Celebrity chef Judy Joo was featured at the 2016 Nevis Mango & Food Festival. // © 2016 Judy Joo
Feature image (above): A beach cabana lunch at Four Seasons Resort Nevis // © 2016 Michele Peterson
Sure, it’s got incredible beaches, but the real buzz about Nevis — the smaller of the two-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis — is all about its food. The burgeoning culinary scene offers a winning mix of innovative chefs, agricultural bounty drawn from fertile volcanic soil and a diverse range of dining experiences. Here’s what not to miss.
Alexander Hamilton Fever
One of Nevis’ earliest citizens is prompting fresh interest in the island. Born in Nevis in 1755, Alexander Hamilton — whose life and times are now featured in the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” — was an orphan who became a Founding Father of the U.S. Visitors can tour Hamilton’s childhood home in historic Charlestown, browse a special exhibit at the Museum of Nevis History and enjoy a Hamilton-themed package at Paradise Beach Nevis, as well as partake in the annual Alexander Hamilton Birthday Tea Party, to be hosted by the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society in January.
At Yachtsman Grill, next to The Hamilton Beach Villas & Spa, patrons have the option of dining indoors or on the open-air patio surrounded by swaying palm trees. Top picks include grilled lobster plucked fresh from the tank or buttery lobster mac ’n’ cheese paired with a selection from the fine wine cellar, recipient of a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2016.
Set on the calm waters of Pinney’s Beach on the island’s western shore, Four Seasons Resort Nevis offers guests five-star resort amenities, including private beach cabanas with butler service. These chic cottages are the perfect place to dine on lobster rolls, fresh salad and Peruvian ceviche while enjoying the long stretch of white sand and aquamarine waters.
Worth a stroll down the beach is Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, a casual hang-out spot for island regulars and even the occasional celebrity, including Beyonce, Oprah and Britney Spears. Its sizzling menu of grilled spiny lobster, barbecue baby-back ribs and fish — washed down with Killer Bee, a potent rum punch — is legendary. This is also the place to stock up on Llewellyn’s Hot Sauce, a gourmet pepper sauce with just the right mix of heat and spice.
Of special interest for visitors is the scheduled return of horse racing at Indian Castle racetrack in 2016. With its grandstand offering views of palm-fringed coastline and the occasional wild donkey or two, the home of Nevis Turf & Jockey Club offers plenty of racing excitement and local flavor.
Nearby and set on the slopes of Mount Nevis amid tamarind, mango and palm trees, The Hermitage Plantation Inn offers equestrian-themed decor within its great house, a historic estate that dates back to 1670. Food fans won’t want to miss the Wednesday night West Indian Buffet featuring dishes such as stewed goat, “tannia” (a root vegetable) fritters, Johnny cakes (cornmeal flatbread) and stuffed pumpkin served in authentic red-clay pots created by the Newcastle Pottery cooperative using traditional techniques.
With its fertile volcanic soil producing at least 30 varieties of mangoes — some of which have evocative names such as Ice Cream and Bastard — it’s not surprising that the delectable fruit has earned its own annual festival. The three-day Nevis Mango & Food Festival features a roster of events, including the Mango Madness Street Fair, the Nevisian Chefs Mango Feast and mango-themed dinners at venues such as Montpelier Plantation & Beach, a Relais & Chateaux hideaway offering private dining within the archeological remains of a 300-year-old sugar plantation.
In 2016, the festival featured celebrity U.K. chef Natasha Corrett and Iron Chef Judy Joo, the creative force behind Jinjuu, one of the hottest dining spots in London and Hong Kong. Memorable dishes this year included hand-dived scallop carpaccio with mango lime salsa. The festival promises to be even bigger in 2017.
Plantation Pub Crawl
Discover the authentic side of Nevis during a pub crawl hosted by Patterson Fleming, the cheerful maitre d' at the historic Nisbet Plantation Beach Club. This entertaining tour offers participants the opportunity to go behind the scenes and “lime with the locals” while sampling Carib beer, rum punch and even local moonshine at five unique watering holes. Food fans can dive into street eats such as barbecue ribs, jerk pork, goat water and conch away from the tourist crowds.
Along with the fascinating mix of local history, insider knowledge and culture, visitors can soak up some old Caribbean charm at the stately 18th-century Nisbet Plantation Great House, the Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn set on a beach. A not-to-be-missed Nevisian beachside experience is sipping Nisbet Plantation Beach Club’s a Ting With a Sting, a cocktail that’s popular throughout St. Kitts and Nevis made from Ting, a fizzy grapefruit soft drink, and a cane spirit.