A taste of Barbados

The 'Caribbean culinary capital' holds its biggest food and rum festival this month. UK chef Tom Aikens reveals his hotspots

By Tom Aikens
Published 7 Oct 2017, 09:00 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 11:53 BST

Tides Restaurant, Barbados

Photograph by Tides Restaurant

Barbados has a wonderful range of fresh, local seasonal produce, which I'm excited about working with when I visit this month. I'm particularly looking forward to creating dishes that showcase the wonderful seafood available on the island. And I'm also keen to meet the local fisherman because, for me, one of the best parts about travelling is the opportunity to discover new ingredients and techniques from local sources. The homegrown spices, too — turmeric, pepper, marjoram, ginger, fenugreek, cumin, anise, allspice, mace, cardamom and loads more — present an opportunity to learn as much as I can about how best to use them. And, having worked on a dessert with rum — when you're visiting its birthplace, it would be almost rude not to — I'm hoping it will win the approval of the locals.

Beach eats
I'm a big fan of beach shacks, like Cuz's Fish Shack on Pebbles Beach on the island's west coast. Few things taste better than fresh fish on the beach — fish cutters are the main draw here: salt bread sandwiches with just-caught fish, topped with pink pepper sauce (if you've the palate for it).

Fish Pot Restaurant, just outside Speightstown, is another beautiful spot. Set in an old fort, right on the water, the views from the terrace are fabulous, as is the seafood: signature dishes include lobster ravioli and pan-fried mahi-mahi.

Fine dining
Chef Guy Beasley and I have been working together to create a menu that incorporates local seasonal produce. We've also teamed up with mixologists to create the perfect cocktail. 

The Cliff restaurant is another place that's firmly on my radar; the setting and the food are both legendary. This is one of the Caribbean's top dining spots.  

Rum do
The Barbados Food and Rum Festival (16-19 November) sees various venues host cooking demos, food and rum-pairing menus, cocktail masterclasses, beach parties and more, headed up by local and international chefs. foodandrum.com

Tom Aikens

At 26, Tom was the youngest British chef ever to win two Michelin stars. Today, he runs several restaurants and makes his debut at the Barbados Food and Rum Festival at The Tides Restaurant on 19 November.

Published in the November 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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