Of all our regular “departments” here atUncommon Caribbean, Monday’s Taste of the Caribbean series is probably my favorite. It’s not just because I love to eat (I do), or that I’ve tried to make all the featured recipes we’ve covered (I haven’t). I just think that so much of what’s special and unique about the Caribbean is expressed and can be experienced through its food.
Think about it: what has the power to shape our travel experiences quite like food? Some may feel differently, but we don’t need the rum,beer and cocktails featured in every Friday Happy Hour.
Okay, maybe we need them sometimes (like here, for instance), but clearly food is an altogether different animal. Food often governs our choice of destination, when we decide to travel, what we do when we get there, and how long we stay. Food also represents one of the best ways to replicate our travel adventures once we’re back home, the smells and tastes of our own home-cooked versions of Caribbean dishes triggering memories in our subconscious in a way that no photo or video ever could.
It is for all these reasons that I’m particularly pleased to introduce to you today the latest, greatest addition to the Uncommon Caribbean Store, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience.
Yes, it’s another cookbook, but ask anyone who has had a peek inside this just-released keepsake and they’ll tell you, it is so much more than that. Inventive recipes and stunning photography common to most cookbooks today are only part of the story here. Sprinkled in and among 70+ recipes lovingly crafted by some of the brightest culinary stars in St. Croix, and the gourmet world at-large, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience provides a unique and engaging introduction to the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This brings me to the other big reason why I’m so happy about this book: I’m one of the contributing writers!
The author and my lifelong (literally) Crucian friend, Jane Watkins, invited me to fill a few pages with profiles on our home island’s culture, heritage, history and (surprise!) rum, all favorite subjects of mine as most of you know. I’m extremely proud and honored to have received and fulfilled her request, adding a bit of our “uncommon” flavor to her already amazing book.
St. Croix Food & Wine Experience was inspired by the world class culinary event that shares its name. Held each year in April, the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience event offers a weeklong series of fun and interactive culinary experiences, drawing celebrity chefs and culinary travelers from all over the world to our small corner of the Caribbean. The event also raises money to support local non-profit organizations, providing a nice boost to the Crucian community.
As with the event, St. Croix is undoubtedly the star of the book, but Jane made sure the island had a strong supporting cast, lining up former Top Chef and Iron Chefcontestants, as well as James Beard and A Taste of St. Croix award-winners to supply the recipes. Celebrity chefs are a veritable who’s who of celebrated cooking, includingGovind Armstrong, Anita Lo, Tim Love, Kevin Rathbun, Ana Sortun and Roberto Treviño, all of whom have participated in the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience event over the years.
More than a dozen St. Croix chefs and bartenders are featured in the book as well, including Uncommon Caribbean’s very own mixologist, Jesse Card, whoseCoconut Mojito recipe from our most recent Friday Happy Hour post is one of my favorite things in the whole book!
There’s a lot more to discover and enjoy in the 120 pages that comprise the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, including a decidedly uncommon dish featuring sea urchin, and a recipe for something called Pig Foot Cake! For the less adventurous, there’s such tasty treats as Mango Rum Pulled Pork, Paella de Couscous and a Lime and Coconut Ceviche that looks and sounds amazing. The book also features vegetarian recipes, desserts, cocktails and a great guide to enjoying wine in the tropics penned by Katherine Pugliese, who you might remember as the owner of Eat@Cane Bay.