by Erin and Xani
We're back from paradise! We had a great time and a few good meals over the week. While Xani and co-worker Mike worked for the first few days, EP explored the resort and enjoyed the beach and the palm trees. But once Wednesday afternoon came around, everyone was on vacation! We explored the island and went snorkeling on the reef! Stay tuned for more about the second half of our trip in a post coming soon...
When we landed in St. Croix, we departed our tiny plane and felt the heat and humidity immediately! STX is a tiny island with a few quirky features: first, they drive on the left (a big thank you to Mike who drove the whole time and mastered the windy roads!); second, everything closes early (6:00 for stores, 9:00 for restaurants - no late-night dining for us!); third, there are very few signs on the roads and its difficult to find anything, anywhere; fourth, everyone is on island time, mon. The last one we could handle; the others took some getting used to!
We arrived at our hotel, the Buccaneer, checked into our tennis villas, and then headed down to the beach-side cafe called The Mermaid.
The view from our room
We were starving after our flights and wanted to try some local fare. First we ordered drinks and the conch fritters, which were a lot heavier and dough-ier than we were expecting. They were also served atop a bunch of sauces, one of which was ketchup...hmm. I don't think that's traditional? But whatever.
Beer from the nearby St. John
Then Mike and EP ordered the cuban sandwich, and Xani ordered the Mediterranean plate with hummus, veggies, and a couscous salad. The cubans were delicious: cheesy, meaty, and crispy on the outside. The fries were "meh." Xani's hummus was surprisingly delicious, though the couscous was pretty bland.
For dessert, we ordered their layered sorbet, with raspberry, mango, and coconut sorbets, or so they claimed. The sorbets were good but not amazing. The amazing part was the SAUCE on the plate! It was a delicious mango sauce that was so good, Mike literally licked his plate clean.
After lunch we relaxed on the beach for a while even though it was late in the day.
Then we retired to our rooms, where we quickly discovered that the TV channel selection sucked: no Food Network, and no BRAVO! Gasp! So, we called the concierge, and they brought us a DVD player, and we watched The Wire all week. Whew - crisis averted.
Our second night there, we went to an absolutely wonderful restaurant called ¡Salud! ¡Salud! is a "Mediterranean bistro" with a comfortable but upscale vibe.
Instead of ordering main dishes, we ordered a bunch of appetizers and a salad. But first, we got some delicious bread and olive oil (garnished with a mustard "S" - cute!).
One of the first things that arrived was the Pork Rillettes, described as "potted pork paté served with whole grain mustard, cornichons, and sour cherry chutney." The pork was very flavorful and rich (in a good way - yay pork fat!), and went beautifully with the sweetness of the sour cherry chutney, or the tanginess of the mustard. Everything was served on crunchy crostini, which added yet another dimension of texture.
Then we had the Cornmeal Dusted Fried Calamari, which was also excellent. The cornmeal coating added great texture and reminded us of the fried oysters and clams we've made at home. Mmm...calamari is the best! (Sorry, no good pics of the calamari...) Next we enjoyed "Salud's Decadent Mac and Cheese." Why is it decadent, you ask? Because in addition to the lovely cheesiness, it is made with mushrooms and truffle oil! Yum!! It was very decadent and totally irresistible.
Our most favorite dish of the meal, however, was the Mediterranean Meze Platter, which included hummus, baba ghanoush, white bean roasted garlic spread, spicy feta dip, and fried chickpeas. OMG this was amazing!! The baba ghanoush was some of the best we've ever had, and the spicy feta dip was very unique and very delicious.
To give our arteries a brief break, we ordered the Panzanella Salad, made with greens, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olives, and of course, delicious homemade croutons. While this was good, it paled in comparison to everything else we ordered.
One of the benefits of ordering a few starters instead of full meals is that you are more likely to have room for dessert! We each ordered something: Mike ordered the Mango Cobbler, topped with homemade shortbread and vanilla ice cream; Xani ordered the Homemade Profiterole, with toasted almond brown butter semifreddo and cardamom caramel sauce; and Erin ordered the Tres Leches Cake, soaked with coconut rum cream sauce and topped with toasted coconut. All of the desserts were great, but Xani's dessert was delicous and so unique. The profiterole was crunchy and the semifreddo was not too icy and had the toasted almonds in it, and then the caramel cardamom sauce was such a great accompaniment. We are drooling as we write this! We need to get this chef to open a restaurant in Baltimore - stat!
Profiterole with toasted almond semifreddo and cardamom caramel
Tres leches cake
It was a great meal in St. Croix, with so many delicious and interesting dishes. We were discussing the unexpected presence of Mediterranean and middle eastern foods in St. Croix, and we later learned that in the 1700s, when the Danes bought the island, they were very tolerant of different religions, and attracted a small population of Spanish Sephardic Jews. Who knew?
Stay tuned for another STX post about the second half of our vacation coming soon! And thanks to everyone for all the comments! We missed you and we're glad to be back where things are NORMAL!
EP & X