Tobago Food Uncovered – Part 2
Traditional, local food in Tobago can be found all around the island from small independent cafe-type stalls to medium-sized food chains.
We wanted to eat strictly local home-cooked food and we found some fantastic places. Interestingly, we found that many of the larger restaurants shy away from authentic Tobagonian cuisine, instead, they opt for a more westernized menu. They might use some of the same raw ingredients, but for me, you have to really go out there and seek out all those fantastic Tobagonian home cooks who cook with passion. I believe it is there that you will taste REAL Tobago food.
The national dish of Tobago is Crab and Dumplin. Being a part of Trinidad, the island has alot of similar dishes such as, Buss Up Shut (Roti), Shark & Bake and Pelau.
The island has an abundance of food. I was really amazed while exploring the villages, how many different types of fruit and veg that were growing wild on the island. The beaches are not privatized, so you’ll find lots of local fishermen casting out their nets in relatively shallow water right near the beach, where they’ll be catching anything from tuna, red snapper to shark fish.
This picture above shows the fishermen hauling in their catch for the day. They have a great system for fishing in villages where, if you help to bring in the catch, you get a share of the fish! Apparently, this has been a local tradition on the island for many years since the end of slavery. It’s about the locals all helping one another to survive.
We ate in a variety of local eateries on the island. One of the first places we stumbled upon was Chefs & BBQ in Scarborough (just near the ferry port). Although they are a medium sized business, they have not lost their local food roots. We had a selection of very tasty dishes there at local prices! That’s another great point about eating local, you get local prices and massive portions!
Chicken Pelau with salad
Pelau is a traditional Caribbean dish served on many islands. The meat is browned in caramalised sugar to get a rich dark colour and flavour – then cooked with rice and peas.
Stewed Ox Tail with Macaroni Pie & Salad
When you come to this part of the Caribbean, you must eat Macaroni Pie! I pretty much lived on this stuff (not great for the waistline!) The Ox Tail, was marinaded and cooked to perfection.
Stewed Chicken with Mashed Cassava and Noodles
Stewed chicken is a classic dish, cooked again with caramalised sugar. The cassava was partly mashed and cooked with onions, garlic, sweet peppers, oil and butter – it tasted amazing. I’ve never eaten cassava in this way before, so it was a real treat for me. Noodles are very popular in Trinidad and Tobago, due to the Chinese population on the island. We found quite a few Chinese restaurants and many of the local places had some kind of Chinese influence combined with their own cuisine.
Stew Peas, Bhaji Rice & Sauteed Vegetables
The stew peas were cooked in coconut milk, which gave it a rich velvety taste. There is also an Indian influence on the island, which again has crossed over into the local food. The Bhaji rice was cooked with calalloo, coconut milk, sweet peppers and seasoning.
King Fish & Mashed Cassava
Bakes (ready for fried shark – Shark & Bake)
Curry Goat, Macaroni Pie, Stewed Lentils and Saffron Rice
One of my all time favourite Caribbean dishes – Curry Goat! Umm… This tasted great with the saffron rice. We got a bit of everything on the menu from a local cafe in Shore Bay, Crowne Point. They’ve got some fantastic local food cafes with a spectacular view of the sea.
Shore Bay sea view (right…back to the food!)
Guinness Ice Cream
It was really nice to find such a varied selection of different ice cream flavours on the island. You could get anything from Guinness, Pumpkin Coconut to Soursop (a Caribbean fruit).
1 Scoop of Soursop and 1 Scoop of Coconut Ice Cream
Mama’s Homemade Ice Cream – Scarborough
While exploring the village of Black Rock on the west side of the island, we stumbled upon a great local cafe called Tessa’s Favoured Delight. She’s only been in business for 6 months, but she’s already causing a storm with the locals and tourists of Black Rock with her tasty menu.
Tessa’s Favoured Delight. Black Rock (on the road leading to Fort Bennett).
We practically lived at this place once we discovered her! It was the best food we tasted on the island. She had a very simple menu of various fried local fish, chicken, pork and beef, served with fries, salad or home made garlic bread. But, she also cooked to order too. This is what made her so unique. She would make you any local dish that you desired, all to order, with 1 days notice. This was music to our ears! We then placed a few bespoke orders with her, such as, Crab & Dumplin and Buss Up Shut. We knew we were in for a real treat!
Dolphin Fish, Chips, Hot Sauce, Shado Beni Sauce, Fresh Lime & Salad
Stew Pork, Dumplings, Green Banana & Sweet Potato
Fried Shark Fish
This fried shark fish was just divine! The fish was fried to perfection – crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with a little kick of heat!
Buss Up Shut (Paratha Roti)
Curry Chicken, Mango Chutney, Pumpkin and Curry Potato
These images came as one dish with the Buss Up Shut roti. For me, this was the best Roti I have ever tasted. It was soft and buttery. The chicken curry fell off the bone, the mango chutney was homemade by Tessa too. It was made with the mango seed and skin as well as the flesh, which in my opinion, gave the chutney more flavour.
We ordered Crab & Dumplin from Tessas for our last meal of our trip and yes it was spectacular. The crab was chopped into pieces and curried with peppers and spices and the dumplin’s were again, cooked to perfection. Tessa’s is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Black Rock.
We sampled a variety of local drinks in Tobago such as Sorrel, Rum and Mauby. The best Mauby I had was at Chefs & BBQ in Scarborough. They made the Mauby with a blend of sweet spices which really enhanced the drink.
Mauby is made from the bark of the Mauby tree. It has a strong licorice taste, which is combined with sugar and sweet spices to make a refreshing drink.
Sorrel is made from the red petals of the Sorrel plant. The petals are boiled down with cinnamon, ginger and sugar to taste. You can also add a drop of rum!
I found this alcoholic drink in a local shop in Courland Bay. It might improve your rear end maybe?!
I highly recommend Tobago’s local cuisine and as you can see, we couldn’t stop eating it! Forget the larger restaurants and food chains – get out into the smaller villages and really taste the food!