I just got back from a trip to Anguilla, specifically the CuisinArt Resort & Spa. It was a surprise 30th birthday gift from my wife...who combined my love of the cooking/eating, the Caribbean and organic produce.
Former chef at Le Grenouille and Gustavinos, Daniel Orr and sous chef Christopher Heath, now run CuisinArt's organic gardens and restaurants as well as the cooking classes they offer daily. They use the produce from, but do not manage, the humongous hydroponic garden (the only one of its kind in the Caribbean).
Here's a brief rundown of the trip, focusing mostly on the food, of course.
Arrive at around 4:45pm. Check in to the CuisinArt H&S, grab complimentary cocktail, go directly to beach to catch a few last rays of sun. Eat dinner at Tapas bar: Pescatore pizza (seafood), calamari (wow - best I've ever had), hydroponic crudite, organic hummus, and some other things. All very good. Hang out a bit...go to bed early.
Wake up early. Breakfast. Go to beach for a few hours. 11:00am - 3:00pm = hands on cooking class. Anguill-Asian cusine. We learned to cook the following (and subsequently ate it with several bottles of wine. Only 3 people in the class).
* Tom Yom Goong with local seafood and organic herbs
* Lemongrass-Caramel flank steak
* Old Ta Papaya Salad
* Jasmine Pilaf, Garlic chives and marigold petals.
* Tropical fruit skewers, vanilla bean ice cream
3:00pm-5:30 - hang out at beach. At 3:20 on the dot, they bring you sorbets as you sit on the beach.
6:00-7:00 - Managers reception. Terrific food and cooking display: how to make Pineapple Rum. Lots of wine, rum and delicious "local" finger foods.
8:00 Dinner = a whole bunch of great stuff including grilled spiny lobster with sea urchin and lime butter, lime lemon bisque with champagne sorbet, brochettes of Jerk Quail and Christophene salad, ginger creme brulee...etc...
Saturday - my birthday
Wake up early. Breakfast. Couples massage on spa rooftop for 50 minutes. Nice breeze. Very good massage. Go to beach for a few hours. Then to the Master Cooking class with Executive Chef Daniel Orr and Chef de Cuisine Christopher Heath.
First this included a tour of the organic gardens (not the hydroponic ones). We picked some vegetables to use for the food. We learned how to make the following:
* Banana and Vanilla Rum
* Yellow Lentil Bisque with Labne Yogurt and Pita Crisps
* Local line caught Wahoo, Grilled lemon vinaigrette and Dr. Brooks garden greens
* Coconut Lime Tart
Again, lots more wine and lots of great food. Only 5 of us in this class.
Finished at 4:00pm. Met up with wife on the beach. Chilled.
8:00pm - Kitchen Stadium Dinner and Demonstration
Only my wife and I signed up for this which was AWESOME. They have a mini-kitchen stadium...it looks more like the set of a Food Network show. Chef Gary, the chef who taught the first class cooked us a chef's tasting menu and basically had a dialogue with us the entire time. Here's what we had:
* Crab and avocado salad
(Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label - celebratory/birthday, on the house)
* Cucumber gazpacho with yogurt and herbs
(Quincy Sauvignon Blanc, Henri Bourgeois 2003)
* Anguillian Jerk Quail
(Clos de los, sietie Malbec, 2002)
* Island Pot Fish
(Francis Diamond Coppola Chardonnay 2003)
* Melon and Lime Soup
(Veuve Cliquot Champagne Demi Sec)
Then walked the beach a few hundred yards to Bankie Banx's (reggae legend) house/bar and had some ginger aperitif and a rum punch. Only 4 of us there including Bankie's son...the bartender. Apparently 11:00pm was early.
We tried to leave today, but a cancellation of a WinAir flight (the puddle jumper to St. Martin) made us stay another night. The story gets VERY long from here...but let's just say that St. Martin is not the most hospitable place in the Caribbean. Needless to say, we ended up having to take a ferry back to Anguilla and checked back into CuisinArt again - we even got the same room (and found my wife's cell phone charger still plugged into the wall!).
It was the best trip. So much fun and I highly recommend it. We are going back next year definitely.
Looking forward to smoke a Cuban tonight to reflect.