Day 6: Delectable Dining!

(I am continuing my series of blog posts on my summer trip to Camden, Maine.)

Having Fun at Megunticook Lake!

Having Fun at Megunticook Lake!

What did we do today?  First up, we went kayaking in Megunticook Lake and visited the tiny farmer’s market of Camden.  We also visited an expensive cooking store, but what I would really like to share is our dinner at Atlantica.  Highly recommended by our rental house owners, this restaurant is a favorite in town, and a favorite in our family.

 

Atlantica From the Outside

Atlantica From the Outside

First, let me tell you about our waitress.  Oana, from Romania, was nice and very sweet, and I would like to thank her for suggestions and friendliness in a new town.

We were seated in a table outside, right next to the water!  There, we sat and saw the beautiful sunset and enjoyed our dinner next to the calm horizon.  I also enjoyed the decor of the restaurant:  casual blues and yellows, but still formal and impressive.

Simply Stupendous!

Simply Stupendous!

For an appetizer, we ordered the seafood board:  crab sofrito, finnan haddie rillettes, and shrimp over cucumber kimchi.  The crab sofrito was by far my favorite part of dinner because it was creamy with a hint of spice.  This starter was fine crab, topped with a slice of radish and served over a cracker with red paste.  My mom and I tasted a little bit of something like horseradish in the mix, and we loved how it was crunchy but smooth, and definitely addictive.  The finnan caddie rillete was creamy and whipped, meant to be served on bread.  I don’t think I will ever want to eat bread differently again for the salty smokiness of the fish spread!  I gave my dad the last bite, though, because he loved it more than any of us.

The Maine shrimp with cucumber kimchi was unforgettable.  It had a spicy kick, and Mom said it was such a “dream” in her mouth, but she also said she thought it was better than any lobster roll — or anything — that we had tried in Maine!  “I would stop listening to her after that,” my dad said.  🙂

The seafood board was great, and MUCH better than the sweet onion, bacon, and fish chowder.  Everyone wanted to try it, so we ordered a bowl for the table, but the only flavors we could taste were the overpowering potato and too much salt.   Overall, the chowder was not our favorite dish, and my dad especially wished we had gotten something else.

As entrees were delivered to the table, I could smell each of their pungent fragrances.

Dad's Monkfish

Dad’s Monkfish

A smoky scent rose through the air above Dad’s monkfish on a bed of shrimp, couscous, peas, bacon, garlic, and asparagus. Mom’s salmon released the fragrance of thyme, and my  mussels in a yuzu broth scented the air with lime and ginger.  Tabitha’s hot and sour Maine shrimp and crab soup gave off a strong smell of crab, but not the unpleasant fishy kind you would imagine.

 

Mom's Salmon

Mom’s Salmon

But they didn’t taste as good as they smelled, I am disappointed to say.  Well, in my opinion. The rest of my family loved Atlantica, but I found it one of my least favorite of our dinners in Maine.  While Dad enjoyed his roasted monkfish, I found it fishy and overpowered by the couscous.  My mussels were good, and, yes, I enjoyed them very much, but they were not anything special, and I was not as impressed as I expected to be.  Tabitha’s soup was fine, but compared to The Golden Egg’s clam chowder, this shrimp and crab was unfortunately not what I expected from a well-reviewed, harbor-side, East Coast restaurant.  Mom’s salmon, however, wowed me!  This was off the charts, especially compared to the other dishes.  I loved the herbs that topped it off, and the chard sauté was extremely impressive.  Atlantica’s motto was “Locally sourced. Responsibly handled. Inspired kitchen.”  While I am sure Atlantica is all of these three, it was not as phenomenal as was expected.

Profiteroles of Perfection!

Profiteroles of Perfection!

Dessert, however, took a turn.  I loved the profiterole special:  a sweet puff pastry stuffed with ice cream, topped with caramel and fudge.  It was addictive, unforgettable, and unable to be ignored.  “Yummers!” as we have heard here in Maine, and definitely “Yummy” where I come from. Dad received a dessert of his own, which is unusual.  A Genoise Chocolate Terrine, a rich layer cake, had never been heard of in our family, but it was fairly satisfying, and definitely worth a try!  Atlantica was not my favorite restaurant, but I am glad we tried it, and thank you to our homeowners for this suggestion.

*********

Atlantica Restaurant

9 Bayview Landing

Camden, ME 04843

Tel:  (207) 236-6011

Website:  www.atlanticarestaurant.com

Life in the Caribbean, Day 8: Stranded at Sea!

Up At the Steering Wheel

Up At the Steering Wheel

Part of our Luscious Breakfast
Part of our Luscious Breakfast

I woke up today at about 7:00 and ate my delightfully filling breakfast of sugary donuts and fresh fruit salad.  Yum!  Then we headed out to Noah’s Little Arks, a company that lets you rent dinghy boats.  We rented one, and after watching an educational video about operating the dinghy, we climbed onto our raft-like boat.   Tabs and I put on our secure life jackets.  We headed out into the great bay.

We sailed past the entire North Shore of St. John.  We passed some beaches that we had already been to (including Dennis Beach, Trunk Bay, Leinster Bay, and some others), and some beaches I had never laid eyes on, but had only heard of. 

Forget-Me-Not Blue Sea

Forget-Me-Not Blue Sea

Two of these beaches are Maho Bay and Caneel Bay.  We also passed a bay called Turtle Bay that I had never heard of before.  All of the beaches were incredibly pretty.

