Friday, October 18, 2013

Summer Vacations in Belize

Chasing the Rainbow
This summer was the normal routine as June and July brought pretty dry weather and a busy tourist season at Beaches and Dreams in our little corner of the Universe. August brought a lot of night rains but spectacular weather during the day. The very hot, humid weather of summers past really didn't happen and it was good because our place stayed pretty darn busy, about perfect for Angela and I to be able to visit and plan with guests and not be overwhelmed with super busy nights at the Barracuda Bar and Grill. All in all , it was a great time to be a tourist at our place as we had the time to spend with each guest and be sure they got the trip they wanted.

Fishing was fantastic, 

With great catches of just about all specie, Snapper, Grouper, lots of Barracuda and the usual suspects all making for lots of coolers full of fish. Families were abundant this year and there is nothing like taking a child out to catch their first fish in life, something I've always cherished doing. It is like lighting a lifelong fire in them, not a bad thing. Trips went steadily to the new Zip Line at Mama Noots, our sister resort that we now do complete Jungle and Sea packages with. Only 12 miles away, it offers luxury stays in the jungle with an amazing array of activities, howler monkeys keeping you awake at night and a great onsite restaurant. A 3 night stay there and a 7 night stay here at Beaches and Dreams was a popular choice for couples and families alike. The completely off grid Eco Resort is in the Heart of Mayflower Bocawina National park, which boasts over 7000 acres, a birdwatchers paradise, as well as 5 waterfalls with in hiking distance. 
contact us at for a quote on your perfect all inclusive Belize vacation. Trips to the Mayan ruins, food tours to farms and orchards, Jungle horseback riding, and of course trips to the barrier reef to dive and snorkel all went unhindered this summer.

Magnificent sunsets over Victoria's Peak,

Belize's highest peak, could be viewed as the clouds moved in for the evening, offering a spectacular and unending variety of nightly views. A bike ride along the Sittee River Road at dusk let people take in the Savannah to see the Mayan Mountains as well as watch all of the many birds come to roost for the evening in the palmettos that line the wetlands of the Savannah.

The Barracuda Bar and Grill

was able to offer our usual plethora of Denizens of the deep as well as our house specialties like Belizean Paella or this Seafood Sampler featuring Lobster, Jumbo Shrimp and Fresh Snook filet in fresh herb and lemon sauce, all brought in fresh by the local fishermen. Another popular item offered on a regular basis was our Osso Bucco of Wild Boar. Fork tender and cooked in a Red wine and Herb sauce, served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and finished off with one of Angela's astounding desserts, the Barracuda Bar and Grill has truly become the Foodies place. Previous years has seen us close the restaurant from June to October, but this year the only closed month was September and I think that that will become the norm. We normally don't do lunch at the Barracuda , but on one occasion, we had some vegetarian guests and it was a rainy day.The guests, who had been enjoying a different vegetarian selection every evening at our place, displayed their dismay at the lack of selection for vegetarians at the other beach side resort restaurants in walking distance so I made them a little vegetarian Balck Bean Chili for lunch and we joined them in our outdoor venue as the rain pummeled the metal roof of our deck,
Veggie Black Bean Chili simmering
and we turned lemons into lemonade. 

All in all a fantastic summer it was.

Even Ruger 

Got his fill of extra attention as quests were eager to play with him and throw his Frisbee off the dock in an endless game of fetch. One guest even made a great video of him and girls came from up and down the beach to be photographed with him for his Facebook page.

 Photo: Ruger during our recent visit.Photo: Thanks for coming to get your picture taken with me ladies! 

