Spicy Food Hunt in the Grand Cayman Island

I had an amazing time on my spicy food hunt in the Grand Cayman island. There were so many great places that I think you should try when you find yourself craving spicy food. I planned a short birthday weekend getaway with my sisters and while the sea, sun, and sand was the main purpose, hunting for spicy food is always on the agenda!

Sea, Sun & Sand

This was my first time visiting the island and chose it after hearing so many great things about it. The white sand beach and blue waters of Seven Mile beach was a huge selling point! For someone that loves the ocean, the beach was key in my decision.

The Westin Cayman beach view

Finding a destination not affected by the sargassum seaweed problem affecting mostly all of the Caribbean islands was a challenge. If the beach is important to you, do a bit of research before you go. While each island is doing their best to clean up the beaches, you can’t swim in those waters and the seaweed smells.

The Westin Cayman pool view

I decided to celebrate at the beautiful Westin hotel since the beaches on the west side of Grand Cayman haven’t been affected. This was definitely one of the best beaches I’ve visited in the Caribbean. The sunset views were gorgeous, the water was clear blue, calm enough to swim and the food was amazing!

Cayman Sunset

I immediately started on my spicy foods hunt and realized I didn’t have to do much searching. Most of the restaurants I tried served a spicy item or two which is perfect when your party doesn’t care for much spicy foods. I ordered the fried calamari and a rum punch at the Westin’s poolside grill and watched the beautiful sunset on the beach! The calamari were perfectly cooked tender and while not spicy, the batter did have a nice kick. I also tried the crab cakes were a much spicier choice so order those while you’re at it.

fried calamari on the beach watching the sunset


cocktail on the beach watching the sunset

The Restaurants

We spent most of our time on the west side of the island and took the public bus right in front of the Westin  down to Camana Bay. The bay is a lively shopping and dinning area. We dined at the well reviewed The Brooklyn , a pasta & pizza restaurant. We didn’t try any of the pizza, go figure, but we did try a few of their pasta and seafood dishes. Their penne & sausage dish was unexpectedly spicy and the pasta cooked to perfection. The dish made me tear up a bit so that’s always a plus! You can also sit outside to feel the nice bay freeze and a bit of people watching.

spicy penne pasta & sausage

Another Great lunch spot you must visit near the cruise ship port in Georgetown neighborhood is Da Fish Shack. I asked around and it appears this is a popular spot with the locals as well. This place has a nice vibe, great waterfront views, and food that tastes home made. We arrived for a late afternoon lunch to an almost empty place that quickly filled up. I ordered the escovitch snapper for my spicy fix. The snapper was well seasoned, fried to a crisp and topped with spicy, tangy pickled vegetables. I can still remember the flavor! It was mouth watering, flaky, tender and served with a potato au-gratin to balance out the acidity of the fish. Just one of those dishes you’ll remember, it was so good.

escovitch snapper at Da Fish Shack

Next spot was Bacaro – a great hangout spot for nightlife but only on Thursday nights I believe. One thing about the Grand Cayman is that it’s a sleepy town. Everything shuts down early, about 11pm or midnight, and there isn’t much of a nightlife. If you know of places please mention them in the comments, I’d love to here about them for my next visit. 😉

Entrance to Bacaro restaurant in Grand Cayman

We shared a few dishes and all were very good but one to try is the fried lobster bites with scotch bonnet and paprika aioli. I normally have lobster with melted butter and would never think of frying it but these bites were tender and juicy. The bites weren’t as spicy as I would have liked, especially with scotch bonnet mentioned in the description, but the citrus flavor of the pepper came across really well. Go ahead and order the lobster bites, you will not be disappointed.

fried lobster bites with scotch bonnet aioli

Another favorite was the tuna tartare with mango salsa. The tuna had a mild citrus flavor and barely any heat at all but the salsa had a nice kick. I had the mango salsa on the side since my sister is allergic to mangoes. This is a great restaurant to celebrate a special occasion. I wouldn’t go here for spicy foods but again, most places in the Cayman Islands will have a couple of dishes to satisfy that spicy craving.

tuna tartare and avocado

Have you been to Grand Cayman island? Let me know in the comments which are your favorite spicy food places or where you go for nightlife. I wish I had more time there to experience the rest of the island. Where do you go for your spicy food fix?


