18 July 2014

Anniversary on Anguilla!

On Monday morning we slept a little later than usual (which means we slept until 7:30 am). We knew Geraud's was closed, but since we were celebrating our anniversary that day (it had actually been two days ago, but we decided to celebrate that day), we wanted to go out for breakfast. Having discovered Bonjour Cafe last October on our previous visit to Anguilla, we headed to Sandy Ground with a rumbly in our tumbly.

The setting at Bonjour Cafe is so lovely, and frankly, I have no idea why there isn't more buzz about this place on the island.  The menu is limited, to be sure, but what they do serve is prepared well, and Suzan and Verlyn, the ladies who work there, are terrific. You'd think that the location on Roadwell would be a little stuffy and still, but there has always been a good breeze when we've been there. The lush trees and other foliage create a sense of privacy, and we love the entertainment that the local fauna provides, whether it's the yard fowl, grackles, bananaquits, butterflies, or lizards.

I love the juxtaposition of the bird with The Goldfinch
They also happen to serve the best coffee we had on the island on this trip, accompanied by hot milk and a small bowl of raw sugar. I didn't make photographs of the food itself this time, but we each ordered a Full House, plus one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice apiece. The juice is an indulgence, but worth every penny.

The setting was so pleasant, and our books were so good, that we lingered there for a while to read, interspersed with pleasant conversation with Suzan. But the beach was calling us, so we eventually packed ourselves up and headed out.

We had tentatively planned to spend the day at Elodia's on Shoal Bay East, but on the way out there we stopped by the computer place in the Valley. I'd left my laptop there on Saturday and hadn't heard back, so we wanted to get a progress report.  Unfortunately, the guy didn't even have the right tool to open the back of my MacBook, so all he could do was test another charger on my computer and test my charger on a different Mac. My charger worked fine on the other laptop, but my computer didn't respond to the other charger, so there wasn't anything else he could do.
One of the signs at Irie Life
Bummed out, we decided to forego our trip to Shoal Bay East and just head back home to spend the day on Barnes Bay instead. I didn't want to leave the laptop in the hot car all day, and once we got home, I didn't want to double back to the other side of the island. But on the way back home we did stop at Irie Life.  DH needed a new pair of flip-flops and of course he had to pick up another AXA baseball cap.  It would be completely unnatural for him not to.

And thus we settled in for another afternoon of reading on the balcony, interspersed with a walk on the beach down to our swimming hole for a dip.  It was just as well that we stayed at Caribella for the day, as we received some bad news from home and it was helpful to have the WiFi to stay in touch with family via email, which we wouldn't have had at SBE. Nature even provided a storm at sea for our viewing pleasure. Between brooding about my computer and brooding about the news from home, neither DH nor I could really concentrate on our books, so staring out at the stormy horizon was just about the perfect speed for us.
A balcony, an iced coffee and a storm at sea.
We always make our dinner reservations for around 7:15 when we're on Anguilla. Sunset is around 6:50, so that gives us time to see the sunset each night and then pop back inside to quickly change clothes before heading out.  Arriving at a restaurant at 7:15 instead of 7:30 also generally affords a better selection of tables. It's a cunning plan.
Just another lovely sunset
Thus it was that we arrived at Veya and were surprised to see a number of tables already filled.  Luckily, Jerry had a quiet table for two, per my reservation request, set aside for us, and we chatted for a few minutes until he was called away. DH and I had prepared for the evening by skipping lunch (though I did eat a handful of peanuts late in the afternoon); there's no way we want to show up for a 5-course tasting menu without an appetite!
Veya's signature votives
You can see why people say it's like dining in a treehouse
So after settling in with a cocktail and the complimentary johnny cakes, we chatted with Jerry a bit about any food preferences we might have.  With the tasting menu, anything goes, so if you're not specific about your dislikes, then you have nobody but yourself to blame if the chef prepares something you'd prefer not to eat.  I trust Chef Carrie's food instincts implicitly, but I loathe cilantro, so that was our only directive to the kitchen. Oh, besides asking for slightly smaller than usual portions, that is.  Last year, we were so full by the fourth course that we left a little food on our plates.

