Posts Tagged With: Turks and Caicos dining

Provo – Food for Thought 2017

IMG_5235

Thai Orchid Duck

On my first night in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos a couple of months ago I had a Provo nightmare.  It started fine, with me walking on the beach with people that I didnt come here with.  All sorts of random people, like my high school music teacher.  But things turned at some point, to the point where I was awoken with a little sweat slowly dripping down my forehead.  On our little walk, we lost track of time, and I missed breakfast time!  Which also meant I missed Seven Stars’ new omelette station.  Yes, the Provo nightmare is a little more subdued than regular nightmares we have at home.  During a dream last night, my oldest fell from the roof of Madison Square Garden on a sled.  Long story!

But lets get straight to eating.  The biggest takeaway from the last trip is that we should start limiting trying new places.  As much as I try to find some new spots for you and me, this is just not working.  The old guys just keep chugging along, while new places, and especially resort places keep pretending and delivering odd experiences.  There’s one exception however.

Caicos Cafe – Nothing new here.  Our usual first and last stop.  But I start to get the sense that these guys wont be around here for too long.  Wahoo Carpaccio is the same sea butter awesomeness self.  Got two grilled calamaris this time to avoid World War Z.  The lobster Fra Diavola didn’t do it for me this time around. Just missing some of that old pop.  But the old Oriechiette with pork sausage ragu is back with a vengeance, showing very nice depth.  The Octopus starter here is a slap your sister wowster!  Brilliantly cooked on top of this delicious “I can’t believe this is not hummus” chickpea mousse.  Black Tagliolini continues to be a must, and the steak and ribs are very underrated here.IMG_5066

Solana – In NYC, during my Hell’s Kitchen walks, I show visitors the various Thai restaurants and how to tell between the good and not so good.  A big clue is in the looks department.  The ones that look like dingy dives are far better than those with sexy looking rooms with expensive chandeliers.  Such is the case in some cases with Provo, and especially with Solana taking the place of EWZ fave Seaside.  A marked improvement in the looks dept, with dumbed-down food. The blackened fish sandwich is the same Swai as before but not blackened enough, hence blander.  An “award winning” Conch salad paled in comparison to Seaside’s Peruvian conch salad.  Fried Calamari plate looked gorgeous, but a quality and quantity fail.  This is owned by the Vix group people, and I just dont think they care about ingredients nearly as much as looks.

Flamingo’s – The only news here is that they now accept CC.  In other news, the Curried Grouper is still the same melt in your mouth flaky goodness.  An island classic that requires some research (like reading this blog) to know about it.  This time we also did some dirty dancing with a fine jerk chicken and passable ribs.  But you come here for lunch for the grouper and rum punch.IMG_5086

Le Bouchon – Nothing to see here, move a long.  Another great meal at good ol’ reliable LB.  They keep experimenting (on me sometimes), stretching that menu, and stretching that sidewalk to the point that no one can see the board anymore.  Soups are still great.  Escargot is still perfection.  Octopus Carpaccio is outrageous (but not cheap).  The steps to produce it read like IKEA instructions.  Au poivre still rules the island Games of Steak.  And on this night a nice crispy snapper with buttery Beurre Blanc sauce.

Simone’s – The strong exception as far as new places go.  We tried it for lunch last time and liked it enough to come back for dinner.  Its the resort area Three Queens if you will, but still a small schlep from the hub to La Vista Azul resort.  Simone, formerly with Sharkbites, is a sweetheart, and treats family like customer!  Oh wait, I think I got it backwards.  The “Conch Ceviche”, now that Seaside is gone, perhaps the Conch Salad to beat.  A beefy fresh Wahoo, like a thick and juicy, flavor packed Swordfish.  Local fishermen dine here both times we were here.Simone's Conch Salad

Thai Orchid – If you follow this blog, you know how much I love Thai food.  So it may sound odd that this is my first time trying Thai Orchid in Provo, but really it shouldnt be. Crispy Duck was exactly what I expected. Crispy, understandably dry, but quite good especially once you add some chili sauce. A lot of nice flavorful crackling action. The Snapper Choo Chee was pretty good too. It’s a thicker, dryer red curry.  With a fresher Caicos Snapper it would have been a chooooo chooooo! instead of choo chee.  Ok, I try.

Chinson’s – Goat curry fix, Check.  Spiciest goat curry out there, which is surprising considering how sweet their Chinese fried rice is and other dishes.  Jerk chicken was on point. But the best thing surprisingly was a pulled pork sandwich. Heaps of juicy pork with a sweetish and sour sauce.  Note to self, again… you dont like ginger beer!  Chinson is now on the regular rotation, graduating perhaps into dinner nextIMG_5181

Cocovan – A new addition to the Coco Bistro family, an Airstream parked in the CB parking lot operating only at dinner time. Perhaps a play on words on Coq au vin.  Love CB, but didnt love, nor quite frankly got Cocovan.  The Shrimp tacos were meh.  Didn’t taste much shrimp, nor blackened, nor “coconut hummus”.  Duck tacos were more like it if not a little dry.  Sweet and sour Caicos lobster tasted like fine rock shrimp tempura.  Lamb lollipops tasted like an average, slightly overcooked baby lamb chops you get at your nearest kebab house with an $8 per lollipop price tag.  20 mins, $120 later with some of us still hungry, now what do you do.  It felt like an overpriced resort lunch with familiar flavors to me, but I have no doubt this will be popular.  I would rather go to something local like Caravel.  Or perhaps a niche player, serving fresh fish tacos, or high quality burgers.

