In this follow-up to her debut book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, Ann and her husband navigate the Caribbean on their sailboat, discovering local culture on each island, and collecting sumptuous recipes along the way.
An award-winning food and travel writer, Ann embarks on a voyage of culinary discovery, as she follows her nose (and her taste buds) into tiny kitchens and fragrant markets, through rainforest gardens and to family cook-ups on the beach, linking each food to its traditions, folklore and history. Meandering from island to island by sailboat, Vanderhoof takes readers along as she gather nutmegs on an old estate in Grenada, hunts crabs and freshwater crayfish in the mountains of Dominica, tracks wild-oregano-eating goats in the Dominican Republic, crams a chocolate-tasting test in Trinidad, and sips moonshine rum out of hidden back-country stills.
Along the way, she is befriended by a collection of unforgettable island characters who share with her their own delicious recipes for mouthwatering dishes, such as grilled fish with passion fruit-ginger sauce, gazpacho with mangoes and pineapples, Trini-style curried shrimp and spice-infused chocolate cake with peanut ice cream–making this truly a book to savor.
Back in her galley, Ann practices making curry like a Trini, dog sauce like a Martiniquais, and a coo-coo like a Carriacouan. And for those who want to take these adventures into their own kitchens, she pulls seventy-one delicious recipes from the stories she tells, which she places at the end of the relevant chapters.
The Spice Necklace is a wonderful escape into a life filled with sunshine (and hurricanes), delicious food, irreplaceable company, and island traditions.
Ann’s debut book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes is a delicious chronicle of leaving the type-A lifestyle behind and discovering the seductive secrets of life in the Caribbean. She and her husband Steve chuck their jobs, say goodbye to the rat race, and sail from Canada to the Caribbean on a two-year midlife break, exchanging business clothes for bare feet and adapting to a new life on island time. An Embarrassment of Mangoes was an Amazon Top Ten Book of the Year for Travel and a national bestseller in Canada.
Born and raised a city girl (in Newark, New Jersey), I didn’t take to sailing until I was in my mid-40s. (My first book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, tells the story of my transformation; see left.) A love of cooking has been part of me a whole lot longer, thanks to my mother, a good cook and a fabulous baker, and my father,
who came from a family with a professional interest in food. (My grandfather owned a catering business and delicatessen.)
My husband Steve, who grew up in a small village in Ontario’s lake country, has more outdoorsy roots than I do. Still, he taught himself how to cook even before he taught himself how to sail. He cooked me dinner for one of our first dates: a stuffed leg of lamb wrapped in puff pastry he had made from scratch. It was outrageously good, and I was smitten.
Receta is the Spanish word for “recipe,” reflecting our more-than-moderate interest in food. (Reinforcing the point, we named Receta’s 10-foot 15-horsepower dinghy Snack.) Though home base has been Toronto for more than 30 years, Receta has become the home where our hearts are – and we’ve been living and traveling on her for the better part of the last three (almost four) years.
My book jacket will tell you I’m an award-winning writer and magazine and book editor. I’ll tell you I like my beaches empty, my wineglass full, and my kayak right side up.
“The Spice Necklace is pure pleasure from start to finish. It not only makes me want to run off to an island in the Caribbean, but somehow, it makes me feel as though I already have, as though I knew the place, as though I were a part of it. Ann Vanderhoof is a remarkably smart, funny, and generous writer: she brings us on her journey, and in the process, in her words and her recipes, she gives us a journey of our own. I would follow her anywhere.”
“Vanderhoof’s second book…will have you slipping away to the Margaritaville mentality while aboard Vanderhoof and her husband’s 42-foot sailboat, the beloved Receta.…The best part: If an island getaway won’t fit into your tight budget this year, ‘every little thing gonna be all right’ because Vanderhoof offers 71 delicious recipes that will have you relishing a Caribbean staycation in your kitchen …These island concoctions are tasty enough to make you feel anything but landlocked.”
“The Spice Necklace more than whets your appetite for the Caribbean, and in particular, Caribbean cuisine. It evokes the character, personality and strength of such wonderful sun-blessed countries. The words and recipes offer a true Caribbean escape.”
“Ann Vanderhoof gives us real soul food, and a heartfelt recollection of the people who showed her and her husband what Caribbean food is all about. If you have ever doubted the allure of the Caribbean, The Spice Necklace will show you why you want to go and how to eat when you get there.”
“Ann Vanderhoof takes readers on a lively gastronomic adventure through the delightful islands of the Caribbean. You can even retrace her experiences personally through the 71 authentic West Indian recipes she provides. Altogether tasty.”
“Ann Vanderhoof serves up a rich stew of impressions and observations about food and culture in the islands…An interesting and engaging book either to read straight through or to dip into.”
“Vanderhoof’s tale is incredibly airy and bright…Her native island recipes, many developed in the small kitchen aboard her boat…are the book’s highlight. Twice-fried plantains, coconut drops, pepper shrimp and mango chow—many sound good enough to induce hunger pangs just by reading their names.…Vanderhoof does an admiral job of making them accessible to any North American kitchen.”
“Prepare to be hot and hungry this winter: The Spice Necklace is a fabulous fusion of travel writing, food lore and island culture.”
“Part guidebook, part cookbook, part memoir, Ann’s latest book is the perfect read for food lovers who crave adventures in the sun. …You’ll like it if: you like food, adventure and sun, not necessarily in that order.”
“Reading Vanderhoof ’s evocative descriptions of the food, you’ll want to rush to the kitchen to turn out your own tropical dishes. . . Vanderhoof captures sailing jargon, island patois, gorgeous vistas, and the sting of salt water. Her smooth, confident writing brings their journey to life.”
“Full of humor and insight . . . travel writing at its best.”
“Excels in painting a perfect picture of every island.”
“Finely crafted…highly satisfying…enrapt island portraits that prompt us to see and to yearn: what travel writing is all about.”
“…memorable portraits of the successive islands, anchorages, and engaging characters she encounters [with] seriously seductive regional recipes between the chapters.”
“With an eye and an ear for the colours, characters, and flavours of island life, Vanderhoof describes places where watches are superfluous and total strangers say good morning to each other.”
“A gently passionate story . . . captured in writing so engrossing it often seems you’re witnessing their journey, not just reading about it.”
“[a] gracefully written and poignant account of [a] two-year maritime odyssey. . . . It’s a splendid adventure, engagingly told and teasingly punctuated with recipes from the trip.”
“This foodie’s take on armchair travel is a perfect read for this season of new hopes and resolutions.”