Follow genConnect travel expert Linda Hayes as she enjoys Barbadian cuisine and learns how rum is crafted and aged from Paul Yellin, Corporate Chef for Mount Gay Rum.
With a trip to the Caribbean on genConnect’s radar, we were excited about visiting Barbados at Travel & Leisure‘s Global Bazaar in NYC. The event, held at the historic Park Avenue Armory in celebration of the magazine’s 40th anniversary, brought the world together under one roof for three days of revelry — with no passport required.
In a prime location just inside the entrance to the Bazaar, the Barbados Tourism Authority recreated a tropical Rum Shop, just like the ones found all around the island. At a palapa-style bar done up with palm fronds and coconuts, we got to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of colorful Barbadian culture and cuisine, and learn a bit about the island’s history and attractions as well.
Just 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, the ‘island nation’ of Barbados is the easternmost in the Caribbean. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean (not the Caribbean Sea as you might think), it’s known for stunningly beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal clear azure waters. Watersports are extremely popular, and you can go snorkeling, or diving, along coral reefs or to explore sunken ships, take a deep-sea fishing charter and surf the dramatic waves, known locally as “white horses,” off the island’s eastern shores.
Another thing Barbados is famous for is rum. In fact, the island is known as the birthplace of rum – Mount Gay Rum in particular. First distilled in 1703, Mount Gay is crafted from rich sugar cane, aromatic molasses and coral-filtered water native to the island, and it’s flavorful and smooth. Rum-based cocktails are delicious and easy to come by at beach bars and beyond, and Mount Gay Visitors Center is a good way to learn about how rum is made.
At the Rum Shop at the Global Bazaar, we sipped fruity Mount Gay Rum Punch and nibbled on spicy pork cutters (crispy fried pork on fat little buns; a traditional Caribbean dish pronounced “cuttas”) served up by Mount Gay’s executive chef, Paul Yellin.
While we indulged, we discovered that the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (foodwinerum.com) will take place November 18-20. Highlights include cooking demos with celebrity chefs Ming Tsai, Marcus Samuelsson and Tom Colicchio, seminars with wine and spirits expert Anthony Giglio, dinners at local restaurants, bar-b-cue cruises and, of course, rum-tasting tours.
Feted with local spirits and cuisine, genConnect got a taste of true island hospitality. We left the Rum Bar making plans to book flights (non-stop from New York, Miami or Dallas Fort Worth) to experience Barbados for real.
Paul Yellin, better known as The Rhum Chef, is a highly acclaimed chef and author of the popular rum cookbook Infusion: Spirited Cooking by Paul Yellin. Paul was raised in Barbados and now travels the world doing cooking demos and rum tastings representing not only the rum brand, but also Caribbean culture and cuisine with a traditional and classic twist.
For more of our coverage of the T+L Global Bazaar:
- Travel + Leisure’s Global Bazaar: The World Comes to NYC
- Travel + Leisure’s J.P. Kyrillos: The Best of Global Travel
- AmEx President Ed Kelly: Experience the World in One Place
- Chef Marcus Samuelsson: ‘The Night Everyone Will Remember’
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