Location: The Caribbean
Geography: A tropical archipelago of over 700 islands with coastal areas, forest, and mangroves
Signature flavours: Seafood, corn, nutmeg, ginger, coconut, tropical fruits, rice
Incredibly, on the underused shelves of our local rural library, Eric discovered a Bahamian cookbook. He used it exclusively to create his menu, although it must be said that he ran into some troubles when it came to reducing recipes. We worked together a couple of times to re-jig recipes as needed to ensure success.
Corn and Lobster Soup: A white wine and fish broth-based soup loaded with chunks of luicy lobster and cobs of sweet corn.
Prep and cooking time: 40 min
Creamy Baked Cabbage: Boiled cabbage spices with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and baked with a crispy cheese topping.
Prep and cooking time: 45 min
Andros Crab Cakes: Golden brown balls of crab, cayenne pepper, green onion, bell peppers, and panko crumbs, named for the largest island in the country.
Prep and cooking time: 15 min
Grand Bahama Bread Pudding: A soft, cake-y British-style pudding drizzled with ginger cooked cream (made from ginger beer, vanilla bean, and heavy cream) and served with ice cream.
Prep and cooking time: 75 min
The Shopping List
Eric had to go to a larger town for a few choice items, including his seafood and the vanilla bean pod for the ginger cooked cream. Everything else was sourced at a local market. He looked high and low for conch — a signature flavour of the Bahamas that Eric had hoped to include on his menu — but just couldn’t find it away from the well-stocked fish markets of Toronto. Though we had to go without for this assignment, we’ve enjoyed conch in the past.
My dad was a guest at this particular WSW dinner, and having never been to one before, he was impressed by Eric’s spread — steaming bowls of soup with a bright yellow corn cob floating at the surface, a perfect round cake atop a glass stand — and all three of us dug in eagerly.
The soup was a well-balanced dish of salty-sweet lobster, acidic white wine, and juicy corn. We slurped up chunks of lobster claw meat and enjoyed crunchy bites off the corn cobs.
Cheesy and melty, the creamy baked cabbage was the definition of comfort food.
The crab cakes had to be modified a little. The recipe lacked egg or any other consolidating agent and when deep fried, fell to pieces at once. Eric added egg and flour which made the cakes much more cohesive and fry-able. They were golden and crispy and utterly delicious.
The dessert was beyond decadent. The cake was perched on a stand until it was cut, a beautiful sugary centrepiece. Eric piled each slice with pineapple coconut ice cream, drizzled the ginger cooked cream on top, and sprinkled the dish with candied ginger. The cooked cream gave the whole dish its character, lending an intense sweet spiciness to the tropical flavours of the ice cream and the simple pound cake. It was an excellent finish to a standout meal.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.