Posts Tagged With: Anguilla

Anguilla – Top 7 Dishes 2019

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First order of business of this trip was to mimic some of the previous experiences including eating the top dishes.  So I’ll start with that.  This is the list I made for Anguilla-Beaches in 2016.  Sarjais has sadly closed since then.  We didnt make it to Straw Hat this time, and Mango’s snapper wasnt a special.  But as for the rest… Chicken at Jacala, Steamed Red Snapper at Johnno’s, Fish Salad at Tasty’s, and the Smoked Fish Trio at Hibernia, all still outstanding.

Partly due to craving the above, it was a little tougher finding excellence this time around.  It was a slightly shorter trip (6 days), and some clunkers at the beginning of the trip didnt help.  And really, most of the stellar dishes came at three places, Hibernia, Ember, and Jacala.  No surprise the three amigos are on the list again this year…

Wahoo Carpaccio at Mango’s

Leave it to the fish experts at Mango’s to take care of your seafood needs.  Perhaps a handful of pink peppercorns shy from being spectacular, this Wahoo was silky smooth, with just the right amount of ‘salsa’ to elevate.  These guys just know how to get the freshest stuff.  Sunday however, is a conundrum.  Like going to a museum on a rainy day.  Many places are closed which means Mango’s is packed much more than usual, and the fish sizes were noticeably smaller than last time.  Mango's - Wahoo

Seafood Pasta at Falcon Nest

We travel for pasta (Italy), and we travel for seafood (more Italy).  So naturally when I see pasta with seafood on the menu, I start unbuckling that belt. Its not a particularly complex dish.  Just loads of fresh chunky fresh fish and shellfish that was flash fried before mixed with the creamy goodness and plenty of veggies.  The good news, not overly creamy.  You may want to toy with their hot sauces midway if you get bored.

Falcon Nest Seafood PastaSpaghetti alle Vongole at Trattoria Tramonto

See above for the pasta/seafood love affair.  But this was a tip I got from iron chef Marc Forgione who owns three restaurants in NYC.  Its a simple dish, but not so simple to pull off.  I can think of only one Spaghetti with clams in Taormina that topped this.  Its well balanced, garlicky, and plenty of delectable clams hidden under that mountain.  Perfect pairing to a hot summer afternoon facing the empty but mesmerizing Shoal Bay West.

IMG_2317Tuna Tartare at Jacala

I didnt think anything can top that Chicken but turns out chef Alain Laurent (the “ala” in Jacala) got more goodies up his sleeve.  Its quite possibly the best Tuna Tartare I ever had.  It may have been because they just received the fish a day prior (Tuesday).  But this is superb stuff, with every morsel resulting in slightly different flavors and texture, with angels singing in the background.  I eventually asked them to lower the volume as there’s just so much this Jew can take.Jacala Tuna Tartare

Foie Gras at Hibernia

This hidden gem called Hibernia is like a dream.  The setting makes familiar flavors taste unfamiliar.  But the homemade Foie Gras was uncharted territory for this Foie lover (soon to be Foie desperate seeker as it becomes illegal in NY).  It comes with this fresh mango & old rum chutney, a syringe that gently sprays Cognac (I can use that during Hockey season), and home-made toasted walnut bread.  Pure ecstasy with every bite.  Top picture.

Pizza at Artisan

I love pizza!  I eat a lot of pizza.  This is good pizza.  Maybe the best in Caribbean in fact.  But its not for everyone.  This is extreme Neapolitan.  Ultra thin and spongy in the middle, not meant to slice but eaten with a knife and fork.  The more ingredients you add the more the dough simply blends in with the rest of them without showing any texture.  The menu features an impressive arsenal of imported ingredients like ‘nduja, a particular Calabrian spicy sausage spread.  All that’s needed is a certificate Pizzaiolo, and a world class pizza oven.  Check!Artisan Pizza Anguilla

