Wake for an early flight from Trinidad airport and you’ll be rewarded by catching the doubles run in the terminal’s food court. The vendors prepare this moreish street food snack with lightening speed, sloshing ladles of curried chickpeas between two fried flatbreads before twisting them into a pasty shape. They often run out by 7am but you can also find doubles on most street corners across the island. Look out for Mitch’s Doubles in the Woodbrook district of Port of Spain.
Eden’s Sweet & Sour Hot Spot
This is a snack shop with a view if ever we saw one. On the way to Trinidad’s Maracas Beach stop off at this pretty pink stall and eat all manner of sweet (and savoury) treats while perched on a lookout point over Maracas Bay. Devikah Singh has been providing a mainly sugar-fuelled pitstop here since 2011, selling coconut fudge, coconut sugar cakes and rice cakes with ginger and spice seasoning. Try the tart and refreshing pineapple chow (pineapple soaked in garlic, peppers, lime juice and chadon beni, a Trinidadian coriander) or kurma – sweet, deep-fried dough biscuits spiced with cinnamon.
Richard’s Shark ‘n’ Bake
A hub of ‘shark ‘n’ bake’ vendors have congregated at Maracas Beach to create what is now a local institution. Mom’s is where the locals tend to hang out but Richard’s Shark ‘n’ Bake is the best known. Queue up for pockets of fried pitta-like flatbread filled with ‘shark’ (meaty lionfish nowadays) and make your way round the condiments stand to pimp your own epic sarnie. Slide your tray between salads, fresh tomato, cucumber, crunchy shredded cabbage and marinated vegetables, then pour over a generous drizzle of sauce (sweet and sour tamarind, punchy garlic or fiery chilli to name a few).
The islands’ multicultural heritage ripples through the local food culture, with its far-flung influences. One of them is the islanders’ penchant for rotis, wrap-like savoury pancakes filled with curried meats and vegetables that are found throughout India and South Asia. From a stand on the corner of Clarence Street and Western Main Road in Port of Spain, Kanhai Roti rolls out yard after yard of rotis and fills them with curried goat, beef or liver. Pull back the paper packaging and be prepared to get your hands messy.
Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain
Another payoff of Trinidad’s multicultural society is the popularity of Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean wraps, gyros – pitta stuffed with spiced grilled meat, salad and garlic sauce. Head to Port of Spain’s vast park (where the legendary carnival makes its colourful mark once a year) on a weekend and you’ll find gyros vendors, ladies ladling out hot corn soup (with optional cow heel!), Jamaican jerk chicken and much more.
Up in the hills of Trinidad, French Creole and Venezuelan culture reign. Large wooden houses with verandas sit amid tropical flora and an abundance of fresh produce in villages such as Lopinot. Built around a former agricultural estate, Lopinot is shaded by vast, magical trees and is a popular riverside liming (gathering) spot. It’s also where locals often make pastelles; pork and beef is seasoned with pimento, thyme, vibrant red yucu pods, chive and onions and wrapped in thin cornmeal pastry before being flattened, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. These treats are traditionally served at Christmas or Easter, and the whole family comes together on a Sunday to make hundreds. If you’re invited to take part, grab your chance. (Organise a trip with In Joy Tours)
For the past few decades the Store Bay Ladies have been selling their homemade crab and dumplings at the idyllic turquoise bay of the same name on Tobago. The government recently funded a project to give these stalls a more permanent home in colourful huts. Head to Miss Trim’s – set up by 81 year old Miss Trim who recently passed the business on to her eighth child, Meisha – to enjoy blue-black crab in a blend of coconut milk and spices. Miss Trim adds extra cloves to the spice mix of coriander, pimento, garlic, ginger, chives and onions for a personal touch. The crab is cooked in its shell, the soft flesh ready to bite into and the juices to be soaked up by homemade cornmeal dumplings.
Blue Food Festival
If you are on the islands in October, head to the Blue Food Festival at beautiful Bloody Bay on Tobago. Against this stunning tropical backdrop people from all over the island compete to showcase what they can do with its signature crop, dasheen. This root vegetable turns a blueish colour when cooked, hence the name of the festival. Try it with other “provisions” from the island – plantain, sweet potatoes and yams – and, if you’re adventurous, with local game such as iguana and armadillo. From midday there is a great festival vibe, with steel bands, DJs and plenty of Caribe beers and Shandy Caribe.