This is the second installment of Barbados Naked series. Read Part 1 here.
Food and Cooking Barbados style
You can eat well on the island – some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean are along the West Coast but you really should venture out from the tourist areas if you want to really ‘taste’ Barbados.
Local food also has its own strong tradition in Barbados, and this can be interesting to experience. Most hotels have a weekly buffet of local food, which gives a taster. Barbadian food is quite hearty, with stews accompanied by rice ‘n’ peas or hefty vegetables such as plantain or sweet potato.
Being an island there are of course plenty of fish dishes, but a favorite is flying fish, which is served steamed in a tasty but light onion and tomato based sauce on coo-coo (not unlike polenta, made from cornmeal and okra) or the fish is seasoned with Bajan Seasoning (a blend of spring onions, thyme, marjoram, onions, garlic, black pepper, spices and salt, which you can buy in any local supermarket) and then dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and pan fried. A flying fish cutter (local saltbread roll with salad) is very popular, and is usually enhanced by a dash of the local yellow pepper sauce.Black pudding and souse, a local delicacy, is very much a special treat in Barbados.
The black pudding is a blood sausage with sweet potato and herbs and the accompanying souse is pickled pig’s head and trotters (thankfully, many places substitute this with more traditional cuts of pork) with cucumber and breadfruit. Such local fare is most often found at street festivals, rum shops, and on occasions even at fresh food counters at supermarkets. A well-loved late evening out is Baxter’s Road in Bridgetown, where you can get a fish or seasoned chicken fried on a brazier served with macaroni pie, grilled corn or other vegetables, such as coleslaw. Over recent years, the spot for local food has become the Fish Fry at Oistins, a fishing village on the South Coast, which sees a nice mix of locals and visitors and makes a fun and cheap early evening out. In fact there are a number of places with a Friday night fish fry. At Six Men’s Bay in the north of the island you can go along to the fish fry with a bottle of wine and cutlery provided by the Fish Pot Restaurant.
True to form, the restaurants along the West Coast of Barbados are smart, quality and expensive. You can eat well there, putting paid to the Caribbean’s traditional image of ‘burger-tory’. The West Coast restaurants also have excellent settings, either on the cliffs or directly onto the sand and the ocean. There are some good growers on the island, producing local salads and herbs as well as normal tropical produce.
Unfeasibly, chefs in Barbados can get fresh ingredients from the States and Europe, delivered on a weekly cargo plane. And the fishermen in Barbados actually carry mobile phones and phone back their catch, which enables the restaurateurs to plan their specials menus properly. The south coast also has some good places to eat, along with a whole string of less expensive bars where you can get a reasonable meal.
While VAT will be included in the price of your meal, restaurants have different policies about service charge. Sometime it is written on the menu, but you may want to check whether service has already been included in your bill.
What follows is personal gastronomic trip. You can follow it or you can select your own places to visit, I know that selecting restaurants can be a personal issue but my recommendations are there for you to try.
Cafe Indigo, Holetown, t 432 0968
Located upstairs with traditional wooden floors and jalousie shutters. Relaxed atmosphere for breakfast or lunch.
Calabaza, Prospect, t 424 4557
Classic cliffside setting on the West Coast, top notch cuisine in an eclectic mix, run by the amiable Peter ‘Huggie’ Harris.