Posts Tagged With: best food in Turks and caicos

Provo – Food for Thought 2018

Conch Shack Snapper

Even when we plan not to go to Provo, we go to Provo.  Even when we plan not to order the steak at Le Bouchon, we order the steak.  These magnetic forces are powerful and magical, even when the weather isnt cooperating.  I lost count, but its around 16 trips now to our second adopted home of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.  Here’s the latest food recap.  Note:  I know there are a lot of followers out there waiting for this, but keep in mind…  This is a vacation first, a job second.  As much as I try to find new places, recent history suggests I should stick to the proven to avoid unnecessary vacation crankiness.  Especially on a short 5 nighter…

Da Conch Shack

Sunday is apparently Funday at the shack.  To me a beach shack like this loses some of the magic when its so packed, people are lining up for a table.  But I cant fault a place for being popular especially now that its next door neighbor closed and relocated (Kalooki’s).  We used to have a love hate relationship with the shack but now its just Love.  Jerk wings came lukewarm this time but still packed with that nice jerky flavor.  That sauce!  Whole Snapper was a mistake (we ordered a grilled Grouper) but we decided to say nothing once we saw it, and enjoyed it.  Red conch chowder still da bomb!

Delicious Dishes Takeout

Delicious Dishes

Possibly my favorite new discovery of this trip.  Just myself, Mrs Z and a goat, Billy, in a Curried form on the balcony of our 5th floor ocean front at the Seven Stars. Oh and there was also a plate of tender Oxtail, but that goat was pure joy.  Delicious Dishes is mostly a takeout place extremely popular with locals.  There are two locations, one of which near the hub.  From Seven Stars when you reach Leeward hwy, turn left, and it’s right there on the right side.  It’s inside a mini market with a couple of tables if you want to stay in.  It’s mostly prepared food that’s not looking very appetizing, but they keep things nice and juicy.

Le Bouchon

One of the usual suspects, and one of two musts for dinner on every trip.  Quite the contrast to the established Provence (See bottom).  Unpretentious French bistro cooking with Caribbean flair.  The most underrated items here I feel are the soups.  Black bean and conch chowder. The chowder packs plenty of heat and they still got the Hutzpah to add this Harissa salsa thingy (foody term) on the side in case you require more heat.  Salmon gravlux was outstanding.  If you enjoy good lux, get this.  Biggest discovery early on however was the “conch ceviche” which is sliced more like Carpaccio style, giving it a nice garlicky bite.

The steak is the same old tender awesomeness.  The “Strawberry Grouper” is firmer than Nassau Grouper, almost lobster like.  They serve it with garlicky butter to loosen it up, and its delicious.  Other places just call it “grouper” on the menu, but here they elect to call it by the full nameLe Bouchon Conch

 

Seven

We are in the extreme minority of Seven Stars guests who almost never eat at the resort other than breakfast (which keeps improving. Buffet is like an egg lover wet dream these days).  With kids I prefer to skip the finer dining and I’m just not the resort dining type. But this time we came without kids and after a little hiatus we returned to Seven.

Edwin the executive chef suggested the tasting menu and that’s what we had.  Some minor hiccups here and there but a very enjoyable meal throughout with plenty of hints of brilliance, some even Michelin worthy.  The scallops and the two-way tuna were the standouts.  I would come back just for these.

IMG_7871

Hemingway’s

Another regular rotation stop for the fish and chips and fish tacos.  This was our first meal ever in Provo over 10 years ago when we stayed at the Sands, so it holds a special place.  Whenever I eat fish and chips in NYC I start to quietly weep.  If anyone asks whats wrong, I say I’m allergic to fish.  And chips.

Flamingo’s

Regular rotation stop for the views, legendary Curried Grouper and the underrated jerk chicken. The place was packed and everyone around us was eating burgers.  Instead of adding more haute and the trending, I would love to see more places like this open on the island

Caicos Cafe

A smashed iPod?  Redundant Lucy?  What’s the expression for “beyond broken record”. I’m tired of recommending this place.  Even on a 5 day trip, we have to dine here twice.  The only dish I didn’t care for so much this time was the mixed seafood ceviche.  Nothing really wrong with it, just missing some of that originality found in other dishes.  Like that Octopus!  You can’t find better texture/flavor combination than this.  It comes with this chickpea mash, a few tahini and lemon drizzles away from becoming a delicious hummus.  Lobster Fra Diavolo was the same old awesomeness.

