Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Taste of Bermuda

Bermuda is pretty pink beaches, dazzling turquoise water, lush vegetation, touches of British style, pastel painted homes and truly friendly people. It’s posh yet casual and while not a bona fide culinary destination, it offers some delicious things to eat and drink that you won’t find elsewhere.
Here are my top picks:

Fish chowder
This scrumptious soup, considered the national dish, was originally poor people’s food, made from fish bones. It’s a rich broth, with vegetables including onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and a variety of spices and herbs. It's a little bit like Manhattan style chowder but with bits of fish instead of clams, but what makes it most special is the black rum and sherry pepper sauce that’s added to it, often at the table.

Where to find it: I loved it everywhere I had it, and it’s on just about every menu, but I’m told, the best version is sold at the Rubis gas station near the airport (get your taxi driver to take you!). I tried it at Bonefish, Henry VII and Wahoo’s Bistro.

Fresh fish
Grouper has a tender texture and a sweet flavor, similar to sea bass. It’s often served in Bermuda with sautéed bananas. The combination of sweet and savory is very popular on the island. Wahoo is another local fish, but if even slightly overcooked, it can be terribly dry.

Where to find it: I enjoyed tastes of grouper at both Muse and Swizzle Inn, where it was expertly prepared.

Rum cake
Rich buttery cakes doused in rum are popular in Bermuda, as they are in the Caribbean. The best are airy, light, boozy and just a touch moist in the center.

Where to find it: While I had samples at many shops, the best I had was at the luxurious Fairmont Southampton.

Pepper jelly
I never understood the appeal of pepper jelly until I had it in Bermuda. Wow! This spicy sweet jam with chunks of pepper was the perfect foil for a fresh scone slathered with clotted cream. But it’s also great on toast with butter. There are lots of different varieties and brands, some hotter and others sweeter.

Where to find it: The best price I found for it was at the supermarket in Hamilton but you’ll find it at gift shops and in the duty free stores at the airport.

Bailey’s Ice Cream
DJ Donovan, one of the charming taxi drivers and guides on Bermuda told me the best ice cream on the island is at Bailey’s, and I believe it. The rum raisin is made with the Gosling's Black Seal Rum of course.

Where to find it: Bailey's is across the street from the Swizzle Inn, At Wilkinson Ave and Blue Hole Hill (in Bailey's Bay), Hamilton Parish

Gosling’s is the oldest business in Bermuda and makes Bermuda’s only rum. The sugar cane is not grown on Bermuda, and it’s not distilled there either. But the proprietary blend of distillates from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad is blended there and it’s distinctive spicy flavor is the key ingredient in the Dark and Stormy and the Rum Swizzle, both of which you should try while on the island.

The Dark ‘N Stormy, Gosling's trademarked cocktail, is made from Gosling's Black Seal Rum and ginger beer over ice. The recipe for the Rum Swizzle varies, but it often consists of Gosling's Black Seal Rum, and a combination of lime, and orange and pineapple juice and a sweetener such as falernum or grenadine. If you want to try their most premium rum, look for the family reserve.

While you can find Gosling's Black Seal Rum off the island, what you can’t find is Bermuda Gold, a brand owned by Gosling's. It’s a sweet loquat liquor made on the island. It’s fruity and slightly reminiscent of amaretto. It’s great over ice, with orange juice of sparkling wine. It's also perfect over vanilla ice cream.

Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum is in limited supply and very expensive off the island. A must for rum connoisseurs, this award-winning rum is rich and mellow with spice and fruit.

Where to find it: You can get the cocktails anywhere, buy Bermuda Gold liqueur or the Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum at the airport in the duty free section, at the gate. The prices there are the best you'll find.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Bermuda Tourism, However I was not paid for this, or any other post and I paid for some food and drink that is featured in this post.