Saturday, October 13, 2012

Barracuda Bar and Grill Re-Opens with a bang!

The Restaurant at Beaches and Dreams , The Famous Barracuda Bar and Grill re-opened on October 9th to a nice mixture of tourist and local residents who missed the fare for the past 3 months. The first order of business was to fire up the smoker for our house smoked items:    

Smoked chicken for our Chicken Adobo, Smoked Sausage for Pizza and Jerk smoked Pork Tenderloin, which we serve over a Cuban style Black Bean Coulis. I always throw on fresh vegetables to use as a flavor enhancer in  my daily vegetable, on pizzas or for roasted vegetable polenta.  Another great use for the smoked items is to bake with our popular Belizean Clay Pot Paella. all of our fresh seafood like snapper, shrimp, lobster and conch, smoke chicken, pork and sausage all baked over saffron rice and roasted vegetable in a clay pot for 2. 

The next order of business is to let the seafood suppliers, the local fishermen, know that i am back in business and ready to buy. during the busy times, I can easily go through 10 pounds of fresh fish filet in a night and the same amount of fresh lobsters so it takes a community of local fishermen to keep me supplied. This sea to plate relationship with my neighbors is one of the things I love most about cooking here in Belize. (Read the earlier post "The morning fisherman)
Next, I needed to get with the other suppliers, Country Meats supplies me with a nice young beef tenderloin for my Tuscan Beef Tenderloin, a filet seared and served in a pool of balsamic and garlic reduction. Pork loin makes the menu this season with medallions of pork with fig sauce. One of the local farmers now supplies me boneless Muscovy duck breast, which we prepare with a brandied apricot demi-glace. For vegetarians, we've added vegetarian wellington. A tower of fresh vegetables, a little smoked vegetables and cheese encrusted in a polenta crust and baked. We serve this in a pool of our house marinara. All in all, we've got the ball rolling to create some great dishes this season at our small 30 seat restaurant on the Caribbean Sea. Serving the freshest ingredients with an italian flair, now that's Mediteribbean.....You'd better Belize it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fishing Days are here!

Fishing in Belize is one of my favorite leisure time activities and in fact one of the reasons that I came down here. I've become expert at setting up fishing trips to the Belize Barrier Reef after cutting my teeth attempting various fishing methods in the wonderfully diverse fishing habitats that are available in a 7 mile radius of my front dock.
The Sittee River flows into the Caribbean Sea less than a mile to the south, providing a plethora of fishing opportunities both at the mouth and up the river. Incoming tides carry all types of the inner reef denizens like Snapper, Jacks and of course the namesake of my restaurant, the Barracuda Bar and Grill .
Up into the river and fishing the low mangroves form the river mouth upstream, you are likely to encounter monster Snook eager to hit soft baits or better yet, live bait. Also often under the mangrove overhangs are juvenile Tarpon, Mangrove Snapper, and Yellow Eyed Jacks. Through a cut in the mangroves, you can access Anderson Lagoon, home to Tarpon and Snook and also a great place to go on dark nights to see the phosphorescent glowing plankton that inhabit the lagoon,especially during the dry winter months when the salt content is high. There is nothing like a night time visit to Anderson Lagoon spotting crocodiles and Kinkajous while sipping a nice Chardonnay.

Coming out of the Anderson Lagoon Bar Mouth and heading south a mile, will bring you to Sapodilla Lagoon. At Sapodilla Lagoon at first light after a full moon phase, the Tarpon are voracious and hit anything that hits the water for about an hour after sunrise.

Trolling out to the reef and the inner reef is always a smorgasbord of fishing activity. Big Barracuda, King Mackerel, Jacks, Wahoo, and all varieties of Snapper are common catches along with the occasional Cobia. Once at the patch reef, you can change to some lighter gear and drop fish sardines for the smaller Yellow Tail and Silk Snapper, Grouper and amazing array of other fish. This is always great for kids as the action is almost omni-present and everyone on the boat can try at once. bring your snorkel gear and when it gets a little warm, jump in for some world class snorkeling .

Don't filet all those small snapper yet though, if its a calm day. you can head out through one of the cuts in the reef and find yourself drop fishing with larger gear with the live snapper in 200-400 feet of water where you never know what, or how big, of a fish you will catch.

Also with in this 7 mile radius of fantastically diversified fishing are the flats. World renown for its permit and bone fish, fly fisherman come from all over the world in hopes of getting the fly fishing grand slam in one trip. the Belizean Grand Slam consists of Bone Fish, Permit, Tarpon and Snook.

Come back to the Dock at Beaches and Dreams and ask to borrow one of our ultra light poles and cast out to the 2 O'clock position for grunts and small snapper that hang in the small patch of reef there and a full day of fishing is complete.