Healthy and Spicy Grilled Sockeye Salmon Recipe

I picked up this beautiful wild Sockeye salmon on my way home from work. Isn’t she a beauty? I was looking for an easy and healthy meal that wouldn’t take too long and grilling has been the only option for me lately. I have refused to turn on the stove even though weather has been a little cooler than normal this August, July was an inferno! The Sockeye is lovely to look at but even better eating it so as soon as I walked in the house I got to prepping for this healthy and spicy grilled Sockeye salmon recipe! Yes you’ll pay a little more for wild sockeye salmon but aren’t you worth it? 🙂 You just have to treat yourself once in a while!


Sockeye salmon is bright, fresh and all natural and is known across the US as “red salmon” because of its rich, red hue. The Sockeye gets its color from a diet rich in zooplankton and shrimp. Sockeye salmon isn’t the most fatty of salmon or the most popular, the king salmon is, but the sockeye has a stronger salmon flavor. Salmon is one of my favorite fish and nothing like eating natural salmon from the wild, you just feel better eating it. There have been several times when I’ve gone to buy salmon at my local supermarket only to put it back after seeing they’ve add food dye. That’s been done to farmed salmon for years, if it’s not pink enough they’ll add some color for you! The FDA says it’s safe but I’ll bet on nature any day! So sometimes I splurge a little and pay extra for quality as a special treat to myself! I wanted something healthy and easy to make so making this spicy grilled salmon recipe was the perfect after a long day at the office!


Salmon has many nutrients and it’s meatiness makes it a very filling fish. It’s so simple to prepare, just a little salt and pepper will do most of the time but you know me, I had to turn the heat up and make it spicy! Grilling the fish was also a better option for me considering the heat wave we’ve had this Summer, it gets the skin nice and crispy as well. I first seasoned the salmon with a habanero sea salt but wanted a much bolder heat. I picked up this amazing habanero horseradish sauce from DEFCON Sauces at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo last Spring and had been saving it for a grilled steak dish but this sauce took the salmon to another level.


The label reads a little scary but don’t be afraid! If you can handle jalapeno heat or a bit of habanero or scotch bonnet peppers you can handle this sauce. Also, it’s not just pure heat, the flavors are bold and well balanced and you can really still taste the horseradish. It’s truly a great sauce. I’m not a fan of products that only burn so always look for great flavor and if it’s not hot enough I can always add extra heat but didn’t have to with this sauce. I grilled the Sockeye salmon first then after it was almost cooked I generously spread the sauce on top. It’ll also be great on steak I’m sure so you may see that next time!

spicy grilled salmon

While the salmon was grilling, I tossed a quick baby spinach salad with red onions and nectarines for some some added sweetness and was done in about 15 minutes! So simple and easy and just what I need after having a long day at work. If you live in the city or an apartment and don’t have a grill get yourself an indoor stove top grill or prepare your salmon on a George Foreman grill, either will work like a charm.


Spicy Grilled Sockeye Salmon

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Seafood
Servings: 2
Author: Maria


  • 1 lb wild sockeye salmon
  • Habanero Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Defcon Habby Horse Hot Habanero Sauce
  • Bunch of baby spinach washed
  • small red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 nectarine peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp ginger balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  • Heat up the grill then season the salmon with the habanero salt. Place the salmon on a grilling rack so fish doesn't stick to the grill. Place the rack with fish directly on grill and cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Right before salmon is done, spread the horseradish sauce over salmon and leave on grill for another minute.
  • Prepare a quick salad by tossing the spinach, red onions, nectarines, olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Place the salad on a plate and top with salmon.


