Guest Post By Ryan Allen, Hospitality Consultant
After being on land for 18 months, there have been a few places I've been CRAVING from my previous time in the Caribbean. I was so excited when I saw that I'd have one chance to take a quick walk (or tender boat ride) to visit these spots when I accepted this new ship contract, before I head to the Mediterranean.
I guess I forgot what training into a new role and learning a new corporate culture would be so time consuming...
The first place I've been craving is "Bread & Chocolate", an amazing vegan cafe in Grand Cayman. The owner, Agota, moved to Grand Cayman from Canada and has opened a cafe that creates amazing dishes and some of the best desserts I've had. And while I personally don't follow a vegan diet - I could eat here every.single.day. My favorite dish? The amazing Breakfast Tacos. The chalk board wall has a daily joke or limerick and with only a few seats - it was always a race to beat the rest of the crew there. Also. Great wifi. Which is why we race there... For wifi and baked goods.
Look, when you're on a ship your priorities are a little different...sometimes.
St. Maarten is a gorgeous port - split into two sides, the French and the Dutch. I've been porting on the Dutch side since 2013, and found an amazing French cafe just past the tourist strip. (For what it's worth, there's an amazing Eco-resort on the French side with an amazing zip line and adventure course.) Anyway - the cafe is named "Au Petit Cafe" and it is just that. A small cafe. But what you wouldn't expect from looking at the dark woods and somewhat random decor is that Cocoa, the cafes owner, is the go-to coffee bean roaster for the hotels on the Dutch side. And the go-to chef for pastries on the French side. Her hand written menus change daily and is full of savory and sweet crepes. Her coffee beans are roasted beautifully and one of the first places I could drink black coffee.
So why am writing a blog about two places I visited almost two years ago? Because their food was great, but the owners of these cafes made a distant port of call feel like home. I've come to realize how importandt food that tells a story is something that drives me. And when someone is willing to share their story with me through a dish, I'm there.
It doesn't hurt that when you eat a diet filled with sometimes questionable food in the mess that you have a few tasty safe havens to get you through 80 hour weeks, no days off, and that feeling when you smile for so long there is a pain behind your ears.