Word on the street
- September 4th, 2022
- in Lifestyle
With the BVI Food Fete on the horizon, we comb the raw streets of Tortola and shine a light on four street food vendors. All vastly different in the fare they lovingly create, but with one thing in common - family is at the heart.
Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food
In the cool breeze atop Great Mountain a young couple, supported by their small, dedicated team happily grow and produce food that is both spiritual, healthy and beneficial to the environment around them.
As Jamal, Sarai and their team quietly go about preparing for service in their delightful little cottage kitchen and outdoor restaurant Irie Ites Ital, slowly patrons begin to arrive, everyone greeting each other as friends with smiles and a cheerful “Irie”. The little black cat stretches in the sun as she rests nearby and all around we see an abundance of life and harmony. Hands of bananas drip from the trees nearby and underneath the little four-month old turtles munch on their breakfast of hibiscus flowers.
Clearly this couple has a connection to the community, the natural environment and a deep commitment to ensuring that Mother Nature is respected and in return for the abundance she provides, something is given back.
Jamal, the head chef, speaks with passion about the menu that changes daily. Everything is freshly made from scratch with all-natural ingredients and spices harvested wherever possible from the farm such as green banana, green papaya, lettuce, basil, scallions, shallots, chives and seasoning peppers, to mention just a few. When available avocados are sourced locally and the dishes are then decorated with edible flowers that provide a compliment, including sunflowers and marigolds, which themselves have a special part to play in the environment. To quench your thirst the menu offers delicious fresh, natural juices including soursop, lemon passion and gooseberry served in deep bamboo cups.
There is also another important facet of this gentle couple’s business – Plantwise, a small greenhouse that produces vegetable and herb seedlings, along with microgreens and delicate, edible flowers that are so beautiful it seems a shame to eat them. They also maintain a self-sustainable garden that helps them utilise fresh ingredients for Irie Ites Ital’s weekly menus.
Jamal describes how the plants and flowers are beneficiaries of the environment, from cross-pollinators that are not just the obvious bees, but other types of animals and insects. Even the wind is a cross-pollinator. All of the plants, flowers and these cross-pollinators work together in harmony. No harmful chemicals are used (only occasionally bio-based pesticides) and plants that benefit each other naturally such as the marigolds keeping away flies and other pests, are utilised.
The gardens not only produce food for the restaurant, they also provide microgreens, fresh herbs, edible flowers and greens to private caterers, charter yachts and restaurants. One patron has arrived to pick up her edible herbs and flowers that Jamal carefully selects and cuts while she waits. Another has come to collect seedlings ready for planting. “Nothing seems organised” laughs Jamal, “but this is what makes nature awesome” he continues.
So it seems this beautiful environment, one that when you visit, you feel you never want to leave is thriving because all the living things support each other, never giving or taking away too much.
Irie Ites Ital and Plantwise are located in Great Mountain and are open on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 pm to 4 pm for dine-in or take-away. Call or WhatsApp (284) 346 8485 to place your orders @PlantWiseBVI.
Delicious things come in small packages
Keeping it in the family is a winning formula for Le Petite Sports Lounge & Bar.
Some things are just meant to be. In 2012, Clive Baronville, his brother Jamal and sister Harisia launched Le Petite Sports Lounge & Bar in the rough and ready backstreets of Baugher’s Bay, Tortola. The siblings simply wanted to create a cool, laid back place to eat their favourite food and play games with friends.
Clive in particular always had a passion for food that was passed on from his beloved mother, Ms Eugenie Christopher. Limited in his knowledge of food preparation, but with no shortage of passion, Clive asked his mother to cook for the fledgling restaurant.
The mother-son duo initially served a small breakfast menu, later adding lunch and in response to demand, dinner. By then it was time for Ms Christopher to step away from the day-to-day cooking.
Dishes such as wings were part of the initial dinner menu, but Clive wanted to offer more. Mummy knew best and suggested he start making burgers. So with just a George Forman grill, Clive began to gain experience cooking full-time and the patrons just kept coming.
The little restaurant went from strength to strength and soon it was more than Clive could handle alone, so he employed a Chef. But his mother always remained close to help when he needed it, sometimes joining him to help with the lunchtime rush.
Fast forward to the present day, and Le Petite rests in the capable hands of Clive, Jamal and Harisia’s big brother Kelvin “Big Daddy” Christopher along with his mother, wife and daughters, making up the three generations that all have a united vision for the restaurant’s future.
“The younger generation is learning how it’s done” laughs Kelvin.
These days, the gourmet burgers are made from scratch using USDA beef. VIPY’s favourite dish is the Patacón (paht-ah-cone) burger that dispenses with bread and in its place is green (unripe) plantain sliced lengthwise, fried, pressed flat and fried again. This burger is mouthwateringly good and in our view, a standout.
The family prefers to use fresh, local ingredients when available and have a small garden at home where they grow lemongrass and coconut used in the cocktails. Kelvin has upgraded the kitchen and made some additions to the menu such as chicken alfredo, salmon and seafood pastas all served with freshly-made garlic bread, local lobster (seasonal), conch in butter sauce, whelks, fish in mayonnaise sauce, stewed chicken, oxtail and local mutton for lunch on weekdays. For steak-lovers there’s a 1lb T-bone or rib-eye for dinner, a half chicken or racks of delicious ribs. On Saturdays Ms Christopher’s famous pig feet souse with potato and green salad is served.
But the signature Clive burger is still the most popular dish of all, of course.
Le Petite Sports Lounge & Bar, where you can also enjoy Karaoke on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and is located above Big Brother’s Gas station and open 7-days from 7am until close, dine-in or take-away. Call (284) 441 2901 or (284) 543 7464 @LePetiteSportsLounge.
