The Bahamas Turquoise waters, Fresh seafood, Great beer and the most Friendliest People you’ll ever meet on this planet… What possibly more could one ask for. We sailed up to the Abaco Beach Resort which is a classic Bahamian getaway that depicts the true essence of the Out Islands of The Bahamas. The Sea of Abaco’s shallow, and navigable waters made for an easy ride over. Softly lit cabins that dotted the coast we edged closer to sunset and the dock, it was a windy day I remember, but the possibilities of adventure on the horizon left me inspired to explore.
The Abaco Islands are a group of islands and barrier cays in the northern Bahamas, east of southern Florida. The Islands often get passed over for other destinations in the Caribbean. But the series of islands, with hundreds of miles of unexplored forests, uninhabited cays, turquoise flats and villages locked in time, reward the adventurous traveler with all the delicious delights on offer. The largest dive site in the western hemisphere which include spots like Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park with its underwater caves and colorful coral reefs. Turtles, sting rays and sharks populate Walker’s Cay National Park, so watch where you go sticking your toes.
My usual walks around the new territory were encounted by some peculiarities. One certainly that would need better investigations. I love the possibility when you travel and when you travel looking for flavor town, you’d be surprised at the doors you end up at. Today’s door was at the local pub a grungy looking deck that clung to the coast like an old shipwreck from the past. Most people would think was inhabited by the local pirates themselves however the obnoxious music playing randomly in the background wasn’t gona put me off from the delightful aromas that wafted out onto the streets, if you ask me any restaurant frequently visited by the locals is always a good sign so always look around to see who is your company, and can I make it very clear, don’t give me that tourist bullshit that so many companies wanna force down your throat like some pill, no give me the mama’s and papa’s type of establishments,built on hard work and a history that lingers in the pots and pans, that’s when I’m in my atmosphere.
I sat down and ordered a cold Sands, a beer made locally, it’s what you do, when at a local fish fry, you’ll either find someone is drinking either Kalik, Sands or Pirate’s Republic. What can I say? I know a good thing when we taste it, and man this beer was smooth, soft, pleasant texture and on presentation a classic gold color. One swig and the taste of crisp, fine bitterness with robust flavors melts away the summer sun. To go with my new found favorite beverage, was a plate of locally caught conch fritters, severed next to scotch bonnet dipping sauce. This big guy (the conch) has been a staple for island dwellers throughout history. It’s no wonder they always look happy and content! Prepping’ fresh conch is a tough job though. It’s a story in itself!
The secret to all conch recipes is in the spices and the scotch bonnet chili sauce is definitely one to write home about. Scotch bonnet, also known as Bonney peppers, or Caribbean red peppers, is a variety of chilie pepper named for its resemblance to a tam o’shanter hat. It is native to the Caribbean islands and Central America. The Scotch bonnet has a sweeter flavor and stouter shape, distinct from its habanero relative with which it is often confused for, and gives jerk dishes (pork/chicken) and other Caribbean dishes their unique flavor. This sauce was on fire, but this simple combination of beer and conch could be my diet for the remaining time I was there and you wouldn’t get any complaints from this guy.
Another must to try if you ever are in the Caribbean is a Conch salad, the key ingredient in Bahamian conch salad- the conch- is a true treasure of the sea. Its raw, white meat comes from the regal looking pink-lipped and spiral-shelled Queen Conch (pronounced “konk”, not “konch, btw”). Unfortunately, due to rapid depletion in the Caribbean and the Americas, the species is slowly dying out and said to be commercially extinct. In fact, the Bahamian archipelago represents one of the few remaining areas where large populations still exist, and environmental conservation organizations are working hard to ensure that conch remains a local food source and economic resource for generations to come. There is little doubt that conch is the most iconic food of these islands and its presence on the Bahamian Coat of Arms is another visual testament of their adoration for it. The fresh and lively concoction of conch salad truly reveals the flavor of its meat – showcasing the shellfish in its raw form.
Conch salad itself is prepared much like a basic ceviche in Latin American countries – the only difference being the use of conch over raw shrimp or a white fish. Applying the same blueprint, finely chopped onions, tomatoes and bell peppers are mixed with an acidic but invigorating marinade of fresh lime, sour orange juice, and fiery goat pepper- a blend which serves to partly “cook” the meat.
Watching the tantalizing production of Bahamian conch salad being made by a local expert is perhaps even more fun than sipping your first spoonful. As you watch this delicious dish take shape, you will find bits of onion, green bell and scotch bonnet peppers, tomato, and conch meat being chopped in a crazy fervor. The speed and accuracy by which the dish is prepared will make even the most avid conch salad eater acknowledge this masterful performance each and every time, The ideal location to experience a fresh bowl of Bahamian conch salad being made right before your eyes is generally at one of the seafood stalls near the Harbor, don’t be shy say hello and wait your turn and watch the magic unfold.