We're just back from eleven glorious days on island to celebrate Angel's 50th birthday, Anguilla's 50th birthday, and our 20th year of visiting Anguilla. Blog posts soon come, but for now, a quick round-up of what was one of our favorite visits to date. :)
1. Oh, Falcon Nest, with your massive grilled lobsters and your creamy curried pasta salad and your $5 rum punch, where have you been all my life???
2. The roasted chicken at E’s Oven. Yes, you have to call ahead, but the world’s crispiest chicken skin cannot be rushed.
3. The girls at Coconuts at the Great House, Jodi and Shana, are adorable, even if they did keep referring to me as “Beach Barbie.” ;) And they make the same killer pina colada as at the main bar near the pool.
4. The mezze platter at CuisinArt is gorgeous and quite filling, and you can tailor it to your liking (we swapped out the baba ganoush for the white bean dip). A shared mezze platter and a round of frozen mojitos would make for a perfect lunch.
5. Fountain Residences is a hidden gem. Our 2-bed, 2-bath unit was well-equipped, nicely decorated, and had great views over Shoal Bay. There’s a short path down to the beach right next to Zemi; the pool is one of the nicest I've seen on the island; and the shady, crushed-shell pathways around the property are charming. Overall a nice alternative to more expensive and/or less secluded 2-bedroom units on SBE.
6. We last stayed at Cap Juluca about 10 years ago (before the most recent renovation) and weren’t blown away by the room or the service, particularly at that price point. I am happy to report that this stay was just the opposite -- while the room was still small (at least at the "luxury" level), the attention to detail was evident (wine, fruit, and cheese upon arrival and the best turndown service we've ever had); the solarium was ahhmazing; and Belmond is killing it in the service department. Within an hour of arriving at the resort, seemingly the entire staff knew our names and treated us like visiting royalty – our every wish was truly their command. (More on that in a separate blog post!) We’re really not “hotel” people, but our stay at CJ proves that there’s an exception to every rule. :)
7. Village Bake Shop is as charming a patisserie as you are likely to find anywhere. Great coffee and even better jelly doughnuts, and the setting is perfect, with lots of little nooks for devouring that doughnut in 3 minutes flat without the disapproving stares of onlookers.
8. The folks at Irie Life are as sweet as ever. Despite being very busy, they checked their back inventory and even called the Sandy Ground location trying to find a particular shirt in Angel’s size. (Success!)
9. Del at Ocean Echo really needs to go on “Jeopardy." We hadn’t seen him since August, but as soon as we walked in, he somehow remembered BOTH our names…AND my usual lunch order! I can't even remember where I left my keys.
10. We went to Dolce Vita for “Angel Eve,” and after dinner they brought him out a tiramisu (his favorite) with a huge sparkler in it (my favorite). A perfect night.
11. Marjorie McClean at FBI has to be the most underrated cook on the island. You know her food is good when you order her ahhhhmazing lobster thermidor but can’t stop raving about the SPINACH. (I guess this really falls under “inexplicable”?)
1. The Place was closed for the season as of July 1! Booo. Why so early?!
2. The Four Seasons has ditched the Viceroy’s exemplary cocktail menu for a list of exactly 5(?!) drinks, ranging from $17 to $22 each. That would be a fair price for almost any of the Viceroy’s outstanding cocktails (RIP, vanilla-ginger mojito), but it’s a massive rip-off for a good-but-not-great cocktail at FS...that also happens to be really small.
3. There is no Pit Stop West or Pit Stop Mid-Island. This is the best pizza we’ve ever had in Anguilla – thin, floppy, saucy, with fantastically spicy pepperoni. This pizza wasn’t just good “for Anguilla,” it would be good even in a place like NYC. But The Pit Stop by Ben is a hike if you’re not staying on the east end, which I would do again if only for the pizza.
4. Falcon Nest does not bottle its Falcon Dip. How the hell am I supposed to eat French fries now?!
5. We were on island for 11 days and it rained 3 times in the afternoon. We also saw a piece of seaweed at Maunday's Bay. It was horrible.
1. Straw Hat has a new lunch menu, and all our old favorites are gone. In their place is a menu lifted straight from a New York deli (kosher hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches, and chicken wraps). If you're gonna go in that direction, at least change the pickles to half-sours. ;)
2. We visited the Sunset Lounge at Four Season for drinks and found two seats near the water. We were immediately told that we couldn’t sit there since those seats were better suited for a party of 4….even though the place wasn’t full and the sun had just set. Just a minute later another couple, who was actually staying at FS, were told the same thing and were left debating whether to take the less-than-ideal seats offered or just go back to their room. We decided to join forces and claimed the seats as a party of 4, but it was a less-than-stellar introduction to the Four Seasons for that couple, who had never been to Anguilla before and had just checked into the Four Seasons a few hours earlier. It’s hard to even imagine this same thing happening at Cap Juluca.
3. Pyrat Cask 1623 has been discontinued. None of the liquor shops on the island have any back stock, either (we checked them all!). If you are lucky enough to still have a bottle, sip it slooooowly (or sell it to Angel!)
4. The island was more crowded than we expected. Perhaps due to the two-day July 4th holiday? Trattoria Tramonto, Dolce Vita, Elodia’s, and even E’s Oven were all much busier than we’ve ever seen them.
5. Why is the gas station still cash-only? Even the shackiest beach shacks take credit now. You’d think the gas station would, too.
6. The Clos Beylesse rosé is $10 cheaper at Pimm’s than it is at Trattoria Tramonto. Go figure!
1. Best sightings: Jeanene, Paul, Nicolee, daBeast, Suzan (almost), and anyone else I forgot (damn rum punch!)...we ran into *everyone* on this trip, and every one of you was sweet and cute and funny and even thought to wish Angel a Happy Birthday. So nice to meet you!
2. Best entrée: The lobster thermidor at Ferryboat Inn. Unless, of course, you don’t like your lobster cut into big chunks, sauteed with cream and cognac, put back in the shell and topped with cheese, then broiled until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
3. Best entrée (runner-up): The beef tenderloin at Pimm’s, served with smoked truffle potato mash and foie gras sauce. Don’t worry, there are tiny ceviched(!) mushrooms to cut all that richness. A well-thought-out, perfectly executed dish.
4. Best frozen drink: The frozen mojito at CuisinArt. Imitations abound, but Cuisi's is the real deal!
5. Best frozen drink (runner-up): The guavaberry colada at Tropical Sunset. How fitting that a guavaberry is also known as a rumberry. :)
6. Best side dish: The spinach casserole side dish at FBI. I am petitioning for this to go on the regular menu (ideally as an entrée, not a side dish, so I don't have to order three or four of them). Think creamed spinach topped with cheese, then broiled and served like a little crunchy-topped casserole.
7. Best side dish (runner-up): The scalloped potatoes at E’s. It's the only thing that can distract me from that coconut-crusted grouper.
8. Best burger: Oh, come on, now. :)Edited: 3:36 pm, July 10, 2017