Join chef, author, and Food Network host Judy Joo as she explores the island of Nevis. Connect with Chef Judy on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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It’s a tiny island in the Caribbean with just 11,000 inhabitants. There are no franchises, cruise ships, or even traffic lights on the whole island. It’s not particularly easy to get there, but the experience is well worth the effort. Here, you’ll see white, sandy beaches, and you can enjoy the local cuisine including seafood, roti, and a particularly potent local moonshine known as “Hammond.”
More on that later.
First, let’s stop at Sunshine’s: one of the most famous restaurants on Nevis.
This is Sunshine:
… and this is the Killer Bee.
It’s a rum punch of sorts, topped with Angostura bitters and freshly grated nutmeg. The “killer” part, though, is a secret ingredient rumored to be the local moonshine “Hammond,” which is a type of bush rum.
Whatever it is, it’s potent. Beware the Killer Bee’s sting!
Fun fact: “Hammond” was the name of the English official put in charge of enforcing prohibition on the island at one point and thus became the code word for “home brew!”
These are spicy jerk chicken wings and sand roasted peanuts.
The island is also known for its hot pepper sauce. Almost every restaurant has its own version on the table.
Scotch bonnets are the chili of choice, but some throw in a mixture of local capsicums and tropical fruit to dampen the heat. (And these sauces are HOT!)
Chef Judy stopped by Jennifer Weekes’ kitchen to cook her famous pineapple pepper sauce using pineapple, onion, vinevar, peppers cloves, curry (or mustard), salt, and garlic.
Then simmer for 15-20 minutes, and you’re ready to douse it on your next roti. (With caution! This stuff will leave you sweating, but it’s so addictive.)
Village life still thrives in Nevis, and often centers around a single one-stop shop. Canned goods, local rum, and pantry stables stock the shelves while homemade delicacies are kept warm in a counter hot box.
Roti are the main draw here: flaky, Guyanese-influenced wraps stuffed with curried chicken or fish, made fresh every morning.
Patties are another local must-try: empanada-like pastries stuffed with a variety of fillings such as salted fish, spiced chicken, and mango jerk pork.
Speaking of mangoes, mango trees cover the island, and a yearly mango festival showcases 44+ different varieties.
Local chefs (and some from abroad, including Chef Judy) cook up festive mango-inspired dishes over the course of a few days. You can get news and updates about the Nevis Mango Festival on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Chef Judy and the Jinjuu team made green mango kimchi, Korean fried chicken with a mango gochujang glaze, mango pork belly, and more.
Mango isn’t traditional in Korean cooking, but it’s easy to incorporate since Korean food often includes sweet elements like pears and mirin.
At Wilma’s Diner, we had the priviledge to make the island’s famous “Goat Water,” a savory stew, with Chef Wilma.
Goat water is a bit of a process to make, and Wilma’s version also boats chunks of breadfruit and a thick gravy best sopped up with freshly fried coconut johnny cakes.
Seafood, of course, is common, the most coveted being the spiny Caribbean lobster. It’s usually grilled simply with a bit of butter and served with rice and beans or plaintains. Conch fritters, marlin, wahoo, and swordfish are very popular as well, and they’re best washed down with a Foreign Extra Stout, aka, a “Caribbean Guinness.”