I’d be telling a pretty big lie if I said that working as a chef for a Four Seasons Hotel doesn’t have its perks. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity and pleasures of traveling to six glorious properties; Santa Barbara, the Maldives at Kuda Huraa, Saint Kitts & Nevis, the Serengeti, Jackson Hole and most recently, Anguilla. Anguilla exceeded all of my earthly expectations.
If you are looking for your next vacation destination; a place with crystal-clear waters and astonishing, affordable food, look no further than this tiny territory in the east Carribean. It’s twenty minutes by ferry from Saint Maartin, or you can fly directly onto the island itself. The flight was about 50 minutes from Puerto Rico.
My wife and I spent most of our days at the Sunset Pool in the hotel and the surrounding beaches. The Sunset Restaurant menu is primarily multi regional Asian. The taro ice cream with candied black sesame and mango was off the charts. I’ve had good taro ice cream in the U.S. but perhaps since Anguilla produces 50,000 tons of taro root per year, it’s safe to say that some of the best may come from here. The island is only 35 square miles and produces half the amount of taro as the entire U.S. I have to say that the Pad Thai was one of the best I have ever had, but please— when traveling, you must explore the local restaurants and attractions. We received some tips on local places to eat before arriving, and it’s these personal recommendations of hidden gems that you should actively seek out and put in your pocket.
My personal favorite of these hidden gems was B&D’s BBQ, a small, family owned outdoor shack with a large oil drum fire pit and only open on the weekends. “Johnny Cakes” originated in North America by the Indians using corn as the base. These fried discs made simply of flour, baking powder, sugar and butter are eaten around the clock with any meal. Honestly, I ate 4 with my meal and got 3 to go. You could taste the love in all aspects of their small menu. The ribs platter consisted of a whole rack of baby backs, coleslaw, Caribbean rice and peas (the staple of many islands in the area) and a house salad. My wife had the grilled Spiny lobster along with all the sides and our total bill was a mere $48. Unbelievable!
Spiny Lobster is another staple of the British West Indies. We heard from multiple people that Veya Restaurant had the best on the island so we ventured over and yes, it was buttery, delicious and served over a garlicky risotto.
To be honest, all of the food we had on the island was spectacular. Head over to the Half Shell for the conch fritters, the jerk shrimp BLT and, if you can handle spicy, be sure to ask Alison for her homemade scotch bonnet hot sauce! My wife loved it so much that Alison even gave us a few small bottles to take home. Jerk came to life out of necessity, not choice, as the native Arawak Indians of Jamaica escaped slavery and European invaders. The Arawak would use the bark from allspice trees to smoke wild boar while in the pursuit of freedom. Using the wood while still fresh gave the hogs a distinct flavor that one would not be able to replicate in the U.S. or the U.K. The other flavors we now know when we think of jerk gradually came much later.
We also enjoyed a long walk down Mead’s Bay, where we picked up some peel-and-eat shrimp, a jerk chicken sandwich and pulled pork street tacos at Blanchard’s Beach Shack. We took our goods and continued walking until we reached what felt like paradise, a secret little alcove where the water was as still and as clear as glass and there were only two other people on the tiny little beach. Due to a small mishap with a drone that two girls were operating we ended up chatting with them and come to find out that we already “knew” them. Only a couple nights before, both my wife and I had followed and DM’ed an Instagram account called @anguillabeaches. During our conversation we realized we had already met online and here we were chatting in person! It was an astounding experience, proving that, yes, the world is extraordinarily large, and infinitely small at the same time. For the best beaches in Anguilla and an even more extensive look at the different restaurants and hotels you should take a look at their Instagram account: www.instagram.com/anguillabeaches