The day is picture-perfect: azure skies, turquoise sea and a warm Caribbean breeze. The venue is a private villa tucked into a mountain overlooking Deep Bay on the West Coast of the Island of Antigua. The occasion: a milestone birthday celebration for a distinguished gentleman from Britain, currently living in Italy. This is no ordinary guy: restauranteur, wine merchant and Bon Vivant, his wife is known for her elaborate dinner parties and hostessing flair. Chef Miguel is in the kitchen and today he has been presented with the challenge: The Guest of Honor does not eat fish. After the shock of the conundrum of cooking on a Caribbean Island without sourcing the freshest wild-caught produce in the world, being from Peru where ceviche is renowned, he confidently proceeds. The outcome, we are certain, will be meaty and heavy. My primarily Pescatarian-in-winter husband and I enjoy the view and venue, consoling ourselves that it will be a joyous occasion regardless of the food.
The lively and congenial bartender primes everyone with a hearty glass of white wine, chosen for the tastes of the Birthday Boy. Fruity Sauvignon Blanc and dry Pinot Grigio flow like water. Uniformed staff arrive at the outdoor bar/bbq with plates of h’orsdovres: vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chili dipping sauce, hummus and coconut prawns. Shrimp aren’t really seafood, I think as I crunch into fried perfection: juicy, tender, mildly spiced toasted coconut without a drop of excess oil. The accompanying citrus mango dip is not overly sweet with just a hint of heat. Things are definitely looking up.
Guests mingle, drink and crunch happily, devouring the morsels quickly. Just as fast, we turn towards the expansive glass dining table to a veritable sea of appetizers: tempura sweet potato and broccoli, and magnificent mountains of duck salad garnished with pomegranite.
Oh, the salad. I overheard many a guest gush: “I don’t eat vegetables and this is delicious!” I, on the other hand, love my veggies and this salad was a symphony of tastes: smoky duck, hints of mint in the crisp mix of lettuces and that sassy punch of pomegranate. The mango dipping sauce played double duty as the dressing. I was extremely happy to see it again.
As the afternoon wiled away I watched as the enthusiastic bartender filled wine glasses to three quarters. When met with protests (mostly from ladies) he feigned indignance and poured even more. The party was a roaring success. Then we got a whiff of the main courses.
Roast chicken: crispy salty skin, juicy meat – amazing in its simplicity. Roasted baby potatoes, french green beans and teriyaki noodle stir fry, were surprisingly light and complimentary.
The afternoon celebrations continued, the plates were cleared and a tart, crisp apple cobbler and fluffy hill of lemon meringue arrived. Everyone found a bit of room in their satiated stomachs, including me. Divine.
Chef Miguel is employed by a Pittsburgh family when they are on-island, but is for hire when they are in Pittsburgh.
Food: International ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ambiance: Zen Caribbean Luxury ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️