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Mon, Oct. 18

Dine In/Dine out with ‘The Dunnery’: Paella in paradise

(Tim Cox/Courtesy)

(Tim Cox/Courtesy)

Sometimes things work out better than you expect. We (Your Team AZ Realty crew, Tim and Kathy Cox and Danni and Mic Barker) recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean that turned out to be an unexpected culinary journey.

Being a self-proclaimed food snob, I wasn’t expecting much. The four of us were on a boat in the British Virgin Islands with a captain and his wife. Most restaurants and bars were closed due to COVID-19 protocols, so we were limited to eating aboard.

I had visions of spam and canned tuna while sloshing around the water in our 44-foot catamaran. Much to our delight, the captain’s wife, Maribel, is a French trained Chef from Venezuela. It was love at first bite.

The creamy lasagna we indulged on that first night reminded me of Italy. Progressively, dining got more interesting and tastier. Chef Maribel would be cooking all day preparing three meals of epic proportions and mouth-watering cuisine, all in a very modest kitchen.

Breakfast was different every day and consisted of various quiche, fresh fruit, pancakes or French toast, grilled breakfast burritos, and fresh baked goods with jellies, jams and butter. Our low carb and sugar ideas were immediately thrown overboard.

Lunches were inventive and ranged from island-fresh green salads and fruit to spicy homemade Venezuelan carne Machida Arepa sandwiches.

The real magic happened at dinner.

We found ourselves sneaking a glimpse or smell well before the meal was served. The aforementioned lasagna began the onslaught of special dinners. We were served Paella with fresh clams, mussels, and shrimp. Other evening meals included lemon caper salmon, pork tenderloin with wild rice, and an amazing steak with onion burgundy sauce.

For me the dinner highlight was Venezuelan soup, Maribel’s family recipe, topped with a tender slab of perfectly cooked Mahi. All these dinners were, of course, followed by marvelous desserts: sorbets, ice cream, chocolate mousse, and tiramisu.

We all found ourselves confirming the existence of a dessert spoon at the dinner place setting. I don’t believe there existed a can opener on the boat. All sauces were homemade. The meat for the Arepas was slow cooked on the mini cooktop. The bread was freshly baked, including the arepa sandwich buns.

On a fun afternoon, Maribel ran out of the kitchen excited when she saw the Spanish mackerel reeled in. She grabbed the fish and headed to the kitchen. Later that afternoon we were enjoying fresh ceviche and cervezas. Back home, I find myself not thinking of the turquoise water and white sand beaches as much as the Paella in Paradise.

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