St Croix One Taste at a Time

A Taste of St Croix isn’t just a gastronomic competition featuring A-list celebrity chef judges each April, it’s a journey through the many flavors that make up the cultural, agricultural and culinary map that is St Croix. It’s a time to celebrate the dining establishments that not only bring in locals and tourists, but bring them back time and time again. And it’s a time to explore new wines, dance and party along a stunning palm-tree  lined Caribbean beach.

This year’s “Taste” at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort was, in my opinion, one of the best I’ve seen yet! There were so many enthusiastic participants, the decor was fun and fab and the list of celebrity judges was nothing short of impressive. I’d had the chance the day before to briefly meet Chef Govind Armstrong at his book signing at Undercover Books and was excited to catch him before the festivities for a brief interview. When asked what things about St Croix that he liked most so far, he mentioned how wonderful our local growers were at establishing a network with the local restaurants. Earlier in the week, celebrity and participating chefs had a chance to browse a special St Croix Food & Wine Week Farmer’s Market to purchase local produce for their menus. Chef Armstrong was particularly impressed at the abundance, diversity and quality of our fresh local produce and especially in that many growers had asked the restaurants and chefs, prior to the planting season, what they would like to see harvested. By working together the chefs and farmers are creating a new market on St Croix that not only benefits the restaurants, but also visitors and locals (like me!) who frequent our wonderful farm stands.

Chef Armstrong, who grew up in Costa Rica and has traveled extensively throughout the Caribbean, also mentioned that he really loved the landscape and the warm people of our island. He’s looking forward to a return trip with his family where he can take more time to explore St Croix and especially visit and hike through some of our lush green spaces like those at the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm out West in the rainforest or simply lime on one of our beautiful beaches.

But this night, it was all about the FOOD on St Croix and there’s plenty of it! So enjoy my delicious journey through the event and then go visit some of these great chefs in their natural habitat – find them by exploring our

St Croix Dining Guide

Taste of St Croix Pre-Event Wine Tasting

St Croix Lime Editor, Trevor Clendenin, enjoys a taste at the wine bar following the press conference.

The lobby at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort was transformed into a chic lounge
by Michele Marquis of Dream Island Events

Taste of St Croix at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort

Taste of St Croix at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort

The event spans the entire beach at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort.

Taste of St Croix at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort

A real Caribbean celebration featuring palm trees, turquoise waters and blue skies.

Taste of St Croix Salud Bistro

One of my favorite restaurants on the island, Salud! is known for their savory, Mediterranean and North African-inspired dishes. If you are visiting St Croix – don’t miss this great dining experience.

Taste of St Croix Restaurant Dashi Sushi

Another one of my personal favorites, Dashi offers creative Asian/Caribbean fusion specials on a nightly basis, and of course, the freshest sushi often featuring local caught, fresh off the boat fish.

Everybody loves the Brew Pub! The only micro-brewery in the Caribbean featuring
some of the best live entertainment and a great pub-style menu!

Taste of St Croix Prestige Wine Group

Prestige Wine Group, one of the event sponsors, offered up a wonderful selection of wines for tasting.

The judges begin the arduous task of tasting the night’s competition.

Taste of St Croix Celebrity Chef Judges Govind Armstrong Ana Sortun

Celebrity Chef judges like Govind Armstrong and Ana Sortun feasted on
competition categories of appetizers, soups, entrees, desserts and cocktails.

Taste of St Croix Wine

Taste of St Croix Wine

Taste of St Croix Wine LIttle Black Dress

Every girls needs a “Little Black Dress”

Taste of St Croix Palm Trees Divi Carina Bay

… and Palm trees.

Taste of St Croix Bistro

The Bistro, my daily haunt, was just getting set up as I went by (judging started before the event opened to the public), but I knew I’d be back later in the evening for a hot cuppa joe!

Taste of St Croix Local Produce

I was so excited to see an abundance of local produce featured throughout the event!

Taste of St Croix Ridge to Reef Farm

Nate Olive of Ridge to Reef Farm at the VI Sustainable Farm Institute describes the food that Chef Tahira is dishing up. They ended up with First Place in the “Local Fare” category!

A Taste of St Croix local produce

Local bok choy (one of my favorite veggies) was used in dishes served up by caterer Shanti Shawa

A Taste of St Croix local produce

A Taste of St Croix local Schooner Bay Market

Schooner Bay Market entered twice as “Schooner Bay Every Day” representing their great Christiansted market and as “Schooner Bay Catering”. I met up with them as they sent food to the judges tent. Looked yummy!