By now, Omari was beginning to play and the place was really filling up.  DH has some pretty serious hearing issues, so it was rather exciting to discover that we could still hold a conversation AND enjoy the music at the same time. (Alas, it would not be the case when we returned to Veya the following week!)

Our amuse-bouche arrived in the form of a tuna fritter with a dill sauce very reminiscent of what we call "come-back" sauce in the South.  Dill is probably my favorite herb for savory dishes, but even DH was tempted to run his finger around the rim of the plate so as not to miss even the tiniest dollop of that sauce.
The tuna fritter with dill sauce
Our first course was tuna, served raw with fried basil.  I do not generally self-identify as a consumer of raw fish, but as I said before, I trust Chef Carrie implicitly with her preps, and it was delicious.  I'd love to know how they can flash fry the basil like that to get it so crispy.
First course: raw tuna with fried basil
Our second course was sea lice, and as we'd eaten it there last year, there was no need for them to be coy when presenting it to us. As before, it was prepared with the ginger beurre blanc and grilled.  We'd been crossing our fingers that the fish delivery that day might have included some slipper tail lobster, or sea lice, as it is known locally.  (God only knows why.)
Sea lice
As above, different angle
Third course was back to tuna, this time crusted with sesame seeds and lightly seared, topped with chili threads and accompanied by a cucumber salad:

Our fourth course was the vanilla cured duck breast, which is on the regular Veya menu, served with sweet potatoes.  We'd had it before, and both of us were amazed at how well the vanilla works with savory flavors.  DH generally isn't a fan of vanilla but this was among the best duck preparations he'd ever had.

At last, dessert. The smaller-than-usual portions that we requested meant that we didn't send anything un-eaten back to the kitchen, but I wish I had specified that we'd be happy to have the full size dessert.  My favorite dessert at Veya, and one of my favorites anywhere, is their dense coconut cake with dates, served with the most sinful toffee-caramel sauce, and topped with ice cream and a golden crown of spun sugar.  We also had a sampling of their malted chocolate bars.  Both are good, but since I'm not the biggest chocolate fan, I definitely preferred the coconut.

Before we headed out, Jerry asked if my laptop was still giving me trouble (he reads the Anguilla travel boards, too), and he even generously offered to let me borrow one of his family's power cords (apparently a faulty power cord is the number one culprit for the kind of trouble I was having).  That's one of the things that I love about Anguilla and the people who live (or vacation) there.  I had so many people offering help, Googling possible solutions and YouTube videos and emailing me links to them. He had one last suggestion: that we take the laptop to Philippe at Caribbean Silk Screens.  He's the closest thing to a Mac expert on the island.

Filled with a new hope, we thanked him for the tip and for the wonderful evening and bid everybody at Veya a fond goodnight. For once, we didn't get up from the table feeling like we'd overeaten.  We'd had a simply wonderful evening, had enjoyed the music and ambience tremendously, and had been served some food that was nothing short of exquisite.  What a perfect anniversary meal!


  1. awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww....and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..and oh....

    Got a little tripped up on the sea lice but, I say, you are brave..they might want to call it something else, though, right? XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

    Happy Anny

    1. The first time we ate it, they were very coy and didn't tell us what it was called until after we finished the course. But yes, it's among the least appetizing names I've ever heard for something that is so delicious!

  2. Such a delicious read Emily. If you ever tire of your current job, you could definitely have a career as a food critic

  3. oh maaaan, I read this post at the wrong time. I'M FAMISHED, and those food photos look DELICIOUS. Nice shot of the Goldfinch book and your bird friend :)

  4. I've put Bonjour Cafe on the list for our next trip! It looks lovely and I always get a kick out of watching birds.


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