Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A West Indies Experience

We recently returned from a trip to Nevis, an island in the West Indies. It's a remote place; it took us three plane trips and a boat ride to reach the five star resort where we lived the fabled lives of the 'One Percent'.

We stayed at the Four Season, a resort hotel that includes two pools, a first-class golf course, tennis courts and hiking trails. There's an onsite spa, and the Swedish massage is just the right activity after a day of swimming and hiking.

There are plenty of restaurants and bars, and everyone drinks rum punch, wine and Carib, the local beer. But you can get Bud Light as well.

The food is fabulous, of course. The first night we attended a reception -the trip was a business trip, so such meetings were part of the package. As everyone sipped pink-colored rum punch and heady red wine, servers dressed in understated floral button down shirts and pale brown skirts moved through the outdoor restaurant with trays of appetizers.

I didn't really know what it was I was eating, but I recognized shrimp, spinach puffs of some kind, chicken with a very, very spicy dip, and skewered pork and pineapple.

As I said, the food is fabulous, but I believe most of what we enjoyed was somewhat 'adjusted' in flavors and textures from what the locals actually eat. I was expecting goat meat (in fact I looked forward to it) but what we actually ate was pasta, pizza, and sandwiches.

My husband described the pizza at the Neve restaurant as "Very good, almost as good as Wolfgang Puck's in Vegas."

Two of the restaurants, Coral Grill and Mango, offer local fare, but again, I don't think it reflects what the locals eat. As one attendee of our party said, "I'd like to go into town and offer someone one hundred dollars to fix me a meal like they would eat."

The highlights of this trip for my husband and me were the hiking, the jeep tour through the island, and the spa. The food, while perfectly prepared and scrumptious, was high-end sustenance, and well-suited to the tourist palette.

So, I did what any curious foodie would do. I bought a local cookbook, "A Taste of the Caribbean", written by expatriate Angela Spenceley. The Caribbean islands have a spicy and tantalizing flavor profile, and the overall diet is actually quite heart-friendly and vegetarian friendly. I'll be cooking up some of those recipes, and posting the results here. Then- We be jammin'!