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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Last week we spent five blissful days in beautiful Barbados. It was a quick trip but a great way to see old friends, meet new ones and enjoy a little time under the Caribbean sun.
Our snorkeling trip was a rare treat for me. We spent a wonderful morning snorkeling with majestic Hawksbill sea turtles. These marvellous creatures sailed past us so closely that they just grazed our fingertips. With all of the regular boat tours and foreign interlopers flailing about in the water, I suspect the sea turtles have come to recognize the sound of the boats engines as a Pavlovian conditioned response: Boat engines = food.
But we spent the balance of our time in Barbados primarily out of the water. We explored the island, ate the local cuisine and enjoyed the night life. On one such night, our friends boasted a Rihanna sighting at one of the local bars across from our hotel. (All the things you miss when you don't stay out until 3am!)
Nevertheless, I still love the adventure of travelling. My favourite aspect of being away from home is enjoying an experience that I have never had before, meeting new and interesting people and of course, discovering the local cuisine. Like most Caribbean cuisines, Bajan food is known for spicy flavours (though not necessarily the most fiery), and the freshest fish (including my new favourite, flying fish) cooked on the hottest grills.
Most people who spend time in Barbados make their way to Oistins for the Fish Fry. The weekly event takes place on Friday and Saturday nights and draws in both tourists and locals on a steamy night for a little music, some handicrafts and alot of delicious food.
As much as I was looking forward to our friend's wedding, I was also quite eager to experience the famous Oistins Fish Fry. When Friday night arrived, we packed ourselves in a taxi with a camera in hand and a healthy appetite. We followed the crowds down to Oistins. The parking lot heaved with taxis and buses lining up to unload hungry folk intent on experiencing the famous Oistins Fish Fry.
One side of the market is what I would call the fresh side. This is where fish comes off the boats caught that day to be brought up to stations where masters with expert hands deftly scale and gut fresh fish for sale. By the evening, there is little for sale as stand owners prepare for the next day's business.
As we moved over towards the crowds, we found the Fish Net Stand, the recommended dinner spot from the locals we polled. It turned out we weren't the only ones who knew about this gem. We lined up for ten minutes to order dinner. The line moved quickly and the staff hustled to move the line along. By far, the most popular choice was Dolphin-fish. (Don't worry - we didn't eat Flipper, it's another name for Mahi Mahi.) The dinner comes with a generous serving of the fish of our choice (Marlin, Dolphin, Tuna, and Swordfish), a small green salad, two potato halves grilled to perfection. But best of all, was the slightly spicy tartar sauce. This tartar sauce was creamy and smooth, studded with little bits of sweet relish and finished with a smooth touch of heat. We thought this tartar sauce was excellent with the fish, but it was even better with the grilled potatoes.
I think the base of this sauce was a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream but I decided to lighten it a little bit with a little low fat sour cream and skipped the mayonnaise.
These grilled potatoes would be a great addition to your next BBQ dinner. Also, this is simple enough to a great side to a weekday dinner.
Grilled Potatoes with Bajan Inspired Sauce
Quantity of potatoes
1 c sour cream (low-fat is okay)
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dill
1/4 tsp dry mustard
6 sweet gherkins (minced finely - use a food processor) or 2 tbsp sweet relish
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lime juice
Boil the desired quantity of potatoes until mostly cooked. Cool slightly and slice lengthwise. Brush lightly with olive oil and grill on the BBQ or a grill pan.
To make the dipping sauce, mix ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside. If possible, make the dip in advance to allow the flavours to meld.
Serve sauce alongside grilled potatoes. (This is fantastic with raw vegetables as well.)
While in Barbados, I recommend:
Cuzz's Fish Stand (the most fantastic flying fish sandwich I had on the island)Located beside the Dive Shop Ltd in St Michael by near the Hilton
Fish Net Stand for the grilled "Dolphin-fish" dinner at Oistins Fish Fry