Monday, September 29

{Fab Inspiration} A Very Fab Yoga Retreat!

Hi Friends! has been awhile since you have heard from me, and I am back and in my "Start of Equinox" mood to get back to the Blog and write, write, write - let us just say I am inspired again and rearing to go.  I hope you have all been well, and thank you for continuing to read and support this Blog.

We recently hosted at Jamaica Inn, The Inner Peace in Paradise Yoga Retreat and it was the first one we have ever had, and I have some pictures to share with you.  It was a very successful week in terms of guest satisfaction from all angles - the decadent Yoga Classes with International Yoga Instructor - Sienna Creasy to the fabulous array of healthy dishes and juices prepared by Chef Maurice and his very able the unique and fun excursions and the chilling out on one of the Caribbean's best beaches.  If you missed this Post where I interviewed Sienna, here is the link:

The weather was absolutely perfect and guests also had lots of swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding time!

Some of the pictures shared here were taken by Yoga Instructor Sarah Gingrich, who flew in from Boston to help Sienna run the Retreat.  All in all we are very pleased with the feedback and are already planning the next one, keep posted on the Jamaica Inn Blog and website.

I have decided to make this a three part Blog post as there is so much to cover and so many pictures, so stay tuned for part two tomorrow.

At our Opening Cocktail Party and BBQ on the Beach the Yoga Attendees had the first chance to meet and mingle with fellow guests and to meet our long standing staff members who were on hand to serve up martini's, mojitos or really anything your heart desired from the Premium Bar.  Chef Maurice and his team whipped up some wonderful dishes (many healthy salads were also on hand!) for a fine BBQ in Jamaica Inn style set up on the beach complete with white tablecloths and silver....the night was complete with the resident band piping out some lovely tunes while the bonfire was lit up on the beach to make it even more magical.

Sienna worked her Inner Peace vibe into the first class of the Retreat which was held just before Sunset on the first evening - everyone was made to relax, unwind, breathe and encouraged to find an inner peace which would be the trend for the next five days.

 The candles and incense set the tone and vibe for each evening class - set up overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Photo Credit - Sarah Gingrich.
 Yogi's can paddle-board and do paddle-board Yoga, have you ever tried?

 Yogi's dining  - each breakfast and dinner was set up family style at the hotel so everyone could have a chance to bond and talk about....Yoga! 
 Sarah took this beautiful picture just post sunset, isn't it gorgeous?

One of the surreal events that the guests got to be in on, was an actual turtle hatchling experience! We managed to get everyone over to a beach nearby to observe and help with the process....more on this in the next post. 

There is so much more to report on, the Waterfalls-Picnic experience, the Farmer's Market and Cook with Chef excursion, and the closing party.  Plus, I will have a few recipes of some of the healthy dishes Chef set up this past week at the hotel to share with you.

If you are someone who has been thinking of going to a Yoga Retreat but have never had the chance, I can tell you from a non Yogi to anyone out there reading, it is a very fabulous, peaceful and surreal thing to do. I did my first official Yoga Class on Saturday evening with Sienna (that was the last class of the Retreat) and I was just so taken with how relaxed I felt after (not a feeling I have alot) - that I am now going to incorporate Yoga more and more into my exercise regimen...I would love to get two classes per week and add that to my current running and weight training routine.  As for Retreats, you not only get the wonderful Yoga, but you also get to try new things you may not have thought of doing before (climbing waterfalls to the top), witnessing turtles hatching, trying paddle-board yoga....etc, etc. 

Hope you have enjoyed part one of the report from the Yoga Retreat just held at the beautiful Jamaica Inn...thanks to Sarah Gingrich for supplying us with the Yoga pics, paddle-board, breakfast and turtle pics above.

Monday, August 18

Try This: Jamaican Style Ackee and Saltfish!

Hi Friends,

Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica and many guests to the island just love it and ask for it each morning at breakfast. Most, if not all hotels in Jamaica serve up this unique and delish dish as the "Traditional Jamaican breakfast."  Over at Jamaica Inn, Chef Maurice has given us a glimpse as to how he serves it up.

