Taste(s) of St. Croix

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There are certain times of the year the energy on the island shifts. It goes from our usual laid back vibe to a more excited hum. One of those times is in the month of April for the Taste of St. Croix–the main event of the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. A culinary gathering of epic proportions, celebrity chefs, local chefs, restaurants, and people from all over the world come to the island to share some of the best in what we have to offer! This year I was asked to be a Judge in the Local Fare Category. I was blown away by the spirit of creativity and food genius I sampled. There is such amazing talent on this little Rock. This Rambling shares just a tip of a huge iceberg of sights and tastes I experienced both there and at the V.I. Department of Agriculture’s Taste of St. Croix, where some of our local farmers congregated to share their harvests.

It was an amazing time for food, an amazing time for the island, and an amazing time to witness what community looks like on such a grand scale. As a writer I always have something to say…some way to describe a moment that helps whoever is reading to be placed right in the center of the happenings. But for some reason I still have no words. It was beyond inspiring, beyond words…it just had to be experienced. If you ever have a chance to visit the island during “Taste Week”, I hope you do. Then feel free to share some words with those of us who still are trying to wrap our minds around what an incredible time it was. Are you packing yet?! Continue reading

Contessa Conch Salad

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Sometimes the simplest foods are the BEST foods. One of my oldest and dearest friends Dorald made this salad for me many years ago on his first visit to the island. His Bahamian ancestry taught him the divine combination of these OH, SO SIMPLE flavors. And he passed this love on to me again on his most recent trip over the Christmas holidays. Maybe its the memories of our incessant laughter whenever we make time to see each other, or just the love and care that my friend shared in putting this recipe together, but this dish is an easy mix up of full-on oceanic flavor and bright citrus overtones. Deliciousness! Continue reading

Contessa Lobster Salad

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There really is nothing more decadent than Caribbean Lobster. Unlike it’s Atlantic cousin, our lobsters have no claws, but they are extremely succulent, naturally garlicky, with a sweet oceanic flavor. I usually make this dish during the warmer months, when I don’t feel like cooking. But I just couldn’t resist when I saw this beauty from one of our local roadside fishermen. Serve this salad over a bed of locally grown baby leaves and savor the flavor of the ocean. Fantastic! Continue reading

Crucian Honey

 

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Whenever I think of Local Raw Wild Honey, I swear I hear Marvin Gaye crooning in my ears, “How Sweet It Is”! This Rambling is dedicated to all the things we are doing locally to promote beekeeping and honey harvesting on the Rock! I keep saying it, “Food will show us the way.” Our creativity has been unleashed and we are reflecting some incredible products that defy the ordinary! Continue reading

Contessa Spicy White Hot Chocolate

The image of island life is that it is always sunny–nothing but coconut tree-lined beaches and hot tropical days! But the reality is that in the winter the temperature drops from the scorching 90′s and near 10o’s to the crisp cool 70′s. Stop rolling your eyes, that kind of temperature shift is COLD (for us)! We’ve also gone through a period on the island where it rains for days on end. Think we might have to invest in an ark if it continues. “Cold”, rainy, winter nights demand that the blankets come out.

This is our winter–spotted with island sea-blues, greens,  and bleach-white sand and our kind of “cold” weather. So, in “chilly” times like this a nice spicy hot drink to keep the tropical winter chill at bay are a MUST! My favorite cup of warmth is a spicy island-style white hot chocolate! Continue reading

Contessa Tip #14

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Well, it is Turkey Season! The winter winds are blowing in cooler on the island, which tells me its time to get ready to “hot up” the kitchen and let the feasting season begin. Turkeys are definitely a part of most Crucian gatherings during this time. But nothing will get you talked about faster than being the person who brought the “dry turkey” to the family party. The year I made my first Thanksgiving Turkey  was filled with much anxiety, as in the past I was one of those voices who whispered about how dry the turkey for Cousin So-and-So was. My heart feared the culinary karma  I thought might come my way.  So, I read every cookbook I could get my hands on, and every article on how to make the PERFECT turkey. And I kept bumping into the word “Brine”. Brining is a way of introducing moisture by using a high ratio of salt and other seasonings to the Turkey. Continue reading

Contessa Pumpkin Spice Latte

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I have come to believe that the reason why everyone raves about Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is not just because it tastes good (although I must confess I have never tried it), but because it is one of the few times of the year that commercial food producers give our spice-starved palettes something other than salt and sugar as flavor. Mace, Cloves, Cinnamon, Vanilla, and Almond all make an appearance in this seasonal treat. Instead of using the typical pumpkin, I drew flavor from the West Indian Pumpkin that grows easily on the island, and added some other island tastes like coconut and hot ginger to spice things up even more! Try this treat on a cool Fall morning, and then listen for the sound of surf and sand in the background of this tropical feast of flavors! Continue reading

Dragon Fruit

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The mind of a foodie is a strange place to be. You literally get EXCITED by food! You naturally get deliriously happy when you make or eat something fabulous! And I had both feelings when I encountered the Dragon Fruit. I have never had such a visceral response to a piece of fruit until I saw the Dragon Fruit for the first time. My heart raced a little bit faster, my eyes probably dilated, my breath caught in my throat, and all I heard on a quiet exhale that I think came from me was, “Oh, my God. What is that?” Yes, it was love at first sight! Continue reading

Contessa Guava Juice

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It seems like all at once all the fruit on the island have erupted into beautiful celestial ripening. Carambolas, Sugar Apples, Limes, and Guavas all competing for your attention, begging you to find something interesting to do with them. This week’s post is a simple recipe for how to make one of my favorite fruits, the Guava, into a juice! The guava is a succulent fruit. Words like juicy, tart, and sweet begin to offer some description, but this is one fruit you have to taste for yourself to fully understand the simple yet oh-so-complex flavor! Continue reading

Caribbean Pot’s Interview with Roger Mooking!!

VERY COOL!!! I LOVE Caribbean Pot’s Chris De La Rosa and I LOVE Roger Mooking! They have such passion and pride in their work. Chris asked his readers for questions he should ask Roger. And I asked him to ask Roger when he’s  coming to St Croix AND HE DID! Food is such a unifying and beautiful force. Thanks Chris! Keep doing all the wonderful work you do to share Caribbean food and culture with the world!

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Click here to see Caribbean Pot’s interview with Roger Mooking!