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Anguilla, Part 5: Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

The next morning we decided to have lunch at Straw Hat. We were hoping for a redo, as our last meal there had unceremoniously been cut short after I poisoned Angel.

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The day was hot, and we needed cold drinks, stat.

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After perusing the menu, we decided to share a couple of appetizers -- the tuna tartare and the plaintain chips with fresh salsa -- followed by the mahi sandwich with spicy jerk aioli for Angel and a fantastic Greek salad for me. (I know, I know: Another salad. But I'm a sucker for a favorable feta-to-greens ratio and really good dressing, and Straw Hat nails it on both counts.)

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We whiled away the rest of the afternoon floating in the blue water and sipping a succession of Ti punches.

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Later that afternoon we headed over to Island Harbour to see a friend's new home, and got caught in a quick pop-up shower on the way. We decided to pop up ourselves . . . at Tropical Sunset for a couple of guavaberry coladas.

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We fell in love with guavaberry coladas on our first trip to Anguilla 20 years ago, and over the years they've become harder and harder to find. Kudos to Tropical Sunset for going old-school, especially given that guavaberries do taste vaguely of Pepto-Bismol.

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That evening was our last night, and we'd saved one of the best for last: E's Oven.

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And we'd saved one of E's best dishes for last: The famous oven-roasted chicken.

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There are worse ways to spend your last night on Anguilla than with the coconut-crusted grouper and a plate full of chicken skin pilfered from your husband.

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As usual, we tried to squeeze in as much beach time as possible before departing. And so, on our last day, we decided that we had time for one last swim before heading out. And to make it worth it, we made a beeline for Ocean Echo on Meads Bay.

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There, Del hooked us up with our last Rumzies of the trip.

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But not our last drinks of the trip.

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We even managed to work in a quick lunch.

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And the very best bon voyage treat I could have asked for.

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(Yes, that's Kraft macaroni and cheese. Yes, I saw a little kid eating it and asked our waitress if I could get some too. Yes, I am a ravenous five-year-old girl trapped in the body of a ten-year-old boy.)

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We had time for one last soak before heading back to Fountain to pack up.

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Later, as the plane took off and the island grew smaller in the distance, I thought about what a perfect celebration of milestones it had been: Angel's 50th birthday, Anguilla's 50th birthday, and our 20th anniversary of visiting the island.

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That's a heck of a lot of cheeseburgers.
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You know what else I have a heck of a lot of? Blog posts! Coming soon: A mojito-borne illness in Havana; the wrath of grapes at the Key West Food & Wine Festival; yours truly roughing it in the bush in South Africa (sans ironing board!); homemade hooch in the Hudson Valley, a birthday blowout with my sissy in Brooklyn; and another pre-Irma trip to Anguilla (remember when Seaborne lost Angel's luggage? I sure do). Check back soon, or click here to subscribe and Travellerspoint will do the checking for you!

Posted by TraceyG 06:44 Archived in Anguilla Tagged anguilla straw_hat ocean_echo es_oven Comments (11)

Anguilla, Stage 3: Pick Your Poison

The next morning I bounded out of bed at 5:20 a.m., a feat that I could accomplish back home only if the house was on fire (and even then it is doubtful). Naturally, Angel was still asleep, so I tiptoed to the other bedroom to take in the glorious sunrise.

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5:30 a.m.: Maybe I'll head outside to poke around in the gardens for a bit.

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5:45 a.m.: Time to lift up Angel's eyelids to see if he's awake yet. No dice.

5:50 a.m.: Back to the balcony to soak up the sea breeze.

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5:58 a.m.: Doing nothing is boring. Happily, it suddenly occurred to me that the balcony would be the perfect spot for Angel to enjoy a cup of coffee when he woke up. And so I headed downstairs to do battle with that coffee-making contraption I'd seen earlier.

I don't drink coffee, so I don't really know how to work a coffee maker. But how hard could it be? I confirmed that I had coffee, sugar, and cream, then added the grounds to the filter, filled the chamber with water, and flipped the switch.

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After a few short minutes, success! The machine began to gurgle, and out came what looked and smelled like coffee. I triumphantly patted myself on the back as I poured a cup for Angel and delivered it to him in bed.

He was delighted by the coffee (though less so by the 6:15 a.m. wake-up call), and spent the rest of the morning sipping his coffee poolside as we discussed our plans for the day.

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We decided to do a little shopping that morning, with stops at Irie Life and a new favorite, Limin' Boutique.

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Ken and his cute-as-a-button wife Renee run Limin', while Renee pulls double duty by also modeling the bright, beachy wares that line the walls.

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After our spree, we drove up to Island Harbour to have lunch at Elite, which is not new but was new to us. We'd heard good things, and even if we hadn't, you know I'd drive to the ends of the earth for some gnocchi.

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It turns out that Elite is sweet and secluded and makes a mean focaccia, too.

