Brunch-ing at Captain’s Kitchen

Brunch-ing at Captain’s Kitchen

If you’ve been following along for a while you might already be aware that brunch is one of my favourite past times. It really is the perfect excuse for a weekend get together with friends – is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Who cares? It’s delicious, and it comes with mimosas! Count me in! 

 

Ever since their opening in January of this year, I had heard so many good things about Captain’s Kitchen and was determined to try it out for myself – so I hopped on the ferry and headed to Tortola this weekend, motivated by tempting brunch morsels and the possibility of a Bloody Mary once I reached the restaurant. I wasn’t disappointed!

 

I had read that the restaurant is small and that reservations are recommended, so we made sure to call in advance. It is also worth noting that parking is very limited in Macnamara, the residential area where Captain’s Kitchen is located, so car-pooling might be an idea. 

Brunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - views over Road Town Brunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - all produce sourced locally

 Brunch was beautifully varied with a great menu and a fabulous specials board. There was a good selection of items including vegan and gluten free options. Everything is farm fresh and most dishes seem packed with different fruits and veggies. Definitely a chance to get in your 5-a-day! 

Brunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI perusing the menuBrunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - checking out the specials

All three on our table decided to order from the daily specials and we eagerly awaited our dishes, while we enjoyed a couple of mimosas and the view from their deck. The deck does benefit from those natural BVI breezes, but being September it was warm up there and I would have loved it if there had been a couple of ceiling fans to help circulate the air when the breeze died. 

 

Our meals arrived and I was thrilled with my choice; asparagus salad with roasted vegetables topped with poached eggs and drizzled with hollandaise sauce, garnished with beautifully ripe avocado and pieces of fresh fruit. I also opted for a cheeky side of bacon… Chef Fiona can tell you all about the local suppliers that she gets her vegetables, herbs, salad leaves and fruit from. Each item sourced locally in the BVI, mostly organic. 

Brunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - Farm fresh and delicious dishesBrunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - Farm to table dining
The Chia pancakes (vegan but with optional side of bacon) and the fish burger (made with Bangamary fish) were also declared delicious and polished off enthusiastically. 

Brunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - Vegan and Gluten free optionsBrunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - Vegan and Gluten free optionsBrunch at Captain's Kitchen BVI - Fresh fish burger

 I look forward to updating this post with other dishes as I try them, as that certainly won’t be my last visit! I’ll be bringing my swimsuit too for a dip in their pool!

 

Have you tried the brunch at Captain’s Kitchen yet?

More information regarding where to eat in the BVI can be found in my restaurant guide here! Have you tried all my favourites yet?

 

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River Exe Cafe, Exmouth

River Exe Cafe, Exmouth

A couple of years ago my sister introduced our family to the River Exe Cafe (she has always been our guru when it comes to where to go and what to do in Devon) and since then it has become a firm family favourite, our go-to for lunches when we’re reunited and celebrations in the summertime.

Just a short ferry ride from Exmouth Marina and sitting out on a barge in the middle of the Exe Estuary, the River Exe Cafe is the perfect place for a sunny, seafood lunch with indoor and outdoor seating available on this custom-built floating restaurant. Just be sure to make your reservation in advance as it is often booked-up weeks in advance, especially in July and August.

Reservations are made via their website through Open Table where you are able to book your table and your water taxi at the same time. The water taxis take 12 passengers at a time and you have 2 hrs from the time you arrive at the restaurant before they will arrive to take you back. The Puffin water taxis cost £5 per person return, payable directly to the boatman.

Anyway, that’s quite enough about the logistics, you want to hear about the food – right?! You won’t be disappointed!

The River Exe Cafe is known for fine British dining and their fresh local seafood (you come past the mussel boat that supplies their mussels on your way out on the Puffin boat, so it doesn’t get more local than that).

We were thrilled to wake up the morning of our lunch to find that the sun was shining and it was the perfect weather for our day out on the water. When you are making your reservation weeks or months in advance the weather on the day is a bit of a lottery during our fine British summer. Our reservation was for 2 pm so we were to meet our ferry captain at the harbour at 1:45 pm. We had a few minutes spare to stroll down to the harbour enjoying the sights, the boats, the brightly coloured houses. We made our way down to the Visitors Pontoon where you meet your boatman – he checked our names off his list and then we were on our way!

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

You head out onto the estuary against the tide, so your ferry journey on the way out to the restaurant is approximately 15-20 minutes. Plenty of time to review the menus and make your food choices, tummies starting to rumble in anticipation of the delicious food that awaits.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

Our table of 5 wanted to try as many different dishes as possible and decided that three courses would almost certainly be necessary (we are predictable little piglets) – clam chowder, fried baby squid, moules, fish and chips, scallops, mackerel rillettes and monkfish were all on our list – a seafood feast!