Finally, we arrived at our final destination:  Waterlemon Cay (pronouced “key,” as we learned that day).  When we arrived at our marked buoy spot, we turned around.  After about 20 minutes, our dinghy’s motor died.  Seriously!  The engine just died on us while we were in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.  Some other “sailors” on another dinghy towed us to a cay right outside of Maho Bay. 

A First Mate and Her Mom

A First Mate and Her Mom

We tied to a buoy, and luckily, we had a cell phone, so we called Noah’s Little Arks.  We waited there, bobbing up and down, for about 20 minutes until an employee from Noah’s Little Arks came along and fixed our motor.  We got back to Cruz Bay safely, but most of us felt sort of seasick by the end.

 

 

*****

Safe on Land

Safe on Land

After being stranded for nearly an hour, we were famished!  Since we enjoyed the Beach Bar so much on Day 3, we quickly decided to go back for lunch because it was delicious and right where we pulled our dinghy up on to the beach.  I ordered the same thing:  the scrumptious tuna bites.  And Mom ordered her fantastic “tuna down now” again.  Dad, on the other hand, tried something new.  He ordered the crabmeat wontons that came alongside a sweet and spicy glaze.  As usual, we ordered mostly coladas, but this time I ordered a virgin Lime and Coconut, which is basically like a lime colada.  Other restaurants call it the “Lime in de Coconut” cocktail.  I thought it was sour and included lots of flavor from each of the fruits.  This lunch was a great way to end our adventure in the Caribbean Sea!  (By the way, we saw our family of rescuers at the bar at The Beach Bar.  Dad offered to buy their first round of drinks, but sadly, they said no thank you.  Thanks again, whoever you are!)

*****

Rolling in the Deep End :)

Rolling in the Deep End 🙂

That afternoon, we did a little bit of shopping and then returned “home” to pack and such.  For our last night on St. John, we went out to dinner at Morgan’s Mango, an outdoor, busy, Caribbean-themed restaurant.  After looking at yet another menu, we ordered our three appetizers:  the wahoo chowder, the blackened scallops with a balsamic glaze, and the fish ceviche.  The wahoo chowder was not a favorite.  Mom, Dad and I thought it was OK, but Tabs did not like it.  She said the broth was decent, but she hated the fish, carrots, and potatoes.  Crazy girl!

Dad's Favorite

Dad's Favorite

The blackened scallops were Dad’s favorite appetizer, and one of the reasons he loved them is because they had a really nice sauce.  They were a bit spicy, and Mom loved that they were served atop some greens that you could eat as a delicious salad!  Everyone (except for little Tabs, who didn’t try the scallops) loved them.  The balsamic glaze wasn’t too strong, but it definitely had flavor. 

My Favorite That Night

My Favorite That Night

Mom and I really loved the fish ceviche.  We don’t know which kinds of fish were in it, but it was cold, refreshing, and deliciously flavorful.  Now that I look back on that night, I realize that the ceviche was my favorite appetizer that dinner — by far! 

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

For my entree, I ordered the yellowfin tuna tartare appetizer.  Tabitha ordered the mussels appetizer, which was fresh mussels in some sort of red sauce/broth that was filled with vegetables.  Mom ordered a Caribbean lobster tail, which she did not like for some reason.  Dad and I loved it and gladly finished it up.  It came with fresh broccoli and some yummy mashed potatoes.  Dad ordered paella, a seafood and rice dish with a very rich flavor.  We really liked it, but it was very buttery.  I hope I can have it more in California.  It seemed like a good dish.

We were so stuffed, we did not order dessert.  What a great ending dinner!

***

Noah’s Little Arks

(By the Beach Bar)

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (866) 820-6906

www.noahslittlearks.com

***

Morgan’s Mango

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-8141

www.morgansmango.com

 

Life in the Caribbean, Day 7: Jungle Trails and Beach Pails

After waking up, Dad made breakfast at “home” again.  Using the linguini from my shrimp scampi two nights ago, he made a traditional frittata:  noodles, eggs, vegetables, and spices.  Tabitha and I both loved it, and agreed that Dad should make it more at home.

Hiking Peace Hill

Hiking Peace Hill

After breakfast, we drove out to Peace Hill.  The trail there was under 15 minutes one way and it was supposed to be lovely — and relaxing. 

View of the North Shore

View of the North Shore

The view on top was beautiful, and we could see most of the North Shore (which was featured in my blog entry on Day 2).  On the way back, we uncovered another jungle trail leading down to Dennis Beach.  Cool!  We followed the trail, which was covered in hermit crabs, and played at Dennis Beach for a while.

Full of Fun at Dennis Beach!

Full of Fun at Dennis Beach!

*****

Next, we had lunch at Woody’s.  I ordered some more corn crusted scallops, and Dad tried the Drunken Shellfish, which was a pot full of shellfish (including mussels, scallops, crawfish, and shrimp) in a spicy butter broth. 

Drunken Shellfish

Drunken Shellfish

Mom ordered the shrimp and conch fritters.  I didn’t really like them except for the crunchiness.  Some fritters I’ve tried (in the States, here, etc.) are really soggy from frying, but Border Grill’s and the Virgin Islands’ fritters are moist, but crunchy.  Tabitha ordered the breaded shrimp.  They didn’t taste like much to me, but they still had a good texture.  Yum! 

