From Sea to Table – Dining in the Turks and Caicos
Fresh, Creative and Delicious Meals Highlight Your Caribbean Vacation
In the Caribbean, a good dining experience cannot be limited only to interesting and tasteful cuisine. For me, a good dining experience must also include a unique location with an ambiance that cannot easily be found anywhere else. In all my travels, while I was impressed with reputed hotels and restaurants, I was always critical of whether the interior mirrored the atmosphere of the overall destination. So if the lobby or eatery had the “interior designer” feel easily found in architectural digest, where it could be placed in Istanbul or Negril, then I wasn’t awed in the least. One of the many reasons I like eating on Pine Cay is the feeling I get simply being while I am eating. When both work in tune with each other, along with friendly genuine service, it’s truly a culinary experience…and one of the best the Caribbean has to offer.
Breakfast and Lunch
During breakfast and lunch, guests on Pine Cay tend to find their spot at a table around the pool, leave their things and seek out what they want to eat. While there is a buffet of fresh fruits, pastries and breads, cereals and yogurts, etc., there are also some cooked-to-order options. One of the most popular is the breakfast burrito, featured on this Caribbean blog not too long ago. The photo included is a great example of creative cuisine that also offers a visual experience. Note the vivid blue placemats that accent the green wrap, and bring out the colors of the orange mango salsa and deep red strawberry. What you can’t see is the natural sunlight reflecting off the pool, while whoever gets to devour this tasty creation gets to sit under a thatched hut with a built in table. Lunch is pretty much the same, though some opt for the picnic basket while exploring the wonders of Pine Cay’s 800 acre natural island sanctuary (that just happens to also have a perfect beach). For those that stay behind and benefit from more options, there is a wide range of choices including fried chicken, grouper sandwich, grilled potato salad and green bean almond salad, to name a few.
Chef Shane has a strong following, even on this little beach island. Most of his fans would tell you it’s his creative combination of flavors and beautiful presentation,but some (fisherman mostly) will say how awed they are that no matter the day or situation he is readily available to turn a fresh catch into a tasty delight. Dinner options offer an abundant range of flavors, and often include more herbs, spices and combinations. Diners can choose from sitting among the rest of the guests in an island-themed open air restaurant or can opt to dine poolside with a special someone; both offer the same spectacular culinary dishes. A sample dinner menu is presented on the right.
One recent menu included this favorite; Grilled Mahi Mahi, with celery, green olive, caper, raisin, rice wine vinegar, honey, parsley, (see before and after photos below) and if that did not pique interest, there was also Scallop Crudo, with yuzu, ginger, caper, soy, red chili, orange. For those of you (like myself) who don’t know, yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit.
A frequent visitor all over the Caribbean since 1988, having been to 32 islands and many of them more than once, one of the more consistent experiences – regardless of the quality of the establishment I have chosen – is that the desserts nearly always look far better than they actually taste. Pastries have light layers of dough but taste like cardboard, fruit filled or layered desserts are colorful but have little flavor, and chocolate, well let’s just say I gave up on that experience in the Caribbean a long time ago (I resolved to have my expectations met in Europe.) I can’t count how many times I was approached by a moving tray of luscious desserts, or walked over to a stationary table and had my mouth water at the sheer curiosity of what was inside, layered, powdered over or stuffed into the fine creations, only to be severely disappointed that the anticipated taste over my tongue to the back of my throat was utterly disappointing. This has been so consistent that I rarely eat dessert in the Caribbean. However, on my first visit to Pine Cay, everyone was crowing over the desserts that I just had to try. The chocolate was smooth and strong, with the right amount of sweetness. The pastry layers were light and fluffy, and splintered into buttery flakes when I took a bite. So I kept going and found the glazes and fruit toppings were rich and flavorful, and the cookies had just the right amount of give and crunch while they burst with flavor. Fortunately, the two-mile beach enabled a daily barefoot four-mile run, so I just kept eating…
The next time you are looking for an amazing private beach vacation, but don’t want to sacrifice dining on great food while in a secluded environment, think about coming to The Meridian Club on Pine Cay to enjoy fine dining in the Turks and Caicos.
Melanie Alexander has been to over 75 countries and looks forward to her visits to Pine Cay, mostly for the beach and the food.