Day Two greeted us with sunshine, a light breeze and cheerful birdsong at the complimentary Royal Palms breakfast. However, our high expectations for the day, which included a round of golf at The Mid-Ocean Club for Colin, Bernadette and Bob, a ferry ride to St. George’s and getting swizzled at the Swizzle Inn for Betty, Cathie and me, as well as dinner for all at Tom Moore’s Tavern, were to be quickly dashed by the onset of what would turn out to be a 12 hour storm.
Our first inkling of the need for flexibility was an e-mail, warning of impending thunderstorms and the recommendation that golf be postponed for two days. That ruled out the idea of a ferry ride to St. George as well. We held an emergency committee meeting in Ascots bar and over a round of Bloody Mary’s, it was decided that we would walk down to Front St., instead, do some shopping and then have lunch.
Gifts for the grandchildren, linens for the table, and assorted dry goods having been acquired, Cathie, our Bermuda guru, after some quick research, suggested Bolero for lunch. Here is where serendipity stepped in and changed the rest of the trip.
We arrived at Bolero Brasserie fairly well soaked, the rain having begun in earnest about 20 minutes earlier. As we were being seated, the wind out of the southwest increased in intensity, sheets of rain pounded the windows and the view of the harbor across the street was completely obscured. But, we settled in at our table, ordered several bottles of well-chilled Sancerre, and studied the fantastic menu.
The Starters included: Mouclade, (mussels steamed with leeks shallots, garlic, Vermouth, cream, a hint of curry), it sounded, looked and was delicious and The Literate Chef has placed this on his ‘to-do’ list; Posh Egg Benedict (poached egg, Parma ham, truffle Hollandaise, toasted baguette) was well received by those who ordered it; and the special that day, a small Cassoulet (which has been on The Literate Chef’s ‘to-do’ list ever since a trip to southwestern France and the Canal du Midi) that I could not resist. Suffice it to say, it was an interesting menu and deserves many more visits.
The Mains were equally interesting, but the choice here was much more daunting. Choices! Choices!! Choices!!! I opted for the Pan-Roasted Bermuda Rockfish and was not disappointed. I decided to try to replicate this at home, but since Bermuda Rockfish is presumably only available in Bermuda, I used locally caught (off of Martha’s Vineyard according to our local fishmonger) Black Sea Bass. Since it is not as thick as Bermuda Rockfish or Striped Bass, which would have been my first choice, I decided to Pan-Sear rather than Pan-Roast it. The quantity of the other ingredients was pure guess work on my part. Even if you don’t like coconut flavor, I recommend that you try Pan-Seared Black Sea Bass, as the coconut milk is substantially diluted by clam juice and pureed roasted corn.
We leisurely enjoyed our lunch, but the working people had to get back to work and the restaurant began to empty out. Being excluded from that category and as the torrents of rain were still pounding the window, we were in no hurry to leave. The table next to us seemed to be in a similar situation. One of guys there, noticing that our supply of Sancerre had mysteriously been depleted, came over generously bearing a bottle of wine and introduced himself. Dave is the Sales & Marketing Manager of Wairau River Wines of Marlborough, New Zealand (think eyebrow when pronouncing Wairau), and he came bearing a bottle of his delicious Sauvignon Blanc, which was as good, if not better than the more expensive Sancerre.
As luck would have it, when we invited Dave to join us, he sat next to Bob, a veteran Rugby player at Fordham University and the New York Athletic Club, who is anything but shy. Bob, a very quick study, offered that he had been to NZ and played in a Rugby match there in another life. As it turned out Dave is also a Rugger and not only that, but upon further discussion they discovered that they knew several players in common, despite the fact that age wise, Bob could have been Dave’s father. Degrees of latitudinal and longitudinal separation rapidly diminished, and with a common interest in Rugby and wine having been established, the afternoon took a decidedly different turn.
Laughter and stories abounded, Dave introduced us to his friend and associate, Matthew, VP of International Sales for Terlato Wines International, which markets Wairau River wines. Matthew joined us with a bottle of another wine that Terlato markets, a delicious and very seductive Two Hands Shiraz, to be exact.
As the wines were consumed and the stories continued and we learned about grape growing and wine production in New Zealand, someone mentioned The Haka, a traditional dance form of the Maori. New Zealand teams frequently perform it both locally and internationally before a game. After much coaxing from the Americans, Dave agreed to give us a performance of The Haka. He was fantastic and it was the highlight of the day.
Meeting those Kiwis, drinking wine and telling and listening to stories was an absolute delight, and to think, it might never have happened if that storm had missed the island and we had gone on with our original plans. But there was to be an additional bonus from that dark & stormy afternoon, Dave and Matthew told us about Beau Rivage and Chef Jean-Claude, and serendipity would abide.