Sunday, December 27, 2009

Antigua - St. John’s, Long Bay, and Shirley Heights

And we’re back!

Our five days in Antigua were wonderful - sailing, snorkeling, playing about, and just enjoying time with nothing to do. We didn’t stay through the Christmas holiday, but it was so interesting to be in the Caribbean at Christmastime - no snow, temperatures in the 80s, palm trees covered in Christmas lights, and The Jackson Five singing Christmas songs on every stereo.

One of the best parts of the trip was that Antigua allowed Little Scarlet to do some serious eating and drinking! Rum is everywhere in the Caribbean, and Antigua itself has more than one rum distillery. English Harbour’s rum is distilled in copper stills and aged in charred oak barrels, which gives it an incredibly smooth flavor. If you enjoy dark rum and happen across a bottle of English Harbour’s 5 year rum (one of Forbes Magazine’s ten most remarkable rums), buy it!

It was a bit of a struggle to find authentic Antiguan food where we were, but through visits to St. John’s and Shirley Heights, we were able to try local favorites like jerk chicken and jerk pork, and stewed pork and spinach rice. The island has a large wild goat population, so goat meat turns up a lot in lentil stews and a popular dish called “goat water”. Goat water is a spicy, thick soup similar to curry, made with goat meat, hot peppers, a combination of spices like cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, and coriander, and potatoes and carrots. Goat water broth is dense with rich goat fat, offering a very full and interesting mouthfeel, and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. If anyone has a recipe, Little Scarlet would love to try to make it!

It was hard to leave, but a lot of fun to come back to an American “white Christmas”. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Antigua is a very religious island, with church on Sunday mornings - and rum drinking and steel drum bands on Sunday nights! The barbecue chicken (above, top) from the Sunday parties at Shirley Heights is dunked in a spicy sauce, while the pork (above, bottom) is rubbed with plenty of jerk seasoning. Both are wonderfully tender, and go perfectly with a cold Red Stripe!

Indian food seems to be very popular in St. John’s, such as here at O’Grady’s Irish Pub - where they serve Guinness and goat roti!

Spinach rice can be found almost anywhere in Antigua, often alongside two local favorites: “macaroni pie” and stewed pork or goat. We made friends with a local in St. John’s (Antigua’s capital) who walked us over to this tiny road-side shack - delicious!

 Of course, nothing is more popular in the Caribbean than drinking alcohol. This was a typical afternoon for us: Red Stripe, Planter’s Punch (yes, that is dark rum floating on top of orange and pineapple juice, and light rum!), and a piña colada.


  1. Goat water reminds me of Sri Lankan black curry

  2. man, those drinks look good! do you know if a lot of liquor stores carry english harbour? it sounds delish

  3. looks like you had a wonderful time eating, drinking and soaking up the atmosphere down there ... thanks for the take and pics....

  4. Thanks 4 posting the pics...such a beautiful area & the food is yumme!!!

  5. Looks wonderful, sounds wonderful, and I can almost taste the food. Am I allowed to be envious? :-)

  6. Wow, lucky you... this place looks unbelievable.

  7. Wow, I love goat, and it is such a lean healthy meat. That chicken looks like it could pack a flavour punch as big as the rum ;)

  8. What a fabulous way to escape the chill of winter, even for a short time! When I visit my family for Xmas in Hawaii, it's always funny to hear holiday news along with surf reports!