We are back in the Caribbean visiting a tropical country with two names and three islands. The official language is English due to past British rule, although you can find people speaking Spanish as well in certain regions. The island has no lakes, rivers, forests, or mountains, but they have plenty of beaches! A & B is even nicknamed “the land of 365 beaches.” Even though it looks like there is a small mountain range on the Antigua it is actually remnants of a volcanic crater (the islands are partially volcanic but there is no active volcanos). This Caribbean nation is popular for vacations due to all the beautiful beaches and top-notch bird watching.
The cuisine of A & B is like many other Caribbean dishes, but they have some unique national dishes. One is called “fish water” which is a stewed or boiled fish, another is “fungee” which is similar to polenta. Food here often involves fresh seafood and produce. Today we do something different- pork chops with bacon-wrapped bananas. This seemingly random pairing of food had me intrigued. Banana is one of the most abundant crops of the island and locals find this dish a wonderful pairing of salty and sweet. Unfortunately, I could not find a back story of how this dish came to be. Most times it is grilled when being prepared, however our grill stopped working so I was very thankful to have my air fryer! The grill version of this dish is found here.
It was tricky to get the bacon to stay on the bananas but luckily most of them stayed put. If you are wanting to fire up that air fryer or are grill-less place the wrapped bananas in for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the bacon at 380 F. You will want to make sure the bacon is crispy and the bananas are slightly browned.
As interesting as this dish was it wasn’t too bad. The pork chops were very well seasoned, we thought the lemon and cumin was a great combination. The bananas and bacon were a nice balance of sweet and savory, however the texture of the bananas wasn’t what we had hoped. They were very mushy while the bacon was crispy, too much contrast for me. Overall the meal was well seasoned and pleasant. We rated it 7.25/10.
We are still in the tropics and visiting Saint Barthélemy (also known as St. Barts). This itty-bitty island sits below Anguilla, East to the U.S. Virgin Islands, and above St. Nitts and Nevis. The island is primarily French-speaking and is part of a collectivity of France (first-order division of France) that also contains Martinique, Saint Martin, and Guadeloupe. At just under 10 sq miles in size it has an impressive array of high class restaurants and luxurious resorts. The island has no fresh water sources so the locals rely on desalination plants to collect rain for drinking water- talk about stressful!
Saint Barthélemy cooking incorporates French, Creole, West Indian, and Asian influence with many fine dinning restaurants around the island. Indian cooking styles often include fish and steamed vegetables, Creole include more spice. More often you will see French and Creole styles of food. Like other Caribbean islands they use native produce and seafood in their meals, much like today’s dish. Red snapper can be found in the Caribbean waters and is the main attraction of this West Indian dish. You can find the details here.
This was a pretty straight forward dish using common ingredients, most already being present in the apartment. Never skip marinating since this is how the fish will absorb all the flavor. We decided to pan fry the fish (especially since it was cod fillets vs red snapper).
We felt this dish was well seasoned, however it was more on the simple side. I was also unable to get red snapper again because it is rarely ordered at the rural Hannaford I go to. We can’t lie and give this dish a rating higher than 6.5/10 because it does not compare to other fish dishes we have made. It is still good and easy to make but not a knock out recipe.
Welcome to the beautiful Dominican, a place you think of when people say they are going on a cruise or tropical vacation. It sits East of Haiti and is surrounded by other Caribbean Islands. The Dominican Republic has reserved a quarter of their land to national parks, sanctuaries, and other protected lands which includes rainforests. Want to see whales up close? January through March you can find humpback whales in Samaná Bay Sanctuary. The climate here is sometimes referred to as “the endless summer” due to its sunny and warm year-round conditions. The country is known for it coffee, national league baseball players, and white sandy beaches.
