If you are looking for a hip little island in the Caribbean where celebrities such as Mick Jagger hang out and unwind, then look no further than the pear-shaped coral island of Barbados. After all, if it is good enough for Mick – it’s good enough for a romantic getaway. While you might not get a chance to glimpse Jagger strolling through the streets of Bridgetown, it is rumored that the likes of actor Steven Seagal spends time in Barbados and even takes the local bus every now and then.
Considering the fact that the island is a popular celebrity hangout then it goes without saying the food, the accommodations, and the attitude must be just right. For my part, I found Barbados to be one of my favorite Caribbean islands. Clean, friendly and with a lot of heart, the Barbados people are proud of what they’ve got, 166 square miles of not only sandy beaches and lapping waves, but also rugged, jagged limestone cliffs.
The culinary offerings on Barbados are never more pronounced then during one of the popular food festivals, most notably Eat! Drink! Barbados. Eat! Drink! Barbados is a unique epicurean experience featuring the food of Barbados with a mixture of Europe, Asia and most importantly the traditional Bajan recipes.
Barbados has several restaurants that cater to even the most delicate palate, Daphne’s (whose sister restaurant is in London), The Cliff and La Terra are suggested restaurants to begin.
Barbados chefs, both local and international, pride themselves on using the freshest local produce available. “Gourmet” magazines well-known New York City fruit detective, David Karp was at Daphne’s during Eat! Drink! Barbados to assure the quality of fruit served at dinner was just right. Karp enjoyed his role too, as he examined the watermelon martini and thenexplained appetizer, entree and dessert, each dish highlighting the signature star of the evening – local fresh fruit.
Daphne’s bills herself as a modern Italian restaurant offering food by the sea. Contemporary and chic, the beachfront setting, crashing waves in the distance and candlelit cubby holes set the mood for a tasteful, albeit expensive evening.
Eat! Drink! Barbados was especially proud of The Cliff restaurant’s chef offering as they touted Gourmet’s Executive chef, Sara Moulton. The Cliff was recently voted one of the top 50 restaurants in the world by the U.K.’s Restaurant Magazine. The menu for the evening was a combination of local Barbadian food and produce enhanced by wines. As the evening promised some of the best food of the Eat! Drink! Barbados spectacular, yachts docked nearby to attend the special dinner and reception.
For the last night of the culinary feast Villa Nova was the place to be seen. Situated in the countryside of Barbados, the feel is more West Indies than Caribbean. This island property once stood as a famed Great House, but is now a 27-room boutique hotel. The chef at the property teams his food combinations by adding a touch of Asian with a splash of Barbadian, creating Caribbean fusion.
The Eat! Drink! Barbados event saw the appearance of top London chef Kevin Hopgood from Elena L’Etoile – one of the oldest French Bistro restaurants in London. Beginning on the Gazebo with appetizers, the three-course meal was taken inside at the Terrace at Villa Nova, surrounded by lush, tropical gardens.
For the epicurean tastebuds of those who want to get to know the local cuisine without the fanfare, enjoy the national dish and island emblem, flying fish. Other local favorites include cou-cou (cornmeal and okra), pepperpot (spicy stew) and jug-jug (Guinea corn and green peas). There are more than plenty of local beach front restaurants where you can sling your shoes off, sit back with some rum and eat until you fall asleep gazing at the azure blue water.
Finally, if you are in Barbados on a Friday night then you must attend a fish fry. The Oistins Fish Fry is the one that everyone raves about, but there are others. Locals spend their Friday nights mingling with island visitors and one another as tastebuds give way to the samples of hot, steaming fish cakes, dolphin and tuna. You can party at the fish fry until at least 11:00 p.m. After your tummy is full from the feast, make your way to Lexies and sway to the beat with the local island ballroom dancers.
Rita Cook lives in Los Angeles and is the editor of Premier Bride magazine. She also has a romance novel coming out this winter called “Angel’s Destiny”.
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