By Allison Tibaldi, Taking the Kids correspondent
Some families eat to live. My family lives to eat. No matter how many active options our vacation presents, no matter how glorious the resort, we crave a full-plate immersion into authentic local cuisine.
On our recent trip to Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, the array of waterslides and turquoise-hued ocean were blissful. For the epicurean traveler, the mega-resort offers diverse food options ranging from casual bites to high-end palate pleasers. Our favorite splurge was at internationally acclaimed Japanese restaurant Nobu, where we feasted on sushi and sashimi prepared with panache.
Our meal at Café Martinique, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s signature restaurant, was heavy on the eye-candy. The décor is equal parts glamorous and old-world. The wrought iron birdcage elevator, sweeping mahogany staircase and etched glass windows wowed us as much as the elegant soufflés.
Tantalize Your Taste Buds And Get Off The Resort
As pleased as our palates were at Atlantis, we weren’t about to miss the opportunity to sample bona fide Bahamian cuisine. A mélange of culinary influences left behind by invaders and explorers have married with local ingredients, creating a Vegas-style jackpot for your taste buds.
If you’re worried about the food being too spicy, have no fear. The flavor profile is very balanced and spicy notes are undertones rather than dominate notes.
One of Nassau’s best local culinary spots is The Fish Fry, where candy-colored wooden shacks serve just-caught fish in a decisively no-frills atmosphere. Follow your epicurean instincts and choose whichever one of the dozens of eateries catches your eye. You’ll fill-up on Nassau’s favorite chewy crustacean, conch, prepared in a variety of mouth-watering ways.
Bites of Nassau
We booked the Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour with Tru Bahamian Food Tours. It was a delectable experience as well as an informative history lesson and a fine way to view the eye-catching murals that decorate the town. We strolled compact Nassau with our guide, Murray Sweeting, a passionate local with in-depth knowledge of his nation’s history and food lore. His enthusiasm was contagious, his energy and warmth noteworthy.
We stopped and nibbled goodies at six eateries during the tour. My favorite was the savory sample plate at Bahamian Cookin’. Three generations of females from the same family own and run this casual dining spot. We feasted on generous servings of conch fritters, steamed chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, peas n’ rice, coleslaw and fried plantains.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re in luck, as there’s plenty of sugar on this tour. Graycliff Chocolatier is located on-site of the iconic 5-star Graycliff hotel. Award-winning chocolate maker Erika Dupree Davis concocts artfully designed bonbons featuring indigenous ingredients like guava, key lime, goat pepper and mango. The confections are as beautiful as they are delicious.
Adding to the sugar rush was our yummy stop at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. Half-dozen flavors of rum cake are baked daily using aged rum. Their best seller, Golden Original Rum Cake, was our top choice.
Luckily, we had extra room in our suitcase, because there were edible souvenirs for sale at Genuinely Bahamian Boutique. This specialty food shop is flush with island-made jams, jellies, spices, hot sauces, teas and more. We sampled the coconut fudge and couldn’t stop with just one piece.
Nassau has been home to a thriving Greek community since the 19th century. Its oldest Greek restaurant, Athena Café, serves Aegean classics such as Greek salad and gyros. The conch chowder was a seafood-laden dream.
As further evidence of this nations’ international breadth, we enjoyed authentic Italian gelato at the Gelateria at Graycliff. The gelato is made on site daily and contains just a handful of wholesome ingredients such as milk, egg yolks, sugar and fresh fruit. The mango and banana flavors were refreshing and tasted molto Italiano.
Small Groups, Kids Are Welcome
Tru Bahamian Food Tours keep their groups deliberately small, so you’ll have the opportunity to ask lots of questions. The tour is popular with cruise ship passengers who’ve docked in Nassau for the day, so it’s wise to book ahead.
Foodies of all ages are welcome. Adults pay $69, kids age three and younger are free, while those 4-12 pay $49. Nassau is compact but expect to walk approximately one-mile.
Photos courtesy of Tru Bahamian Food Tours, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and the author