Turks and Caicos – Top 7 Small Bites

(As published in the current WhereWhenHow Magazine)

Seven days of culinary bliss. That defines another trip to Providenciales in a nutshell for the Ziggy clan. I can’t think of another Caribbean island where we’ve had it thisgood in such consistent fashion. Recent trips to foodie heavyweights in Europe have produced their share of clunkers. So who knew that an island nation of 33,253 residents, with restaurants mostly geared toward tourists, would produce such culinary delights?

I just love eating in Provo.  In fact I love everything about the island – the beach, the people, even the driving.  According to Mrs Ziggy I turn into someone else, including a complete gentleman while on the island (Although the truth is I keep forgetting the location of the steering wheel on the rental and keep opening the wrong door).  Anyway, with that said, I will share here some of our favorite dishes from our last trip.

A solid meal can turn uneven in a hurry without the support of a solid starter to set the tone.  So without further ado here are the nominees for best supporting cast (I’m talking about small dishes.  Play with me here as I’m recovering from the latest Oscar fever)…

Conch Kebabs at Garam Masala.  Imagine the Falafel and the Shish Kebab having a baby girl named Apple (a Hollywood Bollywood baby).  The result is a spicy, juicy palate pleaser that opens your senses for things to come.  I love Indian food and I can tell you that this is not your ordinary Indian.  Part owner Vinni has a passion for his native cuisine and it shows.

Strong contender:  Chicken Tikka “Pizza” (on naan bread)

Garam Masala - Conch kebabsLobster Salad at Las Brisas –  Lobster, tortilla, Chalk Sound, gazebo, light breeze, stronger breeze, napkins flying, oh no quick, close the shutters before the kids get a cold – Ingredients you wont find anywhere else, not even in Basque Country.  The folks at Las Brisas (which means breezes) have been dishing out great tapas and lobster salads  for years.  They partially cook the lobster and let the lime acid do the rest.  A semi-ceviche if you will.  But you need to get there during  lobster season, otherwise, well.. enjoy chicken season.

Strong contender:  Chickpeas and Chorizo

Las Brisas - Lobster SaladGrilled Calamari at Caicos Café – Did you ever take a bulldog for a walk to his favorite spot in the park, and experience its huge anticipation as it strains on the leash to get there?  That is sort of like when I’m being taken to Caicos Café.  And in recent years in Caicos Café, the marvelous grilled Calamari is usually the first thing to arrive at our table. The squid itself has great texture, not too chewy as some can get.  Add fresh mussels, savory Cannellini beans and finger licking, more bread please sauce and you got yourself one heck of a dish.  I  like to order grilled calamari everywhere we go and the result is very often a case of severe daydreaming.

Strong contender: Gnocchi with Mushroom sauce

Caicos Cafe - Grilled CalamariFish Tacos at Hemingway’s – A staple on every trip to Provo for us, especially for Mrs Ziggy (Hi, Mrs Ziggy, look at me I have my own column.  See, I told you all that time spent on Trip Advisor will lead to something).  While in other popular establishments on other islands you need a fishing license to fish the grouper out of the tacos, in Hemingway’s the fish is the main event.  A hint of sour cream and sweet Mango chutney provide a glorious compliment and lets you temporary forget any preferences for the spicier stuff.

Strong Contender: Conch Fritters

Hemingway's - Fish TacosCoffee Rubbed Tuna at Bay Bistro – Who knew coffee and tuna can play so nicely together.  Well, the same person that figured out the pecan, conch and orange Ménage à trois among other great combinations in the classics filled Bay Bistro menu, that’s who. Island riots and airport shutting firefighter strikes normally erupt after Bay Bistro removes items from the menu.  Long live the Coffee Rubbed Tuna!

Strong Contender: Conch Wontons

Bay Bistro - Coffee Rubbed TunaEscargot at Le Bouchon.  When in Provo do what the French do, and eat what the French eat like the succulent Escargot at Le Bouchon.  It’s a fairly simple dish that so many can’t get quite right.  At a recent popular Brooklyn joint I was presented with an Escargot dish that was pretty to look at but with zero substance, like Paris Hilton.  However at Le Bouchon what you get is the perfect balance of garlic, butter and herbs.  And once you are done with those babies you can shift that ‘I want more’ desire to the sauce and the terrific bread.

Strong Contenders:  Mussels

Le Bouchon - EscargotScallops at Beach House – Perfectly seared scallops with cauliflower espuma and white truffle vinaigrette.  The espuma is a foam-like runny “I cant believe its not mashed potato puree”, and you really get the wonderful truffle essence here.  Big flavours in this one.  Note that spelling flavour with a U, the British way, normally alludes to bigger tastes than the less sophisticated American plain Flavor.

Strong Contender:  Strozzapreti (Another Note, I havent actually tried those particular Priest Stranglers (“Strozzapreti”) but strictly judging in this case by the facial expressions of a trusted foodie that did.  Unless it was just gas)Beach House - Scallops

So there you have it.  7 memorable small bites from our last trip.  Enjoy your trip and stay hungry my friends

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