Whenever I travel I like to try the local food. The beachfront bars and restaurants all seem to carry the same menu and try to give a flavour but it is almost always toned down a little for the tourist trade. It seldom has the same love and attention that someone just cooking for their family could provide.
Go back a couple of blocks and you’ll find something a little cheaper, a little closer to the real thing. We tried a couple of these in Barbados. The first is an evening pop-up a little tourist shopping village. My Friends Cafe is set in a little tourist shopping courtyard. At night all units are closed but My Friends is open for business. All these cafes have a limited menu and typically one chef. There are ten or so tables scattered around the dimly lit courtyard. The menus are usually written up on a whiteboard or, in this case, on the waitress’s notepad.
I chose the Marlin with grilled potatoes and it came simply presented. The Marlin was beautifully moist and seasoned well. The potatoes must be a waxy variety which have been parboiled and then put on the barbecue to finish with a touch of garlic butter. They hold their shape well and are a tasty accompaniment. These places are usually cash only and a meal for two with a rum punch and some Banks beer came to 85 Bajan dollars so roughly £30.
Another evening we were recommended by a local resident to try Christine’s Just Stop restaurant if we wanted some home cooking.
This is situated at the corner of the sports field well away from the main part of The Gap. We wouldn’t have come this way without the recommendation – football training and some half court basketball was well I way under he floodlights. Just Stop looks nothing from the outside but the proprietor was very welcoming and friendly. The menu was very small but instantly some items stood out that I hadn’t seen so far.
I chose golden-fried flying fish with rice and peas and my wife went for savoury chicken with mac pie. My flying fish was beautifully crisp and piping hot from the fryer. The rice and peas were the best so far with good moisture and texture the peas. This was with pigeon peas rather than kidney beans. The chicken option was to choose either breast or thigh. The breast was in a red-wine style slow cooked sauce. The Mac pie was soft and light. We just had room to try the home made vanilla cake, fresh from the oven, with some ice cream. It would have made Mary Berry smile – very simple but absolutely delicious light sponge width a crisp ‘crust’. Our host was charming and we learnt a bit more about the island from talking with her. For our meal with a shared pudding it came to less than US$40