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Culinary Renaissance at St. Croix’s Cheeseburger in Paradise with Chef Matt Thole

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A New Chapter for Cheeseburger in Paradise, St. Croix’s Culinary Gem

St. Croix’s cherished dining spot, Cheeseburger in Paradise, is embarking on an exciting new chapter with the announcement of its grand reopening. At the forefront of this culinary renaissance is Executive Chef Matt Thole, who brings over a quarter-century of refined culinary expertise to the table. Under his guidance, the restaurant is set to unveil an innovative menu that marries the rich flavors of Crucian/Caribbean cuisine with the comforting essence of Southern/Lowcountry cooking.

Anticipated additions to the menu include mouth-watering burgers, succulent barbecue pork ribs, and jumbo fried shrimp, positioning the establishment as a refreshing culinary destination on the island.

A Charleston, South Carolina native, Chef Thole has an impressive resume, marked by tenures at esteemed AAA four-diamond restaurants and extensive experience in laboratory operations management. His connection to both Charleston and St. Croix has fueled his excitement about infusing the menu with a taste of his home, enriched by the island’s vibrant flavors.

Chef Thole is committed to using only the freshest ingredients, crafting all sauces and dressings from scratch, and enhancing the dining experience with a special late-night menu and enticing discounts on food and drink specials post-10 p.m. Additionally, guests can look forward to unique culinary events, including pig roasts and spatchcock chicken prepared over hardwood charcoal, that promise to elevate the gastronomic journey.

Theron Sandy II, the proud owner of Cheeseburger in Paradise, has expressed his utmost confidence in Chef Thole’s vision and culinary craftsmanship. He anticipates that the new menu, infused with Thole’s signature Lowcountry flair, will captivate patrons, alongside the timeless favorites that have long been adored.

Since its inception in 1989, Cheeseburger in Paradise has stood as a cornerstone of St. Croix’s dining landscape. Operated by Sugar Mill Hospitality, LLC, this family-run gem reaffirms its commitment to celebrating the island’s rich culinary heritage. Diners eager for a taste of the revamped offerings are encouraged to stay tuned to the Cheeseburger in Paradise website for the latest updates and information.

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Culinary

Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango-Citrus Salsa

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A Taste of the Caribbean in Every Bite

Experience the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean with this delightful recipe for Coconut Ginger Shrimp paired with a refreshing Mango-Citrus Salsa. Perfect for a tropical-themed dinner or a summer gathering, this dish combines the rich, creamy taste of coconut and the zesty kick of ginger with the sweetness of mangoes, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that will transport you straight to the US Virgin Islands.

Ingredients:

For the Shrimp:

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Mango-Citrus Salsa:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Shrimp Marinade: In a large bowl, combine the coconut milk, grated ginger, minced garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp to the bowl, ensuring they are fully coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  2. Make the Mango-Citrus Salsa: In a medium bowl, mix together the diced mango, red bell pepper, red onion, and fresh cilantro. Add the lime and orange juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine. Let the salsa sit for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors develop.
  3. Cook the Shrimp: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid. Cook the shrimp in the hot skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are pink and opaque.
  4. Assemble and Serve: Arrange the cooked shrimp on a serving platter. Top with the Mango-Citrus Salsa, or serve the salsa on the side as a refreshing accompaniment. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro if desired.

Enjoy the vibrant and refreshing flavors of this Coconut Ginger Shrimp with Mango-Citrus Salsa, bringing a taste of the Caribbean to your table!

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Culinary

Discover the Flavorful Delight of Virgin Islands Pates

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Pates, a cherished culinary staple in the Virgin Islands, are a delightful testament to the region’s rich cultural tapestry. These deep-fried pastries, often likened to empanadas, are stuffed with a variety of savory fillings that capture the essence of Caribbean cuisine. From the bustling streets of St. Thomas to the tranquil shores of St. John, pates are a ubiquitous treat that offers a taste of the islands’ heritage and a glimpse into its flavorful traditions.

