by Erin and Xani
After the first half of the week in St. Croix, Xani and Mike were done with their work obligations and it was time for us to explore the island! We had heard about a burger place called Off the Wall Bar & Grill, rumored to have great burgers and pizza, where they take the phrase "no shoes, no shirt, no problem" quite literally. We hopped in our rental car, stayed to the left, and headed to the central northern shore (getting lost along the way, of course).
We pulled up and saw picnic tables in the sand and the surf splashing up about 10 feet away. We took a seat at one of the multi-colored picnic tables and ordered some ice cold Cokes and some chips and salsa. There's nothing like a Coke on a hot day with your toes in the sand!
Although the pizzas looked good, we all ordered cheeseburgers since we had heard the burgers were really good and our hopes were high. The verdict? They were great! The patties were definitely hand-formed, the cheese was melty, and the burgers were cooked well, though a bit overdone (more like medium instead of the medium-rare we ordered). The sesame-seed buns were toasted really nicely and added a nice extra crunch to each bite. According to Xani's ongoing Burger Rating System, she gives the burger an 8 out of 10 burgers. Not bad!
We hung around near the water for a few minutes and then hopped back in the car to return to the resort.
We ended up getting a late start for lunch, so by the time we got back to the resort, it was nearly 5:00pm. We went down to the beach near our room for a few minutes, just in time for sunset. It was so beautiful, we couldn't resist having a little photo shoot!
We weren't hungry for dinner again until well after 9:00pm, when everything closes, so what did we do for dinner? We shared a Coke. Mmm, 60-calorie dinner.
The next day, we went on an all-day boating and snorkeling trip!! We went with a company called Big Beard's, which Xani originally heard about through a Chowhound thread, and it was sooo great. We got super-lucky and there were only 8 of us on the boat (which could have held 27 people)! We headed out to Buck Island, an island to the north of St. Croix with a reef on the west side. First we went to Turtle Beach on the east side of the island to try out our snorkeling gear and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean! Next, we headed over to the reef, which is a National Park, and began the snorkeling! It was incredible - we saw so many kinds of fish, including a HUGE school of beautiful blue fish, some barracuda, a few squid, a conch (which Xani almost stole but then realized (a) there was a living creature in it, and (b) as a National Park, it was probably a violation to take anything), among many others we can't name.
After snorkeling, we sailed to a private beach for a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled mahi, and rum punch, while surrounded by mongoose (the squirrels of the Caribbean). We played in a the clear, bright-blue water for a while longer, and then returned to port in Christiansted.
We returned to the resort, assessed the severity of our sunburns (status: SEVERE; bright, angry red skin), and relaxed for a bit before our last dinner in St. Croix. We chose to go back into Christiansted for dinner, and ended up at Zebo's Wine Bar, an open-air wine bar with a delicious-looking menu. Again, we ordered a bunch of starters instead of any main dishes. First, we ordered Local Spiny Lobster Ceviche, with lobster marinated in lime, garlic, cilantro, red onion, bell pepper, and ginger, served in a crispy wonton cup. Unfortunately, we found the ceviche to be pretty bland, though the crispy wonton was an interesting touch.
Next, we got the Spicy Grilled Scallops, which were coated in a spice mixture and served atop a parmesan-basil risotto cake and drizzled with a mango gastrique. This was a great dish, and EP's favorite. The scallops had great flavor from the spice, and the risotto was cooked to a perfect al dente.
Next, we ordered the Mediterranean Calamari, which was interesting because the calamari was neither fried nor grilled, but rather it was marinated with kalamata olives, roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. The squid was very tender and took on a lot of the flavors, including the flavor of the balsamic vinaigrette.
Then we had the Duck Napoleon, which was layers of duck confit, goat cheese, and crispy wontons. The napoleon was served over greens with a blueberry-truffle vinaigrette and crispy leeks. This dish was interesting but not amazing.
We wanted to order the Sweetbreads, but they were out. Then we wanted to order a Local Sweet Potato Salad, but they were out of that too. We ended up getting the Tomato Tower, which was a "tower" made of local tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic syrup. The tomatoes were great and fresh, and the mozzarella was creamy and light. A very good caprese salad indeed.
For dessert, we bypassed the creme brulee and tiramisu and went for the classic: vanilla ice cream. Mmmm!
It was a wonderful and relaxing trip, and we had some great meals along the way. Our sunburns have faded (a bit), and we are glad to be back in Charm City, but we certainly miss the beach!
EP & X