I spent the last week in Bermuda. This old British colony in the North Atlantic is teeming with natural beauty: blooming gem-tone flowers, skittering geckos, crystal-clear oceans. We were even among the lucky few to see a few elusive tree frogs. It's easy to see why so many Americans make a hop, skip and a jump past the Carolinas to get there.
We talked with plenty of local Bermudans: cab drivers, waitstaff and people we met on the bus. Some of my favorite parts of the trip were, of course, centered on food - our waitress Patrice telling us all but the secret of her famous Sunday salt cod and potatoes recipe, or Anthony on the bus telling us that if we ran across a feral chicken, we should grab it. I still regret not having the time to find that Jamaican place near the supermarket where he said we could find the best goat around. These things, as Anthony would say, are the "flavor" of Bermuda.
Because of its roots as a British colony, Bermudan restaurants still feature a lot of pub fare, but I was happy to discover fresh local wahoo (fish), fish chowder with Bermuda black rum and sherry pepper sauce, and - the highlight of my trip - afternoon tea at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, named the best place to take high tea in Bermuda by The New York Times.
Thank goodness I wore a dress with elastic around the middle. When I agreed to go, I figured we would be served a few bland cucumber sandwiches and that would be that. The spread far exceeded my imagination. I'm talking three tiers of pastries, scones with clotted cream and finger sandwiches on fine china - complete with a shot of rummy bloody Mary as a palate cleanser.
In light of my afternoon tea experience I started to think about what I would put on one of those plates if I were to serve afternoon tea. It stirred up a nostalgic appreciation for home and our access to so many seasonal ingredients.
This recipe is inspired by Wisconsin's summer harvest and Bermuda's colorful imprint on my memory (with special thanks to Gombey pepper jelly, which I would have used if it were available for purchase nearby).
Snap pea boats with strawberry sails and pepper decks
Makes 20 boats
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons chevre, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon habanero or jalapeño pepper, minced
- 10 sugar snap peas
- 4-5 strawberries
- Optional: pea shoots (garnish)
- Let cream cheese and chevre soften to room temperature. In a small bowl, blend cheeses, honey and pepper until creamy. Set aside.
- Next, prepare pea boats: Snap ends off of peas and remove strings. With thumbnail or the tip of a paring knife, gently split pea along seam lengthwise to separate both halves. Remove peas inside, set aside for snacking or garnish.
- Cut strawberries in half lengthwise, then slice lengthwise again into 1/8-1/4-inch-thick pieces (they should look like triangular "sails").
- To assemble, spread cheese mixture on the inside of each pea boat (about 1 tsp depending on the size of the pea) and prop up a strawberry slice in the middle to stand as a "sail."
- You can garnish with reserved peas (people) or pea shoots.