Top Shelf: by Chef Tim MacDonald
Two quick Wadadils at the Rubis corner gas station and I board the English Harbour-to-St. Johns rocket.
Think Gene Wilder’s “Willy Wonka” gondola ride, only the captain is a Rasta infused with enough local herbs to season a Christmas turkey.
I am hopelessly wedged in the back, left-hand corner by Big Hettie, and as we speed by the Friday night pop-up barbecue vendors, VJ’s bakery, and the red chicken fry shack that Lucy introduced me to, I am reminded how lucky we are as yacht crew to travel around the world experiencing all.
The trip takes you past – and through, at death-defying speeds – all the local favorites, right to the heart of it, freak show central: St. John’s Friday night chaos fueled by post-cruise ship profits.
Charter yacht food-heaters will agree that Antigua has come a long way in the past eight years. We are now blessed with Joanne’s fantastic micro herb farm, Fred’s ice creamery, and the best of the best – Stewie’s Lobster Runner provisioning. What I love about it all is the local element. The only way to win in Antigua is to learn to use the local ingredients.
There is nothing more definitive about Antigua than the pop-up food vendors that appear and disappear within half a day. Out of nowhere, I find a table selling cakes made by a local Antiguan woman: dark rum Christmas cake, banana bread, and bread fruit pudding, to name a few.
This is what it’s all about – locally produced and indicative of the local cuisine. One of the many building blocks of becoming a yacht chef is understanding how to use the local element to your favor. To a degree, this is what the charter guests want to see on the table in Antigua – not burrata, for God’s sake!
All in all, banana bread is the one item that you will always find on any Antiguan food shelf for sale.
220 grams plain flour
120 grams caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon all spice
1 cup moist, sweetened shredded coconut
200 grams local banana smash
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix all and bake at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes, or until a food thermometer reaches 80 C.
Tim MacDonald (timothymacdonald.weebly.com) has more than 20 years experience as a chef. He was named Concours de Chefs winner for Yachts over 160 feet at the 2011 Antigua Charter Yacht Show. His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.