A taste of the Bahamas, from food trucks to fine dining

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goombay smash

The cocktail

In the foreground are white steps, cutting through groves of jade foliage. Beyond, a roll of surf, spreading like cellophane, a fleeting veil over the coral-hued sand. And, as a soundtrack, a gentle jolt, jolt, jolt. Bartender Rodney Woodside prepares drinks for lunch service at The Dunmore.

“They’re so popular, I make the base ahead of time,” he says, filling my glass with the golden liquid. Rodney is whipping up a goombay smash, the Bahamas’ signature cocktail, and a particular favorite here on chichi Harbor Island.

While each bar has its own iteration, the ingredients are consistent: pineapple juice, orange juice, and a mix of rums: white, gold, coconut. Stir them, pour them into a glass and top with a “float” – a drop of dark rum that bleeds into the rest, creating an attractive ombre effect. “On Bryland,” Rodney says, using the island’s slang name as he swipes the glass over the polished bar, a fan spinning lazily behind him, “the goombay smash float is still Myers Rum. It’s just like that.

One sip, and I understand why Rodney does so many goombay smashes. It’s fruity and sweet, but with a very adult spine. I can imagine how easy it would be to waste an afternoon on a few of them. Or maybe, given the high alcohol content, just one.

RECIPE: Bahamian Boiled Fish

by Tomiko Knowles

Serves: 4

Take : 1h15

Ingredients
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1½-2 limes (to taste)
450 g skinless, boneless snapper or grouper fillets
butter, for serving

For the chilli sauce (optional)
450 g fresh hot peppers (such as habanero, scotch bonnet or goat pepper)
2 red peppers
450-700ml white vinegar

For the Johnny Cake
360g plain flour
50 g of white caster sugar
3¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
115 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
160ml whole milk

For the beans
260g coarse cornmeal
420ml unsweetened coconut milk
700ml fish or vegetable stock
85g unsalted butter

Method
1. Heat the oven to 180 C, fan 160 C, gas 4.

2. First, prepare the hot pepper sauce, if using; otherwise skip to step 3. Place all the ingredients in a blender, adding as much vinegar as you like — using less will give you a thicker, tangier sauce; more will make it runnier and less powerful. Blend until smooth.

3. Next, prepare the johnnycake. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Work the cold butter into the dry mixture using your hands – you want the mixture to resemble grains of rice.

4. Pour in the milk and mix to form a soft dough, then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth. Let rest uncovered for 15 minutes, then press into a greased 23cm square pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden around the edges. Reserve until ready to serve.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the oatmeal. Add the coconut milk, broth and a pinch of salt to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then slowly stir in the cornmeal. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 40-45 minutes, stirring regularly, until cooked through.

6. When there are 20 minutes left in the oatmeal, add 1 liter of water to a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Add potato, onion and juice of 1-1½ limes to taste, reserving ½ lime for serving. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked.

7. Add the fish fillets and cook for 5-7 minutes, until just cooked through. Stir in a spoonful of your hot pepper sauce, if using.

8. When ready to serve, stir the 85g butter into the oatmeal and cut the reserved ½ lime into four wedges.

9. Divide the fish and broth among four bowls and garnish each with a lime wedge. Serve with the oats and hot pepper sauce on the side, along with slices of hot johnnycake and plenty of butter for spreading.

Essential


Getting There
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly nonstop to Nassau. Connecting flights to Andros are available with LeAir or Coco Bahama Seaplanes. For Harbor Island, take a ferry from Nassau with Bahamas Ferries, or fly to Eleuthera Island with Pineapple Air and transfer to Dunmore Town by taxi and boat.

How to do
British Airways flies from Heathrow to Nassau from £556 return. Rooms at the Rosewood Baha Mar from $795 (£582), room only.

More information: bahamas.com

Published in Issue 15 (Spring 2022) of Food by National Geographic Traveler

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