25 July 2014

These Perfect Days are SOOOO Tiresome

We couldn't know, when we awakened to an overcast sky, that we were about to begin yet another perfect day in Anguilla. We started off with breakfast at Geraud's (sorry, I felt silly taking the same photos of the same pastries & coffee, day after day, so I stopped), then drove back to Caribella to pack up our beach bag for the day.

We knew we were heading to The Place because it was Mo's last day working there during our vacation.  He is the president of the newly formed (or perhaps about-to-be-formed, I wasn't clear on that point) Anguilla Boxing Association for youth and he was heading to Barbados for a conference to learn all about it.  This time we got there early, so we could claim one of the daybeds, and it gave us time to chat with Mo and Dave before the big sailboat from St Maarten pulled up and took up much of their attention with their various demands for chairs, umbrellas, drinks, etc.

Lunch was pretty good overall--I had the blackened shrimp with salad, which was fine but a tad too salty, and DH ordered the calamari, which iluvdannydottir had ordered the previous day. They were just as excellent and crispy as the first time so I sneaked several bites from him. I think the fry cook at The Place knows a thing or two about a thing or two. Alas, I stopped taking pictures of our food, but at least I have a photo of my new favorite (non-alcoholic) drink. Dave brought me this when we got settled in, before I even had the chance to ask for it.  Just one more reason why we so love being at The Place.
Passionfruit & club soda, generous squeeze of lime
After lunch, we alternated between getting in that gorgeous water and enjoying our books.  We switched to the other daybed to follow the shade, which seemed to please other guests because they preferred the one in the sun, so it all worked out well.

We left a little bit earlier than usual that day. I didn't make a note of our exact bill, but most days it came to around $50-60, including the 15% service charge. After pausing to wish Mo the best of luck with his future endeavors with the boxing club, we headed out to Sea Spray.  We always try to stop there a few times during any trip, but the times we had passed by before, we either had an agenda or it wasn't during Pamela's business hours.

If you don't already know it, Sea Spray is a charming boutique located across from the Sandy Ground roundabout--you really can't miss the bright and cheery rainbow of sorbet colors. Pamela has a terrific selection of goods ranging from soaps & hot sauces to local jewelry and t-shirts to Christmas ornaments and some original art, and everything is reasonably priced.  And the smoothies at Sea Spray are legendary.
Smoothie menu, or create your own!
Marsha and Pamela
We always love stopping in and chatting with Pamela about island life, our dogs, travel, the Green Bay Packers, and whatever else might come up.  It's also fun to sit there, sipping a smoothie, and watch the world go by.  On this visit we also met Marsha, a young woman who works with Pamela and helps craft the various ornaments for sale in the shop.  And, of course, there's Dash, a dog we met as a pup and who continues to be the sweetest charmer you've ever seen.
DH and Dash
Pamela accepts the Anguilla card in Sea Spray (but not for the smoothies), so I took advantage by doing a little shopping: I bought a batik sarong for the beach and some locally made goat's milk soap for my mom.  (Sorry to spoil the surprise, Mom!)  I don't know why there aren't more goat milk products on the island, considering their prevalence.  I think it's a niche enterprise waiting to happen!

After a nice, long visit, during which we debated the merits of various restaurants around the island, DH and I bid adieu to Marsha and Pamela.  It was time to head back to Caribella for our end of day swim before getting ready for dinner at Straw Hat.

Straw Hat has long been a favorite of ours, and there's nothing about it that we don't love.  It's the perfect place for  any meal of the day, and with the setting right on Meads Bay, it provides what might be the only non-resort breakfast with a view on the island. (If I'm wrong about that, please let me know in the comments section.)  The staff are friendly, the whole restaurant has a congenial air about it, and it's busy year-round (or at least during the months that it's open). We were there for breakfast once and dinner twice during our stay, and each time it was hopping.
Table with a view
One of the things we especially like about Straw Hat is the combination of its fine dining menu with a casual atmosphere--its food might rival the finest restaurants on the island, but its setting is infinitely more convivial and relaxed. We also like the fact that the chef there incorporates goat into the menu.

I had purchased a gift certificate to Straw Hat for DH for Christmas last year, for which we owe Peter Parles, the owner, our sincere gratitude for the lengths he went to to make sure I received it on time, despite the fact that I was a little late in the game seeking it out. Peter's a go-getter for sure, and he has nothing if not a can-do attitude, so he somehow sweet-talked another American couple to transport the gift certificate back to the States and mail it to me right in time to put it in my DH's stocking.

