Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Taste of St. Croix

Tonight Crucians are in for one of the most popular events on island. Throngs gather at the Divi Carina Bay Resort to sample food and wine from 50 restaurants and wine merchants. You vote for the best food and the winning restaurant gets bragging rights and is sent to compete at a Caribbean food contest in Florida. A Taste of St. Croix is a fundraiser to benefit the St. Croix Foundation, which in turn spends the money in community initiatives. The price this year is $75 per ticket (up from $60 last year) and the event is so popular that I heard this year tickets sold out in 20 minutes.

I went last year. There were 50 tables to visit within a couple of hours. I got my first small sampling plate from the first table and my first glass of wine from the second table, and I ran out of hands. I didn't even know where to put my wine glass so that I could actually eat the food. This predicament repeated itself throughout the night, but I still managed to sample a few wines and I got to try dishes like Shrimp Tagine and Coconut-encrusted Mahi Mahi, and a heavenly chocolate mousse. I went with a group of people and found myself spending a good chunk of time just trying to keep track of my companions. When the night was over and the tables were cleared, I was astounded to discover that I was still hungry!

This year we decided to skip the whole overwhelming experience, but today we celebrated our own taste of St. Croix with a wonderful French lunch at Café Christine. Located in a lush courtyard in downtown Christiansted, this café is open only for lunch, Monday to Friday, and as far as I'm concerned it is St. Croix's best kept secret. After living here for 2 years, I only heard about it a couple of months ago, and today was my first visit there. Christine, the owner, is a chef worth her salt. She told us she gets to work at 6 a.m. to cook a new menu each day. Every dish and heavenly dessert is made fresh that day, and it shows! I had the best duck terrine I've ever tasted, and Bob had a delightful smoked salmon with lentils. Dessert was a grape tart that was creamy and fruity but not very sweet. And the prices were on average $10 per dish, amazing for such divine food. I now know where I'll be heading for lunch every chance I get.

PS: Happy birthday to my cat, Calypso, who turns 12 today!

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