Jamaican style ackee and saltfish, our National dish.

A little history of this famous dish - the ackee fruit was imported to Jamaica from East Africa before 1725!
To prepare the dish, salt cod (packet salt fish may need to be boiled down and should be free of 'pink' mould) is sautéed with boiled ackee, onion, scotch bonnet peppers (optional), tomatoes, and spices, such as black pepper and pimento. It can be garnished with crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes, and is usually served as breakfast or dinner together with breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas.
Ackee and saltfish can also be eaten with rice and peas or plain white rice. When ackee and salt is combined with plain rice it is often called seasoned rice which is a delicious one pot meal that is usually eaten on Fridays as a quick and easy meal for dinner.
In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, "ackee and saltfish" is eaten widely, although canned ackee is more often used than fresh in some foreign countries.
You should be able to find tinned ackee in a supermarket near to you for this dish!

Recipe (Serving up for 2-4)
Ingredients needed:
½ a pound of salt fish
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small sweet pepper (yellow/red or green) slice julienne style
1 medium tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper - chopped finely **
2 stalks of escallion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of vegetable or extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Only use scotch bonnet peppers if you would like the dish spicy**
 - Put saltfish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour.
 - Pour off water; add fresh water and cook until tender.
 - De-bone and flake saltfish.
 - Heat Vegetable Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sauté onion; garlic; escallion; tomato; scotch bonnet             pepper and sweet pepper for a few minutes until tender. (about five to six minutes.)
  - Add flaked saltfish; Grace Tinned Ackee (if not fresh ackee) and black pepper.
 - Toss lightly; cover and allow to stand over low heat for about 2 minutes.  Serve up!
Chef Maurice serves up ackee and saltfish over at Jamaica Inn with fried breadfruit and lightly sauteed plantain - a true Jamaican breakfast! (a green scotch bonnet pepper is pictured on the plate - remember these peppers are very hot!)

Me...taking pictures of the dishes in the natural light...!

Enjoy this most famous Jamaican dish!

Wednesday, July 23

{What Chef is cooking} A Vegetarian Delight!

Hi Friends,

Chef Maurice shared another recipe with me, and this one is meatless...but quite yummy.  Sautéed callaloo, plantain and breadfruit...very Jamaican, and very easy to cook.

A delightful and healthy recipe which can be served as a main meal (with bread, plantain or breadfruit like we did...or as a side dish with chicken, fish or even Thanksgiving turkey....!)

The callaloo is our form of "spinach" and very easy to cook.  If you cannot find any in your area, feel free to use spinach.

For a good serving for up to four people --we cooked the callaloo (about a pound), and used one to two cloves of garlic (minced),  two medium sized sweet peppers (red, yellow or green), a small onion - chopped, a sprig of thyme, two tablespoons of butter (or olive oil if you want to be super, super healthy) two small tomatoes - diced.  

Saute the onion and garlic with thyme together in pan with butter or oil for a few minutes, then everything else and mix together, lastly add the callaloo and cook down for a further five to six minutes. Remember to take out the sprig of thyme before serving.

If you are serving with plantain, here are the directions of how to prepare and cook:

       One Large ripe plantain
Olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Lay the plantains on a cutting board and slice them into 1/2-inch pieces. If you like thicker plantains, slice them into 1-inch pieces. For thin, crispy plantains, slice them into 1/4-inch pieces.

Add oil and heat until pan sizzles – add plantain pieces and cook two minutes on each side until they are golden brown.  Note that the longer they fry, the sweeter they will taste.

Add salt and pepper to liking

If using breadfruit: (pictured on the right of the plate above)

Breadfruit is considered a “Fruit” but actually eaten as a starch. You should be able to find this fruit at a West Indian or Tropical Good Grocer.  You can also purchase tinned breadfruit in most supermarkets across the USA.

Place the breadfruit in a 375 degree oven and roast for an hour to one hour and a half.  Make an X on the end of the fruit, and use vegetable oil to rub over the outside.  The skin will be easy to peel once fully cooked.  Cut the breadfruit in two.  Cut the middle (heart) of the breadfruit out and slice it up for frying.  Place some vegetable or olive oil in the pan.  Cut thin slices and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Serve up as a side dish with butter and a sprinkle of salt - or serve up with sautéed callaloo above!