White Chocolate Bread Pudding at Ember

I could have easily chosen the excellent roasted beets, or the Foie Gras here, but lets go with the Bread Pudding to finish on a sweet note.  NYC, the food capital of the world is sort of bread pudding deprived, and we have to get our fix at NOLA sometimes.  This was Bread Pudding perfection with just the right texture/flavor combination.  Not much white chocolate flavor which is a good thing.  Desserts often satisfy, but rarely excite.  This one did.  Problem is I dont have a good picture of it.  Natalie, help 😉IMG_2304

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Ember – Anguilla’s Newest Epicurean Jewel

EmberI’ve come to realize that I’m not much of a beach reader these days.  The heat, the glare, the turquoise water, way too many distractions out there.  But what’s my excuse at home?  Dont know.  But at the beach I prefer long walks, listening to music, and sometimes just aimless staring while getting lost in random thoughts.  Albert Einstein got much of his ideas from aimless wandering.  I’m getting there.  The best I came up with in 6 days is “What the heck is a Post Malone”, and “How do you spell Rendezvous, anyway”.  Silent Zs just seem so annoyingly wasteful, especially these days for some New Yorkers (Verrazzano is missing a Z in all 96 road signs and business names).

Another thought that popped was how such a small island where a human walks every 20 minutes from my vantage point has such great dining depth.  In busier Providenciales (Turks and Caicos) where its now about 20 humans per 20 minutes from my favorite spot, I can think of only two very solid sure bets for dinner.  Ember in Anguilla now makes it three, joining Jacala, and Hibernia.  And there are island old timers I still havent tried, like Blanchards.Ember Beets

One year old Ember is the dream of Marc Alvarez who is sort of an island legend.  If you are not aware of that by the time you get there, his long time friend and manager(?) Michelle will make sure you are.  This kind of confidence can backfire if not followed by matching results.  It did.  And its always good to know who’s at the helm, what’s his/er story, and most importantly is that person in the kitchen every night.  Its a yes for Ember.

The space is comfortable and inviting.  There’s a wood burning oven in the kitchen that looks like a pizzaiolo wet dream.  The menu features a New York-like “Snacks” column that makes ordering more interesting here.  Alvarez did spend some time with Union Square Hospitality in NYC.  A smaller plate section is also a risk as one can spend much less for a full meal.  It took a while to come up with a game plan here.  I had to interview 27% of the very full staff to finalize my order.  Nice French leaning wine menu, just like the rest of the island pretty much.  I lean Italian, but managed.

Started with the Snap Peas, the only miss for me as the spices too mild to make any sort of impact.  But the buttery Pretzel, perhaps his homage to NY, was a nice kickstarter in more ways than one.  It comes with sharp Dijon that brushes against your sinuses, but can do more damage if not too careful.  Like hockey players sniffing ammonia-laced salt in order to wake up.  Perhaps that’s the idea here.

The roasted beets was the first sign of that Alvarez brilliance.  They looked like tomatoes, and tasted like meat.  We are the rare breed of beet haters who like to order beets at places like this.  The Foie gras terrine & duck prosciutto was the second sign and perhaps dish of the trip nominee.  Prosciutto was more like Jamon or lardo that melts in the mouth without the chewiness.  The combination of the Foie with port cherry on toast was like ecstasy in your mouth.

The red snapper fillet dish was a beautiful chaos of various ingredients, and perhaps best piece of fish on this trip.  And the baked gnocchi was rich and spot on.  Large fresh gnocchi as such tend to get all mushy sometimes but these were sturdy and spectacular, with bright, tangy tomato sauce and just enough cheese.  The white chocolate bread pudding to finish was NOLA-ish bread pudding perfection.  Not much white choc flavor which is a good thing.

There are meals (like the night before Ember) where I politely say no to dessert and ready to leave.  And then there are the self inflicted marathon meals where I want to stay longer, visit the kitchen and kiss the chef on the lips!  In this case I settled for a hand shake (I think he’s from the Bronx!).  An epic meal from start to finish.

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Anguilla Random

IMG_2365Its that time of the year.  The time we look back, reflect, and look forward.  The time we argue about the spelling of Hanukkah, and wonder how impeachment works exactly.  The time we look back at the wonderful things we ate during the year all over the world.  The time to call your mom, and watch vacation pictures.  In that order.  Yes, call you mom, and buy her something meaningful this time.  A puppy, a food tour, a trip to Anguilla.  Something that will change her life.

