Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giving Thanks - a new season begins!

I have mentioned that there is a lot of new commercial development underway in the Loreto Bay community this Fall, I opened our new Real Estate Office this past week, next door to the new First Contact Property Management Offices where Chris and Dawn Smith have set up to manage their properties in the development.

This past week was also a “soft opening” event for another new business opening within Loreto Bay, the Bajaja Deli Bar which shares the building with USG Construction at the south end of the “race track” median between the Founder’s Village and Agua Viva.  This large contemporary style building is not actually part of the Loreto Bay Condominium regime, as the lot was owned privately before the development began.

USG Construction (  is a General Contractor that was formed earlier this year by three principals, most of whom have been involved with the Loreto Bay Development since the early days; Ed Tait, was the first Loreto Bay employee on the ground and was responsible for initially setting up the construction project, Groff Ward whose company West Coast Millworks fabricated all of the cabinets and much of the woodwork for the initial phases of the Loreto Bay Project, and Brian Partridge who has a lengthy background in all aspects of overseeing construction.

When USG leased the building for their construction office, they realized that because the property was originally designed as a residence, it would also lend itself to operating a restaurant/bar in the same location – a long-held dream of Ed and his wife Darlene and a shared interest of the other two couples as well.  Thus the Bajaja Deli Bar & Grill ( was born!  After months of preparations including renovations to the kitchen and securing the necessary permits, a couple of weeks ago they began serving Breakfast and Lunch between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.

But the big event was planned for this past Monday – a Canadian Thanksgiving Buffett – complete with a full afternoon of Canadian Football on the satellite TV in the Bar!  Announcements were made on the well established Loreto grapevine and soon they were sold-out by reservations, and then over-sold, and finally over-over-sold!  For those of my American readers, we Canucks celebrate our Thanksgiving in early October (I guess it has something to do with the fact that our harvest is earlier in the north), but in most other important respects the celebration is the same – like Turkey – but more about that later!

I arrived at Bajaja mid-afternoon and joined a small group of “early birds” in the Bar to watch the second half of the football game.  The main building is arranged around a central sunken courtyard with a covered patio area overlooking the swimming pool which makes up most of the back yard.  At one end of the pool there is a separate building where the Bar is located.  Tables were set up in the sunken courtyard, in the colonnade between the courtyard and the pool and on three sides of the pool deck with total seating for over 70 people.  As the afternoon progressed more people arrived and congregated in the Bar until that space overflowed into the other areas where people found seats, and enjoyed meeting and greeting each other as they relaxed over cocktails.     

 Meanwhile, preparations were well underway for the Thanksgiving feast that was to come!  Located behind the kitchen on the pool deck, a propane burner was set up to heat a large deep fryer where each of four large Turkeys were being cooked under the careful eye of Geoff, the Master Turkey Fryer!  For those of you who haven’t experienced deep fried Turkey this is one of the best (and fastest) ways of cooking fowl.  The fully thawed bird is immersed whole in cooking oil, which is maintained at 375 degrees, and it cooks to a golden brown in only 3 minutes per pound.  The cooked meat is succulent and juicy, without any of the oiliness you might expect from this cooking method – delicious!

In the kitchen, the staff chef Jessey was hard at work, with assistance from all the partners preparing the side dishes of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, gravy, stuffing and all the trimmings that make up a Thanksgiving feast.  By the time that all four birds had been cooked to perfection, a separate room was prepared for the buffet and soon the table was surrounded by appreciative diners loading their plates with the delicious food. As platter after platter of carved Turkey was delivered, and the side dishes were replenished, eventually everyone was seated and enjoying this traditional meal – in very Untraditional surroundings.  With the setting sun silhouetting the mountains to the west, and the verdant greens of the golf course fairways stretching beyond the bougainvillea trimmed wall around the illuminated pool – this wasn’t the way Thanksgiving used to be!

In addition to enjoying the delicious food, this was an opportunity for the guests to celebrate the beginning of a new season in Loreto Bay.  A few hardy souls had been here all summer long, many more had recently returned, some staying for weeks, others for the whole winter and so the conversations were “when did you arrive”, “how long are you staying”, “what have you been doing all summer”, re-establishing the sense of community that is one of the most important features of Loreto Bay.  I was also pleased to see some “Townies” from Loreto joining the festivities, it is good to have events where Loreto Bay and people who live in town can meet and mingle in a social situation.

After finishing off our feast with more tradition, freshly baked pumpkin pie with whipped cream, darkness began to fall and people took their leave, finding their way home in the warm night air, under the darkened silhouettes of Palm trees - adding a welcome new dimension to the celebration of giving thanks, particularly for those of us fortunate enough to be “Living Loreto”.