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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

A taste of Belize …the First day!


Posted: October 12, 2010
by: Mark Stine

A wonderful opportunity presented itself to explore the culinary aspects of the country of Belize, so with luggage in hand, I was off to the airport. Any excuse to travel is a good one…but one associated with “exploring” the finer side of the cuisine of a country I had not been to, was one that I couldn’t resist.
 
Writing for gourmetstation’s  “ Delicious Destinations”  has been fun over  the  years and when Donna (aka T. Alexander) approached me about this writing opportunity, I agreed that blogging day to day would be a great approach to keep everyone up to date on the flavors of Belize.
 
Belize-map 
 
A former British colony that achieved independence in 1981, Belize is a modern day blend of cultures, reflecting itself best in the food and dishes prepared with local flavor. Mayan, Creole, Asian, British, former Confederates from the US, pirates, Spanish, Garifuna and a mix of others have all contributed to the Belize of today. English is the official language, making it easy on travelers from the States and Canada, but Spanish is also widely spoken close to the border of Mexico.
 
Belize is not a large country…on par with the state of New Hampshire in size and a national population of under 350,000, it reflects a myriad of cultures. Belize is also reaching out to the world with tourism outreach as far afield as Taiwan. Global tourism is the country’s  greatest industry and with the unique diving opportunities on the large barrier reef  just offshore, provides an excellent bohemian getaway or if you prefer upscale hotels and fantastic romantic interludes on resort islands just offshore.
 
The journey begins - Arriving in Houston after an early morning flight, I connected on a Continental flight nonstop to Belize city. I had the good fortune to be seated next to a Belizean couple returning from Oklahoma…and learned that my seatmate, Philip was a travel guide, specializing in interior trips with kayaking, Ziplining, eco tourism and touted the beauty of the highlands of Belize, reaching elevations close to 4,000 ft. It was great to gain insights so quickly into my trip and I appreciated the warmth and enthusiasm Phillip and his wife had for their country.
 
Tropicaircraft 
 
 
Once I landed in Belize and cleared customs, I continued south from Belize City on Tropic Air...making several stops along the way on a comfortable 20 seat single prop plane as we headed to the last port of call- Punta Gorda.  Flying low, you really get some great views of the Mangrove swamps below, barrier islands in the distance as well as misty highlands as a backdrop on the mainland.
 
 
Landing just before dark, a good thing as the landing strip is not lighted, I was escorted to the waiting SUV and headed to the Coral House Inn.  Located on the highest point on the Belize coast, the Coral House Inn, the host hotel,  has a unique and colorful past. And you can learn a lot about its offerings and history by checking out their Coral House Inn website.
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Rendezvousing at the bar located next to the pool, I was able to meet some locals as well as guests  staying at the Coral Inn. More interesting stories were revealed about a Colonial mansion nearby, fallen into disrepair and now brought back to life as a farm/ranch and B&B. Darkness had already fallen and I had yet to see the views and exciting surroundings of the Coral Inn and here was another exciting opportunity to learn some more local history and flavor 
 
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It had been a very long day, and with airline service being what it is today, I completely missed all meal opportunities during the day, so I was especially glad when the 7 PM dinner reservations rolled around. Punta Gorda is a very small relaxed place with only 5,000 people inhabiting the local area so I was very curious as to what was in store.  In business since 1997, we were off to experience a Vegetarian restaurant…with a seafood twist. ..Gomier’s Restaurant.
 
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A wonderful and affable man, Gomier seated us at an outdoor pavilion...lit the mosquito coil...the scent of incense drifted up around us on what locals called a cool evening. The air was humid but surprisingly cool. Gomier makes his own Tofu…explained the whole process to us…showed us the equipment in his little kitchen and let us shoot pictures of him at work. He is self taught…never repeats a recipe exactly the same and explained his colorful life that had ultimately brought him to Belize.
 
Reggae music wafted out from the kitchen to the dining pavilion as we dove into the appetizer course. The Tofu balls were mixed with oatmeal, seasonings  and  along with a tofu based conch fritter Gomier succeeded with his motto of keeping  things basic and healthy….and tasty!
 
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The entrees consisted of seasoned brown rice with blackened style fresh caught snapper and sautéed shrimp in a wonderful garlic flavored sauce.  
 
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 Lastly, for desert, tofu ice cream. I tried the chocolate and my dining companion for the night Julie Schwietert Collazo, managing editor of Matador, the world’s largest independent travel magazine, www.matadornetwork.com ,  tried the peanut flavored ice cream. We sampled each other’s and it was like experiencing a Tofu ice cream Reese’s cup!
 
A delicious taste treat from start to finish…honestly prepared and focused,  as Gomier said….”to keep people healthy.”  What more could you ask for on a first night in Belize?
 
A  short cab ride back to the Coral Inn, a drink from the outdoor bar…and off to bed. A full and fulfilling first day in Belize . Stay tuned for day two. .. as we explore the area around the Coral Inn and check out the Cocoa trail and a tour of a local Mayan Homestay with the focus on traditional Maya foods. We even get the chance to help in making the meal!
 

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