Beautiful Caribbean Braids!

Beautiful Caribbean Braids!

After our decent lunch, we shopped around Cruz Bay for a bit, and Tabs and I got three St. Johnian braids with tropical colored beads.  I got some sea foam green, sapphire blue, and bright flourescent yellow-green beads.  I LOVE MY THREE BRAIDS! 

On the way home from getting the braids, we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a coconut.    Disgusting!

Chopping Up the Coconut

Chopping Up the Coconut

  As we found out when we got home, it was not a very delightful coconut.  Dad thought that it was not the kind of coconut that you eat the flesh of, but the kind that you just drink the coconut water.  I personally don’t love coconut water, although I like the flesh.   So the coconut water wasn’t very good to me.   At first, the flesh tasted like moldy avocado, but then a nasty aftertaste started coming on.  Yuck!

*****

Nachos Galore!

Nachos Galore!

After a dip in the pool, we headed over to dinner at Margarita Phil’s, the local Mexican-Caribbean cuisine restaurant.  They were famous for their bucket margaritas, which were supposedly bigger than Dad’s head!  

Tuna Again!? YES!!

Tuna Again!? YES!!

For her entree, Mom ordered the ahi tuna tacos:  three ahi tacos with lime crema (lime cream sauce).  I ordered “Phil’s nachos”:  black beans, a couple different kinds of cheeses, shrimp, and the lime crema.  I also had one of Mom’s three delicious tacos, because everyone ate some of my nachos, especially Tabs. 

Yummy Enchiladas!

Yummy Enchiladas!

Dad ordered a shrimp and crab enchilada that was really cheesy, and really good!  Tabitha shared my nachos with me.  All of our food was great … way better than regular old Californian Mexican food.  We definitely liked dinner tonight! 

As we drove back “home,” I realized that we left my blog notebook at Margarita Phil’s!  That notebook contained all of my notes and blog entries from the whole trip (and more)!   So we drove back.  Mom ran in and grabbed it and we drove “home.”   Thank goodness we found it, or this wouldn’t be here right now!

Another Day Passed ...

Another Day Passed ...

What a great day!

 

Woody’s Seafood Saloon

P.O. Box 1188

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

www.woodysseafood.com

 ***

Margarita Phil’s

North Shore Road

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-8400

Life in the Caribbean, Day 6: A St. Thomas Day

Pina Colada French Toast

Pina Colada French Toast

I woke up today and read The Thief Lord in my rented bedroom.  Dad called us out for breakfast.  We had some delicious pina colada french toast and sliced bananas.  I didn’t love the temperature of the pina colada syrup very much, but the flavor was all right.  It didn’t turn out to be as good as it sounded.  Sorry, Dad!

We took the breezy ferry to St. Thomas for the day and first, we drove to Coki Beach.  It was one of the best beaches I have been to all week!  Right when you step into the water, fish swarm around you!  It was gorgeous!  This is the only beach where you can feed the fish that are close to shore, but I did not enjoy it very much. 

Playin' in the Sand

Playin' in the Sand

Although Dad said it was probably nothing, I could have sworn that I got a little nibble on my finger.  Ouch!  After eating seafood all week, I think they are finally biting back!  On the beach, we were also able to order pina coladas from a drink stand.  Icy and flavorful, just how I like it.  What a great beach Coki was.  I hope we can go back soon. 

Saying Goodbye to Magen's Bay

Saying Goodbye to Magen's Bay

After about a 10 minute drive, we jogged down to Magen’s Bay Beach.  The water was beautiful and full of glowing white angelfish.  The sand was so white and delicate.  I love the fact that this beach almost has my name, so much that I decided to get a hat.  Finally, we had to leave the precious bay, and I was so sad to go.  Bye, Magen! 

Magen's Bay From a Distance

Magen's Bay From a Distance

*****

For lunch, we dropped by The Greenhouse, a bar with a restaurant too.  We only ordered a few appetizers:  conch fritters, bang bang shrimp, and crab rolls. 

Appetizer Delight

Appetizer Delight

They were all amazing, but the bang bang shrimp were my favorite.  At last, we walked across the street to the local outdoor marketplace, and we bought Mom a tropical green and yellow dress.  We bargained for the dress, lowering the price, but the seller was a tough negotiator!  Mom decided to wear her new dress out for dinner tonight. 

Brainstorming on the Ferry

Brainstorming on the Ferry

Speaking of dinner, we rode the ferry back home and headed out for a mystery dinner.  This dinner was a mystery, but only because we didn’t have a restaurant in mind, so we had to find ourselves a good-looking one in time for dinner.  We ended up picking Spyglass … or perhaps it chose us.   A man from Spyglass came out and gave us a flyer.  “You gotta check it out,” he said with a thick Caribbean accent.  “It’s really good food.”  So we followed him to Spyglass, a restaurant that had “dining with a view,” as they put it.

Crab Cake Salad

Crab Cake Salad

We were seated by our waiter, Rob, at a four-person table with a view of the busy ferry dock.  After a long look at the menu, I decided to order the Jamaican Jerk Wings, and Dad decided on the lobster risotto and a crab cake salad, topped with pineapple cilantro vinaigrette.  Mom ordered two appetizers:  the comforting warm spinach salad and the melt-in-your-mouth seared ahi tuna.  Tabitha ordered a savory tomato-based conch chowder.  When Rob came around to take our order, he passed on a disappointing message:  no lobster risotto!  They were out, so with a hint of disappointment in his eyes, Dad decided on a new entree:  the beef short ribs in a rum and Coke sauce with parmesan truffle potato slices.   And of course, he also received his crab cake salad.  Actually, they were quite satisfying ribs, so there was no need to look wistful.

