Fiesta of Fish
On the northwest coast of Grenada in a small town called Gouyave (pronounced Gwav) , chefs get busy every Friday night with their fryers, barbecues, steamers and grills. On the main streets that are closed to cars, Gouyave Fish Friday is big on flavors from fish balls, fish loaf and fish cakes to quiche, pizza and kebabs made from bounty fresh from the sea. Along St Francis Street and Chapel Lane, chefs at the stalls and kiosks are delighted to scoop a side of ‘coo coo’ or fried breadfruit and pour a cold brew or glass of fruity rum punch. Named for the many groves of guava trees, Gouyave heats up with steel bands and drummers who spike the air with their booty grinding calypso rhythms until the wee hours. www.puregrenada.com
By day it’s a fishing town in Barbados in the parish of Christ Church, and at night - especially Friday nights - Oistins is packed with locals and travelers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at picnic tables piled high with plates of grilled flying fish wrapped in tin foil, wedges of macaroni pie, mounds of savory rice and peas and frosty cups of Banks Beer. Get there early for a bag of scraps and head to the jetty to feed the turtles swimming alongside the boats. By 7pm, the throngs have arrived, music is loud, and the old-timers have wrapped up their game of dominoes. Stay until midnight for a second helping and a spin around the makeshift dance floor. www.barbados.org
Close to Sandals Barbados, resort guests are encouraged to soak up the local vibe with Friday night shuttle buses to the Fish Fry. Hitting the sweet spot of sustainability, $5 of the $7 fee goes to the Sandals Foundation that benefits the local environment. www.sandals.com
Saltfish and shrimp
In Antigua, good things come in small packages at Nelson’s Dockyard, overlooking the yacht-stocked English Harbour. It’s called ‘Seafood Friday’; one of the tastiest treats in the capital city of St John’s. On the dockside lawn of the 14-room Copper and Lumber Hotel that was constructed by Lord Nelson in 1783 to store copper and lumber used to build ships, the fishy soiree gets underway at 7pm with smiling chefs like Alex, and welcoming bartenders like Marlon, ready to greet guests. Come hungry for scrumptious apps like dumplings and saltfish cakes and stay for the seafood rice that is jam packed with shrimp and mussels and a side salad splashed with a piquant passion fruit marinade that is perfect for sharing. Snapper so fresh it’s still angry goes for between $19 and $21 depending on the size, and with plenty of carbs like potatoes, rice, macaroni and boiled corn, you’re guaranteed a full belly. If meat is your muse, look for Chef Sergia whose infectious smile is easy to spot at her flame-licked steak grill. www.copperandlumberhotel.com, www.visitantiguabarbuda.com
The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in the Bahamas was born in 1969 when the harbor was dredged and the sand used to build a cay. Along the waterfront just west of downtown Nassau, the Fish Fry was named for the Arawaks; the first West Indian inhabitants and today serves up some of the most authentic Bahamian fare on the island. Fifteen pastel-painted shacks - give or take - with names like Twin Brothers, Bruno’s, Candies, and Oh s invite the hordes of hungry to take five at open-air tables on West Bay Street. Close to the hotels and resorts on Cable Beach, chefs serve up a smorgasbord of fishy palate-pleasers like grilled shrimp, fried snapper, buttery lobster tails and the iconic Bahamian conch, delectable in a salad, frittered or scorched, as the locals say, which means rubbed with a spicy melange of lime and peppers. Sides like a wedge of cornbread and a scoop of killer mac andcheese do a heaping platter proud. Thirst-quenchers on the A-list include the local Kalik beer, fruity Bahama Mamas or for those with a sweet tooth, Sky Juice is a potent blend of gin, coconut water, sweet milk, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Open seven days a week although busiest on Fridays, lunch (or dinner) is served from 10am to 10pm Monday to Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 9pm on Sunday. An open-air stage hosts Junkanoo bands and if you’re lucky, you might catch ‘The Valley Boys‘ rehearsing for the New Year’s Parade. www.NassauParadiseIsland.com
In St. Lucia, Anse La Raye Fish Fry in the largest town in Anse la Raye Quarter is the go-to-Friday night party for king lobster, red snapper, crab cakes, conch, shrimp and a yummy slow-simmered octopus stew. On the west coast, half-way between the cities of Castries and Soufriere, fish fans head to Front Street which runs parallel to the beach to wait in line as enterprising cooks fire up their grills and barbecues and fill big platters with bargain priced treats like a $15 grilled lobster. Tours offered by Real St. Lucia are recommended for taking in the sights along the way. “There is no better place to enjoy local food, and to see our most popular attractions like the two falls named after the river rock, and the village, and the rivers Grande Riviere de l’Anse la Raye and Petite Riviere de l’Anse la Raye that flow right into the Bay,” smiles Janus Gyan, team leader and guide.