Kwanzaa St. Croix Style

Kwanzaa St. Croix Style

On December 26th, a community event aimed to educate, engage and empower the local community on Kwaanza was held at Grove Place inside D. Hamilton Jackson Park. Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates African heritage, unity, and culture from December 26 to January and . With performances, storytelling, community award ceremonies, the event kicked off the seven-day holiday. Senator Genevieve Whitaker spoke at the event and gave praise for the event and reiterated the importance of Virgin Islands history being taught in our schools. The event included performances from Kemit Sweeney, 340 Steppaz/ GP for Life Dancers, and many more. The event closed with an awards ceremony that recognized organizations and individuals in the community who do service. The event wa put together by the UCU and Kwaanza Everyday. The full article is on St. Croix Source, read here.

Photo by Darshania Domingo, featuring Kemit Sweeney

Turtle Talks at Sea Series Raise Marine Awareness

Turtle Talks at Sea Series Raise Marine Awareness

Friends of the V.I. National Park kicked off the first installment of Sea Turtle Talks series earlier this month, and more will be offered on the second Sunday of each month for the next six months. This Friends and Ocean Surfari partnership offers an on-the-sea classroom experience for the audience to learn how to safely interact with and protect local marine life while swimming alongside them in the cool blue Caribbean water.

In the first talk, Willow Melamet, V.I. National Park’s Sea Turtle Program Coordinator spoke to a small group of participants about everything from local turtle habitats to nesting patterns as the Sunfari catamaran nestled into Maho Bay on St. John. Read the full article on St Croix Source here. For more information about the talks, email vinpturtles@friendsvinp.org.

Photo from Friends of the V.I. National Park

Coquito Recipe

Coquito Recipe

The holidays on St. Croix aren’t complete without an ice-cold glass of coquito! Smooth & creamy, this coconut based alcoholic beverage is the perfect combination of ingredients that include coconut, milk, spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and of course, rum – more specifically Cruzan Rum. It is often described as Puerto Rican eggnog since it originated in the neighboring island. The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have had a longstanding connection since 1917, the year when many Puerto Rican descendants migrated to the territory. As the largest number of migrants in the USVI, we have a one-of-a-kind cultural link between the islands that have produced several shared traditions like drinking copious amounts of coquito during the festive holiday season.

The fervent love of coquito by the Crucian people came to the forefront in 2007 when St. Croix held its first ever Coquito Festival. Hosted by La Reine Chicken Shack, the finest coquito makers would compete for a grand prize and bragging rights for best coquito on island. This is where attendees would see coquito of all flavors ranging from original to pistachio, chocolate and strawberry. Due to the ongoing strains of the global pandemic, the festival has been on pause since 2020 but that doesn’t stop the coquito from flowing! Across the island, you will find coquito for sale at local supermarkets, roadside vendors and at popup sales hosted by well-known coquito connoisseurs.

Not able to make it to St. Croix for the holidays to get a taste of coquito? Not to worry! Here we’ve shared a tried-and-true coquito recipe you can try at home. Feel free to omit the alcohol for a delicious nonalcoholic option. Enjoy!

Coquito Recipe
(Makes 8-12 servings)

INGREDIENTS
1-12oz can evaporated milk
1-15oz can sweetened cream of coconut (Coco
Lopez is what we use in St. Croix)
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1-15oz can coconut milk
1.5-2 cups of Cruzan Light Rum (or any other rum
available)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions: Combine all the milks in a large blender
and blend until completely combined. Add the rum,
vanilla and ground cinnamon to the mixture and blend
together. Pour into glass bottles with sealed lids and
cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before
serving.

Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (agaspard@cruzanfoodie.com) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty

#stcroixusvi #stcroix #caribbean #drinks #foodie #islandliving #localflavors

Flavorful Plant-based Eating on St Croix

Flavorful Plant-based Eating on St Croix

Get ready for an explosion of flavors at Christiansted’s newest vegan restaurant Café Roots-N-Kulchah! Chef Kimba Kabaka has been whipping up delicious plant-based dishes on St. Croix for over six years. Born and raised on St. Croix, Chef Kimba’s restaurant originally opened in Summer 2016 in the Frederiksted historic district on St. Croix’s west end. In October 2021, he relocated his popular eatery to Christiansted. “I was ready for a new chapter in my career, a change of pace and energy,” said Kimba. “Christiansted offered that to my business and so far, it has been really great.”