When our food came, everything looked great!  Tabitha’s conch chowder was a deep red-orange, and Mom (who ordered a Blue Lagoon cocktail) had a martini glass full of mysterious-looking bright blue liquid in front of her.   Oh … and what a shock the food’s arrival was for me.   “I’m so sorry about this inconvenience,” Rob said, “but our guess-timing for the wings was wrong, so we would like to give you a plate of mussels on the house.”  “Would you like them?” Rob asked. 

Mussels Galore!

Mussels Galore!

I was too shocked to answer!   “Do you realize what that means?” Dad whispered.  “Free mussels!”  “I know what ‘on the house’ means,” I said slowly.  After a short pause, I quickly nodded and looked down.  “Allrighty then,” said Rob, and he placed my mussels in front of me.  Wow, that is a lot of mussels, I thought.  Everyone at our table had some mussels, but of course, I had the majority.  They were the perfect mussel texture:  sort of chewy and really smooth on the outside.  I don’t like when mussels are flaky and chalky, bit luckily, these weren’t.  They were really good and meaty.

Pink Juicy Slabs of Tuna

Pink Juicy Slabs of Tuna

Mom’s seared ahi was spectacular, but the Beach Bar’s might have been better.  (It was raw…)  It came with an Asian slaw, pickled ginger (which I ate with enthusiasm;  I LOVE PICKLED GINGER!) and a dollop of wasabi.  So good!  Mom’s warm spinach salad, which included pieces of apple-smoked bacon (yum!), walnuts, and crumbles of gorgonzola cheese, was a great choice.  As Mom puts it:  “The flavors melted together, and the salad was so tasty that I ate it up in seconds!”  I have to admit:  that was some good salad.

Tabitha’s conch chowder was delicious and reminded our family of the cioppino at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, California.  In the tomato broth, there were some familiar spices, but I couldn’t quite place them.  The broth was creamy and milky, unlike chicken broth.  I really loved it, and so did everyone else.

Dad’s ribs were incredible.  The meat fell easily off the bone, and the potatoes had a wonderful cheesy flavor.  To me, the rum and Coke sauce just tasted like regular Coke.

Slurping Oysters

Slurping Oysters

My Dad can’t believe that I haven’t yet told you about the best part, but I ALWAYS save the best for last!  As an appetizer, we ordered a half-dozen oysters on the half-shell.  I added wasabi, tabasco, cocktail sauce, and lemon.  It is my favorite oyster concoction yet.  They were small, but salty, without grit, and, well, fantastic!

Sunset at Chocolate Hole

Sunset at Chocolate Hole

 

Today, only Dad and I will rate the restaurant.  Dad says 4 1/2 seashells, and I agree.  So … 4 1/2 seashells it is!  While we were there, we met a nice family from Connecticut, and we had a great time!  We only have two more nights on St. John, so we are going to try to find some more good restaurants.  ‘Bye for now!

***

The Greenhouse

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI

Tel:  (340) 774-7998

www.thegreenhouserestaurant.com

***

Spyglass

Spyglass

Spyglass

Second Floor, Wharfside Village

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00830

Tel:  (340) 776-1100

Life in the Caribbean, Day 5: Coral Bay, Rainy Day

Our Enchanting View

Our Enchanting View

I woke up at about 8:30 and walked out of my bedroom to find a warm, sticky cinnamon roll waiting for me.  After Tabs heated it up, it was perfect!   Dad and Tabs had gone exploring early that morning and had found a small bakery that looked yummy:  Baked in the Sun Bakery.  They bought a bunch of pastries!  My cinnamon roll was amazing and super sugary!  I really enjoyed this breakfast as I stared out at our beautiful view of Chocolate Hole Bay.  Now, we are heading to the east side of St. John, as we live in the west.  We are on the road now…

Hiking Down the Trail

Hiking Down the Trail

We hit the road and drove along Centerline Road until we arrived at the other side of the island. 

Salt Pond Trail

Salt Pond Trail

First, we hiked down the Salt Pond Bay Trail to Salt Pond Beach.  Dad decided to go snorkeling, while Tabs and I played, swam, and chased each other in the slow swirling waters. 

Enjoying Salt Pond Bay

Enjoying Salt Pond Bay

We had so much fun!  Tabs, Dad, Mom, and I all agreed that we would love to come back to Salt Pond Beach again.   What a wonderful vacation we are having!

*****

Our Lunch Club

Our Lunch Club

For lunch, we stopped at Shipwreck Landing, a restaurant and bar (as always) in Coral Bay.  We had a spectacular lunch!  Dad and I ordered three small appetizers to share:  coconut shrimp with a sweet and sour pineapple sauce, tender blackened steak tips on a horseradish cream sauce, and two stuffed deviled crabs. 

Until today, Dad and I didn’t really know what deviled crabs were, but knowing the meaning of “deviled,” we decided to try them.  They came as full crab shells (except for the arms and legs) but by the time we were finished eating, the meat was gone from the shell.  Here’s what they were:  crab meat mixed with bread crumbs, butter, onions, sweet peppers, and some other ingredients to make stuffing.  Then the stuffing is put back in the crab shell and baked until crispy.  It was savory and delicious!

