THE BAY ISLANDS VOICE

bi-weekly print & online magazine
for Roatan, Utila & Guanaja

REPORTING LIFE OF THE ISLAND COMMUNITY June 5 -June 18, 2003 No. 6
CALENDAR STYLE DINING CLASSIFIEDS AD RATES WHO WE ARE
taste

A jewel of Utila... JADE

Imagine a city beneath the sea: a fantastical place built from a treasure trove of discarded "junk" from the world above, a place inhabited by fanciful creatures and colorful seahorses. The Jade Seahorse resembles just such a place. Walk into this cavernous restaurant and prepare for a somewhat overwhelming display of colorful oddities. Carved, illuminated buoys serve as light fixtures; old bed frames find new life as window decorations; and those giant insects on your chair are, thankfully, only made of plastic.
I'll be honest. Having eaten there several times before, I went to The Jade Seahorse with the expectation of great ambiance but, a long wait. However, the service was as prompt as it was friendly.
The menu features an array of seafood offerings with an even greater variety of sauces, but I decided to try the Baleada preparado, an enormous home-made tortilla filled with rice, beans, egg, and white butter. My companion decided on the Pumpkin Hill Chicken, which comes with a curry-style sauce, rice, fried plantains, and coleslaw.
Unfortunately, the burrito was rather bland, although the zesty hot sauce on the table gave it a kick.

The chicken was another story entirely. With its sumptuous sauce and tender meat, it was, perhaps, the finest chicken dinner I've tasted on Utila. For two huge plates of food, a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and two Salva Vidas, the bill came to a reasonable 174.00 lps.
After a meal at The Jade Seahorse, take the time to stroll around the grounds and climb the stairs to The Treetanic Bar, a tree-house bar in the shape of a boat. The architecture and décor are fanciful and unique, unlike anything else on the island (or the rest of Honduras, for that matter).

Gio's Seafood

To start things off we ordered a couple of appetizers. The ketchup, lime and soy sauce for the lobster cocktail was nice, yet my fellow reviewer looked on with more interest at my Mexican cocktail. It had just the right amount of spiciness. Served with onions and vegetables it was a good choice to start up an adequate appetite for the main course.
We accompanied the meal with a Venezuelan pilsner. Polarcita, as the beer is called, presented a nice alternative to the selection of mostly Chilean Macul and American Ernesto & Julio Gallo wines.
The 390 Lps. Eldon special is quite a sight. There are crab legs, lobster torsos and jumbo shrimp piling the giant platter. Smashing the crab legs was an experience in itself. Hitting the shell square on and not too hard is a necessary skill for any deserving crab eater. There seems to be variety of schools of thought on splitting the crab shell; we followed the "hit and brake" motto.
Working hard to eat our crab, we found the lack of "aftertaste flavor kick" a little disappointing. A couple of theories surfaced: was the crab frozen too long or perhaps it was over boiled? Our waiter finally announced: "We boil the crab for 15 minutes."
"Ten minutes longer than most crabs really deserve," we thought to ourselves.
A baked potato accompanying the seafood was a little overdone. So we deserted to garlic bread as a perfect tool to scoop up the delicious sauce around the Eldon's platter.
In retrospect I preferred the crab with the garlic sauce to dominate the overall taste of the seafood. The lobster was a better choice and shrimp was best.
Gio's red sauce linguine proved a fine competition to the seafood platter. Pasta was al dente and the Gio's sauce

Abundant seafood platters are a staple of this classic French Harbour restaurant by the bay.

was a proven winner. The green peas in the Gio's red sauce were my first, but mixed with sun dried tomatoes, they triumphed in a splendid combination of flavors.
On a suggestion note: we longed for a red leaf or a romano in our salad bowls, but ended up disappointed. Cotton napkins, heavier dishware and silverware would probably better match the food, price and overall experience of the restaurant.
Mostly international tourists and a few ex-pats filled the terrace tables. The view from the terrace is magnificent. Water right outside our table and French Harbour with its many lights in the distance make Gio's a perfect place to impress someone on a first date.
You can definitely impress her that you can pay a pretty hefty bill. We decided to order a couple cups of Honduran grown coffee and a small piece of cherry cheesecake to soften us for the bill. And we needed a lot of softening as the tax and service put the damages at 1,283 Lps. Hmm… Gio's does take credit cards.

