Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Two Years Later

The first post on this blog represents in retrospect our meager beginnings at Beaches and Dreams. It is now the third season that Angela and I will be beginning in September of 2008 and we have spent the last 2 summers, from May until September, back in Alaska working at a remote camp in Galena, on the Yukon River, running a kitchen for the Alaska Fire Service. We are just about to head back down to Belize now and look back at the many improvements and changes we made to our beachfront resort and look forward to finishing the projects we have begun down there. So far we have added cement walkways and built a beach side dining deck, remodeled 2 of our 4 rooms and will do the other 2 upon our return in September. we added a tree house cabana that sleeps 4 for families with children and forged many friendships that will last a lifetime. Our plans for this season, as Angela and I are preparing to spend the entire next year there to gain residency and open year round include a dock extension which will house a bar and dining area over the water, and finally remodeling the upstairs living space where we have been staying in a state of semi-construction for the past two seasons. We have closed the resort the past 2 summers during the off season as we returned to Alaska for various reasons, but are now returning to stay and we can't wait!

Our restaurant, now named The Barracuda Bar and Grill, has proven to be just as busy as we wanted and we have gone to doing only breakfast for our guests and dinner 6 nights a week, with a daily happy hour happening from 4-6pm, closed on Tuesday. For a chef, it has moved me closer to the food than I have ever been. Daily forays to the see Francesco, the operator of the local vegetable stand, and a relationship with the actual fisherman who still paddle dugouts out every morning at sunrise, means that besides our base menu, a daily special board featuring just caught lobster and snapper fillets might just be filled out an hour before dinner time. It is a chefs dream, my personal culinary epiphany.

Angela too has reached a pinnacle of confectionery euphoria. Her deserts are highly acclaimed to visitors to the higher end resorts up the beach. It is not uncommon for one "batch" of visitors to extol the virtues of the Italian Rum Cream Torte upon their departure to a new "batch" of visitors as they cross paths on their way to the airport. Indeed, after many tourists have spent 2 or 3 happy hours at our little beachfront deck with us and later closed the bar after a lingering dinner, then a bottle of wine in our company before meandering back up the beach, they have conversations with total strangers telling them about the cuisine from "the Alaskans down the beach."

"You must stop down at the Barracuda Bar and Grill for some of the Mango Cream brulee' " they say, peppering the comment with stories of lingering dinners that started with conch seviche as an appetizer, with a segue of smoked pork tenderloin sliced over spicy black beans and the climactic ending of banana-rum torte. After a conversations at the airport, guests walk down the beach on their first foray in Hopkins and walk right up to us, as if they have known us all their lives. "you must be those guys from Alaska," they say.

"Why yes we are," I answer, and welcome to Beaches and Dreams, Home of the famous Barracuda Bar and Grill!"

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