on October 21, 2006
Spending your honeymoon in the Caribbean is like an aging New Yorker transplanting to Florida: for most, it’s a given. Victoria House on Ambergris Caye, the popular island of Belize, lures enraptured couples with strings of lights hugging palm trunks, tropical flowers adorning the path, and grounds that encourage a quiet privacy. But we were not here to romance; we were here to eat.The first hint that you’re dining in an upscale island abode comes from the virginal white walls, chairs, and tablecloths. (P. Diddy would approve.) Apart from the attentive service, evident in the constant refilling of half-empty water glasses, the second giveaway, perhaps disappointingly, is the menu price in US dollars. Although, as one of the most expensive resorts in the town of San Pedro, it’s unlikely a local crowd haunts their formal dining room. Feeling indulgent, I opted for the Caye seafood gumbo, cashew-crusted grouper ($26.50), and molten chocolate dessert. Oh, and a rum punch. I took a sip of the tall drink and grumbled inside that I couldn’t taste the rum, but halfway through dinner, my head was a bit woozy and I was grinning. A mark of a good drink, I remembered, is the one that leads you to forget it’s alcoholic at all. Another plus: it was adorned with starfruit instead of the overused cherry.Others at the table had ordered the black-bean soup, and in an act of grand tableside display, waiters poured the black-bean portion into a bowl with a dab of sour cream and tomatoes in the center. A hearty, rich smell wafted above. The gumbo, unlike less-worthy soups, skimped on broth and indulged on chunks of seafood and slices of sausage. Then appetizers were cleared and entrees were served. When our waiter stood beside me, balancing a plate up high, he asked if I’d ordered one of their meat plates. I corrected him with the grouper as the dish came down. It was the fish, and the waiter grinned a crooked smile. A little waiter humor.The crust crumbled instead of stiffly clinging to the grouper. When scooped up with the sauce, of shrimp and scattered bits of corn, I savored a succulent seafood medley. The mashed potatoes underneath were smooth and buttery, and a needed respite from the beans-and-rice side.Our waiter had described the molten chocolate, which must be ordered with your entrée for sufficient prep time, as a volcano. What appeared was a chocolate cake crust, sprinkled with powered sugar, that encased liquid chocolate goo. While mine didn’t “explode” when broken, the insides did flow over the cake edges. Vanilla ice cream and banana kept the chocolate overload to proper levels, enhancing with their lighter flavors. Stomachs already bulging, most of our table struggled past the halfway point. But that didn’t mean we weren’t gong to try.
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