THE RUNDOWN:
quality ****
price $17.00/plate
value ****
atmosphere ****
service ****

 

Down and Out in West End

How would you spend your last 100 lempiras? Let's say the banks are closed, your stash of reserve dollars is gone and you're hungry. Then, you find a wrinkled 100 lempira bill in the pants you wore to last week's beach party. You are saved… you think. Because you can get a great meal for a 100 Lps in West End.
My first stop was Rotisserie Chicken on the West End strip. The restaurant is located in a simple beachside building with a porch for a dining room. A lonely single parrot (recently widowed) with a trimmed tail greets you at the doorstep. A quarter chicken with potatoes salad and coleslaw will set you back 60 LPs
The Chicken was roasted to perfection and since there is no price on perfection, 60 lempiras for a perfectly roasted chicken in a real bargain. A soft drink is only 10 LPs The coleslaw alone could feed a small German family and was mouthwatering good. Potato salad… with the creamy sauce, well heavenly
I can tell how I like a roasted chicken by how ready I am to eat the skin. And the rainbow of browns made for an appetizing site. The chicken had great flavor, with the skin effortlessly peeling off. If the sauce is not enough one can always add it from a generous Cajun Seasoning bottle sitting at every table.
The flimsy plastic knife and fork are no help and your fingers will probably end up doing the work. It is in places like this I realize that I am a real carnivore. Within minutes a casual dinner at Rotisserie Chicken become a scene from M*A*S*H operating room. There was only a single wish after the meal: more napkins please.
A glance into the kitchen would qualm any sanitary concerns: everything is spotless clean. Another good thing, you can always get a late night meal here as the restaurant stays open till 3am on weekends.
The place is relaxed, casual. But not a restaurant where you want to go on a first date. Unless you are both broke. Eating at the restaurant you are surrounded by real West End mix: Hawaiian shirts, bare feet, dive watches and dreadlocks. Lively dive instructors talking about relationships. The music comes courtesy of the lively Sun 107.
50 meters further under another almond tree you can cap off your evening with an iced coffee. "Frozen Iguana" (sign pending) looks like yet another wooden shack with four wooden benches. With 30 LPs to spare this was a perfect way to cap off the evening of juicy Germanic roast with a delicious iced coffee.
Bay Islands VOICE magazine awaits your suggestions how to most creatively and wisely spend your last 100 lempiras on a great meal and desert. Send us your ideas.

THE RUNDOWN:
quality *****
price 100 Lps/plate
value *****
atmosphere ****
service ****

 

Seafood with a View
The décor was relaxed, economical, but could provide a good setting for a romantic dinner. Green plastic chairs, plastic tablecloth and PVC pipe serving as lighting sconces. For the greater part of the evening we could hear the sounds of the sea crushing on the rock formations below us; at times the noise of Telemundo from a bar TV filled the air. A wonderful view of Half Moon Bay was enough for us to enjoy the ambiance.
The resort customers provide a fairly steady clientele base to Half Moon Bay Restaurant. According to our waiter, the business picks up as a restaurant next door closes for a day. The two restaurant chefs are perhaps a little overworked as they work six day shifts with one of them pulling a double shift as the other rests. Since quality and overworked chefs don't go together, we made sure on our day the chef was well rested.
Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada could make this place a favorite after work hangout for the more discriminating drinkers. The restaurant offers a fair number of choices: seafood, meats, even burgers. We decided to stay with seafood and began with a fresh and sumptuous shrimp cocktail. Instead of crackers we munched on warm, buttery coconut bread. The other appetizer, a conch soup with vegetables was creamy and smooth.

Fourteen calamari torsos covered in cream garlic sauce arrived before we were done with our first course. There was a little table chess as we tried to make room for bigger dishes.
The garlic sauce of the main course was just strong enough to neutralize the more potent calamari (or even conch) taste. It was a little overpowering for the more subtle fresh shrimp of my fellow diner. The calamari heads outnumbered giant French fries two to one. A little under-steamed carrots, sting beans and cauliflower completed the rather faded palette of colors of our main plates. Overall the entrees were a little blah.
We splurged for a nice desert to cap it all of: island lime pie was sweet and good. The coffee wasn't. Condensed milk in a can and coffee prepared in an instant, woke us right up for the bill: $48.34 including tip. To compensate for the bill, we considered hitchhiking home… we walked.