Tuesday, July 22

Fabulous Packages at Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios!

Hi Friends,

I wanted to share with you a few packages running currently at the beautiful and chic Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios.  They have just introduced an over the top, ultimate in luxury package which includes every creature comfort and amenity that you could possibly think of...including private jet transfer to an airport a mere 20 minutes drive from the hotel!  More below....and there is something for everyone, as the Hot Summer Savings Summer Package runs through to October, so you still have a chance to book that.  Also, check Jetsetter right now to get on-board with a fabulous flash sale running which has six days left!

This package is designed to be a wow factor package and is a five night, all inclusive, over the top package that we created for the discerning traveler.  With Private Jet transfer from LA, Miami or NYC (other cities can be arranged also!) - landing direct to the chic Ian Fleming International Airport in St. will not be disappointed with the special amenities and excursions to be experienced.

You will be able to choose whether you would like to stay in the modern Villa 7, an exquisite two story luxury villa with an infinity pool built right on the bluff overlooking the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea....or the traditional White Suite - just as stunning, and where Sir Winston Churchill once stayed.

The veranda of the White Suite...

A Butler will be on-hand to meet and greet you as you arrive to the hotel, and show you to your  exquisite accommodation...where you will be given a Tour and a welcome bottle of champagne with a platter of the most divine fruits and cheeses as well as a special gift from the Owners.  Be pampered with a sublime couples massage in your villa just before sunset to relax you and get you in the mood for a beautifully prepared five course meal under the stars.

Each day, be more pampered with massages or treatments from the award winning Ocean Spa....and if you are ready to explore, we have a helicopter ride arranged to transport you along the north coast of Jamaica....another excursion will be a half day at the private beach with waterfalls, and a picnic prepared by the Chef's at the hotel.  Swim, chill and enjoy the waterfalls.  Take a luxurious drive one day over to the historical and beautiful Good Hope Great House, where LyndaLee, your host will take you on a private hiking tour and pointing out over 100 species of birds....the tour will end with a private tour of the spectacular Great House, complete with antiques and breathtaking views.  

Chef Maurice will be on-hand to treat you to a very special Cooking Class and meal in your prepared for a delicious Jamaican style meal.

 A private cooking lesson will be set up with Executive Chef Maurice in the privacy of your villa...

An exclusive insider's tour will be arranged at The Good Hope Great House, where you will be able to hike and spot some rare species of birds, swim and then tour the antique filled Great House with your host, LyndaLee.

Back at the hotel, a special evening awaits with five course dinner and wine pairing either set up on the beach, in your villa or on the magical rooftop terrace.  The dinner ends with you letting off sky lanterns and making wishes!

 A charming and divine English Style Tea will be served to you in your room each day....this is Marvin showing off a splendid tray of treats....
A one of a kind, five course gourmet meal, complete with wine pairing from the Manager's choice from the Global Wine List, and ending with sky lanterns to make those special wishes...

This boat will transfer you both to a private and beautiful beach complete with waterfalls and picnic prepared by Jamaica Inn Chefs!

Also included in this superb package is a private in room shopping experience will also be arranged with John Hardy or Pandora.

All inclusive, of all meals and beverages, all taxes and service charges, afternoon tea everyday, private transfer and oceanfront accommodations - please see the website link above for rates from each city to make your booking with that special someone!

You still have a chance to book this Special Package running until October of this year!  You will receive free nights if you book three nights or more so it is entirely worth it.  See the website for more details and how to reserve one of these spectacular ocean front room now!
The breathtaking premier veranda suites at Jamaica Inn - so magical!

  • Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 – save 25%
  • Stay 7 nights for the price of 5 – save nearly 30%
  • Stay 14 nights for the price of 10 – save nearly 30%

  • Hope to see you soon at The Inn, I am sure you will find a package right now to suit your budget and needs...

    Tuesday, July 1

    Hometown Hidden Gems in Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

    Hi Friends,

    I'm writing today to tell you all about my three fave hidden gems in Ocho Rios, the sweet resort Town I live in beautiful Jamaica.

