Sunday, May 09, 2010

May 7, 2010 - Portsmouth, Dominica

Early this morning, before upping anchor and sailing north to Dominica, we went ashore in St. Pierre one last time to run some errands. We have finally used up the last of the gasoline we purchased in the Seychelles last August, so Sten went to the gas station to fill a jerry can with some very expensive fuel (28 Euros for 23 liters) for the dinghy. Meanwhile, I stopped in at the patisserie to get a baguette for our lunch and a few pain au chocolat for a mid-morning snack. Between the rum (which shockingly has as many calories per ounce as butter) and the bread products, we're both packing on the pounds here in the French islands. But we're not worried; we've got those long passages to Bermuda and Newport ahead of us to melt it all off.

Sten caught up with me at the growers market on the pier. I already had a bag full of little green cucumbers, plump red tomatoes, crisp lettuce, and some very sharp watercress. When he found me, I was sampling the mint offered up by one of the vendors. I turned to him and said something about it being too bad that we didn't have any of the fresh sugar cane juice we had enjoyed at the distillery the other day. If we did, we could make an authentic mojito. Sten pointed out that there was a sign above my head advertising that the booth next to me was selling "Jus de Canne." What a handy guy to have around. I'd been too distracted by the beautiful fresh veggies to notice anything above waist level.

To make a mojito, a real mojito, like the ones that Hemingway used to drink at La Bodeguita in Havana, one needs to have access to guarapo, which is just the Spanish word for freshly squeezed cane juice, or as the French would say, jus de canne. Unfortunately, cane juice sours very quickly. We love the refreshing zippiness of mohitos, and drink them whenever we have access to fresh mint and fresh limes. But I always made ours with sugar, muddling the mint against it to release all those yummy oils. I never expected to have access to both cane juice and fresh mint at the same time. And I just happened to have a quarter bottle of Havana Club rum and a bottle or two of sparkling water on board. Things were shaping up for us to have some very excellent sundowners when we dropped anchor in Dominica.

We had a stunning sail from Martinique to the southern tip of Dominica, during which we had perfect sailing conditions of light seas and 15 knots of wind on the beam and saw boat speeds of up to 9 knots. And then we sailed into the lee of Dominica, and lost the wind. We fired up the engine and Sten made us some tasty baguette sandwiches for lunch. By the time we reached Portsmouth at the northern tip of Dominica it was late afternoon; and, we were hot and tired and had had too much sun. We chose a spot to anchor on the south side of the bay, far away from the mooring field filled with charter boats and boat boys. We needed a swim and a drink to cool down, not necessarily in that order.

Mata'irea's Martinique Mojito

In a glass put 10-20 mint leaves and the juice of one lime. Muddle vigorously. Add 3 ounces Jus de Canne and 1.5 ounces Cuban rum*. Stir. Add ice and soda water and stir once more.

*with apologies to the distillers in Martinique, but I don't want rhum agricole in my mojitos. I want a smooth, round, well aged Cuban rum. For those of you in the States, where such necessities of life are prohibited, Mount Gay XO (not Eclipse) will do.

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