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The Search for the Perfect Mango  –  Much of the British Virgin Islands’ allure lies in the enjoyment of simple pleasures: sunsets, stargazing, swimming in the sea and, of course, local food. No food captures the essence of the islands like a luscious mango.

Mangoes are typically found in the BVI in midsummer and again in winter, although timing depends on rainfall, location and varietal. They are one of the most popular fruits in the world, and for good reason. In addition to being delicious, few fruits are as versatile as mangoes: green or ripe, sweet or savoury, in beverages, chutneys, salsas and desserts. When mangoes are at their best, I like to use them in ways that present them as simply as possible, in their most natural state.

For my first mango season on Tortola, I was fortunate enough to live on a property with numerous mango trees. From the time the first rust-colored flowers appeared, my mouth watered with the prospect of mangoes, especially after the gardener assured me they were good ones. Each morning I happily walked among the trees, gathering ripe, fallen mangoes before the birds could snatch them. Then I pulled out my fruit picker and carefully balanced on the hillside to pick ripe mangoes from the tree. Yes, the gardener was right about the quality, especially on the largest tree. In fact, I was surprised to discover that the taste of mangoes varied from tree to tree, so instead of describing them by location, I simply referred to each tree by the flavour of its mangoes: lemon, coconut, mango-ey and even anise. I was becoming a mango connoisseur and thus began my quest for perfect mangoes.

 

A few weeks ago a friend gave me some mangoes from his orchard on the east side of Tortola. They were officially the best mangoes I have ever eaten, at the pinnacle of ripeness, slightly syrupy with a subtle coconut flavour. When you find the perfect mango, don’t mess with nature. Just cut up the fruit and eat it plain, savouring every bite. Be sure to slurp all the flesh and juice from the pit. Then go for a swim in the sea to rinse the mango juice from your hands and face. As my father would say, “life doesn’t get better than this.”

Triple Mango Coladas
An ideal accompaniment to a BVI sunset

4 C ice cubes
1 C chopped ripe mango
½ C mango juice/nectar
2 oz cream of coconut
3 oz aged rum (e.g. Mount Gay)
3 oz mango rum (e.g. Mount Gay Mango)
Freshly grated nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Top with grated nutmeg and garnish with mango spears in each glass. Serves four.

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Spiced Mango Crisp
Quick to assemble when you have a crowd coming for dinner

6 C mango in 1/4” slices
1/2 C flour
2/3 C oatmeal
1/3 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
Dash of ground cloves
1/2 C flaked coconut, lightly toasted
5 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 C chopped nuts (optional)

Place mango in a lightly buttered 8”x 8” baking dish. Combine next eight ingredients (flour through coconut) in a medium bowl. Cut in 5 Tbsp cold butter using two knives or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over mangoes. Top with nuts. Bake in preheated oven at 375° for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream. Serves six to eight people.  

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Riteway Food Markets provisioning service offers a number of services to help your visit to the British Virgin Islands be a fuss-free, enjoyable experience.  Time is of the essence for you and our 20 plus years experience in provisioning has enabled us to tailor our services to suit the needs of all concerned by providing a wide selection of choice foods, beverages, liquor and dry products.  So, whether it is your private getaway schooner, or a Super Mega yacht, each order, no matter how large or small, is given the same amount of detailed attention and delivered directly to you. After all, it's the Riteway of way of doing business!

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