.
These beauties dress up any plate.
So, next time you pop into Tom Thumb or Kroger and find everything you want clearly displayed, regardless of the season, think of us “trick or treating” our way through several stores and stalls.
Posted on March 9, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged catamaran, Clifton, cruisers, cruising, Helia 44, Let It Be, LIB, live aboard, provisioning, sailing, travel, Union Island. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.