Hemingway’s – If there’s one place that feels like home.  Our first meal on the island over 10 years ago, and nothing changed.  That includes the women running the front who see our girls grow and hairline shrink.  We come here for lunch and order just two things, fish tacos and fish and chipsIMG_5208

Pavilion – First visit to the newish (2 years?) fine dining at the Somerset, in the old O’soleil (aka O’SoSmall?) place.  Hits and misses throughout, and essentially a one and done deal for us.  Good conch spring rolls.  Tasty Poke style tuna cubes sitting on top of avocado that was not fresh, with even less fresh banana chips on the side. C’mon, at a place like this you can’t serve this.  Well cooked, supersized lobster was the star of show, beating the snapper.  Grouper, a major fail.  Crispy battered into a mushy, oversized fish and chip gone horribly wrong.  Ambiance of a typical hotel restaurant.

Sweet T’s – Fried chicken stop on the way to the airport.  Best value on the island

Stay hungry my friends!

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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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Provo – Food for Thought 2016

Somewhere Fajitas

Somewhere Fish Fajitas

Our latest food adventure on our favorite home away from home.  I didnt take too many pictures, and on some evenings at the regular spots I didnt even take my camera (it felt like its time).  But this was yet another fun trip, with good food for the most part.  To some of the regulars these mentions may become tiresome, but I did have enough new dishes at most that moved me (yes moved)

Sweet T’s – Our new regular first stop driving from the airport.  $6 chicken (12 pieces), $2 fries, $2 drinks, eating the chicken in the car while ducking every time a Grace Bay Rental employee shows up, priceless!

Caicos Cafe – The prerequisite double meal at Caicos Cafe.  A lot of changes on the menu since the last visit not surprisingly (knowing chef “Mad” Max).  Old fave Tagliolini got a tan.  It’s now a sweeter tasting pasta by way of the squid ink.  Grilled Calamari and the Gnocchi are a must get from day one, while the fall off the fork ribs are heading to that direction as well.  On the second visit I “Scarpetta’d” the shi&$t out of the calamari plate with their homemade bread, to the point of an unrecognized spotless clean dish.  Grouper, when on the board, you will not find a better preparation on the island.  Loved the conch and grouper chowder this time.  Goat cheese with butternut salad in a pastry was perhaps the best new app discovery.

Mad Max also does a decent steak.  Peppercorn expectedly not as creamy as Le Bouchon, but more peppery.  Good ol’ Orrechiette (aka Mike Tyson’s fave) has finally been replaced by Pacheri, large rolled tube shape, when unrolled they are like Pappardelle with balls.  But it’s more like a crazy salad than pasta, fully loaded with peppers, sausages, zucchini, a cold small mozzarella ball in the center, and more.  Gorgeous dish.  Had a nice semi dry white from Naples – forgot the name of the grape, not something I heard of before.  That’s one region we haven’t explored yet.  Iced mousse with chocolate and coconut mousse, like the island version of Semifreddo.  The lone miss this time was the grouper ravioli, but I’m not a fan of fish ravioli to begin with

Caravel – This is one of my favorite newish local spots.  We had a nice lunch here two months after they opened, and now back for dinner.  They are no longer open for lunch after they realized they are not on the water!  Very welcoming, and comfortable from the friendly husband, wife, and friends team.  The soups here are very strong, particularly the white chowder.  Good blackened snapper, while jerk pork loin less successful.  But the star here again were those unusual fried fish tacos.  I would love to see more Caribbean specialties on the menu, like goat and oxtail.  Owner cooked at Amanyara, Mr Grouper’s, Fresh Catch and finally now his very own restaurant, but something tells me he has more tricks up his sleeveIMG_8254

Hemingways – We had fish tacos at 4 different places on this trip including the famous Somewhere, and to me the Hemingway’s tacos are still the ones to beat.  Perfectly flaky, nicely seasoned grouper with a nice tang from the mango salsa.  Same goes for the fish & chips, a must for us on every visit.  Hemingway’s was our first meal in TCI 10 years ago, and still going strong.  Hard to beat this setting for lunch

Julien’s Deli – Stop by before the flight (give it some time) got sandwiches and leave it to Julien, your Le Bouchon host, to make your return flight easier.  You will have the best food on the plane

Le Bouchon TunaLe Bouchon – I saw an ad on the bus today for Jimmy Kimmel for Vice President, “A good, solid #2”.  This is essentially Le Bouchon for me, though they can be easily #1 if they feel like it.  This is the only none ‘local’ place on the island where locals and expats outnumber visitors.  Tuna tartar, nothing short of spectacular, as only the French can do.  Escargot, now that the kids are obsessed with escargot (seriously I’m raising freaks) we should start getting two of those.  Lets just say I enjoyed the bread :-(.   The head cheese-like Octopus Carpaccio… angels singing.  Get this.  The now legendary Steak au Poivre is still the steak to beat.  Two perfectly seared scallops on creamy saffron risotto was on point.  A beautifully done yellowfin tuna (left), so light and flavorful (once you add the sauce).  Perhaps the best LB meal to date.

