Wednesday, June 1, 2011

St Croix: Christiansted in the USVI

A full day's sail from the British Virgin Islands, St Croix is the most populated island in the US Virgin Islands. Purchased by the US from Denmark in 1917, the Danish influence from bygone eras is evident everywhere on the island, from the arched walkways of the pastel-colored buildings in the island’s capital, Christiansted, to the historic Fort Frederik, named after the King of Denmark. Today, the island is a lively fusion of Danish culture combined with American and Caribbean influences.

Walking along the old cobblestone streets of Christiansted, you pass Danish ruins interspersed with fashionable new boutiques, shops and quaint restaurants, adding a charm and character to the town. Our main reason for visiting to St Croix is to dive 'The Wall', a 7-mile underwater canyon that runs along the north side of the island, descending thousands of feet down from the surface, teeming with different types of corals, caves, and marine life. 'The Wall' is a geological rarity — the bottom of the Caribbean literally drops away. The colorful reef is on one side and the bottomless blue is on the other. A very cool dive and definitely worth the trip.

Lovely healthy coral and marine life

The spectacular wall on the north side of St Croix — a breathtaking dive!

After an exhilarating two-tan dive, it was definitely time for a cold beer when we got back to the Christiansted dock, where our dive boat dropped us off. After breathing compressed air for a couple of hours, you need a beer!

One of the more popular beer-holes along the Christiansted boardwalk

Before heading back to shore for dinner, we took our dinghy back to the Alegria Del Mar, where we had anchored for the day in the very busy, and not too quiet, Christiansted Harbour.

Christiansted Harbour

One of the prettiest restaurants in Christiansted is Kendrick's, located in a wonderfully restored Danish enclave in the heart of Christiansted's historic district, in an old Crucian cottage with a gorgeous tropical courtyard and an award-winning kitchen. This where we had made reservations for dinner for our only evening on St Croix. Dave Kendrick is the chef/owner of Kendrick's, serves outstanding French cuisine with a Caribbean twist, and has been featured in both Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I had heard about Kendrick's and knew that's where we needed to be!

Kendrick's beautiful garden courtyard

Dave Kendrick, chef and owner of Kendrick's for over 25 years!

Appetizers include Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Ravioli in a sage cream sauce, fried shallots and toasted pine nuts, Seared Tuna Char Sui & Asian Slaw drizzled with a soy-wasabi vinaigrette, King Crab Cakes with a lemon-habanero sauce and a lovely warm Chipotle Pepper, Garlic and Onion Soup. Entrées featured Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with roasted garlic and fresh thyme sauce, Filet Mignon with a Mushroom Brandy Sauce, Shrimp Saltimboca with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, fresh lemon and sage, and Pappardelle with sautéed shrimp, wild mushrooms, garlic and caramelized onions in a thyme and white butter sauce.

Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Ravioli

King Crab Cakes with Lemon-Habanero Tartar Sauce

Filet Mignon with Mushroom Brandy Sauce