Bermuda is pretty pink beaches, dazzling turquoise water, lush vegetation, touches of British style, pastel-painted homes and truly friendly people. It’s posh, yet casual, and while not a bona-fide culinary destination, it offers some delicious things to eat and drink that you won’t find elsewhere.
Here are my top picks from a recent trip to the area:
1. Fish chowder
This scrumptious soup, considered the national dish of Bermuda, was originally considered a poor people’s food, made from leftover fish bones. It’s a rich broth, with vegetables including onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and a variety of spices and herbs. It's a little bit like Manhattan-style chowder with bits of fish instead of clams, but what makes it most special is the black rum and sherry pepper sauce added to it, often right at the table.
Where to find it: I loved it everywhere I had it, and it’s on just about every menu, but I’m told the best version is sold at the Rubis gas station near the airport (get your taxi driver to take you!). I ordered it at Bonefish, Henry VII and Wahoo’s Bistro.
2. Fresh fish
Grouper has a tender texture and a sweet flavor, similar to sea bass. It’s often served in Bermuda with sautéed bananas. The combination of sweet and savory is very popular on the island. Wahoo is another local fish, but if even slightly overcooked, it can be terribly dry.
3. Rum cake
Rich, buttery cakes doused in rum are very popular in Bermuda, as they are generally around and in the Caribbean. The best are airy, light, boozy and just a touch moist in the center.
Where to find it: While I had samples at many shops, the best I had was at the luxurious Fairmont Southampton.
DJ Donovan, one of the charming taxi drivers and guides on Bermuda told me the best ice cream on the island is at Bailey’s, and I believe it. Their rum raisin is made with the Gosling's Black Seal Rum, of course.
Where to find it: Bailey's is across the street from the Swizzle Inn, At Wilkinson Ave and Blue Hole Hill (in Bailey's Bay), Hamilton Parish.
5. Pepper jelly
I never understood the appeal of pepper jelly until I had it in Bermuda. Wow! This spicy sweet jam with chunks of pepper was the perfect foil for a fresh scone slathered with clotted cream. But it’s also great on toast with butter. There are lots of different varieties and brands, some hotter and others sweeter.
Where to find it: The best price I found for it was at the supermarket in Hamilton, but you’ll find it at gift shops and in the duty-free stores at the airport.
Gosling’s is the oldest business in Bermuda and makes Bermuda’s only rum. The sugarcane is not grown on Bermuda, and it’s not distilled there either. But the proprietary blend of distillates from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad is blended there, and its distinctive spicy flavor is the key ingredient in the Dark 'N Stormy and the Rum Swizzle, both of which you should try while on the island.
The Dark ‘N Stormy, Gosling's trademarked cocktail, is made from Gosling's Black Seal Rum and ginger beer over ice. The recipe for the Rum Swizzle varies, but it often consists of Gosling's Black Seal Rum, and a combination of lime, and orange and pineapple juice and a sweetener such as falernum or grenadine. If you want to try their most premium rum, look for the family reserve.
While you can find Gosling's Black Seal Rum off the island, what you can’t find is Bermuda Gold, a brand owned by Gosling's. It’s a sweet loquat liquor made on the island. It’s fruity and slightly reminiscent of amaretto. It’s great over ice, with orange juice of sparkling wine. It's also perfect over vanilla ice cream.
Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum is in limited supply and very expensive off the island. A must for rum connoisseurs, this award-winning rum is rich and mellow with spice and fruit.
Where to find it: You can get the cocktails anywhere; buy Bermuda Gold liqueur or the Gosling's Family Reserve Old Rum at the airport in the duty-free section, at the gate. The prices there are the best you'll find.
Amy Sherman is a writer and recipe developer based in San
Francisco. She loves exploring different cultures through food and
experimenting with ingredients from her own backyard and around the globe. She
is the author of Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers and WinePassport:
Portugal. She has been blogging at Cooking with Amy for more than 10 years and
her writing has appeared online and in print publications including Cheers,
Epicurious, Fodor’s, Gastronomica, and Recipe.com.
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