    All across the globe today, there is a super amazing hidden gem - which is a service becoming more and more popular for visitors called RelayRides which is a peer to peer car sharing service.  As you plan your vacation, and if you have car rental needs, do not forget to use this special and unique service whereby you can go online and book a car based on your own preference and get rates that are usually 30-40% than than the usual. Car owners just have to go online and register if you are interested. Based on this fab service, I thought I would share my three fave hidden gems in my hometown, and if you happen to be looking for adventure or amazing places to stay or have a meal - then I have you covered with these picks!

    I've written about Ocho Rios many times on this blog, showcasing my fave hotels, things to do and restaurants....but now I want to delve into the real hidden gems of my town where I go to eat, stay and play I hope you enjoy reading about these special haunts.

    Fave sweet hidden gem where I go for a fabulous Sunday breakfast,  lunch with friends - and sunset drinks:

    This special and unique boutique property in Ocho Rios offers beautiful Villa accommodations - one to three bedroom - check the website for more information (linked above.)

    What is so special about this sweet gem? - My Hidden Gem Tip:

    The vibe of this new property is just very magical and serene. It's small, private and enchanting with a team of efficient and professional managers including a super talented Executive Chef who has taken the menu repertoire to a new level. Having just won the coveted award from The Jamaica Observer Food Awards "Chef on The Rise" there is a lot more to be seen from Conroy.  If you stop in for a drink on a Friday evening at sunset, ask for the cocktails to be served in one of the sweet gazebos overlooking the water...and surprise, Conroy will also send you down a platter of of some of the mouthwatering nibbles he offers.

    Where I like to hang out and chill on a Sunday morning for a superb breakfast, lunch sometimes during the week and sunset cocktails with friends.

    A Magical Organic Farm in the Cool Hills above Ocho Rios

    My next hidden gem is a beautiful and rustic organic farm up in the hills of St. Ann the parish that Ocho Rios is located in....about 20 minutes drive up in the cool hills. The small and neat Zionites Farm awaits. This is the Farm where the popular and now fast becoming best-selling Stush in The Bush products are made and packaged.  I've already posted quite extensively on Stush in the Bush and I have linked a popular post above (highlighted.)  My friends and I recently went back up there for an afternoon filled with a lovely tour of the organic gardens and grilled organic pizza topped with the most divine vegan cheese and the famous vegan pesto....soooo yum. 

    My Hidden Gem Tip: If you would like another menu Chris and Lisa, Owners of the Farm will arrange, or if you would like to pair the meal with wine, they don't mind you bringing your own wine.....get ready for the most yummy lemonade ever also!

    My friends and I recently visited Zionites Farm where we had the most sublimely delicious grilled balsamic onion and vegan cheese pizza (and more!) and  fresh lemonade.  Only a 20 minute drive from Priory in St. Ann.

    Yes - I've written about this small boutique hotel many times on this Blog,and there's more than one reason it makes my hidden gem list.  That so many people who are not staying at the hotel and do not realize that they can make reservations for lunch and dinner...or just show up for a sunset cocktail looking out to the beautiful Caribbean sea. You will be served in the most elegant and lovely way by a team of staff members who have been working at The Inn for many years - and if you drop info for cocktails, expect lovely platters of mouthwatering hors'doevres complimentary.  

    A collage of some lovely snaps taken by Owner of Jamaica Inn, Eric Morrow. 

    My Hidden Gem Tip (The Summer Season at The Inn):

    Summer Rates are running now at The Inn!  Effective to the middle of December - see the website for more information and for special Packages and Offers.  If you love Yoga, then be prepared for a fabulous and unique Yoga Retreat to take place in September (23-28) - the all inclusive package includes all food and beverage, beautiful accommodation, return trip to airport - a welcome gift, an Opening Reception on the beach, two decadent Yoga classes daily, afternoon tea, two unique excursions, A closing Party -- and ALL taxes and service charges!

    Happy to collaborate and mention about the special global service RelayRides for this post - do not forget to use this hidden gem of a service when you travel this Summer!
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