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Published: March 13th 2013
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If you could only do 1,000 things before you die, the New York Times bestseller by that name thinks eating at Veni Mange is one of them. Good call. Chock full of art and personality, it is the place in Port of Spain where local food and creative cooking come together.
“Not just a meal, but an experience” says Will. “An interesting taste of Trinidad” says Marika. We shared Will’s oxtail stew, Marika’s grilled red snapper fish with tamarind sauce, Kim’s fish broth and yam cheese balls, and my curried pork. We sipped fresh lime juice, tamarind juice and passion fruit juice. Lentils, fried banana, rice and carrots completed the meal. The hundreds of pieces of art were supporting an artist’s collective of about 20 artists in Haiti (we picked up one from an artist named Petit Zil Micheles)
Then Everad Madoo picked us up at the hotel at 2:00 to take us
to the Caroni Swamp where really, really cool critters awaited us. The largest mangrove swamp in Trinidad is an endless maze of small mangrove channels. We had hired Shawn to take our family in a small boat so we could explore lots of the swamp. “A neat ball of adorable” is how Marika describes the incredibly tiny and huggable Silky Anteater, the smallest anteater in the world, who’s tiny two-toed feet remind me of a sloth’s. We saw four-eyed fish with two above the water and two below, two Cook’s Tree boa constrictors curled up on a branch two feet above our head, and countless red mangrove crabs. The coolest birds were the flaming red large Scarlet Ibis. We also saw Northern Scrub Flycatchers, Bicoloured Conebills, Straight-Billed Woodcreepers, Pied Water-Tyrants, Black-Crested Antshrike, Common Potoo and lots of Kingfishers and Herons.
As the sun dipped we sped off to Caroni’s real highlight – the roosting of the Ibis. Thousands and thousands of Scarlet Ibises come in all at once from throughout the swamp to roost on one island, turning the green island scarlet. Truly awe striking. The bonus was a Peregrine Falcon dive bombing the Ibis and herons seemingly for
sport rather than hunger. The falcon would bomb them and they’d drop into the water or hurtle into the bush to get out of the way. Looks like Mr. Falcon needs to have some anti-bullying education…
Then back for a lovely sushi meal, even though one tasted suspiciously like raw four-eyed fish…
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