When I was twenty-two years old, I had the ridiculous pleasure of living in the Caribbean for a few months. It was 1986 and my then-boyfriend Perry (a newly licensed pilot) scored a winter job flying for Air St. Thomas / Virgin Air (no connection to Sir Richard Branson). The small island-hopping airline was based in the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Thomas, so we made our home above the hills in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.
Our upstairs apartment had a large kitchen (Perry did most of the cooking back then), and just one other room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the island.
Mr Wayman, our landlord built a ramp near the back door so our dog Warhol (who moved with us from the mainland) could run up the side of the mountain. We loved our tiny bit of paradise.
Always a photo buff, I spent most of my time photographing and getting to know the island. I loved pretending to be a “local” for those few months, and on Perry’s days off we would rent a small boat and head to the nearby British Virgin Islands.
Our favorite spot was Sidney’s Peace and Love in Jost Van Dyke Island’s Little Harbor, just 7 miles northeast of St. Thomas. Once docked, I would pick out a live lobster from a trap near the shore and the cook would grill it on the spot. Perry always ordered barbecue chicken (he didn’t like seafood) and we BOTH drank heaps of rum at the attached open-air bar. It was “serve yourself” at Sidney’s, and also “total the bill” yourself if you weren’t too drunk. An honor system that you just didn’t mess with in the Caribbean.
My favorite shop on St. Thomas was called Sunny Caribbee, where I picked up island spices, oils and trinkets for the kitchen. There was an elementary school nearby and I loved listening to the students pounding on steel drums in the afternoons.
We left the Caribbean when Perry was offered a job with United Express, the commuter division of United Airlines. He now lives with his wife and kids near San Diego. (More about Perry here)
Walking into Roy Choi’s Sunny Spot for the first time made me smile from ear to ear. I flashed back to 1986 and was suddenly transported to my carefree, twenty-two year old, vagabond self.
After several visits (including dinner and brunch) I still get that happy feeling when I walk in the door. It’s a mini-holiday, a few hours of vacation. A delicious and less expensive trip to the sunny Caribbean, that’s for sure.
Roy Choi’s take on Mofongo! Muh-F*K*N Mofongo: Plantains, Bacon, Garlic, Black Pepper
Left: Fleur-De-Lis: Gin, Hibiscus, Honey, Chartreuse, Lemon