Posts Tagged With: Anguilla Dining

Anguilla – Top Seven Dishes

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It wasnt easy this time to come up with 7, so I included a bonus dish.  You can find it on the excellent Anguilla-Beaches site which is as official as it can get for the island’s site.

http://www.anguilla-beaches.com/eating-with-ziggy.html

Also, much respect and love to the one and only Ziggy, Ziggy Stardust.  RIP!  You will never be forgotten

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Categories: Anguilla | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hibernia {Anguilla} – The Umami of Dining Experiences

Anguilla Hibernia 3While we were wrapping up another gruesome beach day on Anguilla (someone has to do it), we noticed something peculiar happening next door.  A private table for two was being set up right on the beach.  Toes in the sand, under the stars, with soothing gentle waves just steps away.  Just you and the person you love.  Oh how lovely, how beautiful, how romantic… say other people.  For us however its the equivalent of being locked in an apartment for four days with only one channel showing Full House nonstop.  Lets forget the fact that you are potentially wasting a meal on an island known for some of the best food in the Caribbean.  Potentially!  I’m sure there are excellent private caterers somewhere out there.  The entire experience simply sounds torturous to us.  The sand flies, the darkness, the isolation, wind blowing sand.  Other people passing by going awwwwwe, taking pictures of you.  Toes in the sand.. pretty sure can cause a fungus.  And yes we’ve done it before, when we were younger.  Not our cup of tea.  Even the requirement of being close to the ocean during dinner faded for us over time.

Anguilla Hibernia 9On the other end of that spectrum, was our private lunch the next day at Hibernia.  If “private” means alone, than I suppose this was private, but not in the usual Private Dining sense.  Regardless, when we sit there and start bringing up our most memorable alone meals like at a small Portuguese wine making Quinta overlooking the Douro river, we are essentially in the midst of one of those meals.  But when we start talking about some of our most memorable meals ever, perhaps we are in the middle of something more special than that.  Describing the Hibernia experience requires me to dig into my emergency vocabulary vault and blow the dust of words like Umami, Mystical, Gorgeous, Divine, and Unicorns!  At some point during the meal I thought the only thing missing from this experience is a unicorn or a beautiful little yellow bird.  Moments later the latter shows up.

Hibernia is like one of those Thai temples I stumbled upon in my 20’s while drunk on the streets of Chinatown.  Except with a setting that would require me to be clinically Manischewitzed to stumble upon one of those here.  Pictures dont do this place justice, partly because its missing the sounds of silence, water, and wind chimes that work together like an orchestra.  Perhaps a video would have been more fitting in this case.  Mary-Pat who hails from Hibernia (ancient Greek for Ireland) & life partner Raoul have something special going on on the eastern end of the island.  A 30 minute trek for most folks here feels like a pilgrimage, and to the rest that we met… “Hibernia who?”  Its only one of the finest dining in the CaribbeanAnguilla Hibernia 7

Anguilla Hibernia 6But none of this would have matter – the setting, the sounds, the serenity, if the food didn’t feature the same kind of wow factor.  I’m not one that can be bought or lured into a cloudy judgment by things and friendly faces.  So when I asked Mary-Pat for some recommendations, I got the best answer food obsessed individuals could possibly get.  A puzzled look!  The look of “This is not your average big menu tourist spot.  If it wouldn’t be great, it wouldn’t be on the menu”.  I saw that look at Jacala as well earlier that week.  Here the menu consists of creative Asian inspired delicacies with a French mastery flair.  “Fusion” is the most misunderstood F word in the culinary world.  When its done right, it can be a beautiful thing.

You could not have written a better start to this script.  One bite of that silky smooth homemade Foie Gras Terrine and its angels singing time.  The accompanied red wine infused basil seeds was like a newly invented exotic fruit, the perfect compliment.  A syringe gently sprinkling some sort of alcohol, like IV for alcoholics was the icing on this cake.  There’s your Michelin Star right there.  The trio of smoked fish was another revelation of sorts.  And I’m just talking about the little salad in the middle of all that expertly prepared sea butter.  It tasted like a crazy cross between smoked white fish salad and cream cheese.  The lovely Mary-pat from Hibernia (sounds more mystical hence fitting) says its ginger infused cream cheese with horseradish, picking up some of the fishy smokiness.  Holy smokes this dish was good.IMG_7937

After those apps, the basil coconut milk with rice noodles was more like familiar flavors in a time and place that made them brand new, if it makes any sense (makes perfect sense in my head).  I eat a lot more Thai food than Mrs Z who enjoyed this tremendously.  Though I failed to find anything wrong there other than the crayfish (did I mention the crayfish) in that broth getting a little mushy by the end.  But that’s minor quibbling.  Various fillets of fish in a perfectly spiced Thai style broth was another winner. Wonderfully lemongrassy and pleasantly spicy even on a hot Anguilla afternoon.

