BARBADOS, November 26, 2017 – Known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, the small, lush, sun-drenched island of Barbados is home to some of the finest cuisine and rum in the tropics. The friendly Barbadian people love sharing their food, drink, and culture with travelers craving authentic tropical tastes and experiences.
Barbados and Rum
The British landed here in 1627 and created a colony. Since those early days, rum has been an integral part of Barbadian society. Sugar cane production was at an all-time high and the rich, gooey molasses that were part of the production process soon gave way to making the island’s favorite liquid product.
Today, rum is so popular that there are thousands of rum shops spread throughout the island, and almost every small town and village has at least one.
A good place to start your spirit-ual adventure is at Mount Gay Rum. They offer free tours and tastings of their various libations, including their rum, which has been in production since 1703.
Today’s rums are smooth, full of taste, and available in every bar and restaurant in the form of rum punch. Today’s rum is a major departure from the original alcohol that the locals call Kill-Devil. Those early spirits crude taste and imprecise distillation methods made it much different than the rum they serve today.
Barbados Sweetest Crop
St. Nicholas Abbey is the oldest surviving sugar plantation on Barbados. The Abbey offers tours of the grounds including a beautiful 17th-century Jacobean mansion. You’ll also learn about the process of making rum from sugar syrup and sample some of their special aged rum.
Of course, rum isn’t the only thing that Barbadians love, as good food is equally cherished. Sandy Lane, a luxury five-star resort is one of the most beautiful properties on Barbados. Shady Lane is known for having the best brunch in the Caribbean.
Endless food stations serve everything from sushi to suckling pig and a mountain of desserts. All that plus, most notably, the sweeping views of the emerald green waters of Payne Bay.
Many small eateries dotting the roadways around the island serve up some notably fine eats. At Curry in a Hurry, the line queued at the takeout window is your clue that something delicious is cooking inside.
Grab a flavor-packed roti filled with tantalizing combinations such as lamb or salt fish with potato or dhal with rice and curry. Prices start at an affordable $6 US.
Barbados Food and Rum Festival
Barbadians love a good party, and each November, they host the Food and Rum Festival. This year’s event was at various venues on the island showcasing the best of Barbadian cuisine. Oistins fishing village on the south coast was host to the festival’s opening.
Here, you will find little shacks cooking great regional food. On this evening the village was pulsing with music, lights, and the aroma of meat and seafood being grilled under the moonlit sky.
Mixologists were there showcasing their own award-winning rum punch recipes as local chefs featured their specialties.
Barbados’ Celebrity Chefs
For the second year, world famous Michelin 3-star chef and restaurant owner Jean-Georges Vongerichten created an incredible menu for 500 guests at The Cliff Restaurant overlooking the Caribbean. Vongerichten uses simple ingredients in his meal preparation and remarked,
“I like to cook with fresh, organic, [and] when possible, sustainable [ingredients] that are in season, allowing them to speak for themselves on the plate.”
His tropically-inspired menu started off with Meyer lemon gelée combined with caviar and crème fraîche. Next, in order, came tuna sashimi with coconut-lime, spiny lobster with romesco sauce, and spiced lamb chops. Dessert was a cooked-to-perfection warm chocolate cake with Barbadian rum and spice ice cream.
On the west coast, Britain’s celebrity chef Tom Aikens worked his culinary magic at the Tides Restaurant with its gorgeous décor of coral and mahogany. Chef Aikens, 26, is the youngest chef to win two Michelin stars.
A five-course tasting menu includes poached lobster with almond and cucumber, tomato consommé, and roast lamb loin with spiced piquillo pepper. Dessert was lemongrass strawberries with honeycomb and white chocolate. Each course was sent out with a rum-based cocktail like the Heated Passion. This rum punch has fresh passion fruit, Mount Gay Rum, and Prosecco.
Foods from the Jungle to the Table
Many of the island’s native fruit trees and early farming methods have been lost over the years. Today efforts are underway to reclaim that history. At Coco Hill Forest a local resident is using agroforestry methods, including vertical farming, to grow bananas, cocoa, pineapples, and a variety of local herbs and spices in the jungle.
Similarly, PEG Farm and Nature Reserve offers a two-hour guided tour of their biodynamic farm.
Here, you’ll learn about free-range animal husbandry and permaculture as well as the native flora and fauna.
George Washington Slept Here
Barbados has come a long way since its origins as a British colony. Back then, its 21 miles of shoreline was replete with cannons (463, in fact), many of which are still there.
George Washington also paid a visit here in 1751, his only known trip outside the U.S.
Today, you can not only enjoy great food and drink but soak up the abundant sunshine at the pink and white sand beaches. But there is something more intangible that ties it all together–the spirit of the Barbadian people. You will find them to be warm, friendly, helpful, and eager to share their long culture of hospitality in this Caribbean paradise.
FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored trip, however, all opinions herein are the authors.