British, Africans, Portuguese, Caribbean, Indians: these are just a few of the cultures that have left their mark in Bermuda during its 400-year history, and there is no better way to observe their confluence than through Bermudian cuisine. From customs like British high tea to fish soup that combines seafood, vegetables, potatoes, herbs and rum, the island's culinary roots are deep. Surrounded by the ocean, approximately 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Bermuda traditionally relies on the sea for fresh ingredients. Nowadays, while many foods are imported, a handful of chefs and farmers are again focusing on local and sustainable purchasing. Others, such as the acclaimed international chef Marcus Samuelsson, come up with new versions of classic island dishes. Here are 12 food experiences in Bermuda that you don't want to miss.
1. Stop for Coffee and pastries in St. George & # 39; s
With its winding, cobbled streets and picturesque pastel-colored buildings from the 17th century, you can walk for hours through the city of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fortunately there are enough places to refuel in between. If you are in St. George on a Wednesday or Saturday morning, stop at the family-run Sweet Saak Bakery to grab their salivating, fresh cinnamon rolls before they are sold out. For a pick-up, go all day to Victoire Café & Cycle Club, a newcomer to the food world of St. George. Founder Tyler Simmons, whose mother is Swedish, serves Scandinavian-inspired vegan and gluten-free baked goods, as well as coffee and tea in a brightly lit, modern room. Grab a magazine from the shelves, take a seat at the bay window and watch the world go by. You will probably come across members of the Bermuda cycling community, who have made a pit stop of the café on their routes.
2. Pause for afternoon high tea
Elegant layered dishes, steaming hot tea, small sandwiches and elegant desserts – what's not so bad about high tea? Across the island, Bermudians observe this British afternoon tradition in style. One of the most famous high tea services is the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club in Hamilton. It is offered every day in the Crown & Anchor restaurant and offers dinners overlooking Hamilton Harbor, manicured gardens and the hotel's world-class art collection, including works by Yayoi Kusama and Banksy.
Another popular service takes place on Wednesdays and Sundays in St. George's in the Bermuda perfumery. Wash scones with local jam and chanterelle cream with a cup of refreshing herbal tea in the backyard of the perfumery, then walk through their fragrance shop and pause to inhale Bermudian scents such as cedar and frangipani.
3. Catch a crawfish, then boil it
September marks the long-awaited start of the crawfish season in Bermuda. On average smaller than the distant Maine lobster with a harder shell and no claws, the spiny lobster is a favorite because of its tender meat that is usually found in the tail, legs and antennas. Until March, restaurants serve shellfish in dishes ranging from lobster soup to lobster spring rolls to lobster ravioli with cream sauce. One of the more exciting ways to enjoy spiny lobster is to catch it next to a recognized local lobster diver and then cook it on the shore (pro tip: don't forget the butter). If you don't have much time, but would like to have your own cooking experience, go to the fishermen's stalls near Burchall Cove in Hamilton Parish to buy fresh lobster from the boat.
4. Eat cod for breakfast on Sunday
Introduced to Bermuda in the 18th century, cod has long been a major component of the Bermuda diet. Today it is common for many Bermudians to enjoy a cod breakfast in front of the church on Sunday mornings. On paper, the components of a cod breakfast – boiled or steamed salted cod with potatoes, a sliced banana and sometimes an avocado – may seem like a strange flavor combination, if you take that first bite, you understand its appeal. English variations include a hard-boiled egg and olive oil, while Portuguese variations add a tomato-onion sauce. Search for cod on the brunch menu & # 39; s on the island on Sunday.
5. Order fresh fish every day, everywhere
From wahoo to grouper, hogfish, snapper and seared tuna, there is no shortage of fresh fish and ways to enjoy it in Bermuda. Be sure to try the Bermudian style fish soup: served with Outerbridge & # 39; s original Sherry peppers and a dash of rum. A Bermudian fish sandwich is another must. The version of Art Mel – two fried fish fillets between thick slices of raisin bread with coleslaw and tartar sauce – is a local favorite. For an innovative take on traditional fish dishes, head to Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant at the Hamilton Princess. Their fish soup bites, filled with a combination of scallops, snapper, shrimp, chorizo and herbs and served with rum aioli, are sinfully tasty.
6. Sip Signature Cocktails made with Gosling & # 39; s Black Seal Rum
Gosling's Black Seal Rum has been Bermuda's favorite drink since 1857. Today you can find it in many of the island's signature cocktails. Chief among them is the Rum Swizzle. Bermuda & # 39; s unofficial national drink, it is made with rum, orange and pineapple juices, triple sec, lemon, falernum and bitters. For a true Swizzle experience, head to the Swizzle Inn in Hamilton Parish, where the drink was first conceived. "Swizzle Inn, Swagger Out" is the inn's motto, and when it comes to goodbye, Bailey's Bay ice cream parlor right next door is a handy stop. Try their "Dark’ n Stormy "ice cream flavor, inspired by another iconic Bermuda rum cocktail, which combines Gosling's Black Seal Rum with Barritt's Stone Ginger Beer.
