After the fantastic kick-off dinner prepared by chef Tiffany Derry, here’s a quick roundup of the first full day of the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience…
10:30 AM: Quick stop at Thomas Bakery & Deli for some fresh, hot butter bread (so good), cinnamon rolls, coconut bread, and spicy salmon pates to keep us sustained on our one-hour journey to the rain forest where we'd be spending the afternoon on a sustainble farm.
11:30 AM: Arrived at the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute. We traveled up the long, windy, and incredibly bumpy road to reach Ridge to Reef farm high up on the hills. Program director Nate Olive showed us around the farm, explaining the benefits of the different types of plants growing there and talked about three main plants: the coconut tree, cassava, and moringa.
After, we had a beautiful lunch on the terrace that incorporated the ingredients from the three plants above. We had a lamb curry (that was slaughtered on the property on Monday — talk about farm-to-table food), coconut and cassava pon, and more. Highlight of the trip: drinking dwarf coconut water through a papaya stem (unbelievably sweet and delicious) and being chased by one of the chickens (she had it out for me!).
4:00 PM: We arrived at Eat @ Cane Bay for the Food Fight! This year, instead of the Island Chef versus Iron Chef, the festival decided to host a competition that pitted boys against girls. The girls team had Chef Tiffany Derry, Liza Shaw, and Jen Litwin (local chef), while the guys team had Roberto Trevino, Leslie Gumbs (local chef), and Michael Ferraro. Who do you think won? Why the girls of course (OK maybe I’m a little bias here). It was a fantastic competition and a lot of fun that involved using local ingredients like conch, spiny lobster, and coconut milk to name a few.
7:00 PM: After the competition, we had a great meal at Eat @ Cane Bay that involved a cheesy, meaty burger, mussels in a garlicky white wine sauce with fantastic grilled bread to dip it in. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the ocean and a wonderful, hospitable staff (with great food too!).
Stay tuned for a roundup of the next day’s events that will include the much awaited Taste of St. Croix!