The cuisine of the Dominican Republic is very much like its neighboring islands and bordering country. It is a very sustainable country producing several different foods that are found in many of their traditional meals. Its dishes show influence from Africa, The Middle East, Spanish, and indigenous Taino. I decided for tonight’s dinner I would actually make a traditional breakfast. Mangú Con Los Tres Golpes is a well-known classic of the Dominican that contains mashed green plantains, pickled red onions, fried cheese, egg, and salami. African influence shines through this dish with the mashed plantains or mangu that originates in West Africa. If breakfast for dinner excited you click here.
Cooking was simple and while one thing cooked you could prep the other. It is important the onions have time to pickle in order to get the best flavor. I used my air fryer to start the cheese, but due to its runny nature and thin layer of flour it wanted to seep in-between the grates and needed to be finished in the skillet.
We loved this unique and colorful dish! It was a first to experience mash plantains and pickled onions together, the pair worked well. The plantains had a very mild taste, that was well complimented by the salty salami and cheese. This is traditionally a breakfast and I could definitely see myself eating this in the morning. We thought the plantains are a great potato substitute and are underrated in the kitchen (I haven’t said this enough). We thought it deserved higher marks at 8.75/10.
The Cayman Islands are a British Territory that sits between Cuba and Central America in the Caribbean Sea. The territory is made up of three islands that each have their own personality and attraction. The islands are actually the tops of the Cayman Ridge that sits 7,500 m (24,600ft) above the ocean floor! It is well known for its Seven Mile Beach, but come to find out it is only 5 1/2 miles long! The Cayman Islands are best known for their scuba diving excursions and gorgeous beaches.
The cuisine found here mostly consists of seafood, vegetables, spices- this even includes turtles! You can find other traditional Caribbean dishes here as well like jerk chicken, rice, beans, and fried plantains. These islands are sometimes referred to as the culinary capital of the Caribbean because of their high class foods (often found at their world class resorts). Today I made a mango, chicken, rice and bean bake that contains plenty of island spice paired with tropical fruit sweetness. If this tickles your taste buds click here.
The meal was mildly confusing to me which lead me to cook the rice prior to added it to the bake which lead me to mushy rice- just add it in dry and it will absorb all the wonderful flavors. I couldn’t find mango chutney in my local Hannaford so I substituted it with apricot preserves.
We thought the Cayman Islands brought as a nicely spiced and savory. It was definitely a casserole like dish that was comforting to eat, although the texture of the rice really bothered me. The mango kept the spiciness at a tolerable level and gave the dish a nice balance. We thought it was worth 7.5/10 and considered it mostly successful..
Barbados is a beautiful Caribbean island that sits close to St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It gained independence in 1966 from England and is roughly 2.5 x the size of Washington D.C. Like other tropical islands it has its own sandy white beaches and dense rainforests that are vacation worthy. Its largest exports are rum, sugar, and molasses.
The cuisine of Barbados consists of marinated meats such as seafood, pork or chicken, and native vegetables and fruits. You can find a combination of English, Portuguese, and French cuisine influences here, however they like to but their own twist to it. The national dish is cou-cou (native fungus) and flying fish (native fish) which I obviously can’t try, but I found a soup recipe that seems to be pretty popular on the island.. chicken and dumpling soup. I made The Foot Mashup‘s version of this classic dish which has spiced oatmeal dumplings in a soup filled with squash, chicken and various potatoes and veggies. This kind of soup can be found throughout the Caribbean and is a typical comfort meal on the weekends.
The preparation was to be expected for a soup and involved plenty of time to wash, peel, cut and cook all the vegetables/chicken. The dumpling formation was a little tricky (and not as neat as the post) however I got the little suckers to stay clumped together. If you just follow the directions it is pretty straight forward to make. I was very tempted to add additional spices into the broth since this soup screams fall time to me.. I restrained myself.
One hack to save myself time was to cook the split peas in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes and have a 15 minute release. The water to pea ratio is 3:1 cups.