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If that isn't enough to get you up to Island Harbour, then maybe the view is.

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We began the meal by sharing the shrimp panzanella salad, which came with croutons made from more of that fabulous focaccia, then moved on to the penne arrabiata in a spicy red pepper sauce for Angel (with just a smidgen of cheese), and the gnocchi for me.

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After lunch we lazed around for a bit, then decided to head over to Scilly Cay, since it had been 19 years since we'd last been there.

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Nineteen years, and I am pretty sure we are still nursing a hangover from that visit, courtesy of Eudoxie's deadly rum punch.

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Nineteen years, and we discovered that we've actually grown up a bit since then. What used to be great fun -- drunk folks lolling about in the water, awkwardly attempting to slap each other five and yelling, "WOOOO!" -- was now annoying to our old-folks sensibilities. And so we stole away to a couple of hidden loungers, sipped our rum punches, took a quick dip in the water, and caught the next boat back to Island Harbour, all before you could drunkenly holler, "Dude . . . watch this!"

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When we returned to Moondance that evening, Angel wasn't feeling well, and we racked our brains to see if he'd eaten something that I hadn't. (Not that it would have mattered much -- my stomach is made of cast iron.) But we'd shared an appetizer and tried each other's entrees at lunch, had ordered all the same drinks at both Elite and Scilly Cay, so we were stumped as to the cause.

That's because by that time, I'd forgotten all about that coffee I'd made for Angel earlier that morning, and of course so had he. In fact, it wasn't until his insides revolted with such vehemence that they couldn't even pick just one orifice from which to expel that coffee (and everything else in his stomach) that I realized what I'd done: Without even thinking, I'd filled the coffee pot that morning with tap water. And not just your run-of-the-mill Caribbean tap water, but tap water that had been languishing in the pipes of a house that had been unoccupied for weeks prior to our stay.

Looking back, I guess I should have known that something was amiss . . .

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At least he knew I didn't do it on purpose. There's no way I'd poison him in Anguilla and ruin my vacation.

By the time our dinner reservation at Straw Hat rolled around, Angel was in full-blown digestive distress, and it was clear that he was in no shape to go out. I picked up the phone to cancel, but before I could get through, Angel hauled himself off the sofa and insisted that he could make it. (I didn't believe him, of course, and when he actually volunteered to pose for some photos, I knew he'd gone plum delirious.)

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If you are new to the island and wondering if you should add Straw Hat to your list of dinner reservations, consider this: If you are suffering from all five symptoms in a Pepto-Bismol commercial at the same time and still want to go out to dinner because "It's Straw Hat!!," that's a pretty good sign that this place is worth your while.

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He staggered into the place like a man on his last legs and slumped into his seat at the table, where he looked like this . . .

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. . . but probably felt like this.

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Our table was ridiculously romantic: Right on the edge of the sea, illuminated by string lights and candles, with the sound of the surf and some reggae music floating on the light breeze.

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I didn't think Angel would be able to eat much, but that didn't mean his half would go to waste. And so we ordered up the lobster spring rolls to "share," followed by the lobster mac & cheese with gruyere and parmesan sauce for me, along with a mild-sounding melon-mojito snapper for Patient Zero.

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Angel took approximately two bites of that snapper before he turned green, and so we explained to our server, as politely and discreetly as we could, that we'd be taking the meal to go (though not before I inhaled that entire order of spring rolls as an act of good faith).

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The lovely Doris quickly noticed that we were leaving early and inquired as to whether everything was okay. We assured her that both the food and the setting were perfect, but unfortunately Angel hadn't been feeling well. At that she sprang into action, filling a to-go container with bitters and seeing us off with the utmost care and concern.

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For his part, Angel was the consummate professional, still shouting out photography tips as he crawled to the car gripping his belly.

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We got him home, tucked him into bed, and made sure he was on the side closest to the bathroom. And that's when I realized I'd entered Stage 3 of Anguilla Vacation Grief: Bargaining.

Dear Lord, please let him feel better so I can work in a second cheeseburger.
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Click here to read Part 4!

Posted by TraceyG 05:21 Archived in Anguilla Tagged elite irie_life straw_hat moondance scilly_cay limin_boutique Comments (13)

A Sweet Return to Anguilla, Pt. 9: Giving Me the Rum Around

It was our last full day on island, so a morning swim was in order. We jumped in the car, bumped down the path to the main road, and made the short drive over to Angel's favorite beach, Maunday's Bay.

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The beach was deserted, and the water was glorious.

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And thanks to the early hour, we were spared the pitying eyes and pointing fingers of the resort guests, whose sixth sense for an interloper like myself is stronger than that kid who sees dead people.

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Soon it was time to clean up for lunch at Straw Hat.

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Do you know what's better than the lobster mac & cheese at Straw Hat?

