Belize Chef Goes Fishing
Fishing in Belize is one of my favorite leisure time activities and in fact one of the reasons that I came down here. I've become expert at setting up fishing trips to the Belize Barrier Reef after cutting my teeth attempting various fishing methods in the wonderfully diverse fishing habitats that are available in a 7 mile radius of my front dock.
The Sittee River flows into the Caribbean Sea less than a mile to the south, providing a plethora of fishing opportunities both at the mouth and up the river. Incoming tides carry all types of the inner reef denizens like Snapper, Jacks and of course the namesake of my restaurant, the Barracuda Bar and Grill .
Up into the river and fishing the low mangroves form the river mouth upstream, you are likely to encounter monster Snook eager to hit soft baits or better yet, live bait. Also often under the mangrove overhangs are juvenile Tarpon, Mangrove Snapper, and Yellow Eyed Jacks. Through a cut in the mangroves, you can access Anderson Lagoon, home to Tarpon and Snook and also a great place to go on dark nights to see the phosphorescent glowing plankton that inhabit the lagoon,especially during the dry winter months when the salt content is high. There is nothing like a night time visit to Anderson Lagoon spotting crocodiles and Kinkajous while sipping a nice Chardonnay.
Coming out of the Anderson Lagoon Bar Mouth and heading south a mile, will bring you to Sapodilla Lagoon. At Sapodilla Lagoon at first light after a full moon phase, the Tarpon are voracious and hit anything that hits the water for about an hour after sunrise.
Trolling out to the reef and the inner reef is always a smorgasbord of fishing activity. Big Barracuda, King Mackerel, Jacks, Wahoo, and all varieties of Snapper are common catches along with the occasional Cobia. Once at the patch reef, you can change to some lighter gear and drop fish sardines for the smaller Yellow Tail and Silk Snapper, Grouper and amazing array of other fish. This is always great for kids as the action is almost omni-present and everyone on the boat can try at once. bring your snorkel gear and when it gets a little warm, jump in for some world class snorkeling .
Don't filet all those small snapper yet though, if its a calm day. you can head out through one of the cuts in the reef and find yourself drop fishing with larger gear with the live snapper in 200-400 feet of water where you never know what, or how big, of a fish you will catch.
Also with in this 7 mile radius of fantastically diversified fishing are the flats. World renown for its permit and bone fish, fly fisherman come from all over the world in hopes of getting the fly fishing grand slam in one trip. the Belizean Grand Slam consists of Bone Fish, Permit, Tarpon and Snook.
Come back to the Dock at Beaches and Dreams and ask to borrow one of our ultra light poles and cast out to the 2 O'clock position for grunts and small snapper that hang in the small patch of reef there and a full day of fishing is complete.
Well , almost complete,but not until you got a plate with pesto baked snapper filet over roasted vegetables and a glass of Pinot Grigio in front of you! From your fishing chef in Belize.....You'd Better Belize it!
Sublime Dining in Hopkins Belize
Lobster Season is open again!
Belize's awareness of the sensitivity of our wonderful reef, the world's second largest barrier reef next to Australia's, is apparent in it's fisheries regulations, which state that no lobster can be taken during the closed season from February 15 through June 15th. It is also unlawful to possess or sell, even frozen lobsters, during this closed season. We fill in our menu with lots of shrimp and fish dishes, but hey, lobster is lobster so we're glad to be including these denizens of the deep back into our reperatoir of foodie fare. This is the first summer season that we have kept the Barracuda Bar and Grill open, largely because it is such a chef driven restaurant, I won't let anyone else come and cook there or attempt to keep the restaurant open in my usual summer absence. This summer we stayed on to complete our 5 year renovation plans, fianally getting our own home above the restaurant in order. I must say that even summer now is bringing the tourist trade and alot of people coming to look at real estate in thier desire to retire in paradise, so the Bartracuda Bar and Grill has been open and though not hopping, it has been a pleasurable pace to cook at , and of course leaves a little time for culinary experimentation and personalized serrvice of our guests like 6 course tasting dinners filled with fresh veggies, seafood and the Italian-Caribbean blend of fusion cooking that we call Mediteribbean. Avacados are in abundance right now and one of our little Tapas items for the tasting dinners has been a simple lobster and avacado salad, laced with fresh tomatoes, garlic, firm but ripe avacados, fresh basil and tiny slivers of crispy roasted garlic on top to give a crunchy, slightly bitter aspect to the freshness of the dish. The lobster fisherman are bringing the fresh lobsters right to our dock on an everyother day basis, so keeping fresh lobsters on hand for Lobster Bisque, Lobster Thermidor, Lobster Coconut curry, Lobster Scampi, and even just plain lobster baked with garlic butter and lots of fresh limes for squeezing. Another great dish we prpare using all of our fresh available seafood is a uniquely Mediteribbean dish we call Mediteribbean Seafood Stew. It's somewhere halfway between Boulabaisse and Ciopino, incorperating seafood stock, marinara almost equally, add lots of our fresh chopped herb mix of Thyme, Marjoram, Basil and Oregeno, grown right here on the second story herb garden, lots of garlic and a splash of white wine. We simmer the seafood just until done, adding the larger peices first and the smaller, faster cooking things like shrimp last so that none of the seafood becomes overcooked, a personal complaint of mine. There is nothing worse than someone overcooking seafood, especially of the shellfish variety. So I always pay special attention to cooking times in mixed shellfish ingredient dishes. If you make it down to Hopkins this summer, be sure to stop into the Barracuda Bar and Grill at Beaches and Dreams.
Daily Hopkins Life
Daily Hopkins life is full of things to do, most of which I love to do. Buying fresh ingredients for the nights specials board, serving great clientelle who are Foodies and then enjoying a glass of wine with them after dinner while we sit out on the new extended dock as the palm trees dance in the breeze ...and the ocean sings us her lulabye....I'll meet you at Beaches and Dreams.
You'd better Belize it!