Conch Shack – We forgot how much fun this place can be.  And the food here is good enough to make it a regular again.  Conch rules much of the menu, but make sure to get the jerk wings with the homemade sauce.  The sauce is one of those sauces that make you dip anything and everything in it.  Peas, rice, beans, fingers, car keys, it’s all good.  The blackened fish make-yourself tacos are fine.  Basic conch salad.  And Conch Creole was like the homey tomato based stew your grandma would make if she was into conch (like the coolest grandma ever).  You cant get a better setting, and “welcome to provo” than this

Conch Shack Wings

Vix – New management, new chef, new menu, new mediocrity?  The place and flavors just did not come through for us.  The frozen packaged tasting gnocchi looked better on the menu than on the plate.  The very basic Caesar salad can use some tips from Mark from Lupo nearby.  The spicy Pasta Rusta’s heat was the only thing you taste after a few bites.  Just pure senseless heat.  Lamb Shank was fall off the bone alright but became boring in a hurry.  The snapper, cooked creole style was the saving grace.  One and dont!

Bugaloos – Another regular stop.  Conch salad is noticeably fresher here, though its not so much freshness, but who chops it fresh for each order.  A misunderstanding that we could have corrected but chose not to, left us with a mammoth $85 snapper that we all shared and couldn’t finish.  They got the freshest snappers, and other than the broth a little saltier this time, we enjoyed this again.  Coconut cracked conch is fine, much prefer the raw goodness.  “Service can be slow at time” is becoming the norm, but who cares.IMG_8327

Bella Luna Pizza – Stayed in one night to watch Hockey playoffs (the only thing I like more than food).  Thin, underdone, soggy,  super cheesy, desperate need for seasoning, but other than that, we loved it!

Simone’s – Considering this is the first place I wrote about when we came back, yes we liked this newcomer quite a bit.  It wasnt perfect, but very very promising.

Infiniti Bar – This is becoming a favorite for pre-dinner drinks, and sunset.  The drinks are good, and they give you popcorn!

Somewhere – Infamous fish tacos were much better this time, so I’m finally on board.  But something tells me the best thing on the menu is the the fish fajitas especially when they have fresh snapper.  Our friends ordered it, and it looked and smelled amazing.  Ex-friends I should say, since they didnt offer me any!

Seaside – As long as Francois is at the helm, I’ll continue to come.  But out of my favorites, I have the lowest confidence when recommending Seaside, mainly because it doesnt have much of an atmosphere.  Blackened Mahi was nicely cooked.  Not the biggest mahi fan, but this one worked.  A nice new addition to the menu is the excellent open faced ravioli with bay scallops, conch, shrimp, mahi, some truffle oil and mushrooms.  The elusive “South American” (aka Peruvian) conch salad, still the best conch salad on the island.

Seaside Mahi

 

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Turks and Caicos – Le Bouchon du Village

Le Bouchon EscargotI have to confess, last trip wasnt exactly dud free.  In fact, we had quite a few of them, mostly with new spots I wanted to check out (the things I do for you people, and for what?!?).  Le Bouchon du Village in the little picturesque village of “Regent” was most certainty not one of them.  Not exactly a shocker since I choose not to write about duds for various reasons.

In fact this was most likely our favorite meal at Le Bouchon, mainly because we got all our favorite Le Bouchon classics and even added a new one.  As usual my pictures at Le Bouchon look a little stale, mainly because a)  Its a little dark in there, b) we are way to eager to eat the food when it arrives, and c)  I suck at photography.

The classics at Le Bouchon according to moi:

The Escargot pictured above – This is how escargot should taste like everywhere.

The Soups – Both the Conch Chowder and the black bean soup are quite good even at extreme heat

Steak au Poivre – The only restaurant in Provo where steak is a must.  Perfectly executed, melt in your mouth buttery goodness, each time we have it, without fail

The Tuna – Our newest classic.  Fresh, expertly prepared Yellowfin.  Lightly seared to beautiful redness you can only get with fish this fresh, and lightly coated with ginger tomato reduction to take this to the next level.  It came with avocado, other veggies and Jasmine rice which was the perfect compliment.  Great dish

We also had a lovely Snapper, pan seared with light cream.  Mrs Ziggy particularly enjoyed this one.  And for dessert, their rich chocolate tart is always a hit and Profiteroles this time ended one of the most brilliant meals of the trip.  Pictures below followed by the previous post

 

Le Bouchon Tuna Le Bouchon Snapper Le Bouchon Profiteroles Le Bouchon Chocolate Marquise

 

03/13/13 Post…

Time for a Timeline…

Oct 1975 – Curious Ziggy discovers Snails are edible

Dec 2006 – Ziggy discovers Turks and Caicos

July 2009 – Ziggy eats at Caicos Café headed by Frenchman Pierrik Marziou

Oct 12th, 2010 9:34 pm – Ziggy goes on a hunger strike when discovering two Italians take over Caicos Café, Pierrik retires

Oct 12th, 2010 10:15 pm – Hunger strike is over but Ziggy vows not to eat at the new Caicos Café in protest

Dec 2010 – Ziggy eats at the new Caicos Café, gets Ratatouille moment, drops pen

Dec 2012 – Pierrik comes out of retirement, opens Le Bouchon at the village

Dec 2012 – Present – The Golden Years

So there you have it.  Pierrik and his gang are back is what I’m trying to say.  And back with a vengeance…

Le Bouchon - Burger with egg

A Parisian like Bistro on a sidewalk at Regent Village is Le Bouchon.  A family affair, with Pierrik, Julian (son), Justine (daughter) and any other children that start with a J.  Mom is there as well hustling and bustling.  A changing chalkboard menu with plenty to choose from adds to the excitement and the homey atmosphere.  In fact I did the same thing back home starting this week an today on the menu is cereal with 1%!