THE RUNDOWN:
quality ***
price $10-15/plate
value ***
atmosphere ***
service ****

 
Island Mom's Cooking

The very original "Sacrifice Bar and Restaurant" sign up front gives the expectation of a relaxed, reggae type of a place. Sacrifice restaurant has been around since December of 2002, when Mrs. Dorette Martinez brought her Belizean cooking experience to the Punta Gorda seaside.
Six tables line the walls of the restaurant's wooden structure. Visible is the metal roof and two by four wooden rafters. A bare frosted lightbulb provides the lighting at night. Cicada songs, ocean waves and reggae music provided a backdrop for the meal.
Sacrifice is also a local hangout. If you are after tuxedo wearing waiters, fork and knife placed on a napkin or a foreign beer served in a chilled glass (or just any glass) you couldn't feel more lost here. But, if you are after genuine island cooking, you came home. The hostess, cook and waitress was all Dorette Martinez and she presented her soul food with a commitment of a four star Michelin chef.
Our entree, a cow foot soup was hardy and filling. Not for the squeamish however as one could overanalyze the cow's foot structure and be distracted from the smoothness of this home cooked dish. The tenderness of the tendons and fat made this a perfect starter for the home-food starved guests. Boiled plantains, pasta and vegetables made good company with this little appreciated side of beef. Or is cow foot no longer qualified as beef and is just an extremity? I await your comments.
The fish is always a fresh catch brought in by local fishermen and according to Mrs. Martinez even occasional swordfish or shark makes it onto the menu.
Flour tortillas served with the main course were fresh and delicious. Plantains tasted a little dry and a little under salted for my taste. Side salad was a delight: green leaf, carrot and cabbage

with tomato in a creamy sauce. The two deep fried lobsters were fried just right and nicely presented with cut and twisted lime. It was one of several details that remind us that we are tasting island food with a little international flare.
The wooden walls of the 10-foot by 15-foot space were decorated with maritime murals. A Picasso-like painting depicting a shark attacking a swordfish reminded me of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. The murals author is Eloy Martinez, a co-owner of the restaurant who hails from Belize. Two other artists: Marcos Tuilo Guillen and Dennis Luma lend a hand in decorating the restaurant in sea themes, making quite an impact.
Plastic tablecloths, plastic chairs, plastic flowers…… yet there is nothing artificial about the food. Mrs. Martinez's cooking is about good quality ingredients, proven recipes and a little imagination in the presentation. Fufu (Creole) AKA Machuca (Spanish) AKA Hudut (Garifuna) is one of the restaurant's specialties. To prepare this island classic of boiled plantains, fish and coconut milk, Mrs. Martinez needs a day's notice and 40 LPs per person for this meal for five.
At the end, a lack of something sweet made us feel a little blue, but one look at the calmness of the Roatan's north shore sea brought the calm. A cup of good instant coffee with real cream completed our meal and woke us up for the bill. Paying 340 LPs for two, it was a real island food at old island price. We still had more than enough money left to catch a 100 LPs taxi to French Harbor.