Man cannot live by Roti alone
At the top of Naturally Tasty by RotiMan’s Menu, is of course their Roti. It will always be number one, but this family-owned and operated restaurant, catering, ready-to-go and bakery, offers so much more.
Philip “RotiMan” Glasgow Jr. and his wife Ayana Gore Glasgow didn’t start out as chefs. Ayana worked in professional services and Phillip was a firefighter, but enjoyed “baking and dabbling in flour” he says.
In early 2012, Philip’s good friend and his mother, originally from Guyana, taught him how to make the curry and Roti shell or skin, also called dhalpuri (dal-per-ri), chapati or chow patty and cooked on a traditional Indian pan called a Tawa. It is filled (or served on the side) with curried stew of vegetables, meat, poultry or seafood.
Philip started by making six vegetable Rotis in a basket, which sold like wildfire. So he went home and made another eight and never looked back. He added new fillings as customers requested.
“It became so popular that we had to become legit” Philip laughs. So the couple renovated a space adjacent to their home, which was their first commercial kitchen. Local juices were added after that and in his trusty blue Honda Accord Philip would drive from Beef Island to West End every Friday selling 150-200 Rotis.
It grew so big that after a few years he had a tough decision to make, which he finally made after Hurricane Irma. Ayana had already “taken that brave step” he says, about a year earlier. The Hurricane was a reset for the couple, as it was for many. They were lucky not to receive much damage, recovering quickly to be back cooking Roti for a bruised community.
Soon they acquired a space on Blackburn Highway, used as a drive-through. Between 2017 and 2020, they set up park-like outdoor locations – two in Road Town, Sophie Bay (factory outlet), the Bridge at Beef Island and for a short time at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.
During the hard days of the pandemic the duo took the time to add more to their menu and by the end of 2020 consolidated into one container store at Sophie Bay with the goal of opening a waterfront location, which came to fruition in November 2021.
Philip’s love of nature drives his passion for natural ingredients from the land, infusing them in his creations such as spinach fun buns, cherry infused pizza crust, basil lemonade and many more. The couple loves to use fresh produce from local hobby farmers that don’t use pesticides or chemicals – bartering for produce the old fashioned way in return for “Roti dollars”.
There are no limits to what this couple can cater to, including any level of vegan or alkaline vegan dishes. They simply request that for anything specialised please call with 24-hours advanced notice.
Naturally Tasty by RotiMan have two locations – Blackburn Highway, Sophie Bay – Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Waterfront, Road Town (opposite the ferry terminal) – Monday to Saturday 6:30am to 6:30pm and Sunday and Public Holidays 6:30am to 3.30pm. Call/WhatsApp (284) 544 1071 @naturallytastybyrotiman.
Romancing the Taco
Tradewinds Mexican Grill is a fusion between two cultures created by a sweet Virgin Islands couple who together just love traditional Mexican food.
Marquese Maduro and Shamora “Molly” Penn-Maduro’s love story is enchanting. Talking to them it’s hard not to fall in love with this delightful pair. Not to mention falling in love with their fusion of Mexican and Caribbean food.
The couple knew each other growing up in the BVI, but it wasn’t until after they both returned home from studying at the University of Central Florida that “the love happened” says Molly with a smile.
She gained a Bachelor in Marketing and Mass Communications and he a double Bachelor in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Molly went on to work in marketing and sales in the high-profile US media industry, but the pull of the BVI was strong and both returned home to seek new opportunities.
At first Molly was General Manager for her family’s business, Trellis Bay Market, Bar & Grill and Marquese held several Government roles. But they “wanted their own thing and to bring something different to the BVI” Marquese said, so the couple began to brainstorm what they could create together utilising both of their skills and experience. One day Molly suggested Mexican food, borne from a love of tacos and Tex-Mex that the couple shared.
In early 2017 they purchased the shipping container that would become the core of their business and assisted by Marquese’s father, situated it on some family-owned land featuring a historical landmark that could provide an interesting stopover for tourists and locals.
When Hurricane Irma and Maria arrived, the container was thrown around, but luckily was not damaged. Times were tough. The couple had to make a lot of sacrifices but eventually they managed to construct their dream and over the next two-years found the right team. By December 2019 they started serving drinks only initially.
Putting together their vision for the Mexican Caribbean fusion menu was a huge achievement that could not have happened without the help of Ronay Lopez who worked closely with the couple to create the balance between the flavours of the two cultures. Caribbean people like sweet and Mexican people like spice. Marquese and Molly’s desire is to serve their community but also serve the people who love good Mexican food.
The environment around them heavily influences the couple, ably assisted by Marquese’s Dad who “has green thumbs and loves to take care of all the plants and landscaping on the property” says Marquese. Their garden contains tamarind, which is used in their drinks as well as gooseberry, passion fruit, mint, sugar apple, limes and sea grape, for a natural aesthetic.
Everything is made daily, fresh to order. The couple travelled to Mexico recently for their first wedding anniversary where they loved experiencing and learning from the traditional way the food is made. They were very happy to see that many of the techniques they use are the same. “Tradewinds food is more traditional than Tex-Mex” says Molly.
Another great example of the mixture of flavours at Tradewinds are in the sauces such as mango, tamarind and passionfruit, with Mexican sauces that give a balanced finishing touch to the menu.
Marquese and Molly would like to say a huge thank you to all of their regular customers, without them they could not have reached the point they are at today.
Tradewinds Mexican Grill is located in Kingston opposite Cedar International School and open 11am to 8pm Tuesday to Thursday and 11am to 9pm Friday and Saturday, dine-in or take-away. Call (284) 344 2661 email: [email protected] or @tradewindsmexicangrill.