1. Fish chowder
This scrumptious soup, considered the national dish of Bermuda, was originally considered a poor people’s food, made from leftover fish bones. It’s a rich broth, with vegetables including onions, tomatoes, celery, carrots and a variety of spices and herbs. It’s a little bit like Manhattan-style chowder with bits of fish instead of clams, but what makes it most special is the black rum and sherry pepper sauce added to it, often right at the table.
Where to find it: I loved it everywhere I had it, and it’s on just about every menu, but I’m told the best version is sold at the Rubis gas station near the airport (get your taxi driver to take you!). I ordered it at Bonefish, Henry VII and Wahoo’s Bistro.
2. Fresh fish
Grouper has a tender texture and a sweet flavor, similar to sea bass. It’s often served in Bermuda with sautéed bananas. The combination of sweet and savory is very popular on the island. Wahoo is another local fish, but if even slightly overcooked, it can be terribly dry.
Where to find it: I enjoyed tastes of grouper at two restaurants, Muse and Swizzle Inn, where it was expertly prepared.
3. Rum cake
Rich, buttery cakes doused in rum are very popular in Bermuda, as they are generally around and in the Caribbean. The best are airy, light, boozy and just a touch moist in the center.
Where to find it: While I had samples at many shops, the best I had was at the luxurious Fairmont Southampton.
DJ Donovan, one of the charming taxi drivers and guides on Bermuda told me the best ice cream on the island is at Bailey’s, and I believe it. Their rum raisin is made with the Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, of course.
Where to find it: Bailey’s is across the street from the Swizzle Inn, At Wilkinson Ave and Blue Hole Hill (in Bailey’s Bay), Hamilton Parish.
5. Pepper jelly
I never understood the appeal of pepper jelly until I had it in Bermuda. Wow! This spicy sweet jam with chunks of pepper was the perfect foil for a fresh scone slathered with clotted cream. But it’s also great on toast with butter. There are lots of different varieties and brands, some hotter and others sweeter.
Where to find it: The best price I found for it was at the supermarket in Hamilton, but you’ll find it at gift shops and in the duty-free stores at the airport.