Le Bouchon - nicoise salad

Le Bouchon - BurgerDuring lunch one day we enjoyed a nice Niçoise salad, and a top eat of the trip nominee burger with egg.  You need to ask for the egg.  With the perfectly cooked sunny side up egg, the result is a messy, juicy goodness oozing with deliciousness.  Good to have this lunch option.

Some of the lunch options are available for dinner as well.  Like the fun Charcuterie board (I love Charcuterie boards – you never know what you getting) with a nice assortment of salami, ham and duck terrine.  Escargot was absolutely delicious! The perfect garlic, butter, herbs balance which very often restaurants cant quite get it right.  I still have garlic breath after that Escargot we had in Brooklyn last week and after eating half a head of garlic at lunch today!Le Bouchon - Charcuterie

Mussels were a big hit that evening as well.  The shrimp a la plancha however was a bit puzzling since it was one large shrimp over risotto. More of a tapa dish really than main. Although the wife and my oldest who ordered it enjoyed it

I went for the steak au poivre which along with the chilean sea bass is a staple on the board I believe. Plate cleaner. Covered with light peppercorn sauce that even made the fries taste great. Cooked medium rare as expected after ordering medium (French undercook) and plenty of flavor.  A month before this meal we ate at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Las Vegas where I had a NY strip with peppercorn sauce.  That NY Strip was twice the price and half the flavor of the steak at Le Bouchon.Le Bouchon - Steak

For dessert the winner was the chocolate mousse which I actually didn’t get to try. That’s how good it was. Tarte tatin (pronounced according to Justin, “Ta”) was good, creme brûlée just ok. Dinner overall – Le Magnifique

Le Bouchon is new but you wouldn’t know it while eating there.  This is one of the only dining options on the island that does not need to rely on tourists alone due to the kind of local following established over the years.  So needless to say I’m not the only one raving about this “addition”.  Bienvenue Pierrik and family!

Recommended dishes: Burger with egg, Escargot, Charcuterie board, Mussels, steak au poivre, chocolate mousse

Le Bouchon - Tarte tatinLe Bouchon - Creme Brulee

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Turks and Caicos – Flamingo’s

Flamingo's Curried Grouper7/25/14 Update: Reaffirming island must status.  As must as it gets in fact in Providenciales.  Besides that celebrated legendary dish, there are a few more reasons to come

1)  Rum Punch.  You know when you see couples walk on the beach holding hands, to make you go “Awwwe”.  Grace Bay can do it to you.  But when Mrs Ziggy and I do it, it usually means she just had the rum punch at Flamingo’s and I’m simply preventing her from walking into an Island Vibes boat.  Those guys aren’t shy with the rum, and the flavor simply kicks ass.

2)  The Curried Grouper.  I already talk about it extensively below.  Arguably the most celebrated dish on the island.  This time around not only it didn’t disappoint but it even had some extra punch.

3)  Everything else is pretty good.  If you are not into seafood than this is not much of a must, but everything else we tried over the years has been anywhere between ok and pretty good.  The ribs are good enough, so is the curried chicken when they have (forgot about what the menu says).  But this time we really liked the Grouper burger.  Nicely seasoned, great flaky texture.  A bit too much bun action so I would just disregard half of it.  Respect the fish!

Flamingo's Grouper Burger Flamingo's Ribs

3/18/13 Post:

The Dish! This one is going to be short and sweet and to the point (plus i’m a little tired from dealing with the Devil Time Warner cable for much of the day)

Whenever I recommend this one on TripAdvisor I always pause for a second to think what exactly is the name of this place.  Is it Flamingo’s, Flamingos, The Flamingos Cafe, Ricky’s Flamingo’s, Inga’s Flamingos?  I’m not really sure.  But I AM sure that its Curry Grouper is one of the top dishes on Providenciales.

Once in a while I eat something that makes me turn into Andrew Zimmern.  The kids get a good kick out of it.  I just shake my head and mumble various Zimmern words that may or may not have anything to do with what I’m tasting… “Its woodsy, its earthy, its gassy”.  Sometimes when I try something for the first time my youngest would say “Well dad, is it woodsy and gassy” Yes!

There’s really not that many dishes on the island that give you that kind of pleasure with every morsel.   Sweet, smooth, savory, melt in your mouth deliciousness.  Like eating the most delicious butter. This is why I come here.

This is also TripAdvisor legend CaribDesi’s favorite dish on the island.  Or one of the favorites at least.  No, I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite.  I hope he’ll clarify with a comment here one of these days.  Get well soon buddy.  We miss you.  Here’s to you.

