I woke up extra early on my third day in the British Virgin Islands. The wedding that Seher and I had traveled to Tortola for was later in the day, but we had plans to check out neighboring Carrot Bay first. Our housemates had tipped us on Cruzin, a roti restaurant in Carrot Bay, so we made the hour-long walk over in hopes of catching an early lunch. The gorgeous scenery made the hike on an empty stomach worth it.
Unfortunately, Cruzin turned out to be closed, and so was every other restaurant in Carrot Bay. One of the more curious things about the British Virgin Islands are the odd hours at its eateries: many require you to call a day ahead of time to make a reservation to ensure they’ll be open, presumably so that the chef can prepare the ingredients ahead of time.
Luckily for us, there was one lone stand in Carrot Bay selling saltfish and bread; Seher and I ordered a plate and shared it on the beachside curb before heading back to Apple Bay.
The bread was a little stale but the saltfish was flavorful and cooked with fresh peppers. A splash of vinegary pepper sauce spiced things up even more.
Back at the vacation house, we got ready for the wedding and made our way to the wedding site, but not before stopping at another roadside stand at the bottom of the hill. Our housemates had told us about this one too, open only one day a week. The woman behind the stand had cooked everything, from the johnny cakes to the barbecued chicken to the stewed shrimp.
I got a box of stewed oxtail, stewed conch, baked macaroni and cheese, and a johnny cake. The conch was was really soft and almost gelatinous, but interesting to try nonetheless. The oxtail was incredible: super tender and coated with a rich, savory meaty sauce. That and the johnny cake together was my favorite thing to eat on this trip.
After the beautiful beach wedding ceremony, dinner was held at the Sugar Mill Hotel’s restaurant, the site of the wedding which also used to be 370-year old sugar stone mill. Reputedly one of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, I was excited to try their island fusion cuisine. For my appetizer, I chose the roast duck breast.
Served with banana chutney and cilantro, this was absolutely delicious. I don’t even like cilantro, but I loved this appetizer. The duck was lean and flavorful and the banana chutney was a surprisingly excellent accompaniment. I wouldn’t mind a jar all to myself.
For salad, I was served a Caesar-esque plate of hearts of romaine.
Topped with bacon, brioche croutons and tossed in a garlic anchovy aioli, this was good. Caesar salads can be run of the mill, but the Sugar Mill made this stand out by using high-quality ingredients.
My entree was the vanilla poached shrimp, which I ordered because I was so curious about the vanilla-seafood pairing.
The restaurant gets major bonus points for serving the shrimp with their heads on, which I love (plus, it adds flavor), but as it turns out, vanilla poached shrimp is a little too sweet for my taste. The dish was served with steamed vegetables, saffron risotto, mango chutney, in keeping with a sweet theme.
Weather in BVI can be stifling even at night, so I chose the trio of sorbet and ice cream for dessert.
I’m so glad I did. This was refreshing and the highlight was the extra-creamy pistachio ice cream that was as good as my other favorite pistachio ice cream (Haagen-Dazs in case you’re wondering).
After dinner, the wedding party headed to the Bomba Shack, a beachside bar famous for its monthly full moon parties where they give out mushroom tea. There was no full moon when we showed up though, but the shack was still lots of fun. And oh, it really is a shack.
We were exhausted by the end of the evening, so we called for a cab to take us back up the hill and called it a night. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, it felt like time travels faster in BVI – we only had one full day left on the islands.