The coconut shrimp was really coconutty, and I loved the pineapple sauce.  They weren’t as good as Damon’s, though!  I only had one bite of the tips, but I really enjoyed it.  I also loved the horseradish dipping sauce.  It wasn’t that spicy, but it was spicy enough.  All the appetizers were fantastic. 

Tabitha ordered a tomato and crab bisque, which she (and I) loved.  Mom ordered jerk grouper tacos.  Dad liked the tacos and decided that he felt like making some jerk dishes when we get back home.  Overall, lunch was excellent.  Dad and I voted:  I thought five seashells, and so did Dad.  What a great lunch!

The Mangrove

The Mangrove

When we left, it was raining.  That is how it is on St. John.  Throughout the whole day, it rained on and off.  Every 20 or so minutes, a light breezy rain would fall down, for only about five minutes, and then it would disappear and it would become hot and humid again.  So cool!  During our drive, we saw bays, beaches, and mangroves, which are the homes of many rodents.

*****

Perfect for Dad

Perfect for Dad

A few hours later:  We headed out to dinner at Ocean Grill.  As we walked into the dining room, I noticed the old-fashioned, eco-friendly decor.  Ocean Grill’s atmosphere and employees were incredibly friendly.  When our nice waiter came to the table, Dad ordered the Caribbean lobster special, which was one pan-seared lobster tail with a mushroom butter sauce over truffle mashed potatoes that I loved! 

Tuna Fit For Royalty

Tuna Fit For Royalty

Mom ordered the tuna special:  seared tuna with a spicy wasabi sauce and served atop wasabi mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.  The two specials were perfectly plated and beautiful!  Dad’s lobster was juicy and soft; much better than last night’s, and the sauce was great with the lobster and the truffle mashed potatoes.

 

Shrimp Scampi Delight

Shrimp Scampi Delight

Tabitha ordered the calamari appetizer, which came with a mild tomatillo sauce that nobody enjoyed the texture or temperature of.  Last, but not least, I ordered the shrimp scampi over linguini with garlic, capers, and onions.  It was delicious, but a little bit too filling for me.  (We took home the extra noodles, and you will see tomorrow what we created with them.)  We also ordered two appetizers:  one was sesame crusted tuna sashimi, drizzled with a pungent wasabi sauce, and it came with a ponzu soy dipping sauce.  I loved the easy-to-cut pieces of raw red tuna!  Our other appetizer was a warm baguette with a creamy goat cheese and herb spread.  It was exactly as cheese should be:  smooth and flavorful.  In all, dinner at Ocean Grill was the best we have had yet.  

But wait — we weren’t finished!  After Tabs and I decided on our desserts, we ordered one Untraditional Sundae for me and one Traditional Sundae for Tabs.  The Untraditional Sundae was real coffee ice cream, with house-made dark chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  The Traditional Sundae was the same thing, but with Tahitian vanilla ice cream instead of coffee ice cream.  My Untraditional Sundae tasted like real coffee — yum!  Tabitha adored her refreshing vanilla ice cream and would have like to have had more.  The dark chocolate fudge sauce was very rich and strong, much to my liking.  Everything about dessert (and dinner) was fantastic!

One last thing:  In a room in the restaurant, I found this carving with this story on it.  I don’t know why, but the story fascinated me, so I wanted to share it with you.  It seemed so practical.  Imagine if everyone in the world did what the story said.

***

The Bakery

The Bakery

Baked in the Sun Bakery

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-8786

 

***

 

Shipwreck Landing

Shipwreck Landing

Shipwreck Landing

Coral Bay, St. John, USVI

Tel:  (340) 693-5640

www.shipwrecklandingstjohn.com

 

 

 

 

***

Ocean Grill

Ocean Grill

Ocean Grill

Mongoose Junction

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693.3304

www.oceangrillstjohn.com

 

Life in the Caribbean, Day 3: A Journey Around Our Island

Today, we went on a kayak tour of St. John.  First, we paired up:  me and Mom in one kayak, and Tabs and Dad in the other.  A nice couple from Texas, who were on their honeymoon, came with us.  Their names were Bill and Jessa.  We started from Cruz Bay, which is St. John’s largest town, and we set out for Honeymoon Beach, which you can only get to by water or by hiking.  We beached our kayaks and snorkeled there for about 30 minutes.  This was my first real snorkeling ever!  Dad, Bill, Jessa, tour guide Scott, and I saw some really cool turtles and coral reef.  Bill, Jessa, and Scott saw a puffer fish under a coral rock, but Dad and I couldn’t get under the rock enough to see it.

Next, we kayaked to Henley Cay (prounouced “key”).  On the way there, I got a huge itching rash on my neck and chin from the too-big life jacket.  It stung and itched really bad!

When we arrived at Henley Cay, we snorkeled some more.  Dad and I saw some amazing fish!  They were striped thousands of tropical colors, and they were … just beautiful!  After another 30 minutes of snorkeling, we made the long trip back to Cruz Bay’s shore.  During our cruise back, the wind and waves seemed to be tearing us apart.  The currents were always carrying us to the right.  It was a hard way back, but we made it!  We had some problems, but the tour was definitely still worthwhile!  Thank you, Scott from Arawak Expeditions!

