BVI Picnic in Paradise [BVI Food Recipe]
- July 30th, 2013
- in Lifestyle
Picnic in Paradise
Few places match the British Virgin Islands for ‘staycation’ during the month of August – especially for people with access to a boat. A picnic with friends or family on a deserted stretch of beach is an ideal way to enjoy the simple pleasures of life on the islands.
Picnics are particularly nostalgic for me. While growing up in the Midwestern part of the U.S., my family didn’t take traditional summer road trips to national parks or go camping. Rather, I was fortunate to spend summers at a cottage on a lake, where the entire summer was one big ‘staycation.’
One of my favourite activities was spending afternoons on “Penny Island.” As its name implies, the island was barely large enough for my two sisters and me. We would anchor our tiny Boston Whaler off the island, swim up and picnic in the idyllic setting.
Fast forward a decade and a half to my arrival in the BVI, where I found the grown-up version of my pleasant childhood summers—albeit with more islands, bigger boats and an expansive body of water. To my delight, I discovered that numerous islands and countless anchorages make for a seemingly endless array of secluded picnic spots.
I love a good beach barbeque, but it’s not always practical to grill on the beach, especially if you’re in a place that’s hard to get to. Swimming or dinghy-ing ashore aren’t particularly compatible with lugging a BBQ grill to the beach, so I typically opt for picnic food, prepared in advance.
As with any type of provisioning in the islands, planning is key when dining alfresco. Here are a few tips for the perfect picnic:
• Opt for easy-to-eat food that can be shared readily
• Keep food well chilled and at a safe temperature. If space permits, consider bringing two coolers: one for food and one for drinks. You’ll likely open the drinks cooler more frequently, so having two coolers will keep food sufficiently cold
• Choose reusable plates and utensils, along with cloth napkins. In addition to adding a slightly luxurious touch to your picnic, real plates and cloth napkins are also an environmentally-friendly choice
• Pack a giant beach blanket or towel to lounge on during your leisurely meal
• As always, be sure to clean up all evidence of your picnic and dispose of trash properly to protect our beautiful beaches and waters
For a couple of other delectable treats to add to your picnic menu, consider the following recipes I’ve previously published in Virgin Islands Property & Yacht Magazine snickerdoodle cookies (July 2011), and cucumber salad (July 2012).
Additionally, no proper picnic of mine would be complete without homemade potato salad.
I love the versatility of potato salad, as the options are unlimited—from a French-style potato salad with fresh herbs and vinaigrette to one with Caribbean influences such as sweet potatoes and corn. I make a variety of potato salads, but my Mom’s recipe for dill potato salad remains one of my favourites, whether on Penny Island or in the British Virgin Islands.
Dill Potato Salad
This recipe is well-suited for warm Caribbean weather, as it’s lighter than many creamy potato salads
1 lb new potatoes or red-skinned potatoes, cut into ¾” pieces
1/4 c light mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)
1/4 c plain yogurt
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
2 Tbl grated onion
1 tsp dried dill
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs (optional)
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
(1) Make the dressing: Stir together mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients (yogurt through eggs). Season with salt
(2) Cook potatoes in boiling salted water under just tender, about 13 minutes. Drain potatoes and cool for 5 minutes. Then place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with vinegar and oil
(3) Pour dressing over potato mixture and combine well
(4) Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes about 4 servings. Recipe can be multiplied.