Somerville, Mass – What better way to warm up your winter than by hosting a Caribbean Cookout? (Sure, you could actually go to the Caribbean. That would be okay too. But other than that, what better way…?)
We had a great time preparing for this party. Daddio had the brilliant idea to bring up the tropical bead-curtains that hang in our basement (formerly known as the Players’ Lounge, a hot underground music club, in the olden days). The boys also lent us their tropical fish tank nightlight. (V to guest while showing him around the house: “Come over here! You are now snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea!”)
Then we cranked up the thermostat and donned our most festive, tropical duds.
The music selection was challenging, mainly due to our resistance to technology. That is, we have a 3-disc CD changer, so we had to choose three CDs to represent the entire, diverse region. We went with the following:
Buena Vista Social Club, Cuba
Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come, Jamaica
Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective, Watina, Belize
Once we had palm trees and tropical sunsets in every doorway, tropical fish swimming around the reef in the living room, and tropical tunes emanating from the stereo, the scene was set.
For cocktails, we served a tried and true favorite – Mojitos – but we wanted to also offer something new and exotic. We decided to go with the Blue Diablo, which is essentially a Margarita made with Blue Curaçao. Alas, we couldn’t find Blue Curaçao at any of our local party stores (or packies, for you New Englanders). Fortunately, when I was at the Landhuis Chobolobo in Curaçao, I learned that the sole reason the liqueur is blue is so people can make blue cocktails. The liqueur’s natural color is a clearish-orangey-brown.
So not only is the blue unnatural, it’s also kind of hokey (and we can’t have that at our Caribbean cookout!) So we used traditional Curaçao to create our own drab-looking version of the drink, which we called El Diablo. Just as tasty and even more tasteful!
With a pitcher of Mojitos and a pitcher of Diablos in the fridge, we were ready to roll. And so were our guests, who had arrived 20 minutes ago, and were waiting for their drinks!
The rest of the evening went pretty smoothly, as much of our menu had been prepared in advance:
Avocado mango salsa
West Indian pumpkin soup (though I used butternut squash, and it was amazing)
Grilled tuna with soy-citrus marinade
Roasted, tamarind-glazed chicken
Rice & beans
Coconut rum cake, the pièce-de-résistance
We spent the evening sharing stories from our best Caribbean getaways, which was a delightful distraction from some of the more chilling events of the weekend. Stay warm, everyone (and yes, I’m talking about hearts and minds, not just temperatures)!