*****

Juicy, Red, and Irresistable!

Juicy, Red, and Irresistable!

After the kayak tour, we went out to lunch at the Beach Bar.  We ate at a table right on the sand.  What a great spot!  While we waited for our food, Tabs and I played in the ocean.  I had tender delicious seared tuna bites that came with a creamy, delightful sauce.  The sauce was a cilantro ranch dip.  I also had two virgin coladas, one banana and one pineapple.  Everyone gave the Beach Bar five seashells!

After lunch, we shopped a bit in Cruz Bay.   We decided to cook at “home” tonight, to save a little money.  That is a good tip for eating on vacation:  Cook at home at least a little bit, instead of going out to restaurants every night. 

Aaron's Catch of the Day

Aaron's Catch of the Day

Searching for some fish that we could grill, we went to Cruz Bay’s spice store and the fish market attached to The Fish Trap restaurant.  At the spice store, we bought two mixes:  Spiced Pirates Pepper and Black Voodou Grilling Spice.  At the fish market, we met Aaron, the owner.  He was incredibly kind, and he told us about a fish called corvino that was — according to him — a delicate, flaky white fish.  We ended up buying two long mahi mahi filets and one wahoo steak, as well as some fresh shrimp, and headed “home.”

*****

Seasoning Up the Fish

Seasoning Up the Fish

Right now, I am making dinner with Dad.  We are grilling the mahi mahi and wahoo fish filets.  I sprinkled our newly-bought spices on to the fish.  I put the Spiced Pepper on the wahoo, and I put the Black Voudou spice on the mahi mahi.  I also made garlic bread, and Dad made grilled shrimp and fried mashed plantains called “tostones.”  Mmmm!  Tonight is going to be a good dinner night!

Grilling Our Dinner

Grilling Our Dinner

Dinner tonight was very satisfying.  It was ranked by everyone in the house.  Both Mom and I gave it four seashells (stars).  Dad voted 3 1/2 seashells, and Tabs, although she hated everything except the pina coladas, voted 5 out of 5 seashells. (I don’t think she quite understands the meaning of rating.) 

The fish was very tender and juicy.  The mahi mahi was softer and less cooked than the wahoo, which I liked, but the wahoo, in my opinion, had way more flavor. 

Our Island Feast!

Our Island Feast!

Believe it or not, it was my first time trying mahi mahi, and guess what?  I didn’t really like it.  How do people LOVE that fish?  I personally thought it had no flavor, but the rubs and spices were fantastic. 

 

Tostones are Not for Me!

Tostones are Not for Me!

Mom really loved the tostones (plantains), and Dad liked them, but Tabs and I didn’t really like them at all.  The sweet shrimp had no seasoning but were still desirable to anyone who enjoys shellfish.  Overall, dinner was pretty good, and we saved a little money.  See you tomorrow!

 

***

Arawak Expeditions

P.O. Box 853

Mongoose Junction

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-8312

www.arawakexp.com

***

The Beach Bar

Wharfside Village

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 777-4220

www.beachbarstjohn.com

 

 

 

***

The Fish Trap Restaurant and Seafood Market

Raintree Court

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-9994

www.thefishtrap.com

***

The Shelves of St. John Spice

The Shelves of St. John Spice

St. John Spice

P.O. Box 1693

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-7046

www.stjohnspice.com

 

 

Life in the Caribbean, Day 1: Airplanes & Airports

Vacationing!

Vacationing!

This week, I have put together NINE diary entries about my recent vacation in the Caribbean.  My family and I visited two of the U.S. Virgin Islands:  St. John and St. Thomas.  It was so much fun and I would like to share my adventures with you.

Day 1 on Vacation:  Airplanes & Airports

After waking up at 3:30 a.m., my family caught the 6:00 a.m. flight to Miami, Florida.  Actually, we are here in the Miami Airport right now, but back to the flight:  It was at least five hours, and every ten minutes seemed like 30!  When was this flight going to end?  To keep my mind off the long wait, Tabitha and I watched “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.”  I really like that movie!  I also read to Tabs to pass the time.

*****

By the time we landed in Miami, it was 11:05 a.m. Los Angeles time, and 2:05 p.m. Miami’s time.  We ate a late lunch at the Miami Airport.  At a Chinese restaurant called Manchu Wok, I ordered orange chicken with a side of noodles and another side of beef and broccoli.

To be honest with you … my lunch was disgusting.  The orange chicken was tender and flavorful, but the sides were horrible.  The beef was inconsistent; sometimes it was too firm, and sometimes it was so soft, but it never fit my liking.  The broccoli was fine, but it had no seasonings whatsoever.  The noodles, too, were very plain and tasteless.  Mom said that her vegetables, too, were without flavor.

Dad went to a Cuban deli called Cafe Versailles.  There, he ordered a pastelillo meat pie and a Cuban sandwich (ham, pork, and swiss).  I wasn’t in the mood for a Cuban sub, but I tried it anyway.  It was OK, and my dad really liked it.

We are now about two hours into our wait at the airport.  We are boarding in 10 minutes … OMG, we are boarding in only TEN MINUTES!  While we waited, I noticed something about the people sitting in the Miami Airport.  Everyone’s hat, or headgear, matches their shirt.  It’s kinda weird!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … BOARDING!  Ten minutes later: We are now seated.   Fifteen minutes later:  We are skimming down the runway and now we are flying into the beautiful blue sky, as free as a bird! 