7. See where many of the island's fresh produce comes from
Tom Wadson & # 39; s bi-weekly tour of his 40-hectare farm offers a glimpse behind the scenes of local food culture and is a must-see. Tom not only distinguishes the reintroduction of a number of crops in Bermuda – including celery and a virus-free sweet potato – but he also reintroduced the famous Bermuda pig on the island. In 2006, a retired veterinarian warned him that pigs were genetically identical to those that once roamed in Bermuda on the island of Ossabaw near Savannah, Georgia. A year later Tom bought an Ossebaw bear and three gilts for his farm. Take a Bermuda pig penny to notice the similarity. In addition to stopping at animal enclosures, his tour includes a visit to the greenhouses and many stories about the agricultural history of Bermuda. Then swing along the Wadson market to pick up fresh produce and goods on the road.
8. Fodder for edible herbs and flowers
In her childhood, Doreen Williams forged with her parents for wild plants and herbs in Bermuda. Years later, in her role as a funeral director, she saw firsthand the impact of food on health and longevity. This combination of experiences led her to found Wild Herbs N Plants or Bermuda. Through forage tours, cooking workshops and events, Doreen teaches visitors and locals not only how to identify these plants, but also what nutritional benefits they offer and how they can be integrated into cooking. Follow Doreen on a tour through Hamilton Parish on wild fennel trails, or go with her for a homemade vegan meal on the beach. The typical dishes of Doreen are allspice donuts, aloe brownies, fennel hummus, dandelion chocolate cookies, fig sorbet, nettle cupcakes and hibiscus iced tea.
9) Mix with the locals at the Bermuda Farmers & # 39; Market
The Bermuda Farmers & # 39; Market is the place to be on Saturday morning from November to June. More than 40 sellers, including farmers, fishermen and artisans, settle in the JJ Outerbridge Building of the Bermuda Botanical Gardens to sell home-grown and home-made. Watch for spiced popcorn, seasonal soups, cherry and loquat chutneys, pepper jelly and fresh honey. Handicraft varies from soap to jewelry and needlework and provides great souvenirs. After exploring the stalls, you stroll around the grounds, including a palm garden, a tropical fruit garden and greenhouses.
10) Reset at Bermuda & # 39; s first cold-pressed juice
After a day of hiking and shopping in Hamilton, one of the best ways to cool down and reset is a stop at OM Juicery. Founder Preston Ephraim, an old health and life coach, decided to open the store last year after receiving high praise from his customers for his adapted juice routines. He and his team operate the only cold-pressed juice machine on the island and sell a selection of juices, shots, slushies and smoothies made with raw and organic ingredients. The juice names alone will put you in a good mood: "I Am Rooted" and "I Am Sunshine" are just a few.
11) Enjoy a world-class sustainable dinner at the Rosedon Hotel
The Michelin-star Huckleberry Restaurant at Hamilton's Rosedon Hotel, which is at the forefront of Bermuda's farm-and-sea-to-table movement, uses only locally and sustainably produced ingredients, including herbs from its own garden. Dishes on the dinner menu range from crunchy half duck served with steamed pancakes, hoisin and plum sauce, cucumber and leek to the catch of the day prepared with basaffi rice with saffron, baked green beans and creole sauce with shrimp. When the weather is nice, grab a chair on the porch to enjoy the sounds of the Bermudian night: rustling poinciana trees and a choir of tree frogs. As you dive into your Huckleberry shoemaker, you begin to understand why Mark Twain, a frequent visitor to Bermuda and the restaurant's namesake, once said, "You can go to heaven if you want, I'd rather stay good here in Bermuda & # 39;
12) Discover the African culinary heritage of Bermuda in a new light
This winter, Chef Eric Adjepong from season 16 of Top Chef travels to Bermuda for a culinary event of its kind. Adjepong, a first-generation Ghanaian-American based in Washington, D.C., grew up in the Top Chef competition with his dishes rooted in the West African tradition. For the final game, Adjepong was planning to prepare a four-course menu that told the story of the transatlantic slave trade. Unfortunately, he was eliminated and did not get the chance to do this in the show, but has since been in great demand to share this vision.
On January 24, 2020, Adjepong and local chef Jaleen Steede from Bermy Eats are working together to create a dinner menu that communicates the history and food culture of the African Diaspora in Bermuda. The event will honor the Cobbs Hill Methodist Church, a still in use and flourishing sanctuary built in 1827 by slaves and liberated men under moonlight. Tickets can be purchased in November.
The editors of Smithsonian.com did not play a role in the preparation of this content