Category Archives: St. Croix

Getting “Chili” With It In St. Croix

On August 11, it will be Chili on the Beach in St. Croix.

Many travelers to St. Croix know that Divi Carina Bay Resort plays host every year to the glamorous and delicious Taste of St. Croix, an epicurean evening featuring the island’s best restaurants.  When August comes around, the mood changes a bit, the temperature rises and the Divi beachfront is the place to chow down some chili at the United Way Chili Cookoff.

You might be thinking that the Caribbean is all about conch chowder, pina coladas and rum, but chili is what will pack them onto the beach on Sunday, August 11, from 11am until 9pm. Chili plus live bands, dancing, games for children and adults and a knee-slapping good time. It’s all for a good cause and a chance to decide who is number #1 in chili on the island of St. Croix– be it beef, chicken, turkey, pork or a vegetarian version.

St. Croix’s chili champion goes on to compete in November at the International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas–the granddaddy of all chili cookoffs.  The St. Croix winner receives airfare, entrance fee to the chili cook-off and a RV for the four-day celebration of chili.

Last year, the event drew 1300 people to the Divi beachfront. Admission is free. Attendees pay for the chili samples, each sample raising funds for several worthwhile causes.  If you want to be a part of it, the June Summer Deal at Divi Carina Bay includes a free night for either a four-night or five-night stay through August 31st.  Now, that is a great recipe:  chili, charity and a vacation special.

Chowder Down

Chowder isn’t just for New England.  And, it isn’t just for winter.   Wherever there is a sea, there’s chowder in some form or another. Whether on the coast of the Atlantic, Pacific or the Caribbean Sea, chowder chefs blend the flavors and bounty of both land and sea.   Chowder, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  Well, that’s going to be a challenge, as there are endless variations on the chowder theme, enough to have a competition.

This past year’s Taste of St. Croix featured impressive and, I might add, the always delicious, kitchen concoctions from over 50 restaurateurs, caterers and professional chefs.  Among the categories of the culinary competition was “soup/stew,” which always draws a number of creative interpretations of chowder.  Last year’s prizewinners had hinted at the possibilities of the palate-pleasing nature of chowder with pumpkin seafood and Crucian conch versions.

Chowder has always been a part of the weekly Seafood Fest at Divi Carina Bay for good reason: It’s a crowd pleaser all year long.   You never know until the first taste whether it’s wahoo, mahi or snapper that went from the boat into the pot that day. Carina Bay’s Executive Chef Thomas is determined to win the soup/stew category of the 2013 Taste of St. Croix with the Divi Signature Seafood Chowder.  If he wins, he won’t have to go far – the Taste is staged right outside his kitchen on the Divi beachfront.  As always, the competition is keen.  All the soups are tasty.  Who wants the recipe?

There were six other “best” categories in the Taste of St. Croix: appetizer, entrée, dessert, beverage, local fare, presentation and vegetarian.  And while judges were behind closed doors sampling, assessing and ranking entries, 1500 guests outside on the Divi beachfront were sampling the same.  No worries, there are always plenty to go around.  And, by the way, last year the St. Croix Central High School afterschool cooking class won best vegetarian dish.  That certainly bodes well for St. Croix’s culinary future.

In addition to Thomas and his staff, 40 other Divi Carina Bay personnel were hard at work with 114 volunteers to help make the Taste a sensational event this past year.  It’s a very big party and one you shouldn’t miss next year.  Same time. Same place. It’s a great night to chow-der down.

Knock, Knock. Holland Has a King!

Today promises to be a very colorful day in certain parts of the Caribbean – all stemming from the rise of a new king in Holland. His Royal Highness The Prince of Orange ascends to the throne that day. Hear ye and welcome King Willem-Alexander.

The investiture of the new king is taking place on Queen’s Day. Confused? If you’ve ever found yourself in The Netherlands, on St. Maarten, Aruba or other Dutch provinces and states around the globe, you know that April 30th is huge holiday, called Queen’s Day. When Queen Juliana ascended to the throne in 1949, she marked her monarchy with an annual celebration on her birthday, April 30. Her daughter, Beatrix, who became queen in 1980, didn’t think January 31, her birthday, was a good day for outdoor parades and merry-making, so she kept her Queen’s Day on April 30th.

Note to travelers: Queen’s Day next year is cancelled. Lest you think an uprising is about to occur at the loss of a national holiday, no worries. Starting in 2014, King’s Day fittingly will replace Queen’s Day; but the celebration will move to April 27th, which is the new king’s birthday. The king has already concurred that April is indeed a splendid time of year for a day off and grand party. This decision continues a long line of service to the people and practicality by the Dutch monarchy. (They’re also known for abdication, too. Queen Beatrix is handing the reins to her son, as her mother did for her, believing it is time for a new generation to lead the monarchy.)