To all the people I met during the last years years, wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a blessed Festivus

The Ziggys

(PS, click on any of the pictures below to view)

 

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A Week in Anguilla

IMG_7600Oh Anguilla, AngWilla, what took yer so long to call my name.  I was more than Willa! to check ya out Anguilla, oh yeah!  Ok, I don’t know what it means about my musical writing abilities but whenever I try to write something, I sound like sir Justin Bieber….who visited Anguilla a week ago or so btw.  I’m jealous of Justin I must say.  The dude is 21, and goes to Anguila on a whim, just like that.  While I needed about 21 years to get convinced.  “The beaches are not better than TCI”, “you need a full day of suffering to get there”, “you need to take a high speed ferry where even the seagulls throw up”.  Turns out all the motivation I needed is United Airlines making it much tougher to get to TCI these days.

Anywho, let me tell you about Anguilla.  But instead of boring you with a bunch restaurant reviews this time, I will bore you with a giant post about everything and anything Anguilla.  Its the Everything Bagel of trip reports!  Or something like that…

Getting there

I think the notion that one gets over time about the complexities of travelling to this island makes it seem more complicated than it actually is.  Getting off the plane in St. Martin you are faced with a bunny ranch like lineup of high speed semi-private ferry representatives trying to lure you into their service… a $65 ride straight from the airport (a 5 minute ride to the docks) with the caveat that you need to reserve in advance (giving CC info online) or risk a full boat.  The most popular and cheaper option however is a $20 public ferry ride which leaves at the same frequency as the privates, but requires a $20 taxi ride to Marigot that could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on traffic (I always thought this ride is much longer).  We opted for the public ferry there and back, and will do so again next time.  Hard for me to justify the costs and efforts of the other options, especially considering we got to Anguilla before everyone else.  If this would have been Amazing Race, we would have kicked some serious tuches.  There’s also the air travel option between the islands which we briefly considered.IMG_7674

Car

You need a car here.  Sure you can manage without one, but in order to take advantage of what the island has to offer, a car is necessary.  Although many people happily do so, this is not the place to linger at the same place for a week like in Provo.  Ronnie Bryan, a local celebrity, makes the entire rental process as smooth as can be through Bryan Car Rental.  Pay from home securely via email, pick up car at the ferry terminal, drop the car at the ferry terminal.  Other than driving to the great Hibernia for lunch, a map was not needed for us.  Fairly easy to get around!

Beaches

Since Turks spoiled us big time with one of the best beaches in the world, this was not the time to settle.  But we sort of did, but in a good way.  Shoal Bay East is arguably Anguilla’s best beach.  But besides a few shacks and some dining options there’s not a whole lot going on there dining wise, which is not necessarily a bad thing for many.  Meads Bay was the perfect match for us.  Although one of the busiest beaches (relatively speaking), flanked by two behemoth resorts (Viceroy, Malliouhana) we found it quite serene and underdeveloped enough, with the water spectacular at times.  Not to mention close to many dining options.  Then you have the option of Maundays Bay, aka Cap Juluca-ville where the serenity level takes on another meaning.  You can request a tour of Cap Juluca while you there, and enjoy the beach by its main building.  Or you can Rendezvous at Rendezvous Bay with a visit to the world  famous Garvey’s Sunshine Shack.  The shack alone is worth going.  The most underrated beach however is perhaps Shoal Bay West.  Tranquil, green, with some interesting wildlife around to boot on arrival.  There are some more beaches, but I believe I covered the best ones.  This is why you need to rent a car here.IMG_7599

Hotels

With one hotel stay under my belt, I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert.  I dont quite get the bloggers who write about a destination like a travel concierge, even though they’ve just been there for four days.  But here’s what I know.  Shoal Bay Villas is the popular option on the east end as far affordable accommodations go, while on Meads you have Turtle’s Nest (with actual turtles acting as security) and Carimar showing exceptional value.  The latter is the better looking building, but the former has a slightly better beach front.  The newly refurbished Rendezvous Bay Hotel on Rendezvous Bay is gaining a lot of traction on the boards as of late.  Then you have the Viceroy and Malliouhana, the behemoths flanking Meads Bay where I would personally not consider staying, but visit for a drink instead (Viceroy owns the best sunsets).  For more intimate feel, there’s the world famous Cap Juluca, and to a lesser degree CuisinArt.  Frangipani was a good match for us.  Small, personable, attractive, even sexy (which is why we felt at home!) boutique hotel smack in the middle of Meads.IMG_7614