A Brief History of Pates

Pates have a deep-rooted history in Caribbean cuisine, with influences from African, European, and indigenous culinary practices. These pastries are a testament to the Virgin Islands’ colonial past and its vibrant cultural evolution. The concept of filling dough with seasoned meat or seafood, then frying it to golden perfection, speaks to a legacy of resourcefulness and culinary creativity.

Ingredients and Preparation

The beauty of pates lies in their versatility. The dough is simple yet robust, providing a perfect vessel for a variety of fillings. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shortening or butter
  • 3/4 cup water (more if needed)

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef, chicken, or saltfish
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot pepper (optional, to taste)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Dough: In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening or butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually add water, mixing until a dough forms. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Cover and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Filling: In a large skillet, cook the ground meat over medium heat until browned. Drain any excess fat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomato paste, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper. If desired, add hot pepper for an extra kick. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, ensuring the flavors meld together. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
  3. Assemble the Pates: Divide the dough into equal portions and roll each portion into a thin circle. Place a spoonful of the filling onto one half of each circle. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges for a decorative touch.
  4. Fry the Pates: Heat oil in a deep skillet or fryer to 350°F (175°C). Carefully place the pates in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Enjoying Pates

Pates are best enjoyed hot and fresh, though they can also be savored at room temperature. They make a perfect snack, appetizer, or even a main course when paired with a side salad or vegetables. Each bite offers a harmonious blend of flaky pastry and savory filling, making them a beloved dish among locals and visitors alike.

Conclusion

Pates are more than just a dish; they are a culinary icon of the Virgin Islands, embodying the region’s diverse cultural influences and rich history. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a curious food enthusiast, trying your hand at making pates is a delightful way to experience a piece of the Virgin Islands’ vibrant culinary heritage. So, gather your ingredients, heat up your skillet, and enjoy the delicious journey into the heart of Caribbean cuisine.

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Culinary

National Food Truck Day: A Celebration of Culinary Innovation

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USA – Today, June 28, 2024, marks National Food Truck Day, a celebration dedicated to the vibrant and diverse world of food trucks. Observed annually on the last Friday in June, this day encourages food enthusiasts to support local food truck operators who bring a variety of innovative and delicious cuisines to communities across the nation.

Origins and Development

National Food Truck Day was founded by DJ Rick McNeely of the Fishbowl Radio Network in Arlington, Texas, in 2016. Initially celebrated in October under the name “National Eat at a Food Truck Day,” the event was moved to June in 2018 and renamed to its current title. The change was spearheaded by Roaming Hunger, a food truck booking service, to better align with the summer season, making it more conducive for outdoor food truck gatherings and events​(National Today)​​ (Checkiday.com)​.

Significance and Celebrations

The primary aim of National Food Truck Day is to highlight the contributions of over 30,000 food trucks operating in the United States and Canada. These mobile culinary units offer a wide range of food options, from traditional comfort foods to gourmet dishes and international cuisines. The day is seen as an opportunity to thank the hardworking entrepreneurs who operate these trucks and to support small local businesses​ (National Food Truck Day)​​ (National Food Truck Day)​.

How to Participate

There are numerous ways to celebrate National Food Truck Day:

  1. Visit Local Food Trucks: Patronize your favorite food trucks and explore new ones. Many trucks offer special discounts and promotions today.
  2. Food Truck Crawls: Organize or join a food truck crawl, visiting multiple food trucks in one outing to sample a variety of dishes.
  3. Share on Social Media: Document your food truck experiences and share them online using the hashtag #NationalFoodTruckDay to show support and spread awareness.
  4. Community Events: Many cities host events featuring multiple food trucks, live music, and family-friendly activities, turning the day into a community celebration​ (Holiday Calendar)​.

Why We Love National Food Truck Day

National Food Truck Day is cherished for several reasons. It offers a unique culinary journey by bringing diverse food options to one location, supports local business owners, and fosters community spirit by bringing people together to enjoy good food and company​ (National Food Truck Day)​.

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