chas­ing hap­pi­ness

In An­tigua, Sara Wax­man doesn't have to look far

DINE and Destinations - - SARA SAYS: WHERE TO DINE NOW -

iARRIVE ON SUN­DAY and head over to Shirley Heights Look­out on English Har­bour to watch the sun­set. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mes­mer­iz­ing and sud­denly I’m sway­ing to the mu­sic. The crowd on this plateau is in the hun­dreds, and there’s a sense of ca­ma­raderie and fun. Ev­ery­one knows that this is the best bar­be­cue on the is­land. The aroma is in­tox­i­cat­ing. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish un­til I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the pic­nic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Wax­man,” I say to my­self, and I know that my va­ca­tion has be­gun.

Loung­ing on my ter­race at the ul­tra modern South Point Ho­tel on Fal­mouth Bay, a vista of world fa­mous mega yachts is spread out be­fore me. The all-black Mal­tese Fal­con, a 289 ft. clip­per sail­ing yacht rented by the likes of Tom Hanks and Hugh Jack­man; the gor­geous She­mara, a 212 ft. mo­tor yacht, its sail soar­ing into the sky; and many more. Sum­mon­ing up courage, I ask for a visit on the extraordin­ary

Rose­hearty, a 183.73 me­tre ma­jes­tic sail­ing yacht re­cently sold by Ru­pert Mur­doch for $29 mil­lion. To my de­light, the an­swer is “wel­come aboard.” I take off my san­dals, not to scuff the highly pol­ished wood floors. Cap­tain David Hutchi­son points to the huge map of Canada hang­ing in his of­fice, and proudly tells me that they have re­cently re­turned to th­ese warm Caribbean wa­ters from a voy­age through the North­west Pas­sage. In the gal­ley, a handsome young chef from France is chop­ping veg­gies for din­ner with the pre­ci­sion of a sur­geon, while a huge stock pot sim­mers gen­tly on the back burner. In a small lounge, a young woman from Rhode Is­land is busy at her job, clean­ing all the spots off fur­ni­ture cov­ers and fab­rics with an as­tound­ing ar­ray of prod­ucts. A deck hand tells me, “a lot bet­ter than be­ing cold in Eng­land right now.” This is a world away from my nor­mal. Not sur­pris­ing that there is great con­cern for se­cu­rity, when the en­tire ves­sel is a jewel, agleam with tons of pol­ished chrome.

Ad­ven­tur­ers have come to An­tigua from many parts of the world and have cho­sen to stay and fol­low their dreams of cre­at­ing unique restau­rants.

Sheer Rocks |

With an extraordin­ary sense of style, young Bri­tish own­ers Kate Tay­lor and Alex Grim­ley have cre­ated a divine res­tau­rant and inn that is ter­raced on a cliff­side, pro­trud­ing over the rocks right on the sea. We climb down a se­ries of wooden stairs to be greeted by cock­tails served while we re­lax on ex­trav­a­gant four-poster daybeds. A more se­duc­tive and ro­man­tic spot would be dif­fi­cult to find. Leav­ing this lux­ury lounge for lunch in the airy bougainvil­lea-draped din­ing room is al­most a pity. Alas, no op­por­tu­nity to­day for a quick dip in the azure blue plunge pool. On this hot sunny day in Fe­bru­ary, a se­lec­tion of ex­u­ber­antly flavoured tapas dishes is just right for shar­ing. Si­mon Christey-french, the young Aus­tralian chef de cui­sine, is proud to ex­plain his in­no­va­tive menu con­cept. Tem­pura pump­kin flow­ers with lemon ri­cotta is light but not weight­less. Us­ing lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents from ar­ti­san food pro­duc­ers, farm­ers and fish­er­men, Si­mon has cre­ated dishes that are in­tri­cate but un­forced. De­cep­tively sim­ple tuna carpac­cio per­fumed with pink pep­per­corns is quite per­fect. Ev­ery­thing is made in-house, even the de­lec­ta­ble ice cream and sor­bet.

Papa Zouks’ Fish and Rum Bar |

“Some peo­ple chase money, I pre­fer to chase hap­pi­ness,” says Ger­man émi­gré, film pro­ducer Bert Kirch­ner. He found it in a funky lit­tle rum bar that he named Papa Zouk af­ter a man who lived in poverty but loved to dance to zouk mu­sic. Bert will tell you the story of the fire that burned his place to the ground, and of the gen­eros­ity of strangers and well-wish­ers who came bear­ing bot­tles and in­sist­ing he re­build. This place is iconic, fun and friendly, where you might find your­self sit­ting with strangers, but it’s okay. Walk over the care­fully groomed gravel court­yard into the din­ing room. Don’t ex­pect for­mal­ity or bother ask­ing for a menu, Bert will come by and shmooze and tell you what fish is avail­able. “Robert De Niro says that this is the best red snap­per he ever had in his life,” says Kirch­ner. Yes, I will agree with De Niro and add, “This is the best rum punch I ever had in my life.”

Jackie O’s |

Owner Lance Leonhardt is orig­i­nally Bri­tish, but I would not be re­miss in call­ing him a charm­ing “homme du monde.” He is a “been there, done that” kind of guy with im­pec­ca­ble taste who came

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