Though surely there is bad food to be had on St. Kitts, I never ate any of it. Here are some gastronomic highlights of my stay on this enchanting island.
Right off the Plane
After a night and day of airplane and airport food, I arrived at St. Kitts ready for real food and a peek at my old friend, the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as I dumped my bags and shed a layer of clothing, I made my way to the Marriott’s open-air grill, situated between the ginormous pool and the hotel’s strip of beach. “Conch fritters and a large iced tea,” I barked with a quick glance at the menu. So content was I dining on this Caribbean specialty while on a Caribbean island staring at an ocean traveling into infinity that I completely forgot to take a picture of my meal. Apologies, readers. If deep-fried seafood with a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce turns you on, visit the Marriott’s Bohemia Beach Pool Bar and Grille for lunch.
The Marriott Dining Experience
The St. Kitts Marriott is the largest building on the island, so not surprisingly it offers a variety of dining experiences along the cost and creativity spectrum. Always in search of “authentic” fare, I was glad to have eaten my first dinner at the hotel’s wonderful fresh seafood restaurant, Blu. Blu’s elegant interior matched the excellence of its freshly prepared seafood. Having been in fried food heaven a few hours before, I opted for the vegetable terrine and was not disappointed. Fellow diners raved about the conch chowder. I happily finished all of my Mahi Mahi over mashed yucca and plantains (Yucca is a root similar to a sweet potato) leaving not a bit of room for dessert.
On the Beach
No visit to St. Kitts is complete without dinner at Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack. Loosely translated, “shiggidy” means “cool” and that was the definite vibe at this open air bar and restaurant on the Carribbean shore. I was certainly “shiggidy” with the fresh grilled lobster and rum punch I had that night, happy after dinner to listen to live calypso as I watched the bonfire on the beach and the antics of the fire eater. Non-seafood lovers can order jerk chicken or barbequed ribs and other Caribbean fare. See www.mrxshiggidyshack.com for more details.
Kittitians “go liming” i.e., chilling with buddies over good food and drink. Visitors will want to go liming at the bars and restaurants that line South Frigate Bay, of which the Shiggidy Shack is but one, albeit the best known. Dancing, live music, ocean breezes – you will definitely be able to get your lime on Kittitian style.
The Kittitian capital and largest town, Basseterre, also houses the island’s first coffee house, the Caribe Café. Free Wi-Fi means you will find any number of American vet and med students from the local universities hunched over laptops imbibing coffee drinks. The third floor restaurant’s balcony gives a good view of the harbor where cruise ships dock almost every day. I will remember the Caribe Café as the first place I tasted mutton, one of the lunch specials. For those of you who have only read of mutton in British novels, it is the meat of sheep older than one year. Less delicate than lamb, it makes a hearty meal when slow-cooked, especially when accompanied by plantains. Check out the restaurant’s Facebook page for more details.
Nirvana seemed a strange name for a fine dining restaurant located next to the restored 300 year old Fairview Great House. That is, until I took that first sip of the best banana daiquiri of my life as I sat watching the Caribbean Ocean. This state of bliss continued with my meal. Chef Janice Ryan (also known as Janice Barber), originally from England, has lived in St. Kitts and Nevis for over twenty years and is something of a cooking legend on the two islands. Not as spicy as a Kittitian would prefer, I found it perfect for my palate. I had Shrimp and Coconut Salad followed by Plaintain-stuffed chicken breast, topped off with Island Tiramisu. The chef also teaches a popular cooking class for cruise ship visitors. See www.nirvanafairview.com for more information.