Dining

This is where things get interesting.  We knew Anguilla has good food, but research elevated expectations even more (“Some of the best in the Caribbean”).  I’ve already discussed some here, and here, and listed my favorite dishes here.   While the end result was a successful one, the trip needed a proper finish in order to call it as such.  There were some misses early on, but for the purpose of this post and the possibilities of the often off days, I will only touch on the highlights.

Sarjai’s – This turned out to be the best of the “Local” spots we tried.  Not much of an atmosphere but the food more than makes up for it.  Try the Creole Snapper with the addictive coconut sweet potato dumplings, or the scrumptious stewed goat.  The crayfish here were the best of the trip.  And while I didnt have it, the steak is an award winner.

Blanchard Beach Shack – One of many beach shacks on the island.  Order, pick a picnic table and enjoy the marvelous views with your pager.  Although they have various items on the menu, this is a nice choice for a healthier “fast food” type lunch.  Try the Rice bowl with shrimp or Mahi.IMG_7619

Dolce Vita – Possibly the best Italian on the island, though it helps if owner Abbi is there to guide you with your order.  The Gnocchi Gorgonzola and the Lasagna are the specialties.  The latter is actually the reason for opening a restaurant in the first place.

Johnno’s – One of the coolest things about Anguilla is its music scene, especially on Sunday (“Funday”) afternoon.  And deciding where to go on each Funday is not easy.  But beating this venue with this musical lineup and the steamed snapper with Fungi combination at Johnno’s I imagine is not so easy.  Note we only had one item here to eat, and it was that good.

Sunshine shack – The definition of a beach shack.  You got the reggae, the beach (Rendezvous Bay), the man (Garvey), the grill, what else do you need.  An absolute must!

IMG_7797Jacala’s – One of the biggest gems of the trip.  Two Frenchmen, one in the kitchen, one on the floor, making all sorts of magic right on the beach.  Its open for lunch, but I wouldn’t miss dinner.  Great soups, heavenly Tuna Tartare, Risotto like no other (nice middle course to share).  Table side prepared Steak tartare is oddly a main course but very popular.  Not to mention the chicken of dreams, and the Panna Cotta.  Go!

B&D’s BBQ – Essentially a popup on the side of the road.  Very solid BBQ.. chicken, ribs, lobster, snapper, all served with Johnny cakes and sides. The slaw in particular was noteworthy.  Very popular with the locals, and even restaurant owners (Tasty’s below) which is a big endorsement

Straw Hat – Great drinks, beautiful setting overlooking Meads.  Nice Lobster Mac & Cheese, fish sandwich, tuna flatbread (in that order).  Since we stayed next door, we spent most of our breakfasts here.  And after cheating on a few other places, we concluded there’s no point to go anywhere else really.

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Tasty’s – Quite a Tasty local spot by one of the islands best ambassadors, Dale Carty who is sent on critical missions oversees to promote island food from time to time.  The signature item is the magnificent seafood salad.  Other than a rather robbery lobster, everything was quite good here

Mango’s – I normally like to keep one night open and let the island sort of guide me to the right place.  Based on conversations with locals, Trips Advisor forumites, and even local cooks, it became clear that Mango’s got the freshest fish on the island.  You approach this one like you approach a Trattoria in Italy.  Go with whats’s fresh, and what’s on special.  Best snapper of the trip

Hibernia – If you are a foodie, and for some crazy, bizarre reason you’ve come to trust good ol’ Ziggy over the years…  Go to Hibernia for lunch!

Stay hungry my friends!

IMG_7692 IMG_7718 IMG_7802 IMG_7863 Anguilla Hibernia 2

 

 

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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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This is Anguilla

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