I know, sounds like a killer cocktail recipe right! I’m sure it is but this post is nothing to do with cocktails unfortunately.
So, this happened a while ago but I’ve been too lazy/busy to write a post until now.
So about 2 weeks ago, we finally went on an island tour of Grenada after being here for months. We booked a driver, Phillipe, and went with our friends; Chris, Denise and Christian aboard ‘Anne & Bonny’ and Randy and Michelle aboard ‘Adonis’. Our plan was to leave at 9:00 and drive around the island whilst stopping at the Nutmeg Factory, Rum Factory and Chocolate Factory, all whilst taking in the beautiful scenery Grenada has on offer.
So, we all met up at 9:00 and hopped into our bus, cameras in hand and water bottles already half empty. Our first stop was to be the Nutmeg Factory which was an hour drive. We passed some interesting buildings and people along the way and fortunately, Phillipe knew his stuff and we would pull over every few minutes as he pointed out something that we didn’t know. For example, I had no idea that a Papaya tree comes in male and female varieties. Not only that, but the female tree needs a male tree to pollinate it so it can produce fruit. You learn something new everyday!
Anyway, eventually we arrived at the Nutmeg Factory, quite an unassuming building from the outside but clearly a nutmeg factory once you were inside. We payed our EC$2.50 and began the tour. Wow. He showed us how everything was done; from the drying of the nutmeg to separating the good ones from the bad ones and it was amazing to see that it’s all done by hand!
Here are some of the things we learnt:
- Grenada is the second largest producer of nutmeg, Indonesia being the first.
- It takes about 8 years for a nutmeg tree to start producing the fruits and Grenada was devastated by hurricane Ivan in 2004 so they’re only just starting to produce the full amount of nutmeg again.
- The outer “flesh” of the nutmeg is used for flavouring in syrups and icecream
- The next layer of red mace is used as a spice and for making mace spray
- The shell of the actual nutmeg is used as mulch and footpathing
- The nutmeg in the very centre is grated and used on cocktails and in foods
- The nutmegs are placed in massive tubs of water and the ones that float are “bad” whilst the ones that sink are dried – all done by hand – then shipped to their destination
- The sacks containing the ready-to-go nutmeg are hand sewn closed
- A worker paints the destination, weight and quality of the nutmeg onto the sack with stencils
After the Nutmeg Factory, we hopped back in and continued on our tour. We were told by Phillipe that a banana tree only ever produces one bunch of bananas and once the farmer harvests the fruit, he cuts it down and the tree will regrow, ready to produce another bunch. At this point, it was approaching lunch time so we were all starting to get hungry, so we stopped by a restaurant with a lovely view but unfortunately we were told that there was too many of us and they couldn’t make food for that many without prior notice. Go figure. We then went to the Rum Factory where there was a restaurant and we had a nice meal (yes, we did let them know in advance!) Afterwards, we went for the tour of the Rum Factory. We payed our EC$5 entry fee and got a tour guide who would show us around. The “tour guide” we got was one of the most unenthusiastic women I’ve seen. Ok, now, I understand if a worker is fed up with their job but we are paying her to do this so it would be nice if she could put a bit of effort into it. Anyway, despite learning almost nothing, we did get to see everything they use to make the rum and just like the Nutmeg Factory, it is all pretty old school which is cool.
After the tour, we got to taste samples of the rum they make and unfortunately, I’m not much of a rum drinker so I couldn’t tell you whether it was any good. However, to make up for our rather dull tour guide, there was a funny moment. So, the day before, Xav was playing with friends and he bit his lip, so at the rum tasting, Dad mentioned that it would probably do your tongue some good to put alcohol on it as it kills bacteria. Anyway, Xav doesn’t do things by halves so he took that as “drink it.” He went on to drink the whole cup (about the equivalent of a shot). Mum saw this and she immediately told him to not swallow it so now the poor kid’s got a mouthful of rum and doesn’t know what’s going on. Eventually, he spat it out all over the floor, much to the dislike of the staff.
After that slight drama, we drove for about half an hour to the Chocolate Factory which, much to our shock, was having renovations but thankfully we could still take the tour. Now, this was an entirely different experience! We were greeted by the most exuberrant and animated guy I’ve seen. He welcomed us with a big smile and really included Xav and Christian in the fun like picking the cocoa beans and feeding the monkeys they have there.
Some things we learnt at the Chocolate Factory were:
- It takes about 3-4 weeks for a cocoa bean to go from a tiny little flower bud to a bean ready to harvest
- Grenada is one of the only countries to produce chocolate from the beans it grows, most other cocoa producing countries ship their cocoa beans overseas to be made into chocolate
- All of the cocoa beans are harvested by hand
Anyway, it was an overall great day and we came out of it a lot more knowledgable which is always good. Apparently Grenadian chocolate is quite highly regarded and I’m sure some of you have seen it in the shops and wondered where Grenada was. Well now you know!