Exotic eating and drinking at Rum Bahamas Fest [classic article]

The Bahamas just had a massively successful 1st annual Rum Bahamas Fest: Rum, Food & Culture. The venue — historic Ft. Charlotte — makes you feel like a pirate enjoying the party! I was very happy to be hosted to experience it.

The atmosphere is very different between night and day: day is very sunny, warm and feels like attending a fun ethnic fest with friends. It’s also a good time to learn — from an intellectual point of view — about the various rums and rum products. Nighttime is exotic! There are fire dancers, cooler temps, and the mystery of walking around an ancient stone fort.

My first night there, I hadn’t eaten for hours. So, after a few ultra premium rum cocktails, I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t be drinking on such an empty tummy!”

I love a fest that doesn’t have the typical state fair food, like cotton candy. I actually wrote to a festival planner once, decrying the lack of locally sourced recipes. He scoffed at me, saying the locals actually like crappy fair food! Rum Bahamas is completely different! (Thank God.) There are food producers and home cooks making jams, Caribbean recipes and recipes from other tropical islands, such as Vietnamese, if you can believe it. In the lush, tropical weather, they all work.

I wanted something super-duper local for my very first meal in the Bahamas, ever. I went to a Soul Food stand and got a skewer of the freshest, most tender shrimp I may have ever had, plus really cheesy baked macaroni and cheese. Yes! They love-love-love mac and cheese in the Bahamas, which they tend to just call “macaroni”. I love-love-love mac and cheese too. If the Bahamas were a person, I’d say, “I think we’re gonna be friends!” The platter I got was around $10 or so. They accept US dollars on an equal exchange rate with Bahamian dollars. But, if you break a big US bill, you’re going to get Bahamian dollars as change. That happened with me, so I went in search of a place to spend them . . .

Tortuga Rum Cake stand to the rescue! They have a couple of brick and mortar stores in the Bahamas. I first had Tortuga rum cake on a Caribbean cruise about 20 years ago. I’ve been in love ever since! But, they’re very expensive in the US. The stand was practically giving them away! Actually, they were giving away samples, in 6 flavors! Everyone in my house loves Tortuga, so I had carte blanche to bring some home.

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