Well , almost complete,but not until you got a plate with pesto baked snapper filet over roasted vegetables and a glass of Pinot Grigio in front of you! From your fishing chef in Belize.....You'd Better Belize it!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Morning in Paradise

 As the sun rose over the Caribbean Sea

this morning, our catamaran, The Watuna, bobbed gently as I sipped my freshly brewed cup of Guatemalan coffee on the front porch. The catamaran has stayed moored out front for easy access for our Belize fishing, snorkeling and sailing trips. It can take up to 12 people and it was awaiting a tour this morning for a trip to the Barrier Reef, which lies just 5 miles off the coast of Hopkins, Belize. The guests were still mostly sleeping while my wife readied her usual breakfast delicacies for their enjoyment before heading out for a day of snorkeling the fabulous Belize Reef, which still teems with a plethora of colorful coral and fish.

    An Herbaceous Frittata

was on the menu this morning as the warm Caribbean Breeze and cacophony of birds are the usual alarm clock for slumbering guests at Beaches and Dreams. A few will meander out to get  coffee and head out to the dock to bid the day good morning and possibly contemplate how they can make the  vacation last.

      Fresh Fruit and Yogurt

help to round out every morning's menu. Caribbean fresh fruit from the markets and farms all across Belize are a must and once you've tasted just picked ripe bananas, papaya and starfruit, the at home supermarket varieties will never compare again. The yogurt is made at the Mennonite Dairy near Spanish Lookout in Northern Belize.[

           Freshly Baked Pastries

are always a must to fortify vacationers for various trips into Belize's Jungles, like the 2 nearby National Parks, Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve and Mayflower Bocawina
National Park, both great hiking destinations and a Bird Watcher's paradise. That's the great thing about Hopkins, we have all that Belize has to offer within just a short radius. Hopkins is bordered on the East by the Sea, with the best beach for swimming in Belize and to the west lie the Maya Mountains with a fabulous Savannah in between. The wetland Savannah is full of  birds like the Jabiru Stork and the Roseatted Spoonbill, Whistling Ducks, Tiger Herons  and Pigmy Kingfishers.

 Yes, I feel lucky to live in a place

where Scuba Diving, Snorkeling the second Largest Barrier Reef in the world, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Bird Watching, world class hiking and jungle experiences, Mayan Ruins, River Cave Tubing, Zip lining and of course just hanging out on a great piece of beach are all at my finger tips, and contemplating the days activities over one of Angela's great breakfasts is always a great way to start the day in Hopkins Belize.................You'd Better Belize It!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Belizean Seafood Extravaganza

Belizean seafood directly from the fisherman here has long been one of the most attractive reasons and motivating factors for my continued passion for the culinary arts. This season has proven even better as my 7 years of networking with the fisherman, becoming their friends, earning their respect by looking at the quality of their seafood and being able to identify the plethora of filet's, even when skinless, has made a great variety of seafood available to me without much searching. I am often the first one called , especially when a not so usual catch is made, simply because I know what to do with it.

Fresh Lobster Tails are on the top of the list for most visitors and we aim to please, so I've been buying tails about 4 times a week in various sizes to offer as many choices for customers as I can. I often list our most popular, simply baked with garlic butter and list sizes from 8 ounces all the way up to a 2 pound lobster tail dinner for 2. Other preparation and combinations round out the lobster offerings such as Lobster Coconut Curry, Cuban Style Lobster with Lime and Cilantro butter served over a pool of black bean coulis or a favorite, Belizean Seafood Combination, featuring a fresh fish of the day, a 6 ounce lobster tail and jumbo wild shrimp all cooked with lemon basil butter and served with pasta al fresco.
Fresh fish has gotten to such a wonderful selection for me this year, with snapper and grouper being the a common fish on most menus, like the above prepared grouper baked with pesto over roasted vegetables, but other fish like the Pelagic Wahoo, Marlin and Tuna has become more common for me as fisherman now know when they catch such delicacies, that I am there to pay a premium price for properly cared for fish of this nature. Indeed I've helped teach the locals how to bleed pelagic deeper water fish as soon as they catch them, to lend a mildness of flavor and texture to these denizens of the deep.
Fresh Marlin pan seared in Sesame oil and topped with a spicy tamarind-ginger peanut sauce, Medium Rare Yellow Eye Jackfish with mango salsa and thick medallions of Wahoo topped with shrimp in champagne sauce now are regulars to a menu that can be compared to one of the Fish Grottos of the East or West coast restaurants of old, when a chef would visit the fish market and buy a variety of fresh fish and prepare it in a variety of ways...go Grotto, that's my Motto!
And let's not forget about the ever plentiful Jumbo shrimp, both locally farmed and wild caught, they help to round out a great Seafood selection and offer the shellfish for our menus when lobster season closes on from February 15th to the 1st of June. At that time, restaurateurs are not allowed to feature lobster on our menus and we need to rely on the shrimp to fill the void. Shrimp Cocktails, scampi, curries, marinara's all lend themselves well to this versatile menu staple.
a new favorite combination is fresh Grouper and shrimp Pomedoro, an herbaceous concoction of pan seared grouper fillet finished with marinara sauce with a splash of heavy cream and a generous amount of fresh chopped basil and oregano from the garden, topped with jumbo shrimp and served over a cheesy polenta, it offers what has become known at the Barracuda Bar and Grill as Mediteribbean's the freshest available ingredients from the Caribbean, prepared with a Mediterranean flair..That's Mediteribbean.....You'd better Belize It!