THE RUNDOWN:
quality ****
price $4-6/plate
value *****
atmosphere ***

 
Chinese Delights
When you think of Chinese food you think of China, New York, maybe Tegucigalpa…
Well, now you can think also of Las Fuertes, Roatan.
"Atlantic Chinese Restaurant" has been an island tradition for almost 20 years. Originally opened in French Harbor from 1984 to 1989, it reemerged in Las Fuertes in 1994. The Tang family has brought a taste for Chinese cuisine via Nicaragua where Mr. Tang (or Danks) senior now resides. The cooking tradition is continued by a new generation and some new ideas and variations were introduced to the original Chinese dishes.
The menu is abundant with variety, and boasts close to a hundred choices. The items are numbered "0" (your reviewer’s first encounter with the menu item "0") thru 94 but include few appetizers and no deserts.
Our dining experience began with a cold towel to clean our hands and ice cubes in a glass: a welcome sight anywhere on Roatan.
Chinese style tacos with sweet and sour sauce not dissimilar to vegetarian spring rolls started our dining experience. Fried and hardened rolls were fried just a tad too long, couldn't "roll", but all and all were quite good. An Atlantic Wonton soup for two had a dominating chicken flavor, but shrimp, beef and pork also could be found in this restaurant specialty. The Atlantic uses the three meat and shrimp combo as its staple item. Aluminum spoons with the soup were a brave choice as few Chinese restaurants brave the noodle and aluminum combination.
The decor was functional and unpretentious. One could imagine sitting down in a small town Sichuan restaurant. Being surrounded by a few
mainland China souvenirs: fake plastic flowers, ornamental light boxes, painted fans and decorative foreign beer bottles gave Atlantic a definite "authentic esthetics." The clientele included quite a few take out customers and several casually dressed pairs on an evening out.
At Atlantic, a little patience awards you a generous main dish portions to appease any appetite. Atlantic fried rice with nice curry spice felt quite satisfying. Ketchup and mustard were clearly visible additions on our Chop Suey with Shrimps and fresh greens. We must confess that we found this taste combination a little confusing yet intriguing.
We wished for a cup of brewed Chinese tea, but were content to settle for its teabag version.
Our bill came without a fortune cookie but paying 430 lempiras for two, we had enough money leftover to buy our own fortune. We left content, carrying "doggie bags" of our dinner for the following day.

THE RUNDOWN:
quality ***
price $3-8/plate
value ****
atmosphere ***

Pampa by the Beach
3000 miles from Buenos Aires Posada Argentina gives mortals a glimpse of “Gaucho Heaven”
It is a place where you think about coming for a Valentines dinner, it's a kind of a place you perhaps went to with your parents on Sunday after church. This classic West End restaurant evokes many memories... with its proven and consistently good menu it is a as close to Argentina as one could get without a going through customs in Buenos Aires.
The clientele was varied in age and origin: there were tables with Islander families, expats of first dates and diving aficionados. Posada Argentina is clearly a carnivore's paradise, but prompt and bilingual wait staff could make up for the lack of non meat choices on the menu.
Music was a well choreographed "beach ambiance," perhaps the sole departure from the Argentinean theme of the restaurant. Perhaps Mercedes Sosa, or even a quiet tango, could echo the feelings of Pampa the delicious chimichuri sauce of parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, lemon, oregano and chili paste.
For appetizers we picked Grilled Beef Kidneys and chorizos (sausages), both Argentinean classics at a perfect place to find out why they are so. One could not change a single thing and we looked at our appetizers disappearing with regret, a sure sign of great food. The feeling didn't last long as within a couple minutes our main dishes arrived.

A more then generous fillet mignon in black pepper sauce was just raw good. The accompanying it broccoli, carrots and cauliflower were killed to perfection. Quite a contrast to the life of red meat, but it somehow all worked well.
Posada Argentina offers Chilean, Concha de Toro wines by a "smallish glass;" but this is quite inadequate compared to the sizes of the meat platters. A better choice is just buying a whole bottle.
The main course portions were generous and left us just barely enough room for caramel and coconut flan. We spotted tell-tell signs of all natural ingredients, but a puzzling subtlety of coconut.
Banana Flambee with ice cream was decadently sweet and creamy, with a presentation to match. One missing element was espresso coffee to accompany the last minutes of the meal as the drip coffee substitute left us a little lethargic yet content.
The bill arrived promptly and the 758 lempiras for two were worth every centavo. This quality of experience one can find in better restaurants of New York or Madrid...

THE RUNDOWN:
quality *****
price $6-15/plate
value ****
atmosphere *****

island recipes by Bonette Cooper

Sesame Seed Shrimp Toast

Use uncooked shrimp for this dish, as cooked ones will tend to separate from the bread during cooking.

8 ounces uncooked shrimp, shelled
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1tsp finely chopped scallions
½ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp cornstarch paste
1 cup white sesame seeds
6 large slices white bread
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying salt and ground black pepper

1. Chop the shrimp with the shortening to form a smooth paste. In the bowl, mix with all the other ingredients except the sesame seeds and bread.
2. Spread the sesame seeds evenly on a large plate or baking sheet; spread the shrimp paste thickly on one side of each slice of bread, then press, spread side down, onto the seeds.
3. Heat the oil in a wok until medium-hot; fry 2-3 slices of the sesame bread at a time, spread side down, for 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain. Cut each slice into six or eight fingers (without crust).
Serves 4.

