HomeIsland InsiderIsland Insider | Baidawi Assing, Food Connoisseur, Cook and Creative Professional in Trindad & Tobago

Island Insider | Baidawi Assing, Food Connoisseur, Cook and Creative Professional in Trindad & Tobago

Baidawi Assing, Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is located in the southern Caribbean, just off the coast of South America.The island nation has everything you could ask including luscious landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and a rich blend of experiences. A diverse population influenced by African, Indian, European, and Chinese cultures, enriches the culture and region’s foods, festivals, and more. It is known to be the birthplace of steel pan and has one of the best Carnivals in the world.

This year, Trinidad and Tobago will host five of the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup matches at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba. Whether you’re planning to attend any of the matches or visit at any time, we are here to help you discover the best of this beautiful destination.

(For even more insight into all of the host destinations, read our Ultimate Destination Guide for the Cricket World Cup 2024)

Anjali Datwani, Founder of Urban Journey, speaks to Baidawi Assing, Food Connoisseur, Cook, and Creative Professional.

Baidawi Assing, Trinidad and Tobago

Baidawi Assing shares what he’s most excited about during the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup and most importantly, shares some of his favorite local dishes, food haunts, and so much more about his beautiful homeland. Follow him on Instagram at eahtafoodtt

With Trinidad and Tobago being a host venue for the Cricket World Cup, how do you think this event will impact the island’s atmosphere?

Trinbagonians are jubilant people who love a good lime, not the type that grows on trees that you make juice with but the type that involves coming together with friends and family. Cricket is one of those sporting activities that has an inextricable liming component to it. It’s not just about the sport, but also about the social interaction between the fans. Hosting the Cricket World Cup here in Trinidad and Tobago will surely have the place abuzz with excitement as people come out to show support for their favorite teams but also to engage in our national pastime, liming.

What makes Trinidad and Tobago special to you personally?

There’s a way in which so many different influences have converged here in Trinidad & Tobago to form a unique experience. On any given day you can be awakened at 5 AM by the sound of the Azan from a nearby mosque then by 8 AM be serenaded with Soca music blasting from your neighbors’ house. We celebrate varying cultures openly and from that co-mingling of experiences emerges the unique Trinbagonian experience that is aptly described as a callaloo.

What’s your favorite festival on the island and why?

Christmas time is my favorite festival and time of year. It might be hard to imagine, given how friendly and welcoming we can be regularly, that, at Christmas time people are generally MORE friendly than usual. Added to the warmth of the people is a selection of delicious food and beverages that are synonymous with the festival. Some local faves for the season are pastels, ham and hops, black cake, sorrel, and punch de crème. Of course, no Christmas celebration is complete without the sound of parang music that further adds to the joyous feeling a lot of us associate with that time of year.

Can you share your top 5 favorite restaurants?

food at chaud cafe - trinidad and tobago

Chaud Cafe – image credit: Baidawi Assing

My top 5 restaurants, in no particular order.

1. Taryn’s The Panyol Place specializes in authentic Venezuelan cuisine. The food is thoughtfully prepared and consistently delicious. The restaurant itself feels like you’re walking into Taryn’s home and that’s a great feeling to have when you’re about to enjoy delicious food.

2. Chaud Café & Wine Bar does tapas-styled dining, offering small to medium plates and it’s the kinda restaurant where you can close your eyes and order anything off their menu and never be disappointed. Everything is that good.

3. Trini Flavour – If you want to go to a spot to sample a wide variety of local dishes, from breakfast to lunch items, then this is your spot. Trini Flavour serves up our local favorites from Monday to Friday, feeding a portion of our working population in Port of Spain daily. If you want to “eat like a local” this is a great spot to have that experience.

4. The New Dim Sum Kingoffers dim sum (as the name suggests) as well as other amazing items from Chinese cuisine. Judging from the list thus far, it may be apparent that I have an affinity for small bites and grazing when it comes to dining. This dining experience allows me to sample a lot off their menu with each visit making it a delectable adventure every single time.

