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.
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.
Spaghetti 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.
Tuna 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.
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!
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 😉