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Provisioning in the Caribbean 2006

The sight of land after a long ocean passage means just one thing to many folks—fresh food. Throughout the Caribbean island chain, you’ll find an abundant number of places to restock your galley, from large modern-style supermarkets rivaling their counterparts in Europe and the U.S., to smaller groceries with plentiful canned goods. There are also open-air produce markets, local bakeries and fresh fish sold off the back of trucks parked by the beach.

PUERTO RICO & THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS

Large, well-stocked supermarket chains like Pueblo, Amigo and Grande are located throughout Puerto Rico, and are within a 15 minute or less taxi ride from entry ports like Boqueron on the west coast, San Juan to the north and Fajardo to the east.

Pueblo and Plaza Extra are the two large supermarket chains on St. Thomas and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. These are fully stocked with dry goods, fresh and frozen foods and in-store delis offering an array of prepared foods.

There are more expensive gourmet groceries near the ports that offer less selection but have ready-to-cook and pre-prepared fancy foods. On St. Croix, Schooner Bay Market is within walking distance of the Christiansted harbor anchorage and St. Croix Marine docks.

On St. Thomas, there’s Marina Market across the street from American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook and Gourmet Gallery at Crown Bay Marina.

On St. John, Starfish and Dolphin Markets in Cruz Bay are full-service supermarkets, though smaller and more expensive than those on St. Thomas. In Coral Bay, look for a fair variety of canned foods, frozen foods and dry goods, plus cleaning supplies, at the convenience store-sized Love City Mini Mart.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Tortola, the capital of the British Virgin Islands, offers supermarket and specialty food stores that are amply stocked with everyday and gourmet foods. Fresh meat, poultry, seafood, fruits, vegetables, in-house made baked goods, and deli fare are excellent at Riteway Food Markets and Bobby’s Marketplace. Both are located in Road Town. There are several smaller groceries on Tortola in prime yachting locations. These include The Gourmet Chandler at Nanny Cay Marina and Ample Hamper at Soper’s Hole Marina—there’s a neat array of Asian, Indian, Mexican and British foods and ingredients at the latter.

Beyond Tortola, there are small convenience-type stores located on Virgin Gorda, Christine’s Bakery on Jost Van Dyke, and Pam’s Kitchen on Anegada, with a nice selection of baked goods.

ANTIGUA

There are many food stores, from larger supermarkets to mom-and-pop and gourmet grocery’s on Antigua. Most convenient, you’ll find Dockside Liquors & Supermarket at the Antigua Yacht Club marina in English Harbour and Bailey’s Supermarket in Falmouth.

North, nearer the capitol of St. John’s, Gourmet Basket is a treat for holiday shopping. There are over 5000 different food items from frozen, fresh and dry and over 650 selections in the wine division. You’ll find upscale entrees like quail and Certified Black Angus Beef and a cold deli counter with pates and cheeses.

BARBADOS

Cruisers to Barbados will find a place to anchor at the Barbados Yacht Club, in Carlisle Bay, about a mile outside of the capitol of Bridgetown. There are several mini-markets nearby. Super Centre is a large grocery chain with locations in Oistins and Holetown. In addition to a full array of foods, there are hot prepared foods for take-out, plus deli with soups and sandwiches. Price Smart, an international chain, has a store on the island, complete with bulk sized stocks of non-perishables as well as fresh meats and produce.

There are 60 some smaller groceries on the island that stock mainly dry and canned goods as well as specialty items and ethnic foods that reflect local tastes. The island’s five farmers’ markets usually sell just locally produced items such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meats.

ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES

There are many small food stores and produce markets throughout the Grenadines, yet the best selection and best pricing is found in St. Vincent. Look for Sunrise Supermarket at the E.T. Joshua Airport or C.K Greaves on Upper Bay Street in Kingston. In Calliaqua, to the south of Kingston, Gourmet Food carries a wide selection of imported cheeses, exotic meats, seafoods, and other deli items. Market Square, at the corner of Bay and Bedford Streets in Kingston, is chockfull of vendors selling local fresh fruits and vegetables on Fridays and Saturdays.

Throughout the Grenadines, Bequia boasts smaller supermarkets like Euro Shopper and Doris’ Fresh Food. The former offers fresh produce and bulk wholesale prices on many items; the later offers produce along with baked goods, fine wines and international deli treats. Corea’s Food Store on Mustique sells fresh fruits and vegetables, choice meats, cheeses and wines.