On both nights they had fresh Grouper and of course we had to order it on both nights.  You cant get this in NYC.  Simply dusted with magic dust and grilled to flaky perfection.  Great crab cake special which we enjoyed in the past.  And yet another new pasta, a green Troccoli, “Chitara” where chef Massimo uses his “guitar” pasta instrument to make Troccoli which is like spaghetti on steroids.  He tops it with this rich ragu of Lamb shank and cheese.  I keep recommending Caicos Cafe to seafood lovers especially, but the meat dishes here never disappoint.  Last time they removed the ribs from the menu there was an airport strike.

Caicos Cafe - Grilled Calamari

Chinson’s

Like a dark horse coming out of nowhere in the last round, “No View Chinson” (thats the horse’s name) becoming our favorite overall lunch place in Provo.  While all our faves got their classics that we order each time (see Flamingo’s, Hemmingways) , Chinson’s may be the most well rounded of them all.  In the past we enjoyed the curried goat, oxtail, pulled pork and more. This time solid Jerk chicken as usual but the big discovery this time was the steamed Grouper in parchment paper.  Huge, super tender flaky goodness with just the right gentle spicing.  So big we couldn’t finish it.  Get this!

Provence

If Provo would have a Hot or Buzz list like in NYC and many other cities, it would be an especially sad list of one. Provence is the hottest most talked about restaurant on the island at the moment.  We had a taste of Eric Vernice’s cooking when he was at the Beach House about 6 years ago.  Provence is oddly casual, considering how expensive it is.  Its Coyaba expensive, without the service and any sort of setting to match.  Perhaps unless you are lucky to sit at the counter facing the chef.

We weren’t so lucky.  Even with reservations we sat at the bakery next door facing a shelf of one small truffle cream and the lone toilet.  Zero ambiance turned negative when a group of 4 people sat right next to us and someone forgot to tell them that there are other people in the room, some of which sitting right next to them.  Service is a little confused. “We have lobster”, “we don’t have lobster”, “WE FOUND LOBSTER”, “wait, it’s lamb”, “no, it’s def lobster”.  They gave us every clue to change the order to something else but we didn’t.

Another thing about “French” Provence that made me think of The Emperor’s New Clothes is that it’s kinda sorta Italian(ish).  Fresh pastas section dominate the menu and the wall is covered by various places in Italy.  During our more memorable moments when we were not directing traffic to the bathroom we stared at the wall playing “where have we been”.

But I have a tendency to quickly forgive and forget if the food is good. Gnocchi with lobster had distinct lobster flavor but sort of one-note and under-seasoned. Similar issue plagued the dish labeled “octopus”.  It came with very little octopus, sliced and lukewarm with white beans, chorizo and shrimp.  It kinda reminded me of the salads I make at home with canned beans.  But the dish looked gorgeous!

The lamb and lobster were the saving grace in a way but you would need to put me and my cans of beans in the kitchen to screw these up. The lobster was average for TCI which is not really a bad thing.  It came with a nice artichoke mousse with whole peppercorns which was a nice touch and stole the show.  Lamb was perfectly cooked and came with a piece of lamb shoulder sitting in a cup of bulgar.  These are also fairly sizable dishes for “French cooking”.

Provence Octopus

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TCI – Food Itinerary Update

IMG_7871Missed me?  Me too.  I was on another assignment in the Turks and Caicos trying to gain some well deserved poundage (7 to be exact).  Only registered one bad meal on this one, but that is a doozy of a story.  Will write a full report soon, but meanwhile put your second favorite Ziggy in the background and read the latest on how to eat like a local in Provo…

How to Gain 7 Pounds in 7 Days

 

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TCI – How to Gain 7 Pounds in 7 Days (Revised)

flamingos-curried-grouperThis is not a drill.  A big update to that Provo eating itinerary you’ve been so anxiously waiting for.  We keep trying new places with mixed results.  And while Provo can use a few more cheap options near the resorts, there’s still no shortage.  At least not until they sell Caicos Cafe or Le Bouchon.  Those Islanders can get restless sometimes, and decide to move on on a whim, a la Seaside Cafe which closed last fall.  The talented Francois is dishing them out in Opus these days, which means its to revisit soon.  Until next time.

Click here for the updated eating itinerary

 

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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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