Caicos Café Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands Reviewed May / June 2011
Caicos Café is just steps away from your resort on Governors Road
Big news travels fast on this small, tropical Caribbean island outpost, and when reports surfaced that, after more than two decades, our beloved Caicos Café was closing its French–style doors and a new ‘Mediterranean bistro’ would inhabit this sanctified and popular culinary locale, all of Provo was abuzz with expectation.
Caicos Café is truly one of Provo’s few remaining vestiges of authentic, old–world Caribbean charm. Attractive and captivating, its white gingerbread trim and dark plank wood floors evoke the enchantment and appeal of a by–gone era with unexpected splashes of eclectic contemporary décor that really works.
Appetisers at Caicos Café include an Asparagas Tart
Owner/Manager Marco Zanuccoli and owner/Chef Massimo ‘Max’ Olivari combine genuine flavours and influences from the Mediterranean featuring fresh fish and local produce that unite perfectly to create a diverse and engaging menu. Marco admits, “We’ll keep on changing a little bit – this is the core; a lot of fish, a lot of pasta,” offering homemade pastas whenever possible. Evening Specials are displayed on the blackboard – with a commendable and reasonable wine list that was collectively and pleasurably ordained, “Nothing you can’t afford.” Without hesitation, we confidently called upon Marco’s expertise for his wine recommendations; with one stipulation, ‘keep it all Italian’. He suggested a 2009 Pinot La Vis Trentino Simboli Pinot Niro to complement our Starters; progressing to a 2009 Cusumano Nero D’Avola for “more of a punch” with our main course selections.
Compliments of the Chef, savoury slices of bruschetta put forward those incredibly fresh tomato and herb flavours that are so indicative of the Mediterranean diet. Next up – a fabulous basket of breads featured crunchy bread sticks, rolls, foccacia and even dark bread.
Salads include Baby Leaf Spinach with Pears and Stilton Cheese
Starters arrived with my Evening Special of Fish Cakes; a succulent duo of tender, golden–fried grouper ‘cakes’ with a delicate, crunchy exterior all drizzled with an irresistible and fragrant curry sauce. A side of fried plantain encrusted in that same delicate coating proffered very sweet and engaging flavours. My husband’s Fish Carpaccio of the day was a welcome change from the typical gossamer–thin slices of fish. Here, the absolutely melt–in–your–mouth, oh–so–fresh Wahoo was sliced thick – about an eighth of an inch thick – and served on a delightful crunchy vegetable salad with a sprinkling of capers. I must confess that salads rarely cause me the occasion to get really excited – so when my favourite dining companion called for her starter to be a salad... I happily sanctioned her choice. “This is a lovely combination,” she raved, and upon sampling my token taste, I was immediately impressed. Delicate and vivid green baby leaves of spinach were tossed with savory baked grape tomatoes, pungent stilton cheese, sweet and juicy pears and crispy croutons – bathed in a sherry vinegar and mustard honey dressing which I had to admit and agree was quite spectacular. Across the table, the Goat Cheese Tart was heralded for tasting so rich; it could be eaten as dessert! Swathed in a flakey crust, the sharp, distinctive tang of goat cheese was in perfect harmony with tender asparagus and onions with an accompanying robust and tantalizing balsamic reduction. “It works all together – no one thing is overpowering.”
Marco’s recommended Pinot Niro was enjoyed around the table for its fruitiness and natural ability to match well with our Starters. As the Nero D’Avola was being poured in anticipation of our Main Courses, we tasted this wine’s appealing and concentrated flavours... “We’re stepping up” was followed by a “look at that colour” and an unwavering “He scored twice”. A unanimous frontrunner, we agreed we wouldn’t have thought to order that wine with my friend eagerly adding, “I’m already dreaming about it with the Beef Emince.”
Caicos Café creates a fabulous Seafood Stew Bouillabaisse
We opted to squeeze a pasta course in between our starters and mains. Nickel–size Orecchiette pasta acted like little ‘pockets’ that scooped up and held just the right combination of this magnificent medley of tastes and textures including ground tidbits of Italian pork sausage, roasted eggplant and broccoli tossed in an amazingly rich and enticing tomato sauce. “The sausage is driving it” was followed by “There’s so much going on here!”
The Beef Emince was an Evening Special... and special it was. Morsels of “as tender as it can be” beef sautéed with onions and mushrooms in a rich and creamy brandy sauce left my fellow diner downright animated with culinary kudos! Whipped potatoes and vegetables rounded out this exceptional feast. Deep–water snapper was the Catch of the Day, and rather than opting for the usual grilled preparation with fresh tomato sauce Vierge, my husband requested the Wahoo menu adaptation of pan–searing with saffron, calamata olives, roasted grape tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms. The savoury combination of olives and tomatoes made for a pleasurable contrast to the mild fish flavours. Absolutely enamoured of his choice... he sanctioned this to be “the best fish dish ever”! The Mediterranean Bouillabaisse instantly incited salacious envy from around the table; as intense aromas reminiscent of a lobster bisque flooded the air. It was a copious casserole of fish and seafood drenched in a fabulous tomato and white wine based sauce with a heaping helping of toasts that rimmed the edge of the bowl, standing–by at the ready to soak up every last drop. This marvelous mélange was passionately declared, “Seafood stew the way it was meant to be! Not too spicy, not too soupy, not too much, and not too little. An awesome rendition,” she gushed. Last, but categorically not least... I must admit that I never thought a chicken breast would propel me to this level of deliriousness. And as my palate rekindles those fabulous ‘fowl’ memories, I am powerless to control the mouth–watering salivation. Tightly wrapped in pancetta, this flawlessly pan–seared breast was ever so delightfully crisp on the outside, and moist and succulent on the inside. Served already sliced, it was not only an eye–catching presentation; but also effortless to enjoy as the creamy mozzarella and aged ricotta cheese stuffing oozed out and came together with the gorgeous almond–lemon–rosemary sauce. A side of ‘classic’ potatoes gratin was the ultimate accompaniment – tender potatoes sliced mandolin–thin with plenty of cheese and a beautiful golden–brown top; and a wonderful combination of seasonal vegetables served on a savoury Parmesan toast.
Chef Max creates a Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast Wrapped in Pancetta
Utterly delighted and still a bit delirious, I sat back and glanced around Caicos Café, taking in the affable al fresco ambiance in the midst of the lively and unmistakable resonance of blatantly contented and appreciably satisfied diners. A unanimous and continuous exchange of accolades and compliments ensued, as our thoughts impulsively turned to ‘dolce’. A Classic Tiramisu with coffee sauce was “like eating whipped cream”, Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries and a red berry coulis was “smooth and velvety” and Bailey’s Affogato was a wonderful ‘elixir’ of vanilla ice cream soaked in espresso coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
A round of Villa Massa Limoncello was a luscious libation to finish this flawless feast... “lemonade for grown–up’s... with a kick!”.
I once read someone express that eating Italian food was like tasting food for the first time. I couldn’t help but intuitively smile in wholehearted acknowledgement, as haunting memories of that unforgettable cuisine instantaneously began to engulf my mind... my palate impulsively and spontaneously yearning for those extraordinary ‘tastes’ of the Mediterranean again... previously resigned to the heartrending fact that memories alone would have to appease and placate my palate... until now!
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