Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul’s First Dinner Experience

I started writing my thoughts down and sharing them with you all last April. I can honestly say that I did not really know whether anyone would enjoy reading my stories, but I knew that I was writing from my heart. I have been astounded by the feedback from my readers. Over the course of the last 9 months, I have received comments and messages from people all over the world, some whom I know, and many whom I have never met. All of these responses have been so heartwarming and awesomely supportive. I am humbled that so many have taken the time to let me know that they enjoy my work. It inspires me to continue writing and sharing my recipes and my stories with you. Thank you so very much for your feedback as it validates the time spent on my work, both in my kitchen and on my computer writing.

In addition to my blogposts on Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul, I also regularly post pictures of my baking and cooking on Instagram and Facebook for my followers to see what’s going on in my home kitchen. I have received many comments and messages as well as many requests asking to taste my food or whether my baked goods can be purchased. Once upon a time many years ago, I would have loved to have a restaurant; but that was a different time in my life. I can honestly say that I have no intention of opening a restaurant but I have been thinking of ways to connect and satisfy this demand.

Last Friday I hosted my first event, a “Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul Dinner Experience”. I invited a few great friends who are foodies, artists and creatives to join me and my family for an evening of good food and new flavors. I wanted to introduce my Haitian friends to my cooking and to experience some hospitality “à ma façon.” It was an incredible group of people who accepted my invitation to dinner. I was able to share my spice blends, as well as my perspective, as someone who has integrated into the fabric of Haiti over the last 28 years. I am a proud Guyanese Girl and I have a love and admiration for my adopted country Haïti. It is here that I made my home and family and where I developed my own unique style.

Tables set up for GGHS dinner

I first offered my guests a homemade libation as a welcome cocktail. It was made with Haiti’s famous Barbancourt rhum, homemade pink guava nectar, freshly grated ginger for a kick and muddled limes. These drinks were served with delicious Haitian accra and fried breadfruit slices along with a spicy pickleez slaw. My menu was a one which was chosen to include some of my favorites. My plated appetizers were Chinese style shrimp and pork wontons with my house made tangy pepper jelly sauce and a chicken curry puff paired with a bright Indian spiced tomato chutney.

Chicken curry puff with fried shrimp and pork wontons

They were both well received and we were on our way to a tasting of flavors which embody me. I love to use warm Indian spices like cumin, garam masala, fenugreek, mustard seeds and cardamom. I chose a beautiful fish called a Dorade which has a meaty flesh and a tender texture to highlight these tastes. It was served pan fried along with a shrimp curry atop. A potato and chickpea masala was the accompaniment along with spinach and a soft roti to sop up the flavorful sauce.

Shrimp curry over a fish fillet with spinach and jasmine rice

Chinese flavors such as ginger, garlic, soy, scallions are ones which I consider staples in my cooking. I also love to fuse the flavors of the Caribbean islands by blending coconut milk and hot peppers. I made a caramel ginger chicken which is the perfect fusion of these two types of flavors. There is an incredibly delicious aroma which fills the air when this dish is being cooked. It has everyone making their way to the kitchen to see what’s in the making. The rich caramel colors the chicken and gives it a deep honey brown tint. The flavor of the ginger and garlic permeate the dish and add a sweetness and richness to the chicken which is outstanding. When the coconut milk is introduced, the color turns creamy brown and as it cooks down, it thickens and ends up in a glorious rich amber uber tasty sauce. It is a homey dish but is delightful in its simplicity. I make it often and we love it in my family, and is not known here in Haïti.

Caramel ginger chicken with spinach and fried sweet yellow plantains

I set up tables in my front yard and used different chairs for my seating arrangement. As the reception was at home, I just used what ever I had available. There was no need to have everything matching, in fact, by using different colored napkins and placemats, I was able to create an interesting eclectic vibe. There were little details, such as various small cloisonné Chinese ornaments and Indian carved animals and forms, as well as Guyanese pottery pieces with Amerindian petroglyph depictions adorning each table. The centerpiece was representative of Guyanese and Haitian cultures and my mixed heritage. For freshness and color, I mixed sprigs of bougainvillea with potted herbs like thyme and rosemary for their aroma, as well as orchids from my garden into the tablescape. This time of the year is perfect for entertaining outdoors, the nights are cool and the skies were clear above us. Candles and torches were lit all around and gave a lovely ambiance to the evening. The conversation was lively and stimulating as the group mingled easily and cohesively together. It was such a pleasure to host a group of artists and creative minds… it all made for a perfect evening.

Garden setting for Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul Dinner Experience

No dinner is complete without a dessert course and in fact, even though many said that they were full, they managed to find some space for dessert. I prepared a selection of small portions so that my guests could choose to taste one or several desserts. In verrine glasses, There was a strawberry cream trifle which is one of my favorites. The sublime fresh compote added a special layer of delight with strawberries from the mountains of Belot. The trifle consisted of small layers of vanilla cake rounds, sherry, crème patissière and whipped cream. My guests absolutely loved this delightful cold dessert.

Strawberry and cream trifle in verrines

In addition there was a selection of mini pecan pies, fresh chocolate chip cookies and crunchy Indian Kurma with flecks of coconut, cardamom and aniseed. A sweet ending to my first GGHS dinner experience.

Crunchy Kurma

Mini pecan pies

I look forward to hosting more of these types of events in the year. I will keep you all posted so that if you are interested in attending, you can sign up for details. The venue and menu will vary, but will always keep a few common features. I like the concept of small groups and pop up style dinners, perhaps even a themed event. It was such a pleasure to host a group of artists and creative minds… for me, it was a perfect evening and a most memorable one to inaugurate a new concept.

Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul take away goodie box for my guests

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Fiona Dhurjon says:

    Sign me up Sharon, depending on where you are, I will be there!!

  2. Carol Ann says:

    I always enjoy how you fusion your Guyanese and Haitian cuisines. Love the pop-up dinner idea.

    1. Thank you Carol Ann. Bridging two cultures is my aim and food is a great vehicle to use.

  3. Fiona Dhurjon says:

    Sign me uip Sharon. I will be t here depending on venue

  4. dale davidson says:

    I’m mesmerized.

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thanks Dale!! You are masterful at this Ms Umana!!

  5. Valli Simmons says:

    Wow, what a beautiful read accompanied by intoxicating pictures. You are clearly exploiting what you are meant to do and your aesthetic skills all compliment and complete your art.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. 🙏🏼

  6. Dawn says:

    Looks like it was a truly amazing evening and as usual your dishes looked exquisite . I so look forward to your posts!

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