Rum raisin ice cream to a rum raisin freak like me was like eating it for the very first time.  It’s the freshness and the rum stupid, that delivers an initial punch and makes you wonder what the fu#$ have I been eating all those years.  Chocolate covered brandy infused prunes with chestnut ice cream was another solid finisher.  (I was toying with the idea of bathroom joke here but I’m too much of a pro for this)

“This Raoul dude is a keeper” I whispered to Mary-Pat from Hibernia before leaving with the kind of satisfaction we very rarely experience.  The kind that adds that much more fuel to travel addictionsAnguilla Hibernia Smoked Trio Anguilla Hibernia Fish in Thai Broth Anguilla Hibernia Prunes Anguilla Hibernia Rum Raisin Anguilla Hibernia Anguilla Hibernia 8 Anguilla Hibernia 5 Anguilla Hibernia 4 Anguilla Hibernia 2IMG_7959

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Sarjai’s – Anguilla Idol

Sarjai's Staff“It’s not Sanjaya, it’s called Sarjai’s” I kept telling her all week.  “You are thinking of American Idol”.  It didn’t matter as she wouldn’t budge.  Brains are on vacation too.  By the 4th day I said good morning at 8 pm, to a cactus, without anything to drink of significance.  And by the 6th I was calling it Sanjaya too.  We needed to be on the same page to survive this brain freeze.  We talked about Sarjai’s often partly because I wanted to break our #1 rule.  But she wouldn’t go for it.  First trip to foodie powerhouse Anguilla and you want to eat at the same place twice?  That stands against everything our ancestors stand for.  Our ancestors been to Anguilla?

Sarjai's ConnorsOn our first dinner in Anguilla I was like a 9 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  Forget the appetizers… the Caesars, the Capreses, the Crispy “anything but the F word, fri@#d” Calamari are just the warm-up acts that no one cares about.  Bring me the Bieberlicious!  4 Mains, nothing less!  “Oh thats just Meshugenah.  My Xanax from the flight hasnt even fully kicked in yet”.  3 Mains!  The fourth was the infamous Steak au Poivre, the most delicious thing on this vacation I haven’t had.  After all, it comes with something called Aunty Joan’s Home-made Curried Fries.  And if there’s one thing I learned during my travels is that anything with the word Aunty in it is a must get.  Think about it.  Have you ever had something that made you say, “this is great, but that aunty side suggests this Aunty needs a stint or two at Le Cordon Blue.  Get rid of her”.  Most likely never.

My first wife and travel companion believes there was a Welcome to Anguilla sign at the ferry entrance, and she has pictures to prove it.  My eyes meanwhile were fixated on an Anguillan goat.  That was my Welcome to Anguilla sign.  That same night, the stewed goat at Sarjai’s was spot on.  Tender, succulent, fatty in all the right places, like slow dancing with your mother in law.Sarjai's - Goat

The perfectly flaky creole snapper could have come just a perfectly flaky creole snapper with some rice and peas as in so many places like this, but not here.  It arrives with delicious curried cabbage (buried under that fish – oh what fun) and coconut sweet potato dumplings that chef Darren’s grandma makes. Those dumplings grew on us in a hurry, and next thing you know we can’t get enough of them.  A brilliant dish that set the bar nicely for many more snappers to come

And our first foray into the Anguillan Crayfish was quite a success. Crayfish in Anguilla is essentially spotted spiny lobster and has no resemblance to the sea roaches of New Orleans.  At Sarjai’s they come plentiful, sweet and buttery even without the help of the butter on the side. Not overcooked at all unlike some of the Crayfish we enjoyed the rest of the week.Sarjai's Snapper

I enjoyed the warm coconut pie, especially since the wife wouldnt touch the stuff. When she tries anything with bits of coconut in it, her face turns into Robert de Niro and she starts spitting profusely. She did enjoy her passion fruit cheesecake.

Sarjai’s, named after chef Darren Connor’s daughter, delivered the kind of vacation debut I can only wet dream about.  Chef Connor, like a true Anguillan idol, represents Anguilla from time to time in cooking competitions.  Fresh from his trip to NY and Omaha where he learned more about the art of beef, shows the kind of passion and skill you dont normally see in places like this.  Places without a sommelier or dedicated stool for your man’s purse.  Its the kind of place you are free to run around like a two year old, and talk to the chef like an old friend.  I need more friends like this.  Ok, one will do for now.Sarjai's Crayfish Sarjai's Dessert Sarjai's

 

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