Liebman and her husband spent a blissful five days in the Bahamas, mostly in Nassau but with a side trip to Bimini. They can’t forget that heavenly bread—and the people they met.
COSMOS AND COD
I hesitated when the Bahamas tourism reps suggested that Michael and I take part in their People-to-People program on the last night of our trip. We really didn’t want to end our festive Nassau experience with a dry, educational evening.
But the affair turned out to be anything but dull. Caterer Lesley Pinder had volunteered to host us at her house “over the hill” (that’s what locals call the nontourist part of New Providence Island). She’d also invited a photographer, a straw bag entrepreneur and several friends and family members to meet us. When we entered her spacious house, Lesley was making her famous cosmos and frying up conch fritters. We shyly joined the other guests, who all wanted to talk about Obama. It was a few weeks before the election and everyone was ecstatic over the prospect of an African-American president. The ensuing political discussion quickly broke the ice.
After a few cosmos, we sat down to a delicious meal of foil-baked cod, Lesley’s creamy mac & cheese and more cosmos. Dessert was a sublime coconut cake. The conversation was still flowing at midnight (as were the drinks), but our driver, the wonderful Romeo Farrington, was waiting for us outside. We dragged ourselves away and raved about the experience all the way back to our hotel. Romeo could relate, he told us. As part of the program many years ago, he had hosted a young Chicago couple. Since then he had visited them twice, attended their 50th wedding anniversary and welcomed their grandchildren to his Nassau home.
The next day, after we arrived back in New York, Michael and I both had Facebook messages from Chrissy Love, the exuberant radio DJ we’d talked to for much of the evening at Lesley’s. “So great to meet you two,” she wrote. “I’ll mention you on my show this morning. See you at the inauguration!”
Visitors to Bimini, a nearby Bahamian island, tend to seclude themselves in the lovely Bimini Bay Resort. But there are a few highlights beyond the gates: a rustic shack that serves delicious conch chowder (the hours depend on the owner’s whims); an old barn where an even older gentleman makes boats; the colorful home/museum of Ashley B. Saunders, an author and Bahamas historian; and, of course, the pay phone where Hannibal Lecter called Clarissa in the last scene of Silence of the Lambs. And then there’s the house where you can get your hands on the fabulous Bimini bread ($3 a loaf)—slightly sweet and very soft, like challah but richer and more buttery. To find the spot, we were given this advice: Ask anyone in town for directions to Uncle Charlie’s, an unassuming house set back from the road. Then knock. Fresh from the oven, the bread is heavenly, and definitely worth tearing yourself away from the resort’s infinity pool.
TO THE MANOR BORN
I’d heard about Graycliff, one of Nassau’s fanciest hotel restaurants, but until we arrived for dinner I hadn’t realized how fascinating the experience would be. The restaurant is in a historic mansion, and owner Enrico Garzaroli has built a wine cellar that houses 250,000 bottles from more than 400 vintners in 15 countries. Next door, a churrascaria-style restaurant called Humidor serves prime-cut meats cooked Brazilian style on a giant rotisserie and served in seemingly endless progression.
Before entering the formal Graycliff Restaurant (242-302-9150; graycliff.com) in the old mansion, you sit in a drawing room to study the menu while sipping champagne cocktails. A large painting of Garzaroli and son hangs on the wall near the baby grand. After a meal of foie gras, fresh pasta and Wagyu beef, served by attentive tuxedoed waiters, you’ll waltz out feeling a little like a plantation owner.
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