It's always difficult to make up our minds, so we decided to turn Straw Hat into our own private tapas restaurant by ordering four appetizers to share. Armel, our server, teased us a bit about our indecision, which goaded us into ordering them all.  Good move, Armel!
Bread is served in these eponymous straw hats
Ever since I first read that the chef had created a plate of goat sliders, I knew I had to order them.  They were wonderful--flavorful and succulent on a pillow soft roll--and I would have been happy to eat nothing but goat sliders for the rest of the meal. 
Goat sliders with cole slaw
We also ordered the spring rolls (fine, but outclassed by the remaining dishes), the Big Eye Tuna flatbread, which is dusted with wasabi, then sprinkled with herbs and truffle oil, and the blackened shrimp and slipper lobster tacos, the last two of which were excellent.  And I was so glad to see that Sea Lice had been renamed on a menu, because why on earth would Anguillians ever call a delicious food, sea lice?  Oh, wait. I bet they called it that because they didn't want anybody else to eat it all. Well played, Anguillians. Well played. 
Spring rolls with seaweed and green salads
Big Eye Tuna flatbread
Blackened shrimp & slipper lobster tacos
Despite the fact that we ordered four appetizers to share, we couldn't finish it all and regretted having eaten the spring rolls before we at the flatbread, some of which was left on the plate. We couldn't just end there, though.  One of my favorite desserts is Bananas Foster, and Straw Hat does a non-flammable version of that quite well, AND they add pineapple on top.  In fact, with the caramelization of the bananas, I just may prefer their version over the traditional New Orleans one.  We also ordered some whiskey (DH) and a desserty drink for me (which was a mistake--I should have stuck with the whiskey).

We were obviously enjoying ourselves and taking our time, talking with Peter, Armel, and Doris as they came by to check in; nonetheless, it was a bit of a shock to look down at my watch and see that we'd been there for nearly three hours already.  I don't think we've ever been one of the last parties at Straw Hat at the end of the night, but this time we managed it.

If there was a way we could have improved upon our day, I sure would like to know about it for our next trip.  Until then, we'll just have to settle for our current definition of perfection. 


  1. That drink looks amazing!
    It's currently raining here, so I enjoyed these photos :)

    1. Yes, the rain has been dreary at home here, too, so it's fun for me to revisit the sunny climes of Anguilla

  2. Oh gosh..so good..Straw Hat has THE best Ti Punch..

    Love you guys..so much fun reading..

    1. Miss you, Annie dear. But yeah, that Ti Punch is terrific!

  3. I read a quote once :"Perfect should never be a goal - it just happens if you let it". Very true but it also seems to happen more on Anguilla than anywhere else.

    Lovely writing and photos. I am loving following your blog. Thanks.

    1. "it also seems to happen more on Anguilla than anywhere else"

      That should be on a t-shirt, or the new island mantra. So true!

  4. Wow, am I jealous! Well, sharing the pix with us is the next best thing to being there. :) The food looks divine. The sea and air and sunshine - Big Sigh. Did you find time to read or were you just luxuriating in the sun? This looks like a great place to relax in.

    1. We found lots of time to read! We spend several hours each day reading, in fact. I read 12 books in the time we were away,

  5. That just made me drool - gosh that food all looks so good! I think Chef Nick has really stepped it up at Straw Hat, love his innovative cooking. Straw Hat is one place we never miss, love Armel, Doris, Peter and Anne, the food and the setting, such a fun place.
    Another great read Emily, thank you!

    1. Nick! I'd forgotten the name of the chef, so thanks for reminding me. Straw Hat is always a winner.

  6. What a beautiful spot. Nothing like good food and good friends in such a gorgeous place. (I want a vacation!)

    1. Anguilla pretty much defines my person ideal of perfection.

  7. You are making me really hungry! That bananas foster in particular looks delicious. And now I wish I was sitting on the beach with a drink and a book.

    Anyone want to babysit and somehow turn this dreary day into sunshine??

    1. Yes--it's been such a rainy summer in the northeast. But you're not far from the shore, right? You could take advantage of the sun at a moment's notice.

  8. Thanks for another great installment! Especially enjoyed this recap bc unbelievably we still haven't made it to Straw Hat for dinner. It's a tied and true stop for us to enjoy multiple lunches, but mixed nightly reviews have kept us from dinner (Ocean Echo too). So I'm glad to hear you enjoyed so many yummy plates.

    And we love their Ti punches thanks to your recommendation years ago - enough that last trip we took a plastic pitcher to Straw Hat to bring back some for group sunset punch cocktails... and I learned adding a little club soda not only makes 'em stretch but is tasty too. Though I did momentarily feel like a lush by showing up to SH with an empty pitcher to fill with their goodness!

    And this might make me sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but am I reading right that The Place is bringing a boxing club to Anguilla?! I'm a non-violence kinda gal who works for a rehab company, so this saddens me (even though I know participants probably consider it "entertainment"). Is the idea that this will be a controlled way for youth to act out aggression, or are these things considered a gateway toward real violence in communities where they are added? When first read about it, it harkened up dolphin prison like feelings of island additions that make us pause. I just like the idea of the island as a tranquil, peaceful place. But alas, it's not for me to have a say in how it develops...

    P.s. You at dinner in the black dress = beautiful!

    1. I still think of you as TCR, but yes, Cindy, I believe from talking with Mo that the idea behind developing this boxing association is to give young folks a physically appropriate way to let out aggression. It's not like it's going to be professional boxing.

      I'm generally quite pro-sports for young people, and while I have no taste for boxing, I don't believe that it's more damaging or dangerous than, say, football (which I also have a distaste for). I personally wouldn't want to watch two people hit each other, but thinking of it as two well-matched athletes trying to best each other sparring puts a different spin on it, doesn't it? If Mo had wanted to start a Tae Kwon Do association, would you feel differently?


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