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Vinaka, Fiji

June 13th, 2012 by Carrie

Chef Carrie & Chef Joe

On one of the last nights on Vanua Levu, the chef and his staff prepared a traditional Lovo feast where food is wrapped in native leaves, typically banana leaves, buried and cooked in the ground.  I had the opportunity to chat with the chef for a few minutes about the ingredients and the all-day process of preparing a few of these dishes. I only wish I had more time so that he could have taught me how to make everything. Two of my favorite dishes were the kokoda and palusami.

Kokoda:
Cubed fish steeped in lemon/lime juice then squeezed and garnished with onions, chillies, shallots, grated carrots, tomatoes and combined with thick coconut cream. Usually served chilled.

Palusami:
A popular dish made from dalo or taro leaves. Thick coconut cream is combined with onions, salt and poured into a cup made from several leaves, wrapped in foil or taro leaves and baked.

Lovo Feast

There were many other items served for the feast which included a whole Walu, chicken, very flavorful rice and some steamed local ferns (another one of my favorites).  All of these scrumptious labors of love had such distinct flavors and a nice earthy, smokiness to them with a ‘melt in your mouth’ tenderness from the slow cooking process.

Little Chef

There was an interesting breakfast buffet during our time in Nadi, Viti Levu.    Plenty of tropical fruits, including passion fruit, porridge, muffins, ham, cheeses, steamed vegetables and baked beans.  Baked beans for breakfast?!?  That’s what Little Chef and I said too.  We ate it all while we watched the local birds try to steal our packets of jam and vegemite.  No, I did not eat the vegemite.

I opened with a photo I took of the sunrise in my last blog, so for this blog, I will leave you with a photo of the sunset.  Vinaka!

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Carrie finally found her culinary niche as a Chef Instructor for The Chopping Block in May 2008, but only after a hilariously traumatic demonstration interview (of which you will have to attend one of her classes to hear about). She gets a thrill of sharing the things she’s learned about food and cooking with others and the memories and experiences around food that have made her who she is today. Her hope is to take away the apprehension people have of cooking by pouring on her southern hospitality and charm and having fun in the kitchen. When she isn’t cooking, you can usually find her at a concert, a neighborhood restaurant or just hanging out with friends and enjoying their company.

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