01 July 2015

Square Mac N'Cheese & A Striped Lighthouse | Hopetown, Bahamas

I have a confession to make. I'm not really a big fan of mac n'cheese. Which, for an American, borders a bit on heresy. The stuff is chucked on trays in school cafeterias around the country and the kiddies lap it up. Then as adults, they cook up a pot of the yellow, gooey stuff as the ultimate go to comfort food. Seeing one of those Kraft blue mac n'cheese boxes brings back fond childhood memories for many. But for me, it does nothing. I don't hate the stuff. It isn't something I have to politely choke down when someone serves it for dinner (unlike the dreaded beetroot and sweet potato/kumara). I just don't love it. I certainly don't crave it. And I certainly wouldn't ask for seconds.

But what I do crave is a square of Bahamian mac n'cheese. Yes, you read that right, a square. Those Bahamians know how to do things right. They bake it up in some sort of casserole and cut into squares. This is the type of thing I want seconds and third of. Heaven forbid if someone tries to get the last square. I'd probably stab a fork into the back of their hand, grab the last square and sign contentedly. And gloat. I'd definitely gloat.

I had my first square in Hopetown at a little snack shack. My stomach was grumbling and I spied a sign which promised mac n'cheese for only $4. Everything costs way more than $4 in the Bahamas, even bread. I'm all about value, so mac n'cheese it was. And it was good. Beyond good. It was delicious. 

If you're a frugal traveler like we are and ever find yourself in Hopetown, head to the snack shack across from Vernon's  Grocery Store & Bakery. If you don't like mac n'cheese (What?!! You must not be American!), there's plenty of other things to choose from and everything is so much cheaper then if you eat in a proper sit down restaurant. I don't know the name of the place, but everyone knows Vernon's, ask for directions and they'll point you in the right direction.

We bought a loaf of coconut bread at Vernon's. Fascinating place, for a grocery store that is. Vernon is a direct descendant of the founder of Hopetown settlement, so he probably knows the ultimate recipe for Bahamian mac n'cheese. Sadly, I forgot to ask him. What he definitely knows about is key lime pie. He's famous for it. Our pals, Charlie and Jane from S/V Wild Blue, bought a pie and shared some with us. I'd never had key lime pie before. Turns out it is a lot like lemon meringue pie, but with limes. Go figure. It was good, but one slice was enough. I didn't feel the need to stab anyone in the back of the hand to get another slice.

In addition to running the shop, Vernon is also a Methodist minister. As you walk around the store, you'll find all sorts of inspirational and humorous sayings posted on little scraps of paper on the shelves, walls, windows, cash register - everywhere. You can spend hours discovering them as you look at the wares for sale and you're bound to find one that resonates with you or tickles your funny bone. 

Hopetown is a cute little town located on Elbow Cay in the Abacos. The place is full of energy, the pastel houses sparkle in the sunlight, the people stop to chat and everyone seems happy. Must be the mac n'cheese. 

Hopetown is probably best known for its red and white striped lighthouse. It kind of looks like a giant candy cane. It's adorable. Stripes do have that effect. I think the lighthouse would look even better with polka dots, but that would probably take a lot of effort to repaint it.

I don't know about those people climbing up the steps. They look like troublemakers.

There are a lot of steps you have to climb up to get to the top. We met a woman coming down who is scared to death of heights. She was shaking and trembling, but so proud of herself for making it to the top, as she should be. She totally deserved a giant piece of mac n'cheese as a reward for her courage.

See the sign that says, "Danger - Do Not Touch"? Doesn't that just make you want to touch them, whatever they are? My guess is some sort of still.

As you make your way up the stairs, stop to catch your breath and peek out the window at the harbor.

Keep climbing. It is so worth it with amazing views like these.

The Hopetownians (what do you call someone from Hopetown?) are rightly proud of their lighthouse. They've even incorporated it into the Fire & Rescue logo.

The only downside of eating mac n'cheese is that it goes directly to your tummy and sticks to it like glue, creating these unpleasant bulges that make it difficult to zip up your shorts at times. So, we went for a stroll around Hopetown to try to work off some of those calories. Everywhere you look you see some sort of boat.

I love these old fishing doo-dads. All the different colors and shapes. They kind of look like giant hard candies. All this talk of candy is making me hungry. Sorry, need to go now and see if I can whip up some mac n'cheese.

Want to know more about Hopetown? Check out this site here.

LOGBOOK NOTES | Friday 22 May - Sunday 24 May 2015

Total Nautical Miles - 4
Total Time - I have absolutely no idea (note to self, keep better notes)
Anchor Up - Man O'War Cay
Anchor Down - Elbow Cay, outside of Hopetown Harbour
Best Coconut Bread Ever - Vernon's 
Number of Mediocre Dinners - 1 (overpriced for what we got)
Number of Awesome Squares of Mac N'Cheese - 1 (perfectly priced)

Next time on the blog...we take a little break for our usual monthly roundup in numbers. But right after that, we get back to our Bahamian adventures with some thoughts on stupid can openers and why three days in Marsh Harbour is three days too many.

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  1. I love light houses. That's a particularly beautiful one, but clearly they don't want guests like me with signs like that warning 'do not touch'. Probably they hope you will be distracted by the beautiful colors. Really nice photos! And some day maybe I will get to try coconut bread.

    1. Signs like that are just asking people to touch things :-)

  2. I think this is a lovely light house and the views are spectacular. Square mac 'n' cheese you say

    1. The lighthouse was one of the highlights of our time in Hopetown. I just loved the stripes on it!

  3. I want to see a picture of the square mac n' cheese! I am not into mac n' cheese neither. The latest thing I have seen is the mac n' cheese served with Mexican food. People even stuff it in a tortilla and eat it.

    1. I wish I had taken a picture of it - I gobbled it down so quickly that I completely forgot to :-) I'm having a hard time imagining mac n'cheese with Mexican food. Sounds interesting.

  4. How cool that you climbed the light house. Isn't there a red and white striped light house on Rangitoto Island.

    1. Yes there is! I had completely forgotten about it. It's off the coast of Rangitoto, so you can't climb up it.

  5. I personally looooove Mac'n'Cheese. My mother-in-law makes a casserole version that she cuts and serves in squares that hold their shape. I wondering if the Hopetown one is similar. And how have you gone this long without trying Key Lime pie. Well, at least you weren't kicking yourself after you had some that you'd been missing out on it all this time. The view from the top of the lighthouse is fantastic and well worth the effort to get up there.

    1. Your mother-in-law's version of mac n'cheese sounds just like the Bahamian version - recipe please :-)

  6. I love mac n cheese, but not the Kraft kind. Can the contents of that blue box even be considered food? LOL I love homemade mac n cheese with freshly melted parmesan cheese and a hint of cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes). Ok now I have to go make some! :)
    Found you through Bonnie Rose's link up and I love those pictures from atop the light house!
    Julie | alonewithmytea.com

    1. Wow - your mac n'cheese sounds delicious! I like my food to have a little heat to it - cayenne or red pepper flakes sounds like a great addition!

  7. I love every kind of mac n' cheese, and loved how you wove it throughout the post! You're right about a polka-dot lighthouse being awesome, and all your photos are so cute!

  8. I love lighthouses. I have climbed that one and the 'Do Not Touch' was on one of two Lepaute Escapement Lamp pumps. One of the interesting things about this lighthouse is that the historical society there has been fighting to have it remain a Kerosine Lamp Lighthouse instead of converting to electricity. Silly island people. Always trying to buck innovation. Hmph.

    Ask and ye shall receive!


    - Lisa


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