A Taste of St Croix Diageo Captain Morgan

It was now time to hit the beachside Captain Morgan lounge and begin my quest to find the swashbuckling hottie who I’d spent so much time with in college. That guy got me in a lot of trouble back then!

A Taste of St Croix Diageo Captain Morgan Lounge

A Taste of St Croix Diageo Captain Morgan

A Taste of St Croix Diageo Captain Morgan

I didn’t find the Captain yet, but I did find some really tasting Captain Morgan spiced rum punch!

Taste of St Croix judges tent

Local restaurants and caterers continued lining up to present to the judges

Taste of St Croix judges tent

Local celebrity Chef Joseph Stiles, an ambassador for the event, chats with
visiting celeb Chefs Eric Greenspan and Chef Roberto Trevino

Taste of St Croix Peoples Choice

Taste of St Croix

Guests were starting to head in and the People’s Choice ballot box was open… so it was time to start tasting some food!

Taste of St Croix The Galleon

Taste of St Croix The Galleon

The Galleon Restaurant ended up taking First Place for their entree!

Taste of St Croix Williamette Valley Vineyards

West Indies Corp was pouring luscious wines from
2011 Winery of the Year recipient Williamette Valley Vineyards

Taste of St Croix Bluewater Terrace

Taste of St Croix Bluewater Terrace

Bluewater Terrace, famous for Lori’s downhome country fried chicken was serving that and
a really decadent neapolitan of lobster, ham and other yummy goodness.

Taste of St Croix

Bumping into good friends at fun events is Reason #127 why I love St Croix

Taste of St Croix Good to Chew

Taste of St Croix Good to Chew

The events of the St Croix Food & Wine Experience offer a great opportunity for the youth in local high school culinary programs to spread their wings. The kids from St Croix Complex High School’s “Good to Chew’ catering class made a really great showing with their prawn and scallop dish.  The St. Croix Central High School Culinary Arts Class took Second Place in the Dessert category and The Afterschool Cooking Class took First place in the Vegetarian dish category.  I’m happy to say there’s no shortage of great up and coming chefs  in our island’s future!

Taste of St Croix Pirate's Tavern

Taste of St Croix Pirate's Tavern

Taste of St Croix Pirate's Tavern

Local radio personality and restaurateur, Kim Jones, was keeping her tawdry crew in line as they served up some might tasty margaritas and AMAZING hand-made pork and local pumpkin tamales. In fact, Pirate’s Tavern won Second Place Best Appetizer and First Place in the dessert category. (I missed that – dang!)

Taste of St Croix

Taste of St Croix

Eat at Cane Bay

Eat@Cane Bay‘s owner and chef Frank Pugliese  served up some delicious sliders

Taste of St Croix Eat at Cane Bay d

And really decadent dessert!

Taste of St Croix Cruzan Rum

Cruzan Rum was well represented with their “Love Potion #9″ featuring Cruzan 9 spiced rum.

Taste of St Croix Premier Wine and Spirits

The wine kept flowing as the sun went down!

Taste of St Croix Starfish Patisserie

Taste of St Croix Starfish Patisserie

Stafish Patisserie didn’t disappoint, offering up cake bites with flavors like mango, guava and keylime.

Taste of St Croix

Juggling all of this food and wine can be tough work, but event admission includes these handy plates with a spot for your glass.

Taste of St Croix Art Farm

Art Farm was serving up an INCREDIBLE dairy free icecream that was like a cross between sorbet and gelato with a coconut milk base. They sell it at their weekly farm stand. I can’t wait to bring some home!

Taste of St Croix Savant Restaurant

Taste of St Croix Savant Restaurant

Another of my favorite restaurants, Savant, known for their Asian/Mexican/Caribbean fusion and super fresh fish was offering a Thai style soup …

Taste of St Croix Savant Restaurant

Taste of St Croix Savant Restaurant

… And rockstar chef  “Dreads” dished up scallops with fried wontons and a to-die-for wasabi cream sauce.
(Tip: try their casava crusted fish of the day at Savant, it never disappoints!)

Taste of St Croix John Eddie's Lowlife Bar & Refuge

Then it was time to head over to the (soon-to-open in the old STIXX location)
John Eddie’s Low Life Bar & Refuge to find out what bartender Jesse Card was concocting.