You can see his video, 

and "like" him here

For now, we move into another great season of offering the best that Belize has to offer at Beaches and Dreams Seafront Inn and the Barracuda Bar and Grill....You'd better Belize it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Delicious Caribbean Menus

The plethora of fresh fish we've been getting at the Barracuda Bar and Grill at Beaches and Dreams has been great this year with regular catches of giant prawns, calamari and a great variety of Caribbean fish, including this mornings catch of Spanish Mackerel , which are running right here in the bight which paints the beachfront here in Hopkins, Belize with all of the colors from the palette every morning. I saw Old Man Nunez just as the sun came up casting his net to catch sprat to use for bait for the abundant Mackerel.

The changing colors of a Beaches and Dreams morning


1 cast from Mr. Nunez and he has all the bait he'll need to catch a boatload of Spanish Mackerel

" Buiti Bunafi" (pronounced Bweety Boon-ah-fee) I bid him in Garifuna, acknowledged by a nod from him as he paddled by, eyes scanning  below the surface with barely enough light to see the telltale silver flash that tells him he is on the sprat. He readies his net and in one throw he brings up enough sprat to catch a boatload of the Spanish Mackerel.  I order 10 pounds of filets from him and he is on his way.

The Mackerel have a high content of oil and this makes for perfect smoking. I'll brine them overnight with brown sugar and salt, the way the Athabascans taught me in Alaska with a slow smoldering fire far away from the fish. I'll be able to give the fish a good 8 hour smoke. It will make a fabulous appetizer with pickled onions in sour cream. I'll also mix some of the crumbly smoky goodness with some cream cheese and bread crumbs for a great stuffing for snapper, topped with a delicate Champagne sauce. The smoked  fish will also make add  flavor and texture to our Belizean Paella which is one of the stars of our menu when lobsters are not in season.

Ready for some smoke after a 12 hour brine

Ready to close the lid and let benign neglect take over

 For the Paella, we take our smoked chicken and pork tenderloin and toss it in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, I'll add the mackerel then too. I let these products get hot and flavor the oil with their smokey goodness before adding raw giant prawns and whatever fresh fish and seafood we have that day. To this we add a rich saffron broth and some half cooked short grain rice, garlic and herbs round out the flavor platform and once the rice is done, the Paella is served with fresh roasted vegetables, and, if its for me, a glass of Bolla Pinot Grigio..

The Appetizer of Smoked Mackerel with pickled onions and sour cream will have the pleasure of being accompanied by our signature Sourdough Ciabatta Bread, lightly crisped in the oven. this airy crusty bread is made with a Sourdough Starter I started in Alaska 25 years ago. I brought it down and every time I bake the fresh bread, I take little out and add it to more flour and water and in 3 days, have a new bubbling batch that make finished product chewy and slightly sour.

A fresh batch of Sourdough Starter bubbles with the original sourdough brought from my Alaskan 25 year old starter

 Its just another day in culinary Paradise here in Belize. We meld the past with the present, culturally and gastronomically, borrowing from all cultures to produce some great food right on our little stretch of beach...........You'd Better Believe it!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Belize Culinary Tours

The amazing setting for our Culinary Vacation 2013


  The season at Beaches and Dreams Seafront Inn, of course home of the famous Barracuda Bar and Grill, started early and is going strong here in beautiful Hopkins, Belize. 

So much so that we will, for the first time since moving here 8 years ago, be keeping the restaurant open until September, when we will close the restaurant for 6-8 weeks for a little sabbatical. The last couple of seasons, I have been out and about checking out different things that are attractions to me, but not necessarily on the  average tourist check list of things to do in Belize. But our little spot seems to be evolving into a sort of Foodies Place and that being the case, we are now offering a list of Culinary Tours that can be taken from a few hours to a full day to a complete culinary vacation. Here is a little list of some, but not all the things that we are offering our Foodie guests:                                                                             

Miss Emma’s Farm Tour– Take the half hour ride to Miss Emma’s farm to se one of the largest varieties of fruit trees in one location in

Belize. She will personally take you on a tour of her gardens and

orchards. You can even have her make a gourmet lunch for you, she has been chef for US Ambassadors and other dignitaries of Belize.

