RHONY on STJ

Okay, I know… but, lord help me, I am hooked on Bravo’s Real Housewives series, and the New York is my favorite.  Recently the “ladies” (I use that term loosely) took a vacation down to St. John (notice there is no “s” – dumbasses can’t even get the name of the island right.)  to celebrate Crazy Eyes Ramona’s vow renewal and hilarity and drama ensued.

We were actually on-island last November when they were filming, although we never saw them in town.  Much more attention was being paid to the Hooters Girls, who were also on-island shooting a calendar.  I did manage to run into them one day at the Westin Resort, as we had taken our group over there for a day on the beach with a bartender.  Problem was, beach and bar were closed for the calendar shoot.  So, tecnically, the fucking Hooters Girls got between me and my rum & diets – not a good thing. It is a good thing that there are 10,000,000 bars on STJ, so my problem was resolved rather quickly.

Anyway, I thought it was so funny watching the completed RHONY shows while knowing where they were.  The villa where they stayed  is Presidio Del Mar, one of the biggest eyesores on the island (which, also just happens to be for sale right now for the low, low price of $32 million.)  Also, they had their food catered by well-known on-island chef Mathayom Vacharat, and word is that everything was a disaster basically because the ladies were overly demanding and as far as fabulous food goes on St. John, there are slim pickins.  (Don’t believe for a minute that Bethenny cooked those meals herself.)

Why do I watch this crap?  I don’t know, honestly – I don’t.  Andy Cohen has some sort of window into my soul where he programs shows that I want – no, need – to watch.  (Either that, or I was a 29 year old gay guy from the East Coast in another life – not that there’s anything wrong with that….)

Oh, and if you are into RHONY and can admit it, you’ll love this blog of a snarky gay guy who makes incredible characatures of all the housewives.  (He also made the video above.)

Island Food: Beef Pate Recipe

pate

One of my favorite things to be found in the Caribbean is pate (pah-tay – not to be confused with French pâté).  Known all over the Caribbean by many different names: patties, empanadas, pastelitos – they are known as pates in the Virgin Islands and Haiti.  Basically a Caribbean Hot Pocket, the pate can be stuffed with a variety of fillings such as chicken, conch, saltfish, goat or cheese – but my favorite is the beef pate.

The best place is St. John to get pates is Hurcules Pate Delight, located in a small white shack across from the Lumberyard in Cruz Bay.  The proprietors aren’t always the nicest, but it’s worth putting up with a little attitude to get your hands on one of their delights.  Also, the Mojo Cafe has started selling pates, although I haven’t had one from there yet, so I can’t comment on how good it is.  But, hell – it’s deep fried meat – how can it be bad?

West Indian Beef Pates 

Dough:

  • 5 cups flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¼ to ½ cup water

Pate filling:

  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 small stick celery, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, chopped
  • Dash oregano
  • Dash black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Dash parsley flakes
  • Dash garlic powder
  • ¼ small hot pepper, chopped (or to taste)

METHOD / DIRECTIONS:

 

To make dough:

Place flour, shortening, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add enough water to make dough. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes. Let dough sit for 20 minutes.

To make ground meat filling:

Cook beef in a large frying pan with onion, celery, bell pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parsley flakes, salt, tomato paste, Kitchen Bouquet and hot pepper. Continue cooking until ground beef is well cooked and vegetables are tender. Stir often while cooking to blend ingredients well. Use a large strainer to remove excess fat from the meat mixture. Divide dough into two pieces. Roll flat and place 1-1/2 tablespoons of ground beef mixture into center of flattened dough. Fold dough over filling using a fork to seal ends so that the filling is completely sealed inside like a turnover. Use dough cutter to cut excess dough around the pate to give an even shape. Deep fry in vegetable oil or shortening at 360 degrees until golden brown.

The Case of the Hot Dog Dickwad – Part II

See Part I here.

So, back to our story.  As I left off last week, Mr. Dickhead is ranting and raving at the bar about his child’s hot dog that he ordered at least 15 minutes ago and is demanding that they bring it out NOW as Little Johnny is getting crabbier by the minute.  All I can think is that Minivan Mom would have never let this happen – you know she has an old stained Vera Bradley tote bag of some kind on her at all times with Goldfish, Cheerios and Gummy Bears – just waiting for any Meltdown Emergency.  But, alas – Minivan Mom is not there and Dad is freaking out because Little Johnny is now completely losing it.  I can’t help but think that what Little Johnny is really losing it about is that he is embarrassed about his stupid Dad, yelling and jumping around like some sort of ape.

