The sound of waves crashing served as the background music as a group of St Croix’s tastemakers sat down for a private 14-seat 4-course dinner by the revered “Top Chef Master” and Chopped All-Star Anita Lo. I had the honor of sitting in one of those very hard to come by seats around the table at the Estate Bella Sera, a multi-million dollar home facing the water, owned by Larry and Peggy Meyer. On the outdoor patio with a beautiful bar on one side, and the ocean on the other, I spent the evening with some of St. Croix most haute residents and tasted the creations of Chef Lo who owns the celebrated West Village restaurant Anissa. Hanging out with her in the tropics was a nice break from the usual crazy NYC hustle and bustle. Lo seemed a little more laid back, although still ready to churn out the elevated and elegant cuisine she is so well known for.
She started the meal with a chilled local spiny lobster with umeboshi and chili. Owner of Halleck Vineyards, Jennifer Halleck, was on hand to speak about her wines. The first course was paired with a 2009 Dry Gewurstraminer from California’s Halleck Vineyards which i found to be crisp, bright and a great accompaniment for the seafood. Then Lo served up a beautiful boneless barbeque spareribs with kohlrabi and thai basil that were perfectly savory with a sweet finish, bringing asian barbeque flavors to a new and elevated level. The dish was paired with a 2008 “The Farm” Pinot Noir, one of their single vineyard wines.
“Sebastopol is an extraordinary Pinot Noir growing region,” she explained, “It has the perfect balance of sun, soil and fog, which comes in from the ocean and stop in Sebastopol.” The third course was my personal favorite, bringing a taste of NY to the island, Lo brought down some Long Island duck, the breast was pan roasted and served with a foie gras, hen of the woods mushroom and currant bread pudding, alongside the 2007 Hallberg pinot noir. Finally, the dessert: a tower of carmelized banana, peanut butter, and coconut sauce.
The $1000 ticket dinner was part of the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience, put on by the St. Croix Foundation. The event, put on every April, includes gastronomical events all over the island, including A Taste of St. Croix, the island wide culinary competition; Cork & Fork dinners which are intimate dinners created by celebrated chefs; and an Iron Chef-Island Chef competition between visiting celebrity chefs and local chefs, among others.