Marie Sharps Factory Tour– Marie Sharp is famous all over the world for her hot sauce made from the local habanera peppers grown in Belize. Tour her small factory and purchase factory direct gifts to bring home.

Spice Farm Tour– Tour a working Spice Farm . The Mathews spice farm and botanical gardens features a mobile tour of the farm. The founders of the Golden Stream Plantation are originally from India and noticed a similar climate here on a vacation and decided to import plants from India with the blessing of the Belize Government. You will see a plethora of flowering plants, Mahogany and Teak Trees as well as

cardamom, vanilla, Black Pepper, nutmeg, Cocoa, and exotics like

Rambuttan and Bismarchia Nobilis. We include a stop at some Mayan Ruins on the way back as well.

Cyrilia’s Chocolate Factory Tour– An organic cocoa farm producing chocolate in the Ancient Mayan way melded with modern methods this all day tour shows chocolate from the beans to finished product and is also an olfactory delight.

Chef’s Tasting Dinner– Let Chef Tony prepare a Tapas Tasting dinner to include from 6-10 courses designed especially for your tastes. Perfect for you final dinner at the Barracuda Bar and Grill.

                                                                                        These individual tours can be taken while staying at our place, and now , for the first time, and in conjunction with our  first of September restaurant closing, we are offering a complete culinary vacation, including gourmet meals, tours guided by Angela and I, cooking demonstrations and some really great accommodations at our 5 star neighboring property, Villa Verano.
We chose Villa Verano for our stay mainly because of the open kitchen , plus a roof top kitchen for cooking demonstrations, but also because the owners and close personal friends and fellow Foodies offered me the place for an affordable price that didn't price me out of the Culinary Tour Market. 
The accommodations are perfect for a gathering of Foodies. This will be 7 nights, 8 days of all things gastronimical. we've filled the days and nights with a plethora of Foodie based trips and have the luxurious accomodations to go with. Check out the itinerary below or check out our new Facebook page, 


Introducing Tony and Angela Marsico, lifelong foodies who have lived their lives in the fine dining industry for more than 35 years.
The Marsico’s have taken their passion for food and culture all the way from Alaska where they owned and operated one of
Alaska’s premier Fine Dining restaurants for over 30 years to
Belize, where they now own a 5 room beachfront guesthouse which is home to one of Belize’s finest restaurants, The Barracuda Bar and Grill. Tony remains one of the most highly acclaimed Chef’s in Belize and Angela, one of the most talented pastry chefs.
Join them for a weeklong Culinary adventure  personally guided by them and let them show you the diverse cultures that meld together to help form a constantly evolving culinary frontier.
Enjoy evenings of gourmet meals prepared by Tony and Angela and their wonderful staff in the open kitchen where you can observe and if you like or sit back and enjoy the Caribbean views from your home for 7 nights, the 5 star Villa Verano.
Days are filled with all things gastronomical as we will tour this small Central American Country exploring Ancient Mayan Cacao farms and chocolate factories to modern day Hot Pepper sauce producers. Food and culture intermingle with 3 distinct ethnic cultures of Mayan, Garifuna and Creole and the cuisine that has melded together this little gem of the Caribbean.

This tour is limited to 5 couples in order to allow an intimate
experience in touring, cooking and eating.
2013 tour dates September 1-7th.

The Rooms
Tony and Angela have partnered with a neighboring property with 5 star accommodations with an open kitchen and roof top outdoor kitchen in order to provide the ultimate in comfort and facilitate evening cooking demonstrations and meals in the outstanding kitchen. We will spend 7 luxurious nights in the spacious Sea grape Suites at Villa Verano.

With 5 separate suites all with private baths, a main dining room overlooking the sea and generous open kitchen, this is the perfect spot for a gathering of Foodies. We’ll enjoy roof top BBQ’s on the 3rd story as we take In stunning sunsets over the Mayan Mountains and early breakfasts watching the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea. There is a pool as well as a roof top hot tub for guests to enjoy and the beach in Hopkins is the best in Belize for swimming and sunning.