View from Flamingos

 

 

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TCI – How to Gain 7 Pounds in 7 Days

Seaside - Tuna SashimiLast Update: February 3rd, 2017

Visiting Providecnia..err.. Provo any time soon? Want to know where to eat?  What to eat?  How to pronounce conch?  No worries, good ole’ Ziggy is here to help.  After years of experimenting and taking many for the team I recommend the following 7 day eating itinerary.  Of course, in order to have a great meal there are many variables involved, especially since most of these establishments are geared toward tourists and offer very full menus.  And you just never know when the executive chef leaves on maternity leave (happened) or just leaves (always happens).  Its a probabilities game folks.  And in my humble opinion the odds increase with this plan.  Click on the names where available to see reviews, pictures and suggested dishes.

7 Lunches:

Las Brisas – Starting with the obvious.  I don’t normally recommend places just for the view and I will not start now.  Luckily the food, with a variety of Spanish and Caribbean offerings is pretty good, and the view of stunning Chalk Sound can only help.  Try the killer Lobster Salad when in season.

Hemingway’s – By far my favorite Hemingway’s in the Caribbean (Is there a Caribbean island without one), and one of the better resort restaurants on the island.  Situated in the Sands resort, this reasonably priced old timer has been dishing out those Fish Tacos since.. well… I have no idea actually.  Like, a long time!  Try also the addictive awesomeness they call fish and chips

Flamingo’s – Come here for one of the Island’s most celebrated dishes, the curried grouper.  Add the consistently strong rum punch, and the stunning views and you got yourself a future regular.  But dont make the mistake I did (twice) and come here without cash.  Otherwise, No Grouper For You! (Update:  The now accept CC).  We normally come here for lunch, but sunset dinners are just as grouper friendly.

Bugaloos – Another fun, local spot.  Once you find this one in Five Cays you will get rewarded with one of the best setups on the island.  Some live music on Sunday nights (I believe) and maybe other nights, but we normally come for lunch after Taylor Bay.  Service can give ‘Island Time’ a new meaning, but its worth waiting for the fresher Snapper around.  Try the conch salad (middle picture) as well.

Lupo – Putting this among the lunches since that’s when we go, but something tells me dinners can be even more eventful.  Well, the fresh pasta filled menu told me.  But for lunch you can still enjoy the signature meatballs, the sick romaine lettuce (yes, that’s right, I said romaine lettuce), and don’t leave the island without trying the Lupo Tiramisu.

Sweet T’s – Time to give your wallet a breather.  And I dont mean a little hole in your shorts.  Those you need to say goodbye to.  Ultra cheap Fried Chicken!   It took me some time to add this one here because its not your typical resort lunch, but it’s always our first or last stop with luggage.  As you leave the airport and turn to the main highway, after the flamingo statue, you’ll be greeted by fried chicken scent from the pink building on your right.  You order by the dollar.  $7 chicken and $2 fries will feed a family of 4.

Da Conch Shack – An island institution like no other.  Toes in the sand (pretty sure can cause fungus but well worth it), picnic tables inches from the water.  Conch everywhere including in the water where they grow their own.  Great relaxing vibe.  I’ve had a love, hate, love relationship with the place over the years, but if you havent been, you owe it to yourself to come and be the judge.  Try the jerk wings.

Bonus:  Three Queens – An island staple in Blue Hills since 1970 and the definition of “Local”.  No menu, no problem.  You eat what the glorious Ms Marta (update: retired, hence bonus section, but new cook I was told is just as good, and the fish just as fresh) made that day which could be fresh fish (grouper or snapper), oxtail stew, curried goat, or curried chicken.  You wont see this one on top of other lists (I’m looking at you Trip Advisor) mainly due to the location, but if you are seeking the more adventurous, as local as they come eats, it doesn’t get much better

Bugaloos Conch Salad

7 Dinners:

Caicos Cafe – Starting with one of the musts.  Brilliant, inventive Italian with a Caribbean twist by a mad, menu OCD genius chef/owner Max Olivari.  Pay special attention here to the specials, the right side of the menu, and more importantly pay special attention to the left side of the menu.  Some of the best seafood on the island, like grilled Calamari, Wahoo Carpaccio, grouper special, the pastas, and much more

Coco Bistro – One glance at the dishes floating around and the size of house mascot Coco the cat and you will understand why this place is so popular.  Chances are strong that the island’s favorite dining establishment will make you very happy.  This is where you’ll need to make those rezzies well in advance though.  Psss. You can do so via email but dont tell them I said so.  update:  No ressies?  There’s a new cheaper option in the same parking lot, Cocovan

Le Bouchon – The former Caicos Cafe owner thankfully back in the game.  Sidewalk Parisian Champs-Elysées style without the Parisians and the tourists.  Hmmm, actually now that I think about it its pretty much all Parisians and tourists.  Though I am noticing a growing amount of local following the last few years.  Try the Escargot, and if you don’t try the legendary Steak au Poivre, your homework is incomplete.

Chinson’s Grill Shack  – A 15 minute schlep from the resort area may feel longer in paradise, but its worth it for this Jamaican-Chinese gem (Yes, its a thing), and sea view.  Ok, its more like some hotel advertised sea views, where the meaning is more like “See?  View!” with some sea in the horizon.  But in this case you are mostly overlooking the highway, inside a fun and vibrant shack.  The smooth Mr Chinson is always around to make sure everything is Kosher.  Over the years we settled on the Jerk chicken, pulled pork sandwich, the spiciest curried goat around, and the mixed Fried Rice.  Lunch or dinner in this case, doesnt matter.  We usually do lunch.

