São Tomé weekend, part 2

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We had three nights in São Tomé town (as I managed to book two nights at Makaira Lodge before realizing that is on the other island, Principe – whoops. Better planning next time). Nicer to be out of town, but it was interesting to see the town, and easy to do daytrips out. The town is a bit rundown, but cleaner than Accra (no open sewers, less plastic garbage) and there is a lovely waterfront. Old buildings, faded colours, and such nice people.

20170430_094419Of course we went to the market: vegetables, fresh fish, used clothing, plantains and bananas. São Tomé imports a lot of its food, but the local produce looked nice.

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What we were looking for: peixe fumado, smoked fish. We’d had a delicious feijoada for lunch one day, bean stew but with smoked fish rather than smoked pork, and we had three Norwegians coming for dinner once we were back in Accra. So we wandered round the market looking for smoked fish: super friendly people, lots of fresh vegetables, no tourists. We found dried fish, and the dried fish seller took us over the smoked fish lady. I do not speak Portuguese, so was trying to explain in terrible Spanish/Italian/French that we needed enough for five people: we bought seven pieces in the end, to have a bit extra, and it was really nice quality. The lady on the next stall was drinking palm wine, which looks a bit milky, and she really wanted us to have a taste. Obrigada, no, I said, but was thrilled to have found good fish. Then we went to a cafe and drank some Sumol, ice cold Portuguese soda (pineapple, orange or passionfuit) which was wonderful. It did get get hot wandering around town.

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We also went to Pico Mocambo, a rum bar recommended by a friend, for a glass of cocoa rum on ice. Not well signposted (Google Maps saved us) but well worth a visit. We were wandering around on 1 May, most places were closed so this was a nice break.

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We also went to Claudio Corallo for a chocolate tasting. Very interesting: an Italian chocolatier, bean-to-bar chocolate and coffee. They do tastings three times a week, not easy to find out when but our hotel helped. Look for Chocolate Factory on Google Maps: it’s in a small restored house on the waterfront. Four euro for a ticket, get there by 1620 to get your ticket for the 1640 tasting – not room for many, and we really enjoyed the visit. The cocoa is grown on Principe, and the chocolate was just wonderful. We bought lots to take back. 😉

20170502_150903Definitely worth a visit: TAP flies Lisbon- São Tomé via Accra 3x a week, and direct from Lisbon once a week. Very friendly, nice place to visit and we experienced no begging (another nice change from Accra). I wish I spoke a bit of Portuguese, but we managed. Beaches and plantations, wonderful fresh fish (Papa Figo, 5 Sentidos, Mucumbli) and very relaxing. Green and lush, sea breezes and quiet.

Bring cash, there were long lines at the ATMs, and foreign cards did not always work. We brought USD and euros, and 100 USD changed to dobras (2.5 million dobras) was plenty in local currency. Many places have prices in euros and dobras. I got my visa online, many countries do not need one.

20170502_125059Grilled barracuda for lunch at Papa Figo. Wonderful!

Leve-leve, they say on São Tomé: easy easy. It was a great weekend.

São Tomé weekend, part 1

img_5087 Just back from a long weekend in São Tomé, very nice!  It’s only 90 minutes flight from Accra with TAP, and we had a great time. São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking country off the northwestern coast of Gabon.  The two volcanic islands were discovered by the Portuguese in 1470 and became a base for slave trade, sugar cane, coffee and cocoa. São Tomé and Príncipe has been independent since 1975.

We had a very lazy weekend: we stayed at Mucumbli first, on the north west coast near Neves. Bungalows with terraces facing the sea, it was lovely waking up to the sound of waves and birds.  Wonderful grilled fish, very peaceful.

img_5094 It was a few degrees cooler than Accra,  with a nice sea breeze, so it was amazingly fresh. Nice change to be outdoors and not be sweating all the time!

20170429_130943 Driving through Neves. The blue CST booths are from the mobile phone company, and were all over. Lots of street food along the road, grilled maize and plantains.

20170429_131504Laundry drying on beach on the north coast: the goats left the laundry alone. interestingly, we saw fewer goats than in Ghana, but more stray dogs.

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Neves is the home is Rosema, a local beer. Perfectly drinkable, especially with fresh grilled fish. No label on the bottle, you just know it’s Rosema.

20170429_133604After a couple days at Mucumbli (very nice!), we went east, to see another part of the island.

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Day trip to the centre of the island: Monte Café, an old Portuguese plantation in Sao Tome and Principe. Very easy to organize a daytrip with a driver: north, centre, or south of island all possible. Plantations, waterfalls, beaches: all very acessible, easy place to be a tourist. We were more interested in coffee than beaches, but everyone says the south of São Tomé  is gorgeous.

After the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe, in 1975, most of the plantations closed, but Monte Café still produces coffee and has a coffee museum. We bought local coffee in the coffee shop, arabica beans rather dark roasted but good. We also brought back Claudio Corallo coffee and some mystery local coffee (cafe saboroso) from a Chinese shop downtown. Otherwise São Tomé is more known for cocoa.

More to follow in part 2!

 

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Apple-coconut sponge pudding

20170218_111626.jpgWho knew there was an Accra version of Monopoly? I’ve only seen a banner for it at Accra mall, but will keep en eye out. I was at the mall looking for a yoga mat (Game, 82 cedi or so, depending on colour) and had a cold coffee at Second Cup, when we spotted the banner for Accra Monopoly. Accra Mall is actually listed as #4 of TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Accra, which I might not agree with. But it  has A/C, cinema, Shoprite and Game, and it can be a nice change of scene. We just went to see “Hidden Figures” there. And there is a Woodin store, wonderful Ghana fabrics by the yard, just a riot of gorgeous colours. Or is this the Vlisco window? Both are lovely. There  is a bigger Woodin store in Osu, on Oxford Street, nice ready-made men’s shirts and fabrics by the yard.

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Inspired by Beb’s RecipeDrawer‘s Apricot Sponge Pudding,  which uses dried apricots, I made a sponge pudding with fresh pineapple. Counting down to holidays, there were also some apples in the back of the veg drawer, and I had found nice flaked coconut  (at Palace, for those who know Accra). Food shopping here is better than expected, as long as you are prepared to try a few different shops for very specific things. Strong bread flour can be a challenge; the local Tema flour can normally be found but is sometimes very moth-infested, but a new French brand just showed up in Marina Mall (another mall, #15 of 55 things to do in Accra – mysterious) which is OK. So we manage. Anyway, back to the pudding.

Apple-coconut sponge pudding with pineapple

4 red apples (peeled, cored and diced – about 300 grammes)
150 grammes fresh pineapple
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp potato flour

Sponge topping:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
3 eggs
1/4 cup butter

Bake 30 min in moderate oven, 180C.The recipe notes that the fruit mix needs to be hot, so I quickly boiled up the apple slices and sugar, then thickened this with potato flour. Pour in glass dish, then mix topping together and bake. I used less butter and less sugar, as the fruit was quite sweet, so the top did not get very golden. Nice quick weekday dessert.

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The sun sets just after six PM, and the kitchen is dark at the best of times, so the photo is not great. But the pudding was good! Lots of fruit flavour.  It probably would have been even nicer with more butter, but this worked fine.

One last Ghana@60 photo, a banner-festoned roundabout.

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