The Tours

DAY 1-  We will fly you from the International Airport at Belize       City to Dangriga where we will pick you up for the short ride to Villa Verano. We’ll have a reception with complimentary rum and beer and appetizers, then let everyone get settled in to their suites to meet in the dining and kitchen area for a tour briefing and multi course dinner.

 Day 2– After a breakfast of local fry jacks, fresh fruit, local granola, yogurt and smoothies, we will head out to the Habanera Pepper Sauce factory of the World renown Marie Sharps' Pepper Sauce to tour the factory, sample her wares and be able to purchase some of her great products and learn how she came to be one of the world’s highly acclaimed pepper sauce producers.
Next we will head south Ms. Emma’s farm and Botanical gardens. Ms. Emma will personally guide us through one of Belize’s most varying tropical plantations home to a plethora of fruit bearing trees all in one location. We’ll sample fruits, see beautiful and exotic flowers and gardens and then settle in for a gourmet lunch prepared by Emma and her talented staff. Back to Villa Verano for some afternoon beach and pool time before we convene on the roof top for Mojitos, beer and BBQ feast featuring Jerk delicacies from the land and sea. Bring your suit and you can relax in the roof top hot tub afterwards.

Day 3– After a breakfast of Seafood Omelet's, we will again head south to an Organic Cacao farm and working Chocolate Factory, Cyrilia’s Chocolates. We will see first hand the care that goes into this ancient Mayan Art form and witness the melding of Ancient practices and modern technology. We il enjoy a traditional Mayan style lunch before heading back to our home on the beach. Convening in the dining room for fresh fish sampling.

Day 4– Early breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt Tuscan Style eggs, then out to sea aboard the 44 foot Catamaran Utopia. We’ll sail to the Islands where we can snorkel the northern hemisphere’s largest and most living barrier reef while enjoying tapas tasters the entire way and imbibing on local drinks, sangria and beer. We will return around 4 pm and head back to the villa and
reconvene for an evening dinner featuring wild game and wine sampling.

Day 5– Early breakfast of build your own breakfast burritos then off to tour an exotic spice farm in the heart of Belize's agricultural hot bed.  We will tour the farm with the owners who came from India to farm in this very similar climate. Spice sampling and demonstration and lunch will be followed by a one hour stop at the mystic Mayan ruins of Lim Ni Punit before we head back to the beach.  We’ll be dining on lobster with 3 different preparations in the evening as well as a chardonnay sampling.

Day 6– After local style late breakfast, we’ll head into the Jungle at Mayflower Bocawina National Park where you can choose to do
Belize’s longest Zip Line or just go on a guided hike to waterfalls and tour the beautiful grounds, complete with unexcavated Mayan ruins. We’ll have a lunch of Shrimp Tacos then head back to the Villa where you will be free until dinner for another roof tip BBQ featuring the local poultry and grilled vegetables.

Day 7– The final day we’ll have a leisurely American style breakfast before we go head down to Placencia for a day of shopping and exploring. Lunch will be on your own here and we’ll head back to the Villa around 2pm for total decompression time and a final feast of a 10 course Tapas and dessert sampling.

Day 8– Transport back to Belize City for your flight home. 
contact me at  for more information on the Culinary Tour Belize 2013, Sept . 1st- 8th.

 What else is new?  How about this great Osso Bucco of Wild Boar.......

I've found a great supply of game products from one of the local Yeagermeisters. These guys live on the Hummingbird highway and are licensed to hunt commercially. They can offer a regular supply of venison, Wild Boar and  gibnut. these guys aren't the kill all animals variety for profit, rather they watch over their scertain peice, know the animal populations and mange it as micro eco system for sustainable harvest.

Osso Bucco of Wild Boar

Until next time....You'd better Belize it!