Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
Full of Good Food and Fond Memories
on April 23, 2006
I had been eyeing this book for quite awhile, for more than a year actually, because my husband and I were going to the BVI for our honeymoon. When we finally went on our honeymoon, through dumb luck and fate, we got a room down the road from the Sugar Mill, and we decided to go to their famous restaurant for a night out. That night out turned into one of the most fantastic, memorable dining experiences we'd ever had... The night was like something out of a fancy movie. Blown away by the food, I bought the cookbook at the gift shop after dinner. Flipping through it in the hotel, I almost couldn't wait to go home and try out some of their recipes. I ended up scribbling down drink mixes we had when we went out and about town in the BVI, so this cookbook has turned into a honeymoon food scrapbook for me.
Now, I know that back story makes me a little biased, but I have to say that even if I just bought it without going to the restaurant, I'd still think this cookbook is superb. It's so clearly written and each recipe has a little paragraph "bio" associated with it discussing either its creation, history, or interesting info on the ingredients or the tradition behind the food. That little paragraph adds to the local color and feel that resonates through this whole cookbook. You can almost taste and feel the Caribbean when you read this book. Another thing I really like is that this book will give you the recipe as it's served at their restaurant, adding to the authentic feel of the book... But the book also acknowledges that some of the ingredients easily available to them in the BVI might be hard to impossible to find on the mainland, so they give you feasible substitutions that don't hurt the taste or presentation at all. Also included are little blurbs on the various Caribbean islands, customs, or other interesting facts.
I'd say most of these recipes are what I like to call "grown-up recipes." Meaning, not all of them you'll throw together in 30 minutes, that these recipes are sophisticated, adult foods that will probably require a little planning and time, perfect for special occasions (or a nice dinner you'd like to feel like a special occasion). I know this is a big negative for some people, but for me it's nice to own a recipe book that involves some serious cooking. I own far too many cookbooks with recipes that call for throwing together various canned soups and canned vegetables, or other processed foods like Bisquick or freezer rolls, and baking it for 30 minutes, and serving. It's nice to have a recipe book that doesn't include 45 different ways to use "cream of" Campbell's soups, and talks about cooking with things like star fruit and plantains and all sorts of exotic fruits and ingredients you see at the grocery store and wonder "I wonder what you use that for?" :D This is certainly a "from scratch" cookbook, not a "30 minute meals" sort of deal.
The categories in this book are: Sunrise Specials (breakfast foods), Snacks, Nibbles, and Island Appetizers, Carnival of Soups, Calypso Salads and Side Dishes, Pastas Under the Palms, From the Fish Pot (seafood), Birds of Paradise (poultry), Tropical Meat Waves (all other meat), Sugar Island Sweets (desserts), and Trade Wind Cocktails (an essential for summer parties as it's the drink recipes... :D). Some of my favorite recipes are curried citrus rice, christophene and sausage filled flank steak, lime cream pasta, pina colada pancakes and cake (the latter being my husband's new favorite birthday cake), lobster chowder, and conch chowder. And I have a list of "need to try" recipes from this book as long as my arm.
I love this cookbook. It's the BVI wrapped up in a 245 page book. There are only two downsides as far as I can see to this book... The first one being that it doesn't include this awesome drink recipe that we had while we were there and are just dying to have again but nobody knows how to make... And the second being that every time I cook something from it, my husband and I remember how much fun we had and how beautiful this restaurant was, and then we start missing Tortola terribly... :)