Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 12, 2010 - Deep Bay, Antigua

This morning we cleared into Antigua with the friendly and efficient officials at Jolly Harbour. Once we had taken care of the formalities we dinghied over to the chandlery. Sten took one look at the prices and decided to wait to buy what he needed in duty free Sint. Maarten. However, he was thrilled to replace his 2006 Budget Marine catalog with the 2010 version.

Then it was off to the the grocery store to buy some fresh stuff (getting caught in a squall along the way). I don't know what we were expecting, but we were blown away by the supermarket at Jolly Harbour. It had everything we could possibly want (except Frontera salsa). The prices on most items were lower than on the French islands, so we splurged on a few treats like english muffins, sour cream and corn tortillas. Then we dinked back to the boat (again getting drenched in yet another squall).

We'd planned to sail up to the North Sound that afternoon, but decided that since the weather was such rubbish we should tuck into Deep Bay for the rest of the afternoon rather than attempting to navigate the reefs in the rain. We dropped anchor in 8 feet of water and fell back into 10. Deep Bay is a pretty odd name for such a shallow anchorage, but the whole west coast of Antigua is shoal. After the deep water navigation of the islands to our south, sailing along and anchoring in 8 to 14 feet of water took some getting used to.

As we gorged ourselves with bruschetta topped with sauteed zucchini, basil and goat cheese, we considered whether to explore the beach or snorkel on the wreck in the middle of the bay. The wreck won. The water was pretty murky but we spotted a turtle and two lobsters and were entertained by the undulations of a big bait ball.

Back in the Saints we took advantage of some unsecured wifi to skype our families. Sten's mom has been doing a bunch of entertaining at her new place in Florida and she asked me for an easy cocktail recipe. I promised to write up my super secret rum punch recipe for her. Okay, here it is:
One sour
Two sweet
Three strong
Four weak
This is a classic rum punch or planter's punch recipe. It is easy to remember and wonderfully flexible. But it does take a little decoding.

The numbers in the quatrain are ratios. For one round of drinks for the two of us, I turn the ratios into ounces, yielding two cocktails with an ounce and a half of rum in each one (three divided by two for the mathematically challenged). When making a round of rum punch for a crowd, I simply multiply each of the ingredients by half the number of guests being served. Easy. Trust me.

For the sour, lime juice is the typical ingredient. Lemon just doesn't play as well with tropical juices.

For the sweet, fruit juice is standard. Pineapple, mango, guava, or some combination thereof work well. Orange juice is too acidic to be used for the sweet on its own, but can be mixed in with some other flavors - it marries well with guava. If using orange juice, cut back a little on the sour.

The strong is rum. Spiced rums don't work in punch, so leave the Captain Morgan's on the shelf (better yet, leave it in the store). Dark rum will overpower your other ingredients. White rum, like Bacardi or Cruzan is, well, fine. But an amber rum, like Mount Gay Eclipse, Appleton or a younger Havana Club is what you want.

And the weak is ice or water or some combination thereof.

Mix in a dash of bitters, grate some nutmeg on top, and you are in business.

Now, that's your standard fruity rum punch recipe. It is always a winner. But we were introduced to an even better version by Andrew and Jo on s/v Zephyr's Zest in Barbados. Andrew's rum punch omits the fruit juice (other than the lime for the sour). In its place he uses simple syrup made from unrefined or brown sugar. Garnished with a jaunty green maraschino cherry, the result is a showcase for good rums (no white rums need apply - reach for the Mount Gay or an older Havana Club instead). We've been experimenting with Andrew's recipe for the past few weeks and are pretty confident that we've got it right. Though more sampling may be required.

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