Friday, January 27, 2012

Antigua and Barbuda: Cooking Around the World with Camilla (CATWWC)

We traveled to Antigua and Barbuda tonight. Two names, three islands, one country. This duo plus Redonda belong to a cluster of islands known as the Leeward Islands. Other islands in the chain include Anguilla, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nothing like a little Caribbean flavor to warm up even the coldest winter evening. Though, truth be told, winter on the central coast of California isn't very cold. Still, this menu brought a little sunshine to an otherwise grey January day.

And we're finally cooking a country to which I have actually travelled: Antigua. Remembering conch fritters on a sandy beach as azure seas lapped the shore. I wasn't sure that I would be able to locate conch - and I didn't - but research suggested I substitute clams. And we have those!
So, we're on to country number six of our Cooking Around the World adventure. Since it's a Friday night with no homework to hassle with the boys on, no early morning looming ahead, we had a leisurely feast that included an appetizer and a dessert from ANTIQUA AND BARBUDA, the sixth country on the list. Many thanks to my medium-sized kitchen elf tonight. He rolled tamarind and rubbed fish like a champ.

Here's what we ate on our tabletop journey to Antigua and Barbuda...

(Faux) Conch Fritters
We started off the meal with crisp, salty morsels that tasted like the sea. Though I couldn't find any conch meat, I substituted clams. These tasted very similar to what I remember eating in Antigua. I skipped the mayonnaise-based dipping sauce they served with these fritters, opting instead for just a squeeze of lime.

Cacao-Rubbed Fish with Tamarind Chutney
Wow. Wow. And wow, again. Did I say 'wow'? This dish was incredibly flavorful. Jake said that this topped his list of the international meals we've had so far. That is saying something. The spicy fish topped with the tangy chutney is unforgettable and will definitely be on our dinner table again soon.

Coconut Rice with Peas
I cooked brown basmati rice and fresh English peas in a mixture of water and coconut milk for a mild side dish that paired perfectly with the strong flavors of the fish and chutney.

Papaya Pie was not to be...
I bought what I thought would be a ripe papaya, excited about the ubiquitous papaya pie recipes I found when searching for Antiguan desserts, more like a papaya mousse in a baked shell. This fruit was soft to the touch but when I sliced into it, instead of the distinctive pinkish orange flesh with juicy black seeds, I saw this: pale green. Not even close to ripe. I moved on to plan B - tamarind balls - and will make a tart salad with grated green papaya tomorrow...or something else. Bummer about the pie though. I'll have to try again.

With my planned papaya pie a complete let-down, I found several recipes for this Caribbean sweet and sour treat...kind of like a fruity truffle. Just tart enough to make your mouth pucker, yet sweet enough to make you reach for another. Nature's SweetTarts. Yum.

Oh, and Jake and I had some pink rum cocktails, named for the unique pink sands of Barbuda: Barbuda Sands Cocktail. Happy Friday!

Enjoy my tabletop travels. Join me in whipping up a dish or two. If you do cook something from one of these countries, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to comment on the posts themselves or email me at constantmotioncamilla at gmail dot com.

This Knight of the Global Table Adventure is signing off for now. We're off to Argentina next.

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