Why else would you come to Barbados if not for the island’s glorious food! Monikered the ‘Culinary Capital of the World’, Barbados has grown its culinary reputation by having the tastiest food and drinks festival in the Caribbean region. Of course, man cannot live by fish and rum alone (though we love attempting it!); thus, we venture to the storied historical places and head to sheltered underwater treasures to experience what the entire island has to offer.
But first, food! Known for its varied culinary heritage, Bajan cuisine touches on Africa, Indian and European fare. Whether enjoyed under the inky blanket of shiny stars or on a white-sand beach under an umbrella, the food of the people brings the spirit of the island to life. Made from the freshest seafood, Barbados’ national dish is cou-cou made with flying fish, while Barbadian restaurants range from informal beach eateries to sophisticated fine-dining establishments. Other Bajan delicacies include pepperpot (a spicy stew) and jug-jug (a mixture of guinea corn and green peas).
For lovers of street food, the Oistins Fish Fry is a must on a Friday night to experience succulent, freshly fried fish right from the pot. Not forgetting the lively libations, Barbados is also known for its many versions of cocktails shaken and stirred up by the many island mixologists who know how to pair food and rum well. Colourful beach huts in a kaleidoscope of tropical hues, stunning panoramas where the horizon seemingly spreads out for eternity in either direction are some of the awe-inspiring backdrops that frame the dining experience in Barbados.
Gaze out at the sunset over Carlisle Bay, while tucking into a fresh fish cutter (Bajan for sandwich) at local street food institution Cuz’s Fish Shack or Barbados’ most traditional dish: black pudding and souse at the bustling Souse Factory in the countryside of the island. For dramatic views, head over to the Cliff Restaurant, Cin Cin and The Animal Flower Cave Restaurant.
Whether you’re a first-time or repeat visitors you’re in luck, as the island also hosts various events throughout the year. Crop Over is held in the summer months, a five-week summer festival that can be traced back to the 1780s to a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar, to mark the culmination of yet another successful sugar cane harvest. The festival begins with the Ceremonial Delivery of the Last Canes and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Festival—the most productive male and female cane cutters of the season.
Later on, in early November, the magnificent Carlisle Bay in Barbados comes alive as hundreds of swimmers from all over the world take part in the Barbados Open Water Festival. The spectacular Bay, once a bustling seaport, is steeped in history, its importance first recognised by George Washington when he visited back in 1751 and famous British admirals such as Lord Nelson have docked in the Bay. Suitably, the Bay now lies in the heart of a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. This event is a mix of fun and competition in a fabulous location that has resulted in excellent reviews and many repeat swim visitors.
In December, the Run Barbados 10K kicks off with a warm-up session with instructors from Limitless Performance Cross Fit and a 5K Run Corporate Challenge where companies will compete for prizes. Both the 5K and 10K races follow a scenic course along Bay Street featuring the beautiful Carlisle Bay and through the historic former colonial seaport of Bridgetown (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Run Barbados 10K is one of the oldest in the Caribbean (since 1983) and a race you don’t want to miss!
If none of those events have whet your appetite yet, the 2019 events are designed to entice you to head on over. Set to open in January 2019, the St. Nicholas Abbey Heritage Trail, which is set on 400 acres of green sugar cane fields, tropical gullies and stunning formal gardens, is a history buff’s dream comes true. The splendid Jacobean Mansion of St Nicholas Abbey is an architectural gem dating from 1658 and is still home to a thriving rum distillery. Even cooler still, visitors will be able to work off a little of the calories by climbing on and off the newly restored vintage 19th Century steam train. As the train snakes its way through the lush tropical jungles of St Nicholas, it heads past green fields and mahogany forests before arriving at the iconic Cherry Tree Hill with breath-taking views of Barbados’ ruggedly beautiful East coast shoreline.
We mentioned rum, ahem, and we hope you save a spot for the Sugar and Rum Season, Barbados’ newest culinary experience. The birthplace of rum will host this two-month spectacular in February and March 2019 to celebrate the origins of rum and culinary heritage ties to the sugar industry. Where there’s rum, there is molasses – the crop that turned Barbados into the richest European colony in the Caribbean. Even more delicious are the many events surrounding the culinary festival, as well as special sugar and rum-inspired offers by local hotels and spas.
With a rich heritage, of both dark and light histories, a visit to vibrant Barbados is only complete over happy chatter, good food and a strong drink! So book your trip today.