Friday, February 5th, 2016 | Posted under Antigua
Lots of stuff that I’ve never written about. Welcome to Flashback Friday…
Our 2014 trip to Antigua was pretty significant for the TAO Family as it was the first time that Husband J’s family had been to my lovely island homeland. Being who I am, I wanted to make sure that they were able to taste some local food. In the end, we didn’t get to eat much Antiguan food, but I made sure that I’d arranged a special evening of cuisine to introduce the TAO In-Laws to local eating.
For one night, the lovely ladies of Taste’T Catering made us a meal of gourmet versions of some of my local favorites. To say that I was in heaven and this meal was exactly what I wanted is an understatement. These ladies were able to create a meal for us that was both refined yet had the down-home feel of the food I grew up eating at home and in the summers I spent in Antigua.
Here’s what they made:
Fried Conch Fritters with Sweet and Spicy Sauce
Everyone has their own version of conch fritters. For the uninitiated, conchs are essentially hard shelled sea creatures, and their meat is eaten throughout the Caribbean. You can find them in a spicy curry sauce or in a salad, but you will find them in the Caribbean. I liked this version’s accompanying sweet sauce that toned down the spice just a bit.
Fried Cassava, Fried Sweet Potato, and Fried Plantains with Eggplant and Tomato Relish
Cassava and fried plantain are favorites, but I would have never thought to make them crispy fried like this. We all enjoyed crunching on these before the main course.
Baked Fillet of Red Snapper with Creole Sauce, Coconut Rice, & Steamed Vegetables with Herbs
This wasn’t the first thing I thought of when imagining local favorites but for my in-laws who didn’t have a ton of exposure to Caribbean food, I thought this dish was a great introduction. Lovely fresh from the Caribbean sea fish with enough spice (I love things even spicier than this) to make everyone happy. Also crispy fresh vegetables. I actually need to ask them for their vegetable hook up because I have problems accessing fresh vegetables when I’m in Antigua. No joke!
Rum Cake or Black Cake
Black cake, as it’s called, is a favorite of mine. It’s the type of cake you eat on special occasions. During the holiday season in Antigua, if you’re invited into someone’s home for dinner, there is most likely a black cake available. Depending on the version people make, it will include bits of rum soaked dried fruits. People will soak these fruits for months to get the right level of alcohol. Hey, I’m from a place with its own national rum. What do you expect?
Antiguans call this Nu Nu Balsam Tea (a close cousin to lemongrass?)
I wish I could have the smell of this tea come through your computer screen because it is heavenly and relaxing. I squealed when I saw this tea, as it reminds me of nights sitting around and talking with my family while drinking tea. Many Antiguans have bushes of this herb growing in their yards. It’s common to have folks pick the herb from their yard, run to the kitchen, and drop it into their tea. My mother-in-law loved it.
In addition to being wonderful chefs and hosts, the ladies of Taste ‘T Catering were very friendly. Being the small place that it is (Antigua’s population is less than 90,000 people) one of them knew my cousin. Small world, right?!
Thanks, ladies! If anyone is ever in need of a private chef experience in Antigua, I highly recommend these lovely ladies and their soulful yet refined cooking. How did I find them? I consulted Freda Gore, a fellow Antiguan and owner of Caribbean Culinary Tours. We’ve been social media connections for a while, and I’m glad that I was able to support her business.*
Have you ever had a private chef experience at home or while traveling?
*I like giving Freda’s business a shout out, and yes, we paid for our meal. You know I have to write that. Thanks, U.S. FCC.