Husband and wife Denis and Anita St Bernard, who own and run the Archway Guest House in Windermere, are spicing things up with dishes like fried plantain and codfish fritters dipped in hot pepper sauce. Denis is a keen cook who was taught by his mother, Elfreda, on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. She brought up five children single-handedly, and from the “tender age of seven or eight” Denis was making meals for his siblings, while Mum held down two or three jobs.
Denis told the Gazette his cookery skills had remained “latent” while he worked in marketing, customer service and developing small businesses. He is now delighted to be sharing his mother’s recipes with guests at the Archway, on College Road, with wife Anita, who hails from the Netherlands and worked for the Dutch Embassy.
The couple met at Trinidad and Tobago’s famous carnival in 1983, marrying six years later in Anita’s home country. The well-travelled pair have lived on three continents, settling in London in 2009 for their children’s schooling.
Their dream of running a Lake District bed-and-breakfast came to fruition three years ago. “We have 47 nationalities coming through the door every year,” said Denis, giving Tahiti, Nepal, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong as examples.
He said the fact he and Anita had lived in so many countries helped to “build a chemistry” with guests. They have left hundreds of glowing reviews on website TripAdvisor, and the online company recently bestowed its Hall of Fame Award on the Archway Guest House.
Alongside traditional English and continental favourites on the morning menu, Denis’s Caribbean recipes are proving popular. “Guests say they have never tasted that before,” he said. “It seems to have hit a note.” Dishes include:
– sliced, fried plantain sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg
– codfish fritters in a turmeric, parsley and oregano herb batter, with avocado and scrambled egg, dipped in authentic, home-made Caribbean hot sauce
Denis says he and Anita now hope to “bring something unique” to the Lake District World Heritage Site by opening a Caribbean-style cafe – serving such delicacies as jerk chicken and “roti”, a curry of chickpeas, chicken, beef or shrimp, wrapped in soft, naan-like bread.