BY BEE SCHINDLER
It was the second day in Haiti. We woke up at different times - Eddie already in the Hotel Karibe garden, drinking coffee and checking in on the world on his laptop. By the time I moseyed down and grabbed a cup of joe with a spoonful of raw sugar, we were thinking of our day, and getting ready for food to break the evening's fast.
Very different than the wintery mix in Pittsburgh, the day was clear and warm. Eddie and I drove through the winding city streets, headed to Brasserie Quartier Latin, a favorite brunch spot for folks visiting or living in and around its Petionville location.
We walked through the main restaurant, past a spiral staircase against a red, white and blue striped wall - it's horizontal spaces used by people over time who left their mark using pen and marker to say hello or leave their name.
"Love this place"
Thoughts and ramblings scrolled along the wall as we made our way to the sun-lit back patio - a bricked area with tables and umbrellas. The water came to the table in wine goblets, its refreshing liquid floating the ice. We were seated promptly in the middle of the space, with the best view of the other guests. Next to us a group of friends cheersed and drank mimosas. I ordered the same, while Eddie had a bloody Mary. As we picked out our meals and the server dropped off our brunch selection to the chef, we breathed in the moment. The outdoor dining in Haiti is fantastic - the birds were chirping in the tall mango tree towering above our heads, while real live, planted-in-the-ground palmtrees swayed in the afternoon air. It was magic.
I got up to take photos, finding myself at a back corner of the patio, a large mural of painted tulips adorned a back wall. I didn't know at the time that it would be a unique experience to see mural art around the city that wasn't an ad for a cellphone or a fizzy drink. I liked the tone of the muted reds and yellows. In the background, a jazz band picked up their instruments and began playing a song that was part Frank Sinatra, part reggae. The band was made up of a four-artist troupe ranging in age and style. They were really talented, and as sipped my mimosa I couldn't believe this paradise.
Thinking it could get no better, the food arrived.
Being a vegetarian in Haiti was interesting. Up to this point, I had a couple of rounds of cheesy breads, many tries of fried plantains, and copious amounts of spicy pikliz. I had fantastic pizza the night before at Papaye - mixing bites of pikliz with the pizza was a new way for me to enjoy one of my favorite meals. At Quartier Latin I ordered a caprese sandwich with a side salad. The cheese and tomatoes blending perfectly on a crusted baguette. Eddie went for the brunch eggs benedict, which looked glorious in its freshness. His side of potatoes perfectly sauteed.
The brunch was filling in more ways than one. It set off the trip by inviting us in to Haiti's sun soaked opportunities to explore the country's food and people and music. I would be back, and I'd bring my marker to say thanks on the eatery's walls.