Taste of St Croix John Eddie's Lowlife Bar & Refuge

Taste of St Croix John Eddie's Lowlife Bar & Refuge

Taste of St Croix John Eddie's Lowlife Bar & Refuge

His hand smoked “Bonfire Old Fashioned” ended up taking First Place in the Beverage Category!

Taste of St Croix Tavern 1844

Taste of St Croix Tavern 1844

Taste of St Croix Tavern 1844

Joe & Vic of Tavern 1844 were defending their “Best Burger”‘s 2011 First place win in the Entree category. They didn’t take first this year, but they place 2nd with their now named “Second Best” Burger: a delicious combination of fried goat cheese, whiskey-glazed apples, caramelized onions & truffle honey on a hand-crafted Tavern burger. Decadent!! Oh, and they serve it with a side of duck-fat fries.

I had a few more bites left in me, so I headed over to yet another favorite joint on the island….

Taste of St Croix Rowdy Joe's

Taste of St Croix Rowdy Joe's

Taste of St Croix Rowdy Joe's

Taste of St Croix Rowdy Joe's

Taste of St Croix Rowdy Joe's

I knew Rowdy Joe’s would be serving up some of their “Good Mood Food”.
The lamb empanada was scrumptious. Rowdy’s took second place in the Vegetarian category.

Taste of St Croix RumRunner's

Taste of St Croix RumRunner's

Boardwalk favorite RumRunner’s once again claimed the “People’s Choice” award, BUT this year,
they shared it in a tie with The Carambola Golf Club!

Taste of St Croix Captain Morgan

I finally caught up with Captain Morgan and his Morganettes. He’s always leading the party!

Taste of St Croix Captain Morgan

The party in the Captain’s lounge was in full swing and I got a chance to catch up with Gov. DeJongh for an interview. He – along with Captain Morgan – was excited for the grand opening the following Monday, of the Captain Morgan Experience Center on St Croix.

Taste of St Croix Ziggy's

Taste of St Croix Ziggy's

Somehow I made room for one more delicious bite – my friends at Ziggy’s Market
were serving up the perfect late-night snack – Cubanos!

Taste of St Croix The Bistro

Taste of St Croix The Bistro

After the long, grueling day of tasting and reporting, I needed a shot of caffeine and knew
I’d find it at The Bistro’s table. Proprietor Clint Simon was still serving it piping hot with a smile!

Taste of St Croix Tutto Bene

On our way back to the lobby to cover the award announcements, I stopped by Tutto Bene’s table and I was so glad I did! They had an adorable ducky pond incorporated with their famous antipasto. They ended up taking first place for “Best Presentation”.

Taste of St Croix

Taste of St Croix

Taste of St Croix

Bellies were full and the crowd was anxiously awaiting the award results. It was an amazing evening that wasn’t over – following the Awards Ceremony guests and participants danced it all off in Divi’s Starlight lounge at the Moet After-Party.

For a full list of 2012 results visit A Taste of St Croix’s website.

If I’ve convinced you that you can’t possibly miss the 2013 Taste of St Croix – visit the St Croix Food & Wine Experience website for updates on 2013 events and travel packages!

Tell us about your favorite St Croix dining Experience!

Leave a comment below by Wednesday May 30th and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of St. Croix Food & Wine Experience: A Culinary Guide to the Island Featuring More Than 100 Recipes from Island and Celebrity Chefs. Pages have been autographed by event founders Katherine Pugliese & Kelly Odom, and local and celebrity chefs like Govind Armstrong, Ana Sortun, Roberto Trevino, and more!

Winner will be selected by random drawing on May 30th and announced on our Facebook Page.  When posting a comment, your email will be submitted to us and we’ll contact the winner for shipping details! All comments are moderated and approved by the editor before being posted online.

Comments

  1. Richard Smith says

    Sara and I had a wonderful time at Taste! We were sad that we wereissing JazzFest but the food at Taste was so good we forgot all about N’awlins. And we have plenty of good music on St.Ceoix year-round.

  2. says

    You inspire me with your pictures! This event really showcases the best St. Croix has to offer in the food and beverage industry! Thank you for the story in pictures you created- especially of the familiar faces! :)

    • says

      Thanks Heather for the kind words! St Croix really is a culinary playground. My only regret was that there were so many amazing bites and not enough time to taste each and every one!

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