The Best Way to Escape to the Caribbean without Getting on a Plane: Head to Station 6 for a Six-Week Culinary Tour of the Islands
As a child I frequented the rickety Sid-Mar’s in Bucktown with my family. Down the Bucktown road from the bustle of West End, the wooden building leaned on its pillars over Lake Pontchartrain. The warped wooden floors tilted to one side, and the wooden screen doors shrieked as they opened onto the screened-in dining porch with unadulterated views of the lake and the ever-present pile of crab traps in the yard. Today neither the road nor Sid-Mar’s exist, the former replaced by a massive and unsightly, but hugely reassuring, pumping facility, the latter washed into the lake by Hurricane Katrina.
When I want to revisit those lazy afternoons, I head to Station 6. Located about 30 feet from the old Sid-Mar’s locale and decidedly more polished, Chef Allison Vega Knoll and her husband Drew Knoll opened Station 6 upon returning to their hometown after 10 years of living, working, and cooking with their children on the Caribbean Island of Antigua.
For the third year in a row the couple are taking diners on a culinary tour of the Caribbean. Each week through Sept. 11, the restaurant will fly the flag from a different island and feature special menu items served à la carte and a specialty rum cocktail.
Proceeds from Island Hopping meals and merchandise will benefit the Elkhorn Marine Conservancy Coral Reef Restoration in Antigua, West Indies. This organization is reviving Antigua’s vital and degraded marine ecosystem, which is degrading at an alarming rate, along with its economic and social value. Alison and Drew are passionate about coral reef conservation because the consequences of losing the planet’s coral reefs will have devastating results around the globe. The diverse ecosystems are critical in coastal countries where tourism and fishing account for a large portion of the country’s GDP, as it does in Antigua.
The tour kicked off on Tuesday with a culinary tour of Antigua, where it all began for the Knolls. The old-fashion rum punch stars alongside seafood pepper pot & fungee (okra, eggplant, butternut squash, and spinach stew with conch, crab, and fish), spicy mango, lobster and avocado salad, curry goat and seasoned rice, and coconut rum cake. Puerto Rico will be on the tour from Aug. 10-14 with piña coladas, adobo chicken salad, shrimp sofrito and pork belly mofongo (sautéed shrimp with plantain and chicharron cake) and coconut flan. The next stop on the tour will be Haiti from Aug. 17-21, where a krema (coconut milk, cream of coconut, Gosling dark rum, Bacardi light rum, lime) will be served with joumon soup (oxtail, butternut squash, acorn squash, mirliton, Yukon potatoes), lambi salad (fried conch over greens), griyo, pikliz, diri ak pwa & bannann peze (fried pork, spicy slaw, black bean rice, sweet plantains), and sweet potato cheesecake. From Aug. 24-28, the Jamaican flag will be flying, and dark & stormy cocktails and Red Stripe beer will be served alongside conch stew, shrimp roti salad, jerk pork, rum raison gelato. Cuba will be visited from Aug. 31 – Sept. 4, where guests can toast the birthplace of the mojito while dining on potaje de frijoles negros y tostones (black bean soup), ensalada de pina y agucate a la plancha (grilled avocado and pineapple salad), pargo entero a la parrilla (whole grilled snapper), arroz con leche (rum raisin rice pudding). The Island Tour will finish in The Bahamas Sept. 7-11 with chicken souse, snapper ceviche, pineapple pork on Johnnycake, curry conch, guava sorbet, and coco-mocha cheesecake paired with a goombay smash.
Yep, I think is safe to say, vaccinated or not (PLEASE get vaccinated) we are all back to freaking out about planes and travel, but we all need to get away. With ample, expanded outdoor seating and a culinary exploration of exotic island escapes on the menu Station 6 is just the ticket we need.
Speaking of vaccinations, beginning today and until further notice drive thru COVID-19 testing and vaccines are available at the UNO Lakefront arena, in Treme, and on the Westbank. Visit ready.nola.gov.calendar for more information.
Please get vaccinated. Our lives and our livelihoods depend on it.
Have a great weekend. Ya’ll play nice.