This was the first time I had dumplings in a soup and I was impressed. Of course we loved the spice that the dumplings brought, I couldn’t help but think of the autumn. As nice as the dumplings tasted, we thought it was a new and weird texture. The soup was good, but nothing out of the ordinary other than it had a whole lot of potatoes. I think if there was more herbs, spices, and maybe more contrasting textures the soup would have been rated higher. We thought it deserved 7/10.
We are back in the Caribbean visiting the islands of Grenada. Grenada is made up of one larger, main island and surrounding smaller islands. It is also known as the “spice isle” due to the abundance of spice plantations on the main island. Some of these spices include allspice, nutmeg, turmeric, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Nutmeg is the most abundant here and is even featured on the country’s flag. Rum is another famous export of this mighty Caribbean country, that being said it is safe to say they know how to make a mean fruity rum drink (my drink of choice). This country is additionally known for its stunning beaches, beautiful botanical gardens, and refreshing waterfalls.
The cuisine of Grenada as one might expect is full of spice and local produce. Seafood and various farmed meats are often included in meals as well. The national dish of Grenada is oil down, a very ambitious and traditional dish that includes several ingredients I couldn’t get my hands on such as breadfruit, pig tails, and taro leaves. I opted out to make a chicken stew inspired by a traveler’s visit where they ate this in a Grenadian’s home. The recipe can be found here.
The meal was pretty straight forward and allowed for me to multitask while it simmered away. It’s great to have those meals where you just throw all the ingredients together in a pot and voila you’ve got a meal! I had a difficulty time removing the skins fully from the thighs, but I feel it gives the broth a little more flavor.
YAY another amazing dish! This meal was insanely savory, delicious, and well-seasoned. There was a nice sweetness coming through with the ketchup and caramel. Although my dish came out a little more stew-like than the recipe it allowed us to appreciate a spicy and comforting broth that is by far the best broth I have ever had! Of course the chicken was fall off the bone tender and melted in your mouth.
We highly recommend this dish and rate it 9/10. We hope you try this one and let us know how it goes!
Welcome to another day traveling the globe by taste bud, today we land in the Caribbean on an island called Curaçao. You can find this Dutch island off the shores of Venezuela. It has a unique landscape that makes it stand out from the other Caribbean islands- it is a true desert island that receives little rain. Because of its dry climate growing crops is a challenge. When the Spanish came to the island and wanted to grow oranges they instead got small and tart fruit. Eventually it was discovered that the leaves from these plants were great to make liquor known today as blue curacao! This island of course has beautiful sandy beaches, incredible coral reefs, and a vibrant capital city know for its array of colors.
This gem of an island has strong European influence that can be found in its buildings, culture, and of course food. Dutch treats are enjoyed around the island along with Caribbean specialties. Keshi yena is considered to be the national dish of Curaçao which can be made vegetarian or with meat. It consists of cheese lined molds (such as a muffin tin or ramekins) filled with a savory filling that is baked until the cheese melts to completely enclose the center. You end up with several “cheese-castles” which is best served with a sliced up French baguette. The recipe I used can be found here.
When I was starting to make this dish I was surprised by the ingredients I was using. I would have never thought that raisins, capers, and soy sauce would be together as a part of this dishes filling! I found it tricky to cut the cheese thin enough to mold into my muffin tray, but I made it work. I used two different gouda cheeses (one older and one younger) which I felt elevated the meal.
Once I stuffed the cheese molded tray with the filling I used the remaining sliced cheese to encase the concoctions. Warning, there was a lot of grease that formed on the top of my tray and I had to keep dabbing it throughout the cooking time to avoid it dripping into the bottom of my oven. The author of this recipe used separate cooking dishes which may have eliminated this issue.
The end result once again surprised as with its complex and rich flavor. Most of my little cheese castles fell apart, but I was able to get a couple to stick together (shown above). We served them with the recommended baguette which we discovered tasted great with the keshi yena on top. Ian thought it reminded him of a lasagna in a way. If you don’t like your meals really cheesy this would probably be too much for you (or if dairy makes your tummy upset). We rated the dish 7.5/10.