*****

After a flight of about 2 hours and 45 minutes, we landed in St. Thomas.  It was close to 9:00 (St. Thomas time) when our plane landed, but I wasn’t tired yet.  We went to our hotel and walked up to the front desk counter.  Near the counter was a door, and behind the door was a hallway.  Inside the hallway was … our room!   Mom unlocked the door, and we opened it to find two rooms and an outdoor deck.  It was perfect!  We dropped off our bags and headed downstairs to Fajitas Mexican Restaurant and Bar for our first meal in the Virgin Islands.

Just Like Asopao!

Just Like Asopao!

Fajitas was the restaurant at our hotel, the Carib Beach Resort Hotel.  There, I ordered hot wings, and Mom ordered a tilapia taco that I did not get to try.  Tabs ordered “Sopa Camarones,” which was a shrimp soup with onion, garlic, and shrimp stock broth.  It reminded Mom of a Puerto Rican soup that she used to love called “Asopao.” 

My Favorite on the Table!

My Favorite on the Table!

Dad ordered a seafood quesadilla that was filled with tilapia, shrimp, and scallops.  It was my favorite plate on the table that night.  

Beautiful St. Thomas!

Beautiful St. Thomas!

I was just looking out our sliding glass door of the hotel room. The hotel was right on the bay, so we had an excellent view!  St. Thomas is a beautiful place, but that is not our final destination.  St. John is where we are headed.  And that is the tale for tomorrow …

(Tune in soon for Day 2 of my Life in the Caribbean diary.  I will post it as soon as I can!)

Carib Beach Resort

Fajita’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar

70-C Lindbergh Bay

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00802

www.caribbeachresort.com

Border Grill Dessert Challenge!

The Dessert Nominees

The Dessert Nominees

Last Friday, my family (including my grandparents) went to Border Grill, where I have been wanting to go ever since my cooking class.  When I was there, I was lucky enough to see Chef Susan Feniger!  She came over to our table, and we talked about my blog!  She seems to like it, and I thanked her for tweeting it out and putting it on Border Grill’s Facebook page.  Unfortunately, right when I walked into the bathroom, Chef Mary Sue Milliken walked up to our table and guess what … I MISSED HER!  (My dad thinks this is hilarious, but I do not.)  She talked to my whole family, and by the time I came out, she was gone!  I was very sad, but I had already met her, so it was OK.  The nice waiter who served our food took me back to the kitchen (Eeek!), but Susan told me that Mary Sue had already left for the day.   It is so painful to tell my sad tale!   

That night, we ordered an entire satisfying meal, but this story is about dessert!  We ordered four delicious desserts, and here is what each dish was like:

The Pastel Rufina ... Heavenly!

The Pastel Rufina ... Heavenly!

Grandpa had my favorite dessert.  It was a chocolate puff pastry dish that reminded me of the mini-eclairs that I have had for dessert sometimes.  It was so delicate and chocolatey, and it had delicious fresh berries on top.  His fantastic dessert was called Pastel Rufina.

Our Churro Tots

Our Churro Tots

Mom, Grandma, and I all ordered the Churro Tots with Dulce de Leche.  They are bits of dulce de leche-infused churros.  So good!  They came with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces and whipped cream.  After the cooking class, I have the recipe for these, so I can have them whenever I want!

Banana Cream Pie of a Lifetime!

Banana Cream Pie of a Lifetime!

Dad ordered the Banana Cream Pie.  The thick graham cracker crust crumbled with each bite, and the flavorful banana cream melted in my mouth!  It was a well-made dessert that will come to mind whenever I think of banana cream pie.

Sweet and Creamy!

Sweet and Creamy!

My sister, Tabitha, enjoyed a scoop of “smooth” and “yummy” (as Tabitha put it) dulce de leche ice cream, which came with a coconut and berry macaroon.  It was full of the sweet flavor of dulce de leche caramel.  It was so pleasantly sugary! 

Do you have an idea of what each dessert is like?  Please vote for your one favorite dessert by commenting below.  Which one sounds best to you?  Thank you!

Border Grill's Decor

Border Grill's Decor

Border Grill Downtown LA

445 South Figueroa Avenue

Los Angeles, California 90071

Telephone:  (213) 486-5171

www.bordergrill.com

Twitter:  @BorderGrill  and @eatatstreet

My Dream Come True!

My Heroes and Me!

My Heroes and Me!

Mom, Dad, and I signed up for a cooking demonstration by famous chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and I was very happy to be there.  As we walked into Border Grill downtown on a rainy Saturday morning, a server handed us quinoa fritters.  Simply delectable!  What a great start to the day!  They were crunchy and spicy, and they were topped with a creamy sauce made from aji amarillo paste.  The fritters were filled with the best quinoa I’ve ever had!

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

I walked into Border Grill in awe.  The walls were so kid-friendly, and were covered with cool, artistic drawings.  We received our table number, and we walked into the demo room.   Wow!  Table 31, our table, was right smack in the middle of the front row!  We were so surprised that my dad went back to the counter to make sure the table was ours!  Once we were reassured it was our table, I paid attention to our surroundings.  As I looked around, my eyes landed on the demo stage.   OMG!  There was Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.  They are both cooking legends, and I am a huge fan of Mary Sue from “Top Chef Masters”.  I mean HUGE!  I stood there for a few seconds, just staring.  It was really her!  Susan Feniger noticed me and walked toward our table.  First, she asked me if I would help in the kitchen if they needed me during the class.  I was too shocked to say yes, so she moved on to another question.  She asked me if I would help her pass around food, if she needed me.  Very timidly, I said OK and sat back down.

