Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Crucian Fusion: Traditional Gone Gourmet put on by CHANT. This delicious event featured local chefs putting their own gourmet twist on traditional island fare using ingredients that were locally grown and produced. Crucian and West Indian food is a flavorful melange that blends AmerIndian, African and European tastes and incorporates local tropical greens, fruits and berries. Guests were treated to samples of each of the chef’s creations and let me tell you, they were superb! Mouths were treated to tastes like organic mango and guavaberry sorbet, johnny cake with chocolate, stews of local organic greens and tofu, and much more. This was a true culinary celebration that honored the proud Crucian heritage.
This year’s event also featured St Croix born Chef Orlando Santos CEPC who recently competed in Bravo TV’s Top Chef Just Desserts finishing in the Top 4 and participating in the grande finale. Chef Santos spent the week visiting local school children spreading his message that with hard work and dedication, anyone can be a star. On the show, he was portrayed as the “villain” (there always has to be one doesn’t there?!) but I can tell you, he seems like a really nice and dedicated guy to me and we are all proud of the way he represented his island. It was clear that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way as a constant barrage of friends and family hailed him while he tried to conduct interviews – and he graciously acknowledged each one along the way.
Though I would liked to have seen more participating chefs, I’m sure that next year they’ll be banging on CHANT’s doors to get in to this masterfully crafted event. Well done CHANT!
Wines were on hand for tasting by purveyors like Tony Gatti of Dionysus Distributors.
And of course, as island residents know, its not a party without Cruzan Rum!
There was certainly no shortage of sweets!
You can find Thomas & Alisha selling their Sweetface organic chocolates at Caribbean Community Theatre before performances and during intermission! Theirs is a sinful blend of organic Ecuadorian Arriba Nacional-Fino de Aroma and the recipe has been carefully crafted over time and much happy experimentation.
Jaccar Organic Sorbets (one of my local favorites) mentioned that for the holidays they have Coquito, Guavaberry, and Peppermint Stick gelato available. Enjoy yours topped with one of their organic sauces. Guess where I’ll be going this week…
Chef Tahirah proudly displayed her sweets.
If you missed it, you can always taste them at Polly’s at the Pier in Frederiksted!
Stews are a popular local dish and each chef has their own version.
I sampled several with varying flavors of lemongrass, coconut milk and local herbs. Deeeelish!
Local “Bush Lady” Veronica Gordon is not only a talented chef, but also gives walking tours that emphasize the medicinal and spiritual aspects of St Croix. Ms. Gordon is a 7th generation native traditional Bush Doctor (Herbalist). With her smile and enthusiasm for her food, its easy to see that her hikes would be not only informative but fun. At the event she prepared rice and pigeon peas cooked in coconut milk, topped with a stew of greens, coconut jelly and other flavors. It had an earthy, nutty flavor with a sweet finish and was one of my favorites of the evening. For more information and to book one of Ms. Gordon’s Tours visit CHANT’S website
Christmas in the islands means Guava berry Liqueur and Coquito, a kind of coconut eggnog. Both are made by hand and fly off the shelves as soon as they are put up. The Guava berry is great over vanilla icecream and I like my Coquito on the rocks – but get your own bottle, its toooo good to share!
I’m not sure if the cruise ship passengers in port were there late enough in the evening to enjoy the festivities, but I know that if they were they enjoyed it. I can’t wait for next year’s event and Christmas is definitely a great time to travel to St Croix, so stay tuned to our Events Calendar and plan your St Croix vacation around some of the excellent events we have year-round.