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That's a trick question -- nothing is better than the lobster mac & cheese at Straw Hat. But it wasn't on the menu, so we were left to order soup and sandwiches containing cheese instead.

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We later learned that Straw Hat's new chef took the mac & cheese off the menu, which I find highly suspect. I mean, what kind of chef doesn't want to make mac & cheese?!? It's like a race car driver who finds driving around in circles kind of boring.

Luckily, hardly anything is boring when accompanied by passion fruit coladas and ti punch.

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After an extended visit to the Petals boutique at Frangipani -- where I spent an ungodly amount of money on a bunch of dresses that even I have to admit look exactly like a bunch of dresses I already have -- we spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunning at Mead's Bay.

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Oh look, my ride is here.

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Back at Sweet Return, we enjoyed one last afternoon swim before cleaning up for sunset cocktails and dinner at Malliouhana.

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Built in 1984 as one of Anguilla's flagship luxury resorts, Malliouhana was reborn last year after an 18-month, $80 million renovation. And as is usually the case, we kind of missed the old place . . .

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But really loved the new place, too.

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Indeed, our only quibble with the new design is that it's like the Odessa Steps up in there, with people tripping, slipping, and tumbling about on what seems like dozens of steps, most of which are steep, dimly lit, and downright dangerous for anyone old, infirm, wearing heels, sipping rum, or (ahem) all of the above.

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I'd arranged for Angel to enjoy a surprise rum tasting before dinner, which I hoped would distract him while I took 3,000 photos of the sunset. And I'd timed it perfectly: Rum tasting at 5:30, dinner at 6:30; sunset at 6:50.

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My plans were almost foiled, however, when Malliouhana tried to delay our rum tasting by half an hour in order to accommodate another couple who'd also reserved the 5:30 tasting, but decided at the last minute to first get massages instead.

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That's right: There are at least two people on this planet who would rather spend an hour getting rubbed down than liquored up. Like I always say: There's no accounting for taste.

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Luckily, the manager noticed our confusion and quickly stepped in, and after we explained in the nicest way possible that we didn't give a flying fig about anyone else's last-minute change of plans, we carried on without them at the appointed time.

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After the rum tasting, we successfully completed the obstacle course from the bar to our table, rewarding ourselves with a round of cocktails, including this vibrant Caribbean Hibiscus made with Mount Gay dark rum, hibiscus nectar, slivers of fresh ginger, and lime.

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We sipped our cocktails and studied the menu as the sun began its slow descent into the sea.

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The offerings at Malli are unusual and delicious, including the white garlic gazpacho with Guadaloupe melon and almonds that I ordered, and the curried goat sausage with whipped bananas and sweet potatoes that Angel was allowed to have some of.

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That was followed with Angel's choice of the yellowfin tuna paillard, a carpaccio-style presentation that served as the base for artichoke, pickled fennel, roasted garlic, arugula, tonnato sauce, and crispy veal sweatbreads.

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I decided on the gnocchi cacio e pepe, which was studded with caramelized cauliflower and brightened with a bit of lemon.

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As the sky deepened to an inky blue, I was forced to contemplate how I was going to make it up 28 flights of stairs in heels, in the dark, after a rum tasting followed by, well, more rum.

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Truly, it was like the blind leading the blind.

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The next morning was our last before departure, so we lounged around the pool for a bit, then took a final walk along the beach that first captured our hearts almost twenty years ago, Rendezvous Bay.

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We had time for one last lunch before departing, and if you think I was leaving the island without one last visit to Ferryboat Inn, I've got some Flat Earth Society literature that may be of interest to you.

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Plus, is there any better sound in the whole wide world than your car tires rumbling over that little bridge?

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As we sipped our rum punches -- more slowly than usual to make them last -- reality slowly crept back in as we confirmed our flights and checked our email and carried on other important work, such as posting photos of French onion soup on Facebook.

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Or, at least one of us did.

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Soon our food arrived, and it was time to get down to some real work.

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We'd dragged out lunch as long as possible, but eventually it was time to depart. We said our good-byes to Marjorie and Christian and made the short hop over to the dock.

As our boat sped away toward St. Martin and Anguilla grew smaller and smaller in the distance, I would like to tell you that my thoughts turned to the island's peacefulness and tranquility, or the kindness and generosity of its residents, or the talcum-powder sands and crystalline waters of its incomparable beaches.

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But really, I was just thinking about cheeseburgers.

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Are you tempted to share these Anguilla blog posts with your sister-in-law, best friend, next-door-neighbor, or mailman so they, too, can discover what's so magical about our favorite island? If so, step away from the keyboard and contemplate this:

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And remember, if anyone asks . . . you were in ANTIGUA.
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Posted by TraceyG 07:43 Archived in Anguilla Tagged anguilla ferryboat_inn cap_juluca malliouhana may_13 straw_hat Comments (5)

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