Callaloo-jah! Caribbean food is here!

     As a former resident of St. John in U.S. Virgin Islands, it was with great glee that I entered Callaloo, the Caribbean-food eatery on State Street, on a balmy Saturday night last month.
   I miss my island fare, and walking up the block to Callaloo and smelling those odors was almost like stepping off the ferry in Cruz Bay — a veritable spicy, fruity smorgasbord of Antillean epicurean delights.
   The restaurant’s name comes from an island staple, callaloo soup, sometimes called "pepperpot."
   Much to my joy, the menu at Callaloo is very reminiscent of many native-food eateries on St. John and St. Thomas — often simply old buses or delivery trucks up on blocks with small kitchens and food within; pots tended by ancient locals using family recipes … yum.
   Callaloo has all the basics, from jerked chicken to fried plantains — good stuff. But what it did, most importantly, was make me think of St. John again, which I hadn’t really done for a while. The green hills, curvy roads, white sand beaches, bathtub-like water, incredible trails, old plantation ruins, sweeping vistas of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands … it all came back in a gorgeous flood.
   Thank you, Callaloo!

Other ponderings
   If our rare night on the town was any indication, my wife and I can attest to the fact that Bellingham’s night life, despite the closure of the 3B earlier this year, is hale and hearty, even in these slower summer months when the college is running at a much more island-like pace.
   After our dinner at Callaloo (see above), we sauntered down the block for an evening at the Nightlight with creole legend Buckwheat Zydeco. Ol’ Buck has lost NO zip on his squeeze box, and the next day, thankfully the Sunday before July 4, was definitely a day of rest for the Thompson clan, as dancing your feet off often has that effect.
   More importantly, it was great to see the Nightlight not only booking events like Buckwheat Zydeco, but it was fabulous to see those events supported by local music lovers. Bellingham is a great arts town, something that no doubt contributes to its high, well-documented quality of life.
   Great music venues like the Nightlight only increase the attractiveness of our downtown as a well-rounded, vital community.
   Similarly, when we recently went to see “A Prairie Home Companion” (Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly as singin’ cowboys Lefty and Dusty steal the show) at the Pickford, we left with a smile, thinking, "It’s so great that we live in a place with a theater like this."
   Yes, it’s only a 90-seat theater. Yes, the seats are squeaky, aren’t the size of barca-loungers and don’t have cupholders.
   That’s the way we like it!
   And even as the Pickford makes it way toward its goal for moving into its Dream Space on Bay Street and doubling in size, it’s comforting to know that the new space will, no doubt, have that same great feeling.
   As if I need any reinforcement, the last few weeks have proven to me yet again — Bellingham is a great place to live!

John Thompson is publisher and editor of The Bellingham Business Journal. He can be reached by calling 647-8805, or via e-mail at


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