Anyway, Dad decides he has finally had enough.  He scoops Little Johnny  up into his arms and finds the first bartender lady he can.  “Okay!   NOW you’ve done it!!  Do you see my son here?  He is CRYING because you people  can’t seem to get a goddamn hot dog out here in a reasonable amount of time!  Just CANCEL the hot dog!  FORGET ABOUT IT!”

The bartender lady is just looking at him with no expression whatsoever.  I love these ladies.  It’s the same group of four West Indian ladies that have worked the Westin Pool Bar as long as I can remember and absolutely nothing can faze them – you just know they have dealt with every type of asshole on the planet – and this guy isn’t even close to the worst.  She begins to make a drink as she calmly talks to Dad in her pretty West Indian accent.  “The hot dog will be out here any minute now.  You can’t cancel once it’s in the kitchen.  Do you want it “to go” instead?”

This sends Dad over the edge.  “NO!  It’s TOO LATE now!  I don’t want the goddamn hot dog now, do you understand?!?  CANCEL it.  I don’t want it!  When it gets here you TAKE IT OFF MY BILL IMMEDIATELY. I mean it!  My ROOM NUMBER IS 3172!  3172!  3172! Take it off my bill!”  And with that he storms off, back to room 3172 I suppose.  And, of course, within 30 seconds, the hot dog comes out of the kitchen.  My husband and I are practically falling off our chairs.  All I can think of is how much trouble Dickwad Dad is going to be in when he wakes Mom out of her nap to explain that Little Johnny has had no lunch at all.

Oh, and I now have his room number.

We fantisize about all the things we could do:  Buy porn at the gift shop.  Charge a big lobster to him at the restaurant.  Drink unlimited Mimosas at the buffet.  Order 50 hot dogs to his room.  Hmmm… Maybe more old-school?  The flaming bag of shit on the doorstep?  Too hard.  Buy 10 packages of hot dogs at the store throw them at his door?  Too much work.  Ring and run?  That means I have to get off my barstool.

So, I wait.  I wait until after our lunch, after our dinner, after our night on the town, after we get back to our house and are ready to go to bed.  It’s about 2am.  I call the Westin and ask for room number 3172.  A groggy man-voice answers the phone – so much more quiet than the last time I saw him.  “H.. Hello?” 

“YOUR FUCKING HOT DOG IS READY NOW, SIR!!!!!”  I scream into the receiver and then slam it down.  And then I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.  I know – it was stupid and petty – but boy, did it feel good!

The Case of the Hot Dog Dickwad

diks

Thinking about cruise ship assholes the other day reminded me of a story that happened a few years ago on St. John.  My husband and I were hanging at the Westin Resort having some lunch at the Pool Bar.  Now, the Westin on St. John attracts a special kind of asshole – the type that is either accumulating and/or using some sort of Points and therefore think that they are something special.  Hey, you’re not special.  Am I special because I ate 10 sandwiches at Blimpies and got one free?  Well, sir – you are just a giant Blimpie Guy, so get over yourself already.

Anyway, there’s a lot of good people watching at the Westin Pool Bar – a lot of obnoxious East Coasters with their stupid Boston Red Sox hats, usually towing one or two small children, whom – of course – are also wearing some sort of Red Sox gear.  Harried Minivan Moms, who really thought that bringing their 2 and 4 year old on vacation was going to be, well – a vacation – and soon discover that in fact, it is not.   Fat, hairy, unusually tan dads who sneak up to the bar when Minivan Mom isn’t looking and pays cash for that 10th secret beer.  Spoiled tweens that think every summer comes with free vacations to the Caribbean, etc. etc.

On this particular outing we were privy to one of these annoying couples, who had obviously been fighting before they arrived at the Pool Bar. The Mom decided she’d had enough and told her husband that she was going to the room to take a nap, and he was now in charge of Little Johnny, their three year old son.  “Make sure he eats lunch before you come back to the room for his nap,”  the Mom said on her way out.

Turns out Little Johnny is a pill without Mom around, so Dad thinks he better order his lunch sooner rather than later.  He puts an order in for the Kid’s Meal Hot Dog at the bar and then goes on his merry way back to the pool with Little Johnny.

Five minutes later, he’s back, and Little Johnny is not happy because he wants his hot dog.  Where is the hot dog?  Dude – it may be the Westin, but it is still the Caribbean.  Have you heard of  I-S-L-A-N-D   T-I-M-E?  Soon come, mon.