Seven –  We keep trying other resort spots on occasion, but Seven continues to be one of the better and more popular fine dining on the island.  Even with rotating chefs over the years, the menu somehow stays intact for the most part.  Try the Vanilla rum butter poached lobster, or the best end of lamb.

Simone’s – A waitress/cook at Sharkbite turned restaurant owner.  This is a mostly local hangout joint, but pale tourists like me are always welcome.  Simone will greet you like she greets her children.  And she will feed you as such too.  Fishermen always around means they are not there for the frozen fish.  So ask whats available outside of the menu, which features some of the best conch salads on the island and a fine snapper.  The fresh Wahoo last time was a Yahooooo!

Caicos Cafe – This is not a mistake.  Yes, I’m listing it twice.  Why recommend a different plan than what we are doing on every single trip.  Go here at the beginning of the week, and if you like it enough, book again on your way out.  Chances are you wont find better.

Or… how about something “local” like the Thursday night fish fry, or Caravel.  Or perhaps a splurge at Coyaba, another island institution.  Maybe experience the classic Tuna with sunset at Magnolia, or Via Veneto for the most authentic Italian menu on the island.

A special mention for Breakfast and light lunch:  Caicos Bakery near Caicos Cafe.  Nice Baguettes, quiches, almond croissants and more.  Pick up some sandwiches at Julien’s deli for the flight back.  You’ll be the envy of every other passenger, guaranteed!

Hope it helps.  Stay hungry my friends!

Bay Bistro Pecan Crusted Conch

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Caicos Cafe – More Sea-food-gasm

Caicos Cafe beef tartarPreviously on as Caicos Cafe turns

Sometime between the second and third course of the first meal, I made an executive decision.  Scrapping the plan to only go to Caicos Cafe once on this trip in order to give someone new a shot.  A plan I was never comfortable with, and the most likely cause of my Shingles.  Crisis averted, vacation saved.  Ok, a bit melodramatic I know.  But Ziggy’s mind is a mysterious and complex labyrinth, that produces joy via creating anticipations on a whim.

Caicos Cafe in a way represents everything I love about eating in places like Turks and Italy.  A masterful use of “backyard” ingredients by a talented chef, and the perfect formula.  A formula helped by a menu that screams for repeat visits.  A nice mix of old and brand new awesomeness during the recent visit….

Caicos Cafe - Troccoli

Jumbo scallops wrapped in pancetta (bacon for those scoring at home or if you’re alone) on a bed of green pea purée.  Expertly prepared, perfectly cooked scallops.  Goat cheese roll and butternut squash Brie tart with walnuts, sundried apricot, mushroom vinaigrette.  Somehow, I never got to try this so I can only go by Mrs Ziggy’s facial expressions and the words coming out of her mouth… “Ooh yum mmmm ooh need to go peepee”.  I think it was good.

It’s listed on the menu as a yellow tail snapper but we got a fresh grouper instead, prosecco flambeed with all sorts of seafood delights including some tasty bay scallops.  Another great dish showcasing Mad Max’s skills.  A dish of the year nominee for me was a new addition to the menu, Troccoli with octopus.  Troccoli pasta is homemade with a guitar like instrument (Chitarra) pressed against the dough sheet.  It looks and tastes like the Tuscan Pici but with egg and must be cooked more al dente.  With a super tender tasty Octopus (he uses another tool to tenderize the sucker) and Max’s signature roasted tomatoes to balance things out, the entire creation cooked in the locally caught octopus juices.   Simply fantastic!

Caicos Cafe - Wahoo Carpaccio

On the last night there it was again on the specials board, Wahoo Carpaccio.  People if you ever see it on the board and you love seafood, you must order this.  Whenever Max gets fresh Wahoo I believe he puts it up there.  Expertly done with a touch of pink peppercorn, melt in your mouth sea butter foodgasm when harry met sally worthy of a run on sentence goodness.  Another top dish nominee was the beef tartar.  It was tough taking pictures of this one with the strong truffle oil (first time I see truffle oil used here) scent slapping you in the face.  I was just anxious to attack this thing with full force.  Served with toasted baguettes this was another killer tartar (as is the tuna we enjoyed in the past).  The conch and grouper chowder while lacking the spices of Le Bouchon’s version it more than made up for it with hefty chunks of grouper and conch

Seafood Casserole was the last menu classic I haven’t tried yet, and turned out to be well deserved of the classic tag.  Like a glorious bouillabaisse, with every seafood known to man in it.  Or at least every seafood known to south Caicos fisherman.  A sauce you just want to dip anything in, fingers, room keys, anything.  Lobster linguine fra diavolo was as good as ever, but with an extra kick this time seems like.  Shared Ziggy’s fave Affogato (thats what it says on the menu.  Ok, not really, still working on it) and the mango apple tart, possibly my two favorite desserts at the moment.

Caicos Cafe - Chowder Caicos Cafe - Scallops Caicos Cafe - Grouper Caicos Cafe - lobster fra diavolo Caicos Cafe SeafoodCaicos Cafe - Apple Mango Tart

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Turks and Caicos – Bugaloo’s

Bugaloos - Conch SaladThere were 3 major milestones during our recent visit…

1) I rediscovered the joy of traveling to Provo without kids.  Sorry kids, its fun to go with you, but its Soooo much more fun to go without, and now that you are eating like mom and dad its so much more affordable too.  The 11 year old would call the manager if she detects her 40 oz. rib eye was not aged properly

2) I discovered a new passion – Beach Yoga!