Crossing the Lake District in Patagonia to Bariloche

We left Puerto Varas, Chile early one morning to begin our full day journey through the Andes mountains to get over to the Argentinian side. I was hoping to stay in Puerto Varas for a couple more days to really enjoy this beautiful village. I guess this means I’ll have to come back! There was still so much more to see and do but all I kept repeating in my head was “three boats and four buses”! That was our mantra leading to this day. It was going to take us three catamaran boats and four tour buses to get to Bariloche, the chocolate haven and ski town in Argentina, and all in one day!

Boat on the lake

We took a tour bus to the Lago Todos Los Santos to board our first catamaran. It was a nice leisurely two hour trip through the massive lakes filled with the melting snow and glaciers of the Patagonia. These areas are very popular for fishing salmon and trout, fly fishing, boating and hiking. Its a place you visit to relax and take in the sights. When we departed I caught this photo of a man teaching, I’m guessing, his 4 or 5 year old son how to steer the boat! Hey, you have to start training them young.

Man and child on boat

The gorgeous views made me forget how much further we needed to travel.

lake crossing

lake crossing

Beautiful clear day out for boating, we couldn’t have asked for better weather!

Lake crossing route

We arrived in Puerto Peulla, population 120, just in time for lunch and walked about 10 minutes to the Natura Hotel

Puella sign

House by Peulla river

Natura Hotel

The Chileans, similar to Europe and Caribbean cultures, have their biggest meal of the day during lunch time. It’s quite an adjustment when you’re used to having sandwiches, soups or salads for lunch but we didn’t protest and dove right in. Besides, we were in the middle of nowhere, between mountains and in the wilderness so any other food options we’d have to catch it ourselves! If you take this tour route its more than likely that you’ll stop at this hotel’s restaurant and if you do, you’ll be pleased with mostly anything on the menu. I didn’t see any spicy dishes on the menu so opted for the salmon and got a side of spicy salsa. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the cut was very generous.

Salmon lunch at Natura

My sister ordered the fried Merluza. This fried fish was crispy and so tender and flaky that if it wasn’t for the crust you’d never know it was fried. Just perfection and super spicy too! I felt bad for my sister, she actually yelled out as soon as she bit into one, so of course I had to come to the rescue and handle those for her! Note to management, you probably want to warn folks about the blazing hot rings of fire on the plate!

Spicy fried fish

Delicious a dulce de leche custard.

Dulce de leche custard

With bellies full we boarded the tour bus and headed towards the Tronador mountain to begin the second leg of our trip.

Tronador sign

This mountain was given the name Tronador because of the thunderous sounds the glaciers make when they’re breaking off…an unfortunate result of global warming. If you look to the upper right area of photo below you can see two of the glaciers. They actually look like black ice. Tronador mountain

Here’s a closer look…

Tronado glacier

We traveled up the mountain and through the steep and winding roads of the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park which is in Chile to the border of Argentina where we entered the Nahuel Haupi National Park.

Argentinian Border sign

After going through customs at the border crossing we boarded yet another catamaran at Puerto Frias. I was playing with the camera settings on this one and love how the boat looks like a little toy. The boat could probably fit about 50 people comfortably so there was plenty of room to move around. One thing that’s great about crossing the lakes with a tour company is that you don’t have to worry about lugging all your baggage. You can easily board the boats quickly and enjoy your trip stress and worry free.Catamaran in Puerto Frias

The water in lake Frias is so bright and green from the mineral deposits released when the glaciers crash down the mountain. It’s a beautiful site to see. It was so cold out I was only able to stay out for about five minutes at a time even though it was the beginning of Spring. I can just imagine how magnificent it would be to visit during the summer months. Yes, the water is this blue! The locals call it Emerald Lake because of the color but it looked more like turquoise to me.

Lake Frias

We boarded the third catamaran at Puerto Blest for the last leg of our tour before reaching Puerto Panuelos, then it was a quick bus ride to Bariloche.