There are several small convenience-style supermarkets on Union Island and locals cruise the Tobago Cays in small powerboats selling bread, ice and freshly caught seafood. There is only basic provisioning on Canouan and Mayreau and no provisioning on Petit St. Vincent.

GRENADA

Most cruisers shop at three major grocery stores, Foodfair, Foodland-IGA and Real Value. Each stocks a nice selection of canned and dry goods, plus fresh items. Foodfair and Foodland-IGA have in-store delis and bakeries. All three are located in or near to St. George’s. The fresh produce market in the center of town is worth a visit, if you’re willing to get there between 5 and 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings, for fresh tropical fruits.

Carriacou , Grenada’s sister island, has several small retail outlets filled with a reasonable range of commonly used items shipped from Grenada and surrounding islands. Seafoods represent what is caught locally and meats are those that are locally butchered.

ST. LUCIA

The two main supermarkets here are JQ Charles and Julian’s. They cater to both a local and upscale crowd and offer services like delis and bakeries. Other smaller supermarkets, such as Allain’s in Soufriere, Chico’s in Marigot, Community Mart in Vieux Fort and Lera’s Enterprises in Castries tend to offer less variety, more generic brands, and lower prices. Some of the major importers have small specialty retail stores offering gourmet foods and a surprisingly wide variety of wines – French, Italian, German, Californian, South African, Latin American and others. The best place for fruits and vegetables is the large produce market in downtown Castries. Herbs and spices, meats and poultry, and a nice selection of prepared local foods available for take-out are available here too. Fresh fish is usually available from the village of Gros Islet, reachable by dinghy from Rodney Bay Marina.

Cruisers will conveniently find that Glace Motors runs a small supermarket inside Rodney Bay Marina and a larger one across the street. Also, the newly opened Discovery at Marigot Bay boasts a supermarket with wine shop.

ST. MAARTEN-ST. MARTIN

The mix of Dutch, French, Caribbean and American cultures on this dual-nation island has resulted in a choice of food and drink products that is virtually unmatched in the whole of the Caribbean. With daily flights direct from Paris, the gastronomy scene here is something both foodies and non-foodies will love.

On the Dutch side, shop at Le Grand Marche on the road to Philipsburg, Gourmet Marche in Simpson Bay, the Lido Food Center in Cole Bay on the way to Marigot, and Lido Food Express, one of which is in Cole Bay and the other near the airport on the way into Maho.

On the Dutch side, US Imports is located next to the French side bridge and also has dinghy access. The big, bountiful store is Match in Marigot. You can load up here on baguettes, cheap French wine and pate, plus all the basics.

TRINIDAD

In the Chagaramas area of Trinidad where most cruisers first arrive, the Hi Lo and Dockside Mart are both fully-stocked food stores with fresh, frozen and canned foods. There’s also regular taxi service to Price Smart and Tru Value Supermarkets, which are 20 minutes away and have a selection of many different types of fare available.

In Tobago, Penny Savers Supermarket, about a 10-minute taxi ride away from the popular anchorage in Crown Point, is a big, full-service grocery. Fresh produce is scarce here, however the open-air fruit and vegetable market in Scarborough is chock full of goodies, many of which are grown on-island or in neighboring Trinidad.

WHEN IN THE ISLANDS, GO NATIVE

Caribbean cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures and indigenous foods. Here’s a short list of some of the more unusual foods your find.

MEATS & POULTRY: Chicken feet, tripe, souse, mutton, goat, oxtail, bullfoot and all parts of the pig – ears, snout, hooves and tail, are popular.

SEAFOOD: There are some 500 fin fish that swim in Caribbean and southern Atlantic waters. Conch, whelks and spiny lobsters are local favorites.

BREADS: Try bakes, Johnny cakes, dumb bread, roti, ti-ti bread, cassava bread, and a vast array of sweets such as bread pudding and coconut cakes.

FRUITS & VEGETABLES: Tropical fruits such as bananas, cashew, citrus, passion fruit, sapodilla, guava, mango, mammy apples, West Indian cherries, carambola, and genips, and sugar apples—to name a few—grow locally, while lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, greens, seasoning herbs and root vegetables (called provisions) are cultivated here.

DAIRY FOODS: Canned and powdered milk are far more popular than fresh. Eggs are often from local hens, although cheeses are all imported.

OTHER ITEMS: Hot sauces, tropical fruit jams and jellies, arrowroot powder, cocoa sticks, coconut candies and stewed tamarind are favorite ingredients and condiments.

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