3) I finally got my conch at Bugaloos in a conch shell.

Bugaloos - Snapper

Besides yet another wonderful conch salad, one of the best things I ate during the entire trip was the freshly caught whole red snapper sautéed with some coconut milk, onions, pepper and garlic.  Great texture, flaky, simply mouthwatering piece of fish.  The light sauce was just the perfect compliment, letting the fish do the talking.  We attacked this beauty in full force.

March 3rd, 2013 post:

Bugaloo'sSo now that this blog has been featured on Trip Advisor, and now that baby Ziggy decided to run for pope, I feel like I have to clean up my act here a little and limit the use of smiley faces.  Just had to let you all know.  You already see the changes reflected in the new site tagline – “Eating Well, Spelling Poorly” which makes no sense whatsoever now that I think about it as I use a spellcheck.  But whatever…

Bugaloo's

My mission on this trip was to try some new places like Bugaloo’s.  Its hard to leave the resort during lunch time, but while the rest of the family is ‘liming’ by the beach, Ziggy has people to see, new conch to try.

The food was terrific.. I think.  Its hard to concentrate sometimes when you are eating with great people in a setup such as this.  No need for Sevantix here!  One of the most spectacular setups in TCI.

I enjoyed my conch salad (bottom) although it was missing some of that heat I was hearing about.  But it was fresh and tasty.  Conch (pronounced “Conk” if you are scoring at home or even if you are alone) salad to me is the best way to experience conch on the islands.  Peruvian ceviche style.  Coconut Cracked conch (below) was fine as well but if I have to choose I’d go with the conch salad.

Bugaloo's - Coconut Cracked Conch

I was here with my new friends Joe and Dash who I met via Trip Advisor.  Everything went well until they started ‘seeing things’.  Mainly fish doing somersaults.  “There it was again, did you see it?”, “Ahhm, ye I saw it” 🙄  But other than that, you will be hard pressed to find a couple as great and better looking if I may say than this two.  What a pleasure it was to meet them.

I’ve been very fortunate to meet some great people through Trip Advisor.  From RedRox in Sedona to Blamona in TCI.  And I’m so looking forward to meeting more like my friend CaribDesi from Atlanta.  If you knew CaribDesi you would know that a place like Bugaloo’s is right up his alley.  Get well soon Desi!  And I’ll see you in Three Queens.Bugaloo's - Conch Salad

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Turks and Caicos – Garam Masala

Garam Masala2

January 19, 2014 Update:

Garam delivered yet again.  The new manage who I call “The New Vinni” (because I keep forgetting his name) took good care of us.  The new standout dish this time was a very nice Kerala Chicken Masala that was growing on me until I grew a little.  Complex, flavor packed stuff that I was enjoying more an hour later via a series of pleasant little burbs just like the ones after the Alba White Truffles at the NoMad a few months ago.  The infamous conch Kebabs are no longer on the menu.  A shortage of fresh conch according the New Vinni.

BTW, Old Vinni is up to something but not quite sure what.  Stay tuned! (dont know to what exactly, its just an expression)

Garam Masala - Kerala

Garam MasalaGaram Masala - naanMarch 16, 2013 post:

I was dead wrong about Garam Masala!

As you probably guessed by now, I, Ziggy, just Ziggy no last name, like Seal, LOVE to eat.  I love to eat and I really care about what I’m eating on a holiday (No worries I didnt turn British, just play one on the Telly).  And while away we often try to eat things that are not easily available back home (e.g., Grouper, Conch).  So you see where I’m going with this.  Indian, Thai, Chinese food is something we eat almost on a weekly basis back home, and therefore it’s the last thing I consider eating while on vacation.  Garam MasalaAlso, after many years of trial and error, and palate refinement, I sort of figured out where to get some pretty darn good Indian, Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan, middle eastern, you name, it in NYC.  Therefore, when I see an Indian restaurant on an island somewhere where its quite possibly the only Indian there, 3 thoughts come to mind…

1)  This cant be good.  They have no other competition here.

2)  I would probably eat here weekly if I lived here and its decent

3)  I’m sort of getting hungry

Similar thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the new Shawarma and Falafel place that just opened right next to Patty’s Place at Ports of Call.  Yours truly is truly a Shawarma and Falafel whore snob fan.

So as you can imagine I needed a little convincing from various island friends over the years to come to Garam Masala.  I was very close last year, and this year I finally took that pilgrimage to Tikka Masala Holy Land (i.e., 10 minutes from the Seven Star beach – its hard to leave that beach in the middle of the day)

Garam Masala - outsideFirst of all the place looks very modern.  Last year they closed for a few months to renovate and it really looks very inviting now.  Part owner Vinnie, former food and beverage head at Amanyara knows his stuff and is very passionate about what he’s serving and how.  Everything is made to order using “real” ingredients which he purchases in Chicago every few months.

Garam Masala - Conch kebabsGaram Masala - PizzaI can honestly say the food was absolutely delicious.  Started with some nice and spicy conch kebabs (above) which had the texture and flavor of the best Falafel you will ever eat. Their Chicken Tikka “pizza” on naan bread was very satisfying.  We are naan junkies and their garlic naan is some of the best we’ve had.