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

I started off with the Lyme Bay scallops, baked in coral butter and white port, topped with a crunchy Parmesan crumble. Three fat and juicy scallops, perfectly cooked and served in their own shells on a little bed of salty samphire.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

My dad enjoyed the clam chowder, which contained a touch of curry for a tasty but untraditional flair, beautifully finished with a generous garnish of fresh dill.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

The mackerel rillettes and goats cheese mousse starters on the specials menu were declared delicious and were creatively presented too.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

For my main course I just had to go for the Exmouth mussels served in the classic Marinière style. I opted for the starter-sized portion as the servings are generous and I had a hankering for a side of the crispy truffle and Parmesan fries to dunk in the creamy, white wine sauce. My sister, on the other hand, swears by the Devon cider and smoked bacon sauce for her mussels. With six different flavour mussel options to choose from, I look forward to trying other combinations on future visits.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

The monkfish special came with crispy duck, lentil and parsnip salsa, piles of samphire and a curry sauce, with the meaty fish soaking up all the flavours.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

Crispy beer-battered fish served with chunky chips and mushy peas.

Not pictured were our desserts of apple tarte tatin with toffee sauce and individual pots of Dunstaple Farm ice creams.

With a food menu prominently featuring local produce and seafood, the wine list and drinks menu more than matches up with local beers and ciders, Devon craft lagers and even Pebblebed wines from nearby Topsham.

Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary
Days out at the River Exe Cafe in Devon - Glorious Meals at the floating restaurant on the River Exe Estuary

We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and look forward to more next summer! You’ve still got a few more weeks to get down there and try it out for yourselves. What are you waiting for?

You can follow along on my UK adventures on Instagram, here, as we’re off up to North West Wales for more British beach adventures in Abersoch.

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Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant, Jost Van Dyke

Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant, Jost Van Dyke

Believe it or not, even after nearly a decade of living in this little island community – there are still things that I want/have wanted to do which I just haaaaaaven’t quite got around to yet… This weekend I was finally able to make one of those dreams a reality.

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Ever since I saw Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke featuring prominently in the list of BVI restaurants on TripAdvisor years ago (consistently voted #1 out of 198 restaurants in the BVI) I have been wondering about the beach bar getting all these rave foodie reviews and, on Sunday, I was finally able to try it out!

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
We were out on a big boat day with friends – 50 people on 4 large speedboats to be specific and – as we cruised over from Virgin Gorda and headed towards Jost (with a quick stop en route at Sandy Spit for a slip ‘n’ slide flip-cup race, naturally), we browsed through their mouth-watering menu so that we could call in our order ahead of our arrival. (You can find their menu here – those lobster cojones sound amazing, right?)

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
As you head inside Corsairs, greeted first by the (fake) pirate maître d’ and then by your (very real) monocle-wearing host, Captain Vinny Terranova – you can’t help but look around and take in all the artwork, the graffiti, the signs, the stickers and the general paraphernalia. Sure, there are more than a couple of beach bars around the world that have gone with this theme of decor, but you get the feeling that Corsairs has a little something else up its sleeve, a certain je ne sais quoi… Could it be the motorcycles parked out front? The friendly bearded barstaff? Or maybe it was one too many glasses of their signature voodoo juice? But Corsairs certainly has a unique atmosphere.

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
I’m sorry – I didn’t catch the maître d’s name… seems friendly enough, a bit quiet though!

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Captain Vinny and his bottle of Voodoo Juice – I watched him make it and it is guaranteed to put hairs on your chest! 

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Their lunch menu features high-end fast food. Fresh Ahi tuna nachos with seaweed salad, crispy wonton chips and pickled ginger. Their Corsairs burger topped with blue cheese, port onion jam, BBQ sauce and thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, served in a brioche bun with truffle fries on the side. There’s even a Kobe beef burger, which sounds phenomenal, if your wallet will stretch to it. It’s casual fare done exceptionally well.

What did I go for, I hear you ask? I just had to try out their lobster roll – a buttery brioche bun piled high with juicy Maine lobster with their moreish truffle fries on the side. I couldn’t resist! (Greedy little piglet…)

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Lobster roll 

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Ahi tuna nachos

Vinny and his team were not even remotely fazed by our group of 50 who had ordered in 4 separate groups minutes before docking and before long plates starting flying out of the kitchen, stacked high with their massive burgers (portions are large!!)

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Huge Corsairs burger – fries mostly devoured before I could get the camera out… 

Sadly, we couldn’t stay for dinner as the rest of our afternoon plans (which may or may not have included the Willy-T) were calling us. Which clearly means that I shall have to pay (at least) one more visit as there are a couple of dishes on their dinner menu which have my name on them!

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Lunches at Corsairs Restaurant on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Read more about where you should be eating in my BVI restaurant guide here. Clearly an update is needed as I have a few more foodie stops that need including – Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant among them.

Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant is located on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. Contact them on +1 284 495 9294 or find more information at www.corsairsbvi.com.

Please note that Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant re-opened following hurricane Irma in May 2018. Serving a limited menu but still featuring delicious dishes, Corsairs is working to get back to full capacity as soon as possible. Stop in for a rum and for whatever they are serving that night. 

 

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Easy Cocktails That Impress

Easy Cocktails That Impress

Little known fact about me – for 6 years I worked in cocktail bars (very, very busy cocktail bars).

The downside of this is that I am unapologetically snobby about my cocktails. I don’t like my mojitos too sweet, God help you if you go anywhere near my margarita with sour mix, I want my drinks garnished correctly, I demand quality spirits with clean, fresh ingredients and I mix a mean iced tea (actually about 20 variations thereof).

