Traveling pleasures, for me, include exploring food markets and trying my hand at local cuisines.
We’ve just returned from Barbados, the most easterly island in the West Indies; a 3 1/2 hour flight south from Miami, and then another hour flight south to Venezuela.
When traveling, Richard and I often rent a VRBO, a subsidiary of Home Away, Flip Key (owned by Trip Advisor) or an AirB&B condo, depending on the location we’re traveling. Trolling these sites is a favorite sport and can reap dividends. The best for less condos book first.
Said condo must be in a location ideal for a safe integration into the culture. Excellent reviews are a given, but anything less than a full-service kitchen’s a deal breaker.
Here’s the link to the condo we decided to splurge on; throw in that kiss the Caribbean view and it was worth every penny. A bit pricier than what we usually spend, but think about it, I said to my husband. Think about what we’re saving by not eating out every meal.
In Barbados, fish–moments from the Atlantic–local produce and rum are a fraction of what you’d fork out in the States. I avoid the imports, which can cost two or three times the amount I’m used to spending.
Most certainly we eat out, people watching is half the fun. I select restaurants using Trip Advisor as my Michelin guide. Local menus, as well as the street food scene, inspired this vacation’s condo cooking.
At most rentals, pantry staples may not be much more than salt and pepper. Therefore, menus are minimalist by necessity. Take these melt-in-your-mouth marlin steaks.
The first evening after arriving we went to the popular Oistin’s Friday Night Fish Fry and had grilled marlin (see featured photograph). It was simply prepared and superb.
The next day, I went to the fish market and purchased blue marlin steaks.
For less than ten American dollars I purchased four juicy steaks from marlin that had just been caught in the Atlantic that morning.
The vendor recommended I marinate them in lemon juice, herbs, seasoning and oil, dip them in flour, and then fry the steaks in fat.
At an outdoor stall, I purchased lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes to make a simple salad.
Walking back to our condo, a small package of curry and a box of Zatarain’s rice and beans purchased at a thread-bare grocery store satisfied my ingredient list. I opt for pre-seasoned boxed grains when traveling. (Near East is another favorite.)
Why not? I only use half the pack of seasoning to avoid that over-salted, out-of-a box taste. I’ve no intentions of stocking the condo’s spice cabinet larder. Since I only travel with carry-on, I can’t pack leftover food stuffs in my luggage. Some fierce shepherd dogs at customs once sniffed out dried truffles I’d forgotten I’d packed in Lucca, Italy. Busted! I always learn the hard way.
Traditional Bajan food is rooted in African cuisine; I’m seeing a lot of rice and beans as sides in the menu boards around town. (As well as Macaroni Pie, which seems to be universally loved by the Bajans. Ugh. A step up from Sponge Bob, but I’ll pass, thanks for the offer.)
This is a no-recipe recipe that would work for any 3/4-inch sliced fish steak:
Whisk together juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/3 cup olive oil and and 2 teaspoons curry powder. Marinate each side of the steaks 15 minutes or so at room temperature. Dredge both sides in flour, shaking off excess. Heat fat, such as butter and olive oil, to medium-high heat. Fry each side apx. 4 minutes until golden brown.
They were superb seasoned with the local, ubiquitous yellow pepper sauce, blessedly another condo staple! There was no need to season them with salt, the briny Atlantic doused them with all the sodium required.
When I had my fill of fish (I never dreamed that would be possible), I’d choose one of the ubiquitous chicken curries in restaurants. After all, Rhianna, a native Bajan, says she can’t eat enough of this when she returns home.
I was delighted to unearth her favorite recipe for curried chicken, which looks heavenly–quite different from the usual Indian curries to which I gravitate.
Maneuvering the trickeries of long-distance travel comfortably on a budget is like mastering roulettes; one misstep finds you feeling homeless, curled up in a corner of Chaing Mai International Airport using a newspaper for a pillow. (Been there.)
TSA pre-screen and restricting our luggage to carry-on eases the pains of airline travel considerably. Using Frequent Flyer miles, avoiding weekend travel, and advance planning also contributes to seamless travel.
Because of the $200 fee, I’m on the fence regarding Global Entry. I blew it when I didn’t purchase Global Entry before purchasing the TSA pre-screen. (Global Entry automatically enrolls you in the pre-screen). I’ll purchase it after missing my next connection because of a long line through customs.
“A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss.”