Chicken Tikka Masala (below) is perhaps a dish I’ve eaten more than any other in the world.  I’ve had it mostly in various restaurants in NYC, in London (Indian food heaven) and eat it by my work often.  I could tell when this one arrived by its color that it will be good.  The only not telling part was the tenderness and texture of the meat which can be often dry and chewy.   This was as close to perfect as I can remember.

Garam Masala - dishesDal Makhani was probably even better.  They cook the lentils for 12 hours each night and the result is a flavor festival.  As with the Tikka Masala, heat is not very present and not very needed (Indian food is not necessarily about heat).  Lamb Kadhai, thick stew like with some heat and big complex flavors was another winner.  I kept going back and forth between the lamb and and the Dal saying “this is my favorite. No this is my favorite”, while the Masala was staring at me going “come to Mama..”.  Another tasty snack here is the Chicken kebabs, although if I have to choose I’ll take those conch kebabs thank you.

Garam Masala

After the meal I did not feel like I just ate something heavy as I often do at home.  A fantastic lunch!  This is closer to some of the better Curry Hill or even Michelin Star establishments in NYC.   To understand the type of dedication by Vinnie all you need to do is ask him about how he found his chefs.  He went back to India to look for the chefs that worked in the restaurant he frequented as a kid with his parents, only to find that one of them is working in Japan while the other in Dubai.  The story itself is worth the price of admission.

So yes, I was wrong about this one, and highly highly (thats 2 highlys!) recommend Garam Masala in Providenciales.  Cant wait for more.

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Turks and Caicos – Jerkey’s

Jerkies - Goat CurrySailing Paradise no more.  It is now Jerkey’s located in what’s becoming Provo’s Restaurant Row on the road between Seven Stars and Leeward Highway.  We sampled more of the same between the two of us.  Same sublime Jerk Chicken – moist, juicy, and flavor packed, especially once you add their homemade Jamaican sauce.  Still my favorite Jerk on the island.  We eat it as if its the last day on the Mayan calendar.  Same goes for the succulent, “Sarah Jessica Parker” boney Goat Curry.  At some point I looked at both dishes and had to make a Sophie’s choice.   BTW, if you dont see something on the menu like the Jerk Chicken, or the Caribbean platter featured in the Top 7 dishes in WhereWhenHow, ask for itJerkies - Jerk Chicken

Although we enjoyed this lunch and Jerkey’s is now much closer, I and others I know very much miss the magical Sailing Paradise location.  You can still visit those colorful huts, and who knows perhaps the tables are still there so bring some Jerkey’s takeout and a small oven

March 26th, 2013 Sailing Paradise post…

Sailing

What a difference a year makes!

For the first time ever we opted to do something different on our last morning in Provo.  Instead of sit by the beach and drag the agony, only to continue the agony at the airport, staring at the array of Pringles (i.e., lunch) at the terminal store trying to remember our favorite flavors, I decided to leave a little earlier and head to Sailing Paradise for a final feast.  And what a feast this was.

Last April, a few weeks after Sailing Paradise reopened with new owners after being closed for some time, we were sitting there discovering our new favorite local spot.  It was just the 4 of us and I remember a lady approach Orville, the man in charge, and ask him “Well? do they like it?”.   Well, I think we like it even more today.  Orville, owner, chef, and sometimes driver (more on that) told me there were moments last year where shutting down looked like the only option.  This is not exactly prime location as far as Provo dining goes which is why Orville offers a free shuttle service to the beach potatoes of Grace Bay to bring them to Blue Hills.  He does not have much a choice here.

Sailing Paradise - The PlatterAnd on this particular lunch we discovered the Caribbean Platter, i.e., The Dish, the mother of all combos, the Kila of Manila (my childhood dream was to be a WWE announcer).  Seriously folks this is one sick dish (British readers – sick means good) and the most likely leader of the number of times we said “OMG, this is F**ing good” during a meal.  Jerk chicken, jerk pork, fried fish (lightly fried grouper, so so good.  Is this Escovitch?), goat curry, plantains, rice and peas.

This is my favorite jerk on the island.  Juicy, tender seasoned to perfection, and with that homemade Jamaican sauce (if they dont bring it, ask for it) you got this finger licking, heavenly goodness of the Caribbean.  The pork was more of the same.  It looks dry, but its moist and tasty.  And then there was the goat curry (not pictured, I ate it all) with all that goat glory, a joy ride with every morsel.  Easily best dish of the trip nominee.  Screw you Pringles – OriginalSailing Paradise - Fish Tacos

We also enjoyed some tasty “fish tacos” (more like wraps actually pictured above).  Or according to my iPhone auto correct, Fish Racists! Those auto corrections are so bizarre sometimes (Reminiscing over “Doomsday and Seven Stars are gorgeous!!”  Doomsday of course means Somerset).

Now here’s the thing, obviously all this was made to order as it should be.  But I’ve been to some local places where the jerk chicken for example was great one day and dry the next.  I suspect in Sailing Paradise you will get better consistency for the same reason Orville has to drive you there.

So check it out everybody.  And check out the Dish.  Here’s more from Sailing Paradise at Blue Hills

Sailing ParadiseSailing ParadiseSailing Paradise

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