Five minutes after that he’s back again and now Dad is pissed, too.  “Where is my son’s hot dog?!”  He yells at no one in particular at the bar.  “My son needs his hot dog!  He wants his hot dog!  He is a hungry little kid and he wants the hot dog NOW!”  This went on and on and I wondered who exactly the three-year-old was here.  My husband and I giggle in our Rum & Diets… this will be good.

Five minutes later he’s back again and this time Little Johnny is whining and crying about his missing hot dog.  Dad is panicked, so naturally he yells at the bartenders some more.  “Listen!  This is BULLSHIT.  Now I want that god damn hot dog and I want it NOW!”  The veins in his fat bald head are bulging.  “Where is my son’s hot dog?  He WANTS HIS HOT DOG, WHERE IS IT?????”

Oh, you’ll get your hot dog – and then some, pal.

to be continued.

St. John Dining Update

stj15

I just returned from two weeks on St. John and realized I hadn’t updated any St. John dining posts in awhile, so here is the latest:

RESTAURANT OPENINGS & CLOSINGS

Chateau Bordeaux Closed.
One of my favorite restaurants has closed, Chateau Bordeaux on Bordeaux Mountain.  This location is my absolute favorite view on the island and I am sad that the restaurant (and adjoining cheeseburger shack) is gone.  According to the Coconut Telegraph, the owners (who also own Asolare, Paradiso and Chloe & Bernards) had recently revamped the menu to reflect the “new” economy (read: cheaper prices) but still weren’t getting enough customers to make it work.  Hopefully they will sell or reopen soon, as this location is a true gem. 

NEW OPENINGS

La Plancha del Mar
In better news, a few new places have opened – most notably the new La Plancha del Mar in the Marketplace, which has been getting stellar reviews from all over the place.  La Plancha is in the old China Shack location, and is smaller than I remember.  It has about 8 tables and a nice bar surrounding the “plancha” – or the plank they use for cooking.  The food was good – especially the grilled items such as the prawns and steaks – but frankly, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.  Yes, the gentlemen that run the place are very, very nice, but the prices are astronomical for what you get – even for St. John.  I had a cheese plate appetizer that had three cube-size portions of cheese with some commercial trail mix and an interesting strawberry/mustard sauce and it was like $12!  The dinners were pretty small portion sizes as well and more expensive.   We shared a dessert that everyone talks about, a chocolate waffle with ice cream.  It was good, but not the chocolate orgasm I was expecting from the conversation with the drunken table next to us.  (They need to lose the novelty long-plate-presentation as well as it doesn’t add anything to the experience  – except maybe making you realize that you’re not getting much.)  Overall, a good place – but really nothing spectacular to justify the high prices.  There are better places to go if you want to spend a bundle on dinner.

The Surly Cantina 
A new and already-popular spot is The Surly Cantina, located across from Slimman Parking in the Wharfside where the old Paradise Cafe used to be.  I had heard that not only were they great, but cheap – something increasingly rare on STJ.  Well, the rumors were half right – the food was fantastic, but hardly cheap.  We weren’t that hungry, so we decided to share 3 fish tacos and two margaritas.  Total bill?  $47!  Okay, it was kind of our fault for not paying too much attention to what we were ordering.  It turns out tacos are $2/ea + extra for meat or fish.  We got the fish which was an extra $5 PER TACO.  So, that’s $21 for three tacos.  Ouch!  (Oh, and the remainder was the margaritas – we ordered top shelf which I should have noticed was listed on the menu, but had no price next to it.  You do the math on that one.)  The tacos were fantastic.  Probably some of the best fish tacos I have ever had.  Oh, and that margarita – it may have been worth the price as I could hardly function for the rest of the day and I only had one!

Jake’s
Jake’s is the new spot in the Lumberyard that is in the old Chilly Billy’s location.  It is run by the same people who used to run the Front Yard, and kind of keeps the same hours as they advertise they are open until 4am.  I can’t imagine who is in there at 4am as most stuff shuts down pretty early in Cruz Bay, and even the bars close at 2am.  Anyway, we stopped in for a quick lunch as we had to pick something up at the Lumberyard.  I had a BLT and the man had a cheeseburger and it wasn’t bad at all.  No frozen hamburger bun, which is the bane of my existence in the Caribbean – and my bacon was cooked crispy as I asked, so extra points for someone finally cooking my bacon correctly.  They were out of potatoes, which was funny because the sides are all potato-related except for pasta salad, so this is what we had.  Totally Kraft Italian Dressing on my pasta salad, so points off for Kraft crap.  Other than that, it was good food and probably great to scarf stuff down at 3:45 am for sure.

