It would have been just another day in "Paradise" but something special was happening. Our
friend, Claus Rumm (the famous "Have Fun with Rumm") turned 49 on August 15th and to celebrate my husband and I took Claus and his lovely wife, Annette, out for lunch the following Monday.
A new resort has been in the making on the other side of the island near Mangrove Bight, "Clearwater Paradise." The owners, a husband and wife team (George and Ginger), have been working feverishly since they began at the end of last year. Of all the people building something on this island, they have gotten the most done in the least amount of time. They are hard working, imaginative, friendly people who had a dive business in Florida and decided that they wanted to retire to and open a dive business here on Guanaja. Our gain for sure!
We have been over to George and Ginger's a couple times during construction and were amazed at what they had accomplished. Plus, Ginger had the biggest, most productive garden I have ever seen on this island! She had peppers, broccoli, okra, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, green beans, tomatoes, dill, parsley, greens (yes, she is from the South), black-eyed peas, to mention just a few.
Anyway, they are now open for business (even though they are still putting the finishing touches on many rooms) and when they don't have guests, which unfortunately at this point in time is the norm, they serve full 5-7 course meals. Hurricane Mitch took a terrible toll on the tourism business here 11 years ago and the island really never recovered. Now with the political upheaveal concerning former President Mel Zelaya, people are not inclined to visit a country where they feel there might be political unrest, especially when it is a third-world country! Which is sad, because life on the island is pretty much the same with no problems regarding the political chaos taking place in the capital of Honduras. Plus, diving here is a wonderful, relaxing experience. Normally dive boats take 25-30 people out on one dive. Here, 1-2 people is the norm! We have beautiful reefs, caves, corals and sea life to see. Snorkeling is a plus too for those who don't dive. But, the word has to get out that the island is still in the diving business and if people want a laid back vacation, there is no better place to come.
Well, back to the lunch! George and Ginger offered a wonderful chance to sample some excellent cooking in beautiful surroundings. I called them and arranged for a meal for the 4 of us (Claus, Annette, my husband and myself) on a Monday. Monday is Claus and Annette's only day off from their restaurant/bar, Manati.
The day started off windy and overcast and when we went to take off in our big boat, the battery was dead! We had no option but to use the skiff. This boat is large enoughto transport several people but not as comfortable to ride in! Have you ever been in a flat-bottomed boat in rough seas? It's like a truck with no shocks riding a road full of pot holes at 30 miles an hour!
We picked up our guests and by the time we got to the other side of the island, the skies were beginning to clear up. Lucky for us, when the seas are rough on "our side" of the island, they are generally calm on the "other side". This day was no exception. It turned out to be sunny and calm, perfect weather for dining out.
We got to G&G's, docked the boat and could hear music playing from the house. We traversed a shade-covered walkway until we came out onto the open landscape of the resort. As you can see, it is a beautiful three-story building in a huge open area. We walked up the curving walkway which was surrounded by flowers and lovely tropical plants.
Ginger has been working very hard on the landscaping, along with her garden. If the gardener had not quit recently, I am sure that all the tall grass which has been growing up around her landscaping in the front and the grass and weeds overtaking the garden would have been neatly trimmed. However, one cannot work around the clock finishing up various rooms in a resort, cook meals, perform all the cleaning chores necessary, shop weekly for groceries, and then tend to the garden and planting of new plants while doing all the "extra" outside chores too! So, for a while, the garden will have to be covered over with grass and weeds and the landscaping will be put on hold for a while.
A lovely table had been set with a beautiful arrangement of flowers from her garden. We were then taken on a tour of the Resort. From what I could see, they will have, at minimum, 4 separate rooms, two of which were completed. They have a lovely bar stocked with ample liquor, a game room upstairs in the process of being readied, a large kitchen in which to prepare meals for their guests, a laundry room, a special guest room on the third floor for their friends and one side of the building on the third floor which is used for their living quarters.
On the third floor there was a compass inlaid in the tile floor. George and Ginger plan on adding to the plan with designated points (North, South, East and West). This same area is a sundeck where their guests will be able to sit in the evening enjoying the setting of the sun while being served a variety of drinks from their hosts.
We were served drinks (beer for the men - their choice) and Margaritas for the women from George's own recipe.
For the first course, we were served a refreshing cold tomato soup which had been made by Ginger with tomatoes out of her garden. It was the perfect start to our meal. At first I thought it might be a Gazpacho but Ginger said no, it did not have the various vegetables one puts in a Gazpacho. This was a basic cold tomato soup with just the right touch of herbs.
We then moved on to wonderful pieces of marinated King Fish served on a bed of shredded carrots. The fish was perfectly seasoned and served cold. Small dishes of hot pepper salad were served for those who like a "touch of fire". George had made these concoctions from the peppers in their garden. There was one dish with not-so-hot vegetables and one with "fire" hot vegetables.
For a salad they presented us with a Cesar salad with lovely Romaine lettuce and croutons topped with a great Cesar dressing. We were also served fresh tomato bread baked by Ginger.
For the entree, we were served George's speciality - smoked Red Snapper. George has been smoking meat for 30+ years and has mastered this art to a perfection. The fish was perfectly done, just moist enough with the flavor of the smoke evident throughout. We had scalloped potatoes and lemon green beans as an accompaniment. The lemon green beans complimented the fish perfectly and the potatoes were just right - not too moist nor too dry.
We questioned George about the type of wood he uses for smoking. He gave us a lesson in smoking and the various woods that he has used throughout his years of cooking and said that he was currently using red mangrove wood. Hurricane Mitch literally destroyed the Mangrove areas around the island and dead wood can be found in these once lush patches of trees. New trees have grown up, mainly through the diligence of many people on the island who replanted. The old dead wood is not going to waste however. Islanders collect it for their cooking fires and George has found this dense, hard wood to be perfect for his smoker.
Our final course was, of course, desert. A light, lovely cake was served with a egg based cream sauce. A wonderful end to our meal.
In all the time I have lived on the island I never expected to get such great food at a restaurant here on the island! We have been served fabulous meals of course, but this is when we attend parties thrown by friends or have people over to our home for a meal. The food that day was outstanding, served beautifully and done to perfection. Each course complimented the last one and we were delighted at the efforts of our hosts.
I, along with our guests, thank George and Ginger for providing a wonderful "get away day" of celebration. We will be back for more and will anxiously look forward to their wonderful cuisine.
Hmmmm, Ginger has a birthday coming up......