Ever since I visited Jamaica last year, I’ve been enamored with the Caribbean and couldn’t wait to go back. Belize and Trinidad and Tobago are at the top of my list, and honestly, I hadn’t really planned on visiting the British Virgin Islands. But when the opportunity presented itself a few months ago, I couldn’t resist. And that’s how I ended up spending a few days in BVI in May with my friend Seher for a beautiful wedding and exploring the islands.
The mosquito bites are still fading but I’m wishing I was still there. Getting to BVI, though, was another story. After a “random” but very brief detainment in SFO (I like to think of it as a free massage), we stopped over in Boston, then San Juan, Puerto Rico, before making our way to Beef Island Airport in BVI. The entire journey took about a full day, and the highlight was finding beef empanadillas at an airport stand in San Juan.
I don’t expect much from airport food, but this was hands-down the best I’ve ever had. Filled with a savory ground beef and potato filling, these flavorful empanadillas were encased in a super-flaky shell. They held me over until Seher and I arrived in BVI. The short flight to BVI was an adventure in itself: we flew in a small propeller plane. But hey, at least the view was amazing.
After passing through customs, we got a cab to take us to our vacation home in Spyglass Hill where a few members of the wedding party were also staying. Spyglass Hill overlooks Apple Bay, on the main island of Tortola. I don’t think I could have asked for a more picturesque view.
Nightfall soon arrived and we were famished. We joined up with the larger group and had dinner at the bottom of the hill at Sebastian’s on the Beach. Even though the food caters mostly to American travelers, it was fresh and tasty. We started with the conch fritters.
These were delicious. I’d tried to get conch fritters when I was in Negril last year, only to find they were sold out everywhere I went. The fritters had a semi-spongy texture, and were flecked with chopped bits of tender conch. A spicy, creamy dipping sauce rounded things out.
We also shared a plate of fried calamari as an appetizer.
The batter on these was much crispier than what calamari is usually fried in. They were delicious though – briny and tender, and gone in minutes.
For my entree, I chose the garlic shrimp with lentil rice.
The garlic shrimp was, well, garlicy. It came doused in a rich sauce that was a little too oily for my taste, but otherwise good. The lentil rice tasted similar to adas polo, an Iranian lentil pilaf and was a good vehicle for soaking up the shrimp’s juices.
Fully sated, we were exhausted after our day-long journey and drove back up the hill to get some rest. I had no trouble going to bed: a humming fan and the sound of waves crashing lulled me right to sleep.