We finally make it to our destination for the next few days and immediately zeroed in on a parillada, a grill house, for a taste of what the locals eat. Actually, a parillada is a platter of grilled meats and most include various cuts of beef, chicken and pork, with some offal as well. I settled for a tender steak, my first in Argentina and it’s as delicious as rumored. Try Alberto’s in Bariloche for great food and great wine, this bottle of Don David Malbec was a very good medium bodied wine and complimented the steak very well.

Don David Malbec at Alberto's

grilled meats

Melted cheese

steak dinner at Alberto's

The next day we took ski lifts up to the top of Cerro Campanario for a spectacular view of Bariloche and surrounding towns.

mountain top

It was so cold up there so I enjoyed the view from inside with delicious hot chocolate.

hot cocoa


Cerro Campanario ski lift

We headed back to town and stopped at Don Molina’s for lunch, another great place spot for amazing food. Argentina isn’t just known for it’s wonderful steak, you can find exceptional Italian, French, German and Swiss food as well.


Pasta puttanesca, spicy and al dente!

spicy pasta puttanesca

You’ll find several gelato shops, bakeries, chocolate shops a few blocks from Don Molina if you want to take a walk before getting dessert. These were on the way back to our hotel, the Nahuel Huapi, so the walk was quite nice after such a huge meal.


By the way, the cake below is signed “Happy Birthday Fatty”! A term of endearment I’m sure!

bakery sweets

Well hola Russia! Mamuschka is a very popular chocolate shop in the heart of Bariloche. Seems like every third door on this street will have a chocolatier. Walk into any of them and the staff will be more than happy to give you free samples.

Mamuschka Chocolates

Before we left Bariloche I had to try the fondue at Marmite, a little pricy for fondue but I was craving it!

Fondue at Marmite's

Bariloche is one of those towns that you can spend several days exploring. It’s known as the central hub for the Patagonia area with the nearest airport about 40 minutes away. It’s Springtime now and there are plenty of adventures to be had and amazing food as well. Next time I’ll come during the summer months and try wind surfing or kayaking and rock climbing. If you’re here during the winter months, expect lots of snow, I hear the mountains can easily get up to 2 meters of snow, so bring your ski gear!

Arriving In Patagonia With Food On My Mind

After leaving Santiago, Chile we headed south to the northern part of the Chilean Patagonia. Patagonia spans across Chile and Argentina with the Andes being part of the continental divide. I also learned that Patagonia means the land of big feet, actually it was the name given to the region because the natives in the area were said to be very tall and had big feet, “pata grandes“, “patagones“. There are lots of interesting facts about the area. For example, how the Andes have the tallest volcano reaching 6000+ meters! According to our guide, 15% of the worlds volcanos are in the Andes, they host multiple glaciers (I saw two!) and are the longest mountain range in the world. Pretty impressive but all I know is flying over the Andes is simply breathtaking…

The Andes Mountains

We had an early flight to Puerto Montt and immediately headed to the beautiful Petrohue Falls for a brisk hike and quick photos. Every where you look in the Patagonia area is a photo opportunity. It’s early Spring and the land, despite the 40 degree drop in temperature from Santiago, is lush and green.

petrohue river

The falls aren’t tall but they are beautiful and powerful…the sounds alone will put you in a trance. That’s volcanic rock there by the way. If you decide to go,  make sure to stay for at least a hour or two so you can take your time discovering the various trails.

Petrohue falls

Just watch where you’re going since the national park is huge and was told one can easily get lost. There’s a little cafe near the falls if you want to stop for snacks and coffee as well as a retail shop selling handmade crafts, wool sweaters and socks. Perfect for the unprepared travelers like myself who decide to walk the trail with comfy shoes but no socks! It was freezing out so those wool socks where my saving grace! We hit the road again for our hotel in Puerto Varas for a very scenic ride. That’s the Osorno volcano in the distance, the clouds covering its peak!

road to Puerto Varas

We were famished so stopped at the Fogon seafood restaurant for some amazing seafood!