Key Lime Coconut Snowballs

5 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (regular, low-fat or fat free)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp key lime juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated fresh lime rind
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 pound confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Spread 2 cups of the coconut on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Toss the coconut once or twice during baking to ensure even browning. Be careful not to let it burn. Transfer the coconut to a bowl to cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining coconut, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, lime juice, vanilla, lime rind and graham cracker crumbs. Beat by hand or with an electric beater until well blended. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

With your hands, form the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll each one in toasted coconut. Make sure each ball is generously coated. Place them on a large platter in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes about 5 dozen.

Store the Snowballs in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

SAUTEED CHICKEN WITH
CRISPY POTATO AND MANGO KETCHUP

Sautéed Chicken
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup orange juice
½ mango
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Marinate the chicken in the above ingredients for 30 minutes. Sauté the chicken breasts in a pan for 4 minutes on each side over medium heat. Season with freshly ground pepper.
Crispy Potato
2 cups french fries
½ cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
2 cups cornflakes
2 eggs
2 cups canola oil
Put the cornflakes and bread crumbs in a blender and mix until fine. Roll the french fries in the flour. Roll them in the egg and then the cornflake mixture. Repeat this process only once. Cook the fries in the heated canola oil in a deep pan. Lift out when golden brown.
Mango Ketchup
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 fresh mango
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Blend all ingredients well in a mixer.

"BETTER THAN SEX" CAKE

1 box yellow or white cake mix
1 cup brown sugar
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 large container cool-whip
Coconut & nuts as desired

Prepare cake per directions on box. When cake comes out of oven, poke approx. 20 holes through cake (end of a wooden spoon works well). Pour combination of boiled brown sugar and pineapple over cake. Make pudding from box mix and spread over cooled cake. Last spread cool whip on top of pudding and garnish with coconut and nuts. Enjoy.

CRUNCHY TOSSED SALAD

1/2 cup veggie oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large head iceberg lettuce, sliced (or combo lettuce and Nappa cabbage)
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumb/ed
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
4 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup chow mein noodles

In a jar with tight fitting lid combine oil, sugar vinegar, salt and pepper. Shake well. Chill for one hour. Just before serving combine lettuce, bacon, almonds, sesame seeds, chow mein noodles, & onions in large bowl, add dressing & toss.

 

CREAMED CORN

16 oz package frozen corn
2/3 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
White pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, except butter and flour, in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Blend butter with flour, add to the corn, mix well and remove from heat.

 

CHILE RELLENO CASSEROLE

1 can (l# 10 oz.) whole green chilies
l# Monterey Jack cheese, cut in strips (1"wide, 3"long, 1/4"thick)
1/2# grated cheddar cheese
5 large eggs
1/4 cup flour
1-1/4 cups milk

Rinse seeds and core from chilies, dry with paper towels. Slip M.J. cheese strip into each chili. Beat eggs with rotary beater. Gradually add flour; beat until smooth. Arrange half of the stuffed chilies in well greased baking dish, 9x13. Sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese on top. Then put the rest of chilies on top and sprinkle with remainder of cheddar cheese. Pour egg mixture over all. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Cover with foil.

ROATAN CHOCOLATE SHEET CAKE

1 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup baking cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup Island sour cream (Crema Pasteurizada)
1 teaspoon vanilla
ICING:
1 1 6-ounce box powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pea cans, toasted
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup Island sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
milk (approximately 1/4 cup)

Bring the butter and water to a boil in saucepan. Remove from heat. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt in large mixing bowl. Add the water and butter. Mix in the eggs, sour cream, vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour into a a greased I 5"xlO"xl" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick (inserted near middle comes out clean).
Meanwhile combine powdered sugar, nuts and remaining cocoa in mixing bowl. Melt remaining butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add to sugar mixture with remaining sour cream and vanilla. Thin to desired consistency with milk and blend thoroughly. Spread over hot cake. Let cake cool completely in pan.

roatan 
Que Tal? Cafe (West End):
Telephone: 445-1007

utila

Bundu Cafe
guanaja
Ashley's Restaurant