“Back can wait, but not belly” is a well-known Antiguan saying. With an abundance of fresh fruit and '‘catch of the day’ fish appearing on most menus, Antigua and her sister island Barbuda, are must-visit foodie destinations.
Some of the foods that are found here can be traced back to the islands as early as the slave trade era. These include Eddo, a largish potato and Ochra, a tropical mallow. There’s also Dukuna, a small pudding dish made of varying mixtures of grated sweet potatoes, coconut, cornmeal plantain-flour.
One of the foods that you'll find in abundance here are mangos, which come in different varieties such as Julie, Early Gold and Sensation. Every road stall offers them along with ‘Black Pineapple’ the national fruit of Barbuda. They were definitely my favourite way to start the day! To get a real taste of the island, I visited a variety of resorts to discover their culinary offerings first-hand.
Barbuda North Beach
My first stop was Barbuda North Beach. Their talented chef, Zeek, had been headhunted from the Sandals hotel in Antigua. While here, I enjoyed a selection of meals including Zeek’s special Sunday breakfast, which consisted of ‘chop-chop’, a blend of aubergine and spinach, and codfish and boiled eggs. For lunch, Zeek was confident enough not to have a menu, and he offered me his signature soup of pumpkin, ginger and spring onion, which was very cooling after a long day in the sun. To follow I had the lobster, which is typically seen as a luxury food item, but they are ‘two a penny’ on Barbuda (well almost!) and enjoyed them with the simple side dishes of sweet potato and a salad.
Indigo on the Beach restaurant
Carlisle Bay is a luxurious all-suite, beachfront resort located 16 km from the historic Nelson's Dockyard marina. The hotel has four restaurants: Indigo on the Beach, Ottimo!, East and Jetty Grill. Indigo has an interior-exterior setting next to the beach with the lapping waves. The colonial style beach restaurant has been cleverly designed to hide the sunbathers and their chairs and has a soothing palette of muted colours and natural textures.
The menu here caters for the health conscious. My most delicious lunch consisted of a starter of snapper ceviche and a Caprese salad, followed by the ‘catch of the day’, a Mahi-Mahi (local fish) beetroot, feta and pine nut slider. Rather decadently (but then what’s a holiday for?) it was all washed down with ‘Five Year Old English Harbour’, a popular rum brand. Michael, the sommelier, informed me with pride that no ice is needed with the ‘10 Year Old’ version. He said, “The sharper the better, after all it comes from sugar cane, which is comparable to the grape of a Louis X111 Cognac”!
Their second restaurant, Ottimo!, is set overlooking a swimming pool, built with stone specially delivered from Bali. The family-orientated restaurant offers a standard Italian menu including pizzas and pasta. To accompany your food, I recommend enjoying a glass of Wadadli, the local beer named after the island’s origins before the arrival of Columbus, which goes well with the Italian dishes.
East, the third of Carlisle Bay’s four restaurant options, has a Far Eastern menu, where I had a thoroughly enjoyable Pad Thai.
This authentically Antiguan restaurant has great fish. I enjoyed the grilled marlin (a first for me), which was accompanied by a mix of salads and washed down with yet another rum concoction. The food was truly delicious, but the experience was damped a bit by a steel drum band who played a set of predictable covers from Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.
Keyonna Beach Resort
Over on the west coast and looking right out at Montserrat, I enjoyed the food at Keyonna Beach. Lunch was enjoyed under the shade of an old grape tree with roots and branches in all directions. In keeping with the typically Antiguan menu, I sampled the ‘catch of the day’ - the Butterfish and Banga Mary, which were fresh and delicious.
Nonsuch Bay Resort
For my final stop, I headed to the East Coast to the restaurant at Nonsuch Bay Resort, an intimate restaurant set atop a rock precipice, with a small menu that changes every few days. During my visit, I had the seafood crepe with local fish and mushrooms in a creamy, white wine sauce with Parmesan cheese and the lightly blackened swordfish with spinach and crab risotto.
After visiting four wonderful resort restaurants, each featuring fantastic cuisine, I left belly full!
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The Caribbean Islands
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