Fogon sign

They immediately served us salmon and trout ceviche and warm homemade rolls on the house which we gobbled up in no time. This Patagonia local beer was pretty good too!

Austral Patagonia beer

Next was the a Corvina fish stew…I was in heaven! It arrived piping hot with huge tender pieces of fish, too much for me to finish. The light broth had stewed tomatoes, onions, mixed herbs and a hint of chilies whose flavor I can still remember. It’s the kind of comfort food you need after a chilly, busy day.

Chilean Sea Bass stew

The King Crabs were pretty amazing too but I don’t think I’d be able to finish a dinner this size! They also have this creamy, spicy mashed potatoes to make things interesting.

king crab dinner

Look at the size of these babies!!

King Crabs

After that meal we didn’t even bother with dessert or coffee, it was straight to the hotel to relax before our next adventure. We stayed at the Cabanas del Lago, a certified “green” hotel right by the lake. I loved this place! Great service and comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, heated swimming pool, cozy and romantic bar and lounge area overlooking lake Llanquihue, the staff was super friendly and of course our hotel room view did help!

Cabanas del Lago Hotel room view

I couldn’t end the day without a few sweet treats so ventured into town looking for desserts and local spices. After poking around a bit I found a spice blend very popular in Chilean Patagonia, Merken, a typical Mapuche spice! Mapuches being the original natives of the area.

Merken spices

Merken is a hot spice blend made using smoked chile peppers, similar to a smokey, hot paprika and blended with salt and other spices for more flavor. You can sprinkle it on anything and of course, I found a chocolate shop using it in their truffles. So delicious!

Merken truffles

Puerto Varas has quite a few chocolate confectioners due to the Swiss and German who migrated to the area in the early 19th century. You’ll see those influences in the architecture, signage, pubs and foods. A very fascinating place!

Mudolph Chocolates

After that huge lunch earlier I opted for a light snack and coffee at Cassis Cafe, the best coffee in Chile is served there! Seriously, I’m picky about my coffee and usually go for dark roasts and all the coffee I tried tasted like either Nescafe or some watered down version of coffee but Cassis has the real deal. The perfect ending to a perfect day!

Be sure to return for my four part series on my adventures in Chile and Argentina. Next up, crossing the Andes in route to Bariloche, Argentina! Llao llao!

Spicy Blackened Whiting Bites

Two weeks ago I posted about a little hidden, spicy foods gem down the shore here in Jersey called Ragin’ Cajun. I picked up their cookbook the last time I was there and had to share this recipe for blackened fish bites. If you visit you’ll see the blackened chicken bites on the menu but I had a few filets of Whiting and decided on blackened fish bites. I’m posting this one because it’s one of the recipes posted on their website so not divulging too much from the book, you’ll have to go buy your own copy to get the rest of the goods!

Blackened Whiting with broccoli

Blackened just means you cook it until it looks nice and burnt but it’s not! Actually, you’re cooking at high heat and toasting the seasoning which brings out a wonderful smoky flavor. Also you want to be sure to use a cast iron skillet because of the high temperature but if you don’t have one use a heavy bottom pan instead, that will work just fine. Make sure you have a good Cajun seasoning as well because the only other ingredient is butter so your spice flavors should be well balanced. As an added bonus the book purchase came with a free jar of Ragin Cajun’s very own Cajun seasoning so I was pretty set, no way to mess up this recipe! Check them out and let me know what you think!

Ragin Cajun's Cookbook

Blackened Whiting Fish Bites
Recipe adapted from Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot

2 Whiting Filets, cubed
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
3-4 tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a bowl, toss the fish bites with the seasoning.

2. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat. When butter melts and add the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side making sure the fish is well coated with butter.

3. Serve as an appetizer or add a side veggie for dinner. I cooked broccoli in a little butter, minced garlic clove and red pepper flakes with a side of spicy remoulade sauce for a nice meal.