5. Café Mariposa is more than just a restaurant. It is a culinary journey that is steeped in the rich history of the Lopinot community. Their Cocoa Cuisine features cocoa grown on a nearby estate and other ingredients grown right there on the compound. This makes dining at the restaurant a wonderful farm-to-table experience. Each dish is rich in family and community history and pays homage to indigenous flavors and techniques.

Can you share some lesser-known spots or activities that you believe every visitor should experience and not found in the guidebooks?

These culinary gems are eating experiences I’ve either stumbled upon or was put on to by friends that I always recommend. For doubles, hands down my favorite spot is Jack & Marlene’s in Sooknanan Trace in Aranguez. I’ve been going there since the 90s and they are still my go-to every time I want to eat doubles. But you need to go early as they start by 7 AM and are usually sold out by 9 AM.

My roti recommendation is the R&T Roti Shop on Southern Main Road in Marabella. This was a fairly recent food find but it is one of the best rotis I have ever had, the dhal puri is super soft and silky, and the fillings (talkari) are extraordinary.

Kaiso City Pizza is another personal fave. They are taking international cuisine and filtering it through a local lens but still adhering to some core fundamentals of pizza making. They make a high-quality product without the trappings of a brick-and-mortar, casual dining experience.

If you’re in Tobago, you must visit Café Down Low. The ambiance there is the perfect balance between upbeat and chill. The cocktails and mocktails are expertly crafted. The menu isn’t extensive and that’s a good thing. They only offer a few items but that allows them to focus on delivering consistently delightful dishes.

What are your favorite local dishes and where can we find them?

Some of my favorite local dishes are callaloo, pelau, soup, roti, and doubles. I’ve already mentioned my go-to spots for roti and doubles (see above). Trini Flavor is a good spot to sample pelau and soup etc. but to be very honest, the best place to enjoy some of these meals is in someone’s house. So, make friends while you’re here, someone is sure to invite you over for lunch!

Can you suggest any unique ways for visitors to immerse themselves in the local community and culture?

hiking in Trinidad and Tobago
Image courtesy of Baidawi Assing
corn at the market in trinidad and tobago
ginger - market in trinidad and tobago
Ginger Root
market trinidad and tobago
Mortar and Pestle
peppers at the market in trindad and tobago

I find going to the local market to be an insightful experience into the lives of everyday people. The market is unique in that there is a community between the vendors and patrons. Visitors can learn a lot about our local food from vendors and if you visit Central Market in Port of Spain you can also check out the food court where vendors are cooking up local favorites using produce from the market. The only “downside” to this is that you’ll have to wake up early on a Saturday morning to get the full experience of a market day and then finish it off with a piping hot, delicious bowl of Saturday Soup from Ms. Caroline. (images courtesy of Baidawi Assing)

What are some outdoor activities or adventures that showcase the island’s natural beauty?

Image credit: Baidawi Assing

Hiking is a great way to experience the beauty of the island. Some of my favorite trails are Paria, Avocat Falls, Breezy Hill, Mt. Tabor, and the Covigne Gorges. It’s best to make arrangements with a hiking group and guide to take you to these locations to enjoy the rejuvenating effects of nature.

Are there any hidden gems in terms of accommodations, such as boutique hotels or eco-friendly resorts?

A few hidden gems for a different type of accommodation experience are the cabins at La Vega Estate, Café Mariposa, and the Asa Wright Nature Center. While each of these locations offers an eco-friendly experience, they all have unique characteristics that set them apart.

Lastly, what advice would you give to travelers looking to discover the authentic Trinidad and Tobago beyond the typical tourist experience?

Honestly, the best way to have an authentic experience here in Trinidad and Tobago is to just talk to people that you encounter as you make your way around. Of course, one should be vigilant, but by and large, we are a very warm, welcoming people. We are extremely proud of our heritage, and we love to share and showcase our culture to anyone with the slightest interest. Go out, and make friends but be safe! Enjoy Trinidad & Tobago.

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