Kimba’s passion for opening his business back in 2016 was rooted in a longtime vision he’s had as it relates to vegan food. “I wanted to give people a different option in the vegan and vegetarian style on island and truly educate others about plant-based food and eating.” While vegan and vegetarian food is a big deal here on St. Croix, Kimba felt like it wasn’t something that many people were exposed to. At Café Roots-N-Kulchah, guests are introduced to vegan food in what Kimba describes as an elevated dining experience. Menu items include a variety of dishes such as vegan patés, stuffed plantains, grilled vegan burgers, vegan chili and stuffed mushrooms. The drinks are equally delicious and refreshing with options like citrus basil iced tea, seamoss, guava and lime ginger beer.

For those with an aversion to vegan food due to past experiences, Kimba assured that anyone eating at Café Roots-N-Kulchah will be blown away. He revealed that eighty percent of his customers are non-vegan/vegetarians and become regulars after one or two visits. Dinner service is offered on Fridays and Saturdays with live music in the courtyard on Saturday nights. Local musicians play a blend of reggae, jazz and other mellow type tunes that adds to the allure of Café Roots-N-Kulchah. “Between the ambience and outdoor setting combined with the food, music and overall vibe, you never know what you’re going to get and that’s the wow factor of the space.”

Café Roots-N-Kulchah is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30am to 6pm; Friday lunch hours are 11:30am to 2pm and reopens for dinner from 6pm to 10pm; Saturdays are dinner only from 6pm to 10pm. It is located at 5 King Street in the courtyard behind Walcott Real Estate next to Lord God of Saboath Lutheran Church. Visit their Facebook page to see the day’s specials at www.facebook.com/Cafe-Roots- N-Kulchah-1495601960728251.

Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (agaspard@cruzanfoodie.com) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty

#stcroixusvi #stcroix #caribbean #goodeats #food #foodie #gourmet #restaurant #vegan #islandliving #local

Buck Island Reef National Monument

Buck Island Reef National Monument

About 1.5 miles north of the northeast coast of St. Croix lies a small, uninhabited 176-acre island that is rivaled to be St. Croix’s most cherished attraction. Buck Island Reef National Monument includes over 19,000 acres of both sea and land and was established as a protected area by the U.S. Government in 1948. In December 1961, Buck Island was declared a National Monument as a part of the National Park System by President John F. Kennedy. Accessible only by boat, this National Park site is uninhabited except for the daily visitors that stop by to take in its extraordinary beauty.

A distinctive feature that sets Buck Island apart from other islands in the Caribbean Sea is its magnificent elkhorn coral barrier reef that surrounds two-thirds of the island. Visitors can snorkel or SCUBA dive through the reef by booking a half- or full-day trip to Buck Island with one of the many charter companies offering daily trips. They offer guided tours of the reef, which is home to the only underwater trail in the United States. You’re sure to see a colorful array of marine life such as schools of blue tangs, trumpet fish, butterfly fish and parrot fish. With a bit of luck, you might even spot larger fish like barracuda or reef sharks and glimpse a sting ray or two.

From there, head over to the powdery sands of Turtle Beach to sunbathe on the shore or relax in the postcard perfect waters. Voted as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic, you may encounter the endangered brown pelicans and least terns that call Buck Island home. Watch for turtle nests and hatchlings in nesting season; Buck Island is one of many turtle nesting beaches on St. Croix.

One Buck Island activity that many people tend to miss out on is the walking trail. Follow the path over the island to the observation platform to get a bird’s eye view of the reef and the neighboring Virgin Islands. While the trail is demanding, the stunning overview of the coral reefs and darker, deeper waters farther out is worth the effort. Be sure to wear close-toed shoes and a shirt and bring plenty of drinking water.

There are no facilities or restaurants on the island with little to no shade available on Turtle Beach. As a marine protected area, visitors are not allowed to remove anything from the monument, including rocks, shells, plants and artifacts or set up tents or umbrellas on the beach. Additionally, fishing and collecting activities are prohibited throughout the entire monument.

Article written by Anquanette Gaspard (agaspard@cruzanfoodie.com) for Coldwell Banker, St. Croix Realty

#StCroix #USVI buckisland #monument #beaches #tourism #trails

CNN names USVI One of the Top December Destinations

CNN names USVI One of the Top December Destinations

CNN names the best places to visit this year in December for a weekend getaway and St Croix, USVI is one of them! As residents of St. Croix, we know the magic of spending the holiday season on our beautiful island. The Crucian Christmas Festival Season is beloved by locals and tourists who visit during this time. We recently went to Limpricht Park for the “Light Dem Up: Festival of Trees.” and Art Walk. If you are planning to come to St. Croix for the holidays, we hope you enjoy the warmth of the people, the weather, and the fantastic local food on the island!

To read the CNN article, go here.

#weekendgetaway #holidaygetaway #tourism #stcroix #usvi #caribbean #christmasvacation #festival #culture #food #tropical