Of this you can be certain: the national holiday that celebrates the monarchy – be it king or queen – is a great day for the wearin’ of the orange. Orange is the national color of The Netherlands because the Dutch royal family is known as the House of Orange-Nassau. The dynasty traces its lineage to the marital union of the royal house of Nassau-Breda in Germany with the Chalon-Orange line from France Burgundy in 1515.

The soon to be King Willem-Alexander is the first male heir to the Dutch throne in over 100 years. He and his wife have three daughters. And, you know what that means: King’s Day will become Queen’s Day once again.
The historical signs at Fort Amsterdam in St. Maarten, which are a very special part of the grounds of Divi Little Bay Resort, already have been repainted – with a fresh coat of orange, of course – to note the change in leadership of the Dutch Kingdom. At a ceremony there on April 27, SIMARC, an organization that works to preserve the island’s heritage, was awarded an Orange Bow, a very special honor indeed since it is the last bestowed under the reign of the outgoing queen.
Orange you glad you read this?

Eat. Play. Love.

The Taste of St. Croix, set for April 18th, turns thirteen this year!  What began as a modest one-night celebration of local restaurants now has grown into a week-long food festival, called the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience.  It is now the largest culinary event in the Caribbean.

And, that’s a fact that makes Katherine Pugliese mighty proud.  Pugliese, proprietor of eat@canebay restaurant, together with Kelly Odum staged the first Taste of St. Croix in 2001, at Divi Carina Bay Resort.  Now, the Thursday evening event – the highlight of the Food & Wine Experience and the social event of the island’s social calendar – draws over 1500 people and stretches nearly the length of the Divi beachfront.  Speaking about last year’s event, Pugliese said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen St. Croix look so beautiful and so happy…”

Eat.  Play.  Beach.  Music.  A little wine.  A little rum. What’s not to love?

Did you set your clock on Sunday…for Taste of St. Croix?

Yes, you need to set your clock.  In just 5 days, tickets go on sale for the Taste of St. Croix, the annual food extravaganza that draws about 1500 people to the beachfront of the Divi Carina Bay Resort for a night of sampling, sipping and music.  The event is always a sell-out, so if there’s any hope of snaring a ticket, you will have to set your clock.  On March 23 at 3:00pm is when Taste of St. Croix tickets go on sale online at http://www.stxfoodandwine.com/buy-tickets/.

This year’s Taste of St. Croix is Thursday, April 19th.  About sixty of the island’s best chefs, bakers, chocolatiers and caterers leave their kitchens and set up stands on the Divi Carina Bay’s beachfront, offering samplings of their specialties under the stars. While guests sample and sip – wineries, breweries and rum distilleries also participate – a panel of renowned celebrity chefs from the States are hard at work determining prize-winning entries.

The Taste of St. Croix is the centerpiece to the six-day St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, which includes other food oriented activities such as Cuisine on the Green, a tasty golf outing, a tasting “crawl” through historic Christiansted, and a sunset jazz BBQ on the pier in Fredriksted.  It’s a great way to experience the local food scene and the island’s scenery itself.  For the full schedule of events, visit http://www.stcroixfoodandwine.com/.

Set your calendar and your clock.  April in St. Croix is sunny and warm.  It’s also delicious and philanthropic.  Tickets benefit the St. Croix Foundation.

Yum…Who’s In The Mood For Food?

The St. Croix Food & Wine Experience isn’t until April, but we just can’t wait to talk about food until then.  We found Tanisha Bailey-Roka, an attorney by day and a “countess” by night.  She’s the Crucian Contessa, a name given to her by her friends and homage to Tanisha’s favorite celebrity chef:  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  (Who sadly is not one of the celebrity chefs judging this year’s Taste of St. Croix at Divi Carina Bay, April 18th.)  Tanisha likes to cook food and, even better, she loves to share it.  So last year, she started The Crucian Contessa blog, full of recipes she cooks up for friends.

Well, count yourself among them.  Let’s try her Passion Fruit Mimosa.  Yum!  Easy, delicious, colorful — it’s a taste of the islands in a glass.  (I’m sure there are some vitamins in there, too.)

Tanisha says that St. Croix definitely influences what she creates, but she has such a curiosity about food that she doesn’t limit her culinary explorations to the island.  “Food is fascinating, whether it originates around the corner or around the world,” she says.

More recipes to come.  Soon Tanisha will share with us what she will be instructing budding chefs during the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience children’s cooking classes.

For a complete schedule of the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience and to purchase tickets for any of the events, including the Taste of St. Croix, held on the beachfront of the Divi Carina Bay Resort, go to http://www.stcroixfoodandwine.com/events

And, for another treat:  Divi has One Sweet Deal (a free night with a five night stay, plus Cruzan Rum Sampler & coupon book — all valued at $1000.)