Wharfside Pizza
When the old Senorita Pizza closed at Wharfside a few months ago, I wasn’t too sad as another pizza place opened in it’s place: Wharfside Pizza.  And, this place had the added bonus of installing an actual pizza oven in order to cook the pizzas.  How hard can it be to make a good pizza?  Hard, I guess.  We picked up a couple of pies on our Day Zero in to town as we’d gotten in late and I had some drunken ladies on my hands.  Even in my inebriated state, I knew deep down that the pizza sucked.  Tiny toppings (many obviously canned), doughy crust, tasteless sauce and a really long wait all added up to a disappointing experience – especially from the same owners of Mojo Cafe and Waterfront Bistro, which always get good reviews.

SOON COME

I saw a few signs that a new Chinese restaurant called Lucky Pagoda will be opening “soon” (that could mean next week or next year using the Caribbean timetable) in the Lumberyard where the old Polly’s used to be.  Not sure STJ was really missing Chinese food since the awful China Shack closed last year, but it sure can’t be any worse.  I guess sometimes you need a good eggroll, but I’d rather have a fish pate from Hercules.  (Update: I read today that the Lucky Pagoda is set to open tomorrow, March 11.  Saw a copy of the menu and it looked pretty basic.  The real trick is getting an ample supply of asian ingredients like water chestnuts, bamboo, bok choy, etc.  Good luck to the Lucky Pagoda!)

Island Food: Conch Fritters Recipe

fritter

I love island food.  Mahi Sandwiches, Funghi, Pates, Johnny Cakes and of course, conch fritters.  If you ever have some extra conch lying around, well – now you know what to do with it.  These go particularly well with Painkillers.

Best place on St. John for Conch Fritters: Shipwreck Landing, Coral Bay

TRADITIONAL CONCH FRITTERS

1 lb conch meat (You might get away with this recipe by using minced clams – but it won’t be the same)
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery
1/2  tsp. red pepper
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
Salt to taste
1 egg
1/3 cup self rising cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp hot sauce (or to taste)

Put conch through food grinder or food processor.  Process with onion, celery, red and green pepper and mix with conch, adding salt and egg.  Mix well.  Mix together cornmeal, flour and baking powder.  Add conch mixture.  Mixture should be thick.  Add buttermilk and hot sauce.  Drop by heaping tablespoon into deep oil until light brown. Drain.  Serve with dipping sauce of mayonnaise, hot sauce and fresh lime juice.

Airport Bars of the World: STT

stt

ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands  – Cyril E. King Airport
Hibiscus Bar
Located in the Jet Terminal next to the Cafeteria

Well, it was only a matter of time until I report on the newly-remodeled Hibiscus Bar since I spend much time there when going back and forth between Chicago and St. John.  Sadly, this is not one of my favorite bars – in fact it’s one of my least favorite.  It’s crowded, the bartenders are agonizingly slow and surly, the food at the cafeteria borders on inedible and the drinks are expensive.

The last time I was there, a gentleman standing next to me waited more than 20 minutes for a single beer – no lie.  Luckily, because of my dedicated thorough research I have done for you I can give you the three easy tricks to getting your proper load-on before you board the plane:

  1. Stay Left. Sit on the left side of the bar as the cash register is there and the bartender seems to never get to the other side of the bar to help people.  Instead, he takes an order, gets the drink, takes the money, gives the change and then helps the next person behind the first person.  As now the first person has his drink and leaves, this repeats itself over and over and the people on the right side of the bar never get served.
  2. Double Up. Need one drink?  Order two.  Need two?  Order four.  Even if you are sitting at the bar itself, this is a wise strategy as although you may be sitting on the left side – service can still be slow due to all the walk-ups who are sitting in the cafeteria.  By the time you get your orders and finish them, you’ll be right at the same time you would be at a regular airport bar with normal service.
  3. Get There Early. I mean hours early.  You just never know what is going to happen during the process of getting to your plane in the Caribbean.  There are so many things to go wrong and usually will that we literally leave our house in St John five hours ahead of time.  Granted, we have to take a ferry and a taxi to get to the airport, but once we get there you just never know what can happen.  This is also a good reason to stake out your seat at the bar on the left side and never leave until they call final boarding for your flight.

All in all I can’t complain too much about the Hibiscus Bar as there is no alternative since it is the only bar in the Jet Terminal.  There are no carding statutes, no rules about how many you can order at once, no limit on how much you drink and no regulations to keep you from taking them to go.  So, I guess that makes up for slow service and surly bartenders.

Plusses: No rules, they have alcohol
Minuses: Slow, crowded, bad food

A T-RATING® of 2 out of 5

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