The upside is that I can teach you a few things about mixed drinks.

Now, unlike most cocktail guides, I don’t expect everyone to keep a fully stocked bar cart, so I’m listing my favourite recipes based on the 4-key white spirits. This way, no matter which of the staples you happen to have on hand, you can rustle up a tasty libation.

Tequila

The simplest and most beautiful tequila drink (in my humble opinion) is the Paloma. Wonderfully sharp and refreshing – only 5 ingredients required.

Refreshing Grapefruit and Tequila Palomas

tequila

grapefruit juice

simple syrup*

club soda

fresh lime juice

:: Mix equal parts grapefruit juice, tequila and club soda (1/4 cup) – add a teaspoon of simple syrup and a quarter lime squeezed. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with a slice of lime or grapefruit. (Salt rim on the glass or a sprig of rosemary are also optional extras). Serve and enjoy!

FYI – many recipes will just mix tequila with a grapefruit soda and it is still very tasty, but I’d urge you to try making it from scratch – it is so much better!
Gin

Elevating the classic G&T with the quintessentially British pink gin.

gin

angostura bitters

fresh lime juice

tonic

:: Add two shots of your preferred gin with five dashes of angostura bitters and a quarter lime squeezed to a large glass with ice – top with tonic water – stir and serve garnished with a slice of lemon.

Vodka – the secret to this is a good quality (read: fiery) ginger beer – the Moscow mule.

Cold Moscow Mules - Ginger Beer, lime and Vodka

Vodka

Fresh Lime Juice

Ginger Beer

:: Add two shots of your favourite vodka to a tall glass (or copper mug, if you have one) and half a lime squeezed (some recipes call for you to drop the lime shell into your drink – I’ll leave that up to you) and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a wheel of lime and enjoy!

Rum

Ernest Hemingway’s favourite, the classic daiquiri. Not all daiquiris are blended with fruit. In fact, I much prefer it when they’re not. A classic daiquiri requires only three ingredients. (Not to be confused with a Hemingway – which is a different variation altogether).

The glass of alcoholic cocktails Daiquiri consists of rum on the leaves of lime, elderflower syrup stands on wooden table on black background
a good white rum

fresh lime juice

simple syrup*

:: Add two shots of white rum with the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of simple syrup. Shake vigorously over ice and pour into a coupe/martini glass. Enjoy!

(This is the only recipe that actually needs a cocktail shaker or any equipment – apologies for that.)
*You will have noticed that a couple of these recipes require a simple syrup. Easily made you will need equal parts granulated white sugar and water. Pour one cup boiling water and one cup sugar into a pan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil. When dissolved let the syrup cool and pour into a sterilized bottle or jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Once you have mastered basic simple syrup you can then start exploring herb infusions (basil and rosemary are two of my favourites) but that’s a lesson for another time… 🙂

So there you have it – a clean and effortless cocktail that you can throw together no matter which spirit you happen to have at home – just in time for the weekend!

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BVI Culinary Team Dinner

BVI Culinary Team Dinner

As you might have already gathered, this blogger is very partial to a good meal, especially one that I haven’t had to prepare myself. I love sampling foods by different chefs, different cuisines and different experiences. I’ve never met a tasting menu I didn’t enjoy!

Even better than that, there’s nothing I love more than a meal for a good cause and that – my friends – is what happened last week.

A small group us gathered on Moskito Island to raise money for the British Virgin Islands Culinary Team. Foodies and supporters got together for a fundraiser in aid of getting the team to Miami to compete against other Caribbean islands in the Taste of the Caribbean Competition and providing a much needed opportunity for new Caribbean chefs to compete and network with each other. A key moment to showcase BVI culinary talent.

As well as raising money for the travel costs it was also a great trial run for chef, Caswall Ponte, to practice some of his dishes ahead of the competition and show us some of the culinary tricks up his sleeve, naturally I was keen to get involved!


Pre-dinner nibbles – golden beets with mascarpone cheese and pistachio nuts.



Beautifully cooked red snapper with the selection of textures provided by the accompaniments. 

Originally from St. Kitts and Nevis – Chef Ponte moved to the British Virgin Islands in the early 80s, finding employment at Rosewood Little Dix Bay resort. Though not initially working in the kitchens, he soon began assisting the chefs and with that his love for the culinary arts grew – eventually prompting him to do further culinary training in the United States as his passion for the craft ignited. During his nearly three decades at Rosewood Little Dix Chef Ponte held numerous positions in the kitchen, and has been competing as part of the BVI Culinary Team since 1997. For the last year he has made his home in the kitchens at the exclusive Necker Island Resort.



Perfectly succulent chicken – packed with vibrant flavours. 

Warm pineapple and banana cake – demolished – so, so, so good! 

I am so excited to hear more about how Chef Ponte and the rest of the BVI Culinary Team get on in Miami at the Taste of the Caribbean Competition – and wish them the best of luck as they travel up today. Donations or sponsorship for the BVI Culinary Team can be made through the BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel’s Association – info@bviccha.org

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