Susan Feniger was so nice!

Susan Feniger was so nice!

I walked over to the bar for some pomegranate lemonade.  The nice server from before offered to bring it to our table, so I thanked him and sat back down.  Mom and Dad were talking and sipping their margaritas when I came back.  As I started to take pictures of the two chefs, Susan Feniger called me over to take a picture.  I was soooo happy!  She gave me a hug!

After a while longer, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger took the stage.  The server brought me my lemonade, and I whispered:  “Thank you.”  Everyone quieted as they started the demonstration.  Susan Feniger started:  “Today, Mary Sue and I will be cooking for you a lunch about five courses long.  We are very excited, and we hope you are too!”  She said something like that… I can’t remember her exact words.  All I remember is the absolute pleasure of being there.

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

As they started cooking and explaining the quinoa fritters, we sampled the Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho.  The avocado salad was lettuce, avocado, jicama, and some other fun ingredients, over a crispy tostadita shell.  Right on top of everything was a fried avocado, smothered in quinoa, amaranth (which I think is a seed), sesame and black sesame seeds, and some poppy seeds.  It was tangy and delightful.  Under the tostadita shell were some refried black beans.  They had the perfect melty texture that makes your mouth start to water.  The smooth gazpacho was filled with fragrant herbs, fresh vegetables, and homemade mayonnaise.  I don’t usually like mayonnaise, but it was amazing, and it slid down my throat easily like a fresh raw oyster!

Teaching Us Tips

Teaching Us Tips

Meanwhile, we were intrigued by the cooking tips they gave us.  “It drives me crazy to see people buying egg separators,” Mary Sue Milliken informed us.  “Everyone has one — their hands!” added Susan Feniger as she showed us the separated yolk on her palm.  Mary Sue started talking about sharp and dull knives:  “Always use a sharp knife when you are cutting, because if you cut yourself, a sharp knife will make a nice clean cut, but a dull knife will make an ugly cut which is hard to stitch.  To make sure you don’t even cut yourself, always keep your thumb behind your other fingers.”  Mary Sue told us that her thumb crept up under the knife when she was nervous, so she was always growing back thumb tips. 

After a few more tips on peppers and grilling corn, we got to try yet another satisfying dish.  This one was our main meal.  When I was told what it was, I was very excited!  Rib Time!  Tomatillo-glazed baby back ribs were placed in front of me.  It was one of the best things I had that day!  The pork was so tender and juicy, and the gravy-like tomatillo glaze was full of flavor.  It was a bit spicy too … and it contained pork fat, which I liked.  The portion size was big, but I polished it off with a smile on my face.

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

On the side of the baby backs was Esquite, a corn dish, and “Smashed Potatoes”.   The Esquite was too sweet for me, but it had the perfect corn texture:  crunchy and a bit juicy, but not too much that it was soggy.  The Smashed Potatoes were easily related to twice-baked potatoes in the sense that it melted in my mouth and gave me that comforting flavor.  It was a great companion with the ribs.  You know what they say, meat and potatoes makes a perfect meal!  (My mom doesn’t say that!)

Churro Tots and Coffee!

Churro Tots and Coffee!

The last course, dessert, was Mary Sue’s Dulce de Leche Churro Tots and a luscious chocolate mousse.  It was the winning dish on an episode of “Top Chef Masters,” which is probably why she chose to make it for us.  I devoured the crunchy, sweet churro bites in seconds, and then I licked the dulce de leche caramel and chocolate mousse off of Mom’s, Dad’s, and my plates.  Yum!

After the fabulous meal, we waited in line to get the two chefs’ autographs and a picture.  When it was our turn, I told them and their publicist, Leah, about my blog.  They were very interested and really, really friendly.  They asked me to email it to them when I was done, and I agreed. (I am very excited to have famous chefs reading my blog!) 

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

They signed our cookbook and our recipe books from the class, and on my recipe book, they wrote some nice comments.  “Megan, you’re gonna be a kitchen star!” wrote Mary Sue Milliken.  “Wow, so excited to see your blog!” wrote Susan Feniger.  I was elated!  We took a picture together, and then I left, reflecting on all the things I had done that day.

I left the restaurant screaming:  “I’m overjoyed! I’m overjoyed!”  Literally.  What kind of drama queen does that!?  Oh, I forgot, I’m the drama queen.

When we got home, my dad and I made the dulce de leche syrup they taught us how to make.  We drizzled it over our homemade ebelskivers, and it was fantastic!

Trying the Recipes at Home

Trying the Recipes at Home

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the finale of “Top Chef Masters,” and Mary Sue is a finalist.  Be sure to watch her compete against Floyd and Traci.  It will be exciting!

I just want to thank Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for giving me an amazing day!  Thank you!

 

 

Border Grill – Downtown LA

445 S. Figueroa Street

Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 486-5171

Twitter:  @BorderGrill

www.bordergrill.com

Susan Feniger’s Street

742 North Highland

Los Angeles, CA 90038

(323) 203-0500

Twitter:  @eatatstreet

www.eatatstreet.com