Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Family time again!

More family fun this week, as we have Ron's sister Lisa and her friend Tim on island visiting for a week. It was a bit of serendipity that they'd made arrangements to vacation here, since we'd each made plans to be here independent of one another: when they made their reservations, they didn't know we would be here this winter, and vice versa! We were delighted to discover the coincidence though, and have been enjoying the time together immensely. We rented a car for a few days so that we could show them around the island, and once they'd recuperated from their exhausting travel day from the northern midwest, we started off our time together with a delicious dinner at Coyaba Sunday evening. The past couple of months, Ron and I have had the chance to sample a few of the numerous restaurants that dot the waterfront of Grace Bay, and Coyaba is one of our favorites. We were delighted to introduce Lisa and Tim to the place, and we all enjoyed fresh island seafood, including simply grilled Turks and Caicos Wahoo, presented in a variety of delicious presentations. 
My scallops ceviche appetizer, delicious as it looks!
Monday was a day full of activity as well. Despite somewhat cloudy and breezy skies, we enjoyed an outdoor table at Da Conch Shack for lunch. Yes indeed, we feasted on conch, conch and more conch: conch salad, conch creole, curried conch, accompanied with the Da Rum Bar's signature rum punch, of course! It's such a pretty place under palms trees right on the beach, and definitely offers more authentic island local flavor than anything found at the fancy resorts. We introduced Lisa and Tim to Moses, the shell entrepreneur on the beach with his gorgeous collection of conch shells and horns, as well as to some of the friendly and cheerful waitstaff at Da Shack. After lunch, we took Tim and Lisa around the rear of Da Conch Shack for a lesson in cleaning conch.
The beautiful assortment of shells for sale, from the ubiquitous
queen conch to the rarer flame conch.
A pair of conch, freshly harvested and awaiting cleaning
After cracking a hole in the shell between the third and fourth spiral
from the center, the conch is able to be pulled out of the shell.
Conch, out of the shell and ready for processing. Lisa was glad she waited
until after lunch to see how conch salad is prepared!
Cutting off the claw, stripping the orange mantle and dark skin to expose the
edible white muscle. The heavy mallet on the cutting block is for tenderizing the
conch muscle when making cracked conch. 
The final bit of cleaned conch muscle, ready for dicing into conch salad. Yum!!
The afternoon was spent in the waters of Grace Bay, teaching Tim how to snorkel and checking out the reef life along the shoreline coral heads near the entrance to Turtle Cove Marina. Despite being rather uncertain about it beforehand, Tim took to snorkeling like a fish! He was grinning from ear to ear, and we were delighted that he enjoyed it so much! We lingered in the water for as long as we could, until we all got too chilled to enjoy it further. After warm showers and a bit of cleaning up to get rid of the salty sand, we hosted them aboard for a grilled lobster extravaganza later that evening. A great day in the islands, to be sure! 

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