Every fall I turn into a bear… I find I have an insatiable hunger that leads me to all the wonderful restaurants of Chicago and then culminates with huge Thanksgiving dinner that prepares me for hibernation. Unfortunately, its impossible to hibernate in Chicago, believe me I’ve tried… But at some point you have to venture out of your condo bear cave and face the cold. This year we decided to thwart off my hibernating animal instincts and make a trip to Turks and Caicos, in the British West Indies.
We arrived on a sunny, but cool and blustery day and as always promptly hopped in a cab and asked… where can we eat good local food? And, of course, we were given a handful of different results that pointed us in the direction of many resort restaurants… however that wasn’t exactly what we were looking for and by day three we found ourselves wandering to yet another recommended spot, Somewhere on the Beach, where we met a die-hard New England Patriot’s fan named Michael and had some fantastic fish tacos… but our story doesn’t end here. Sure… we ate fish tacos three days in a row and each day they were amazing, but what made this experience even better is that we finally found what we were looking for… a cooking class from someone who knew a few things about island cooking.
We met Robert Nathaniel Stubbs at Franco’s Restaurant in the Central Plaza on the island of Providenciales where this cooking veteran gave us some aprons and put my husband to work tenderizing conch. Shortly thereafter we watched him prepare a curried conch stew with the hottest pepper I have ever tasted. My husband claims it is a Scotch Bonnet pepper, although they call it something different here. While the conch simmered on the stove, we grilled some pork chops and Chef Stubbs plated our dish beautifully with some yellow rice. We sat down at the bar with our aprons still on to finally get a taste of what the locals are eating.
The food was delicious and the curried conch was tender and oh so spicy. As we were finishing our plates he surprised us with his specialty, spicy fried chicken and conch fritters, that he is well known for across the island. These were equally delicious and had their own unique island flare. While we chatted with Chef Stubbs, I couldn’t help but think we had found what we were looking for. When we travel to another country we want to eat like the locals, and learn how to prepare their recipes. The experience at Franco’s Restaurant allowed us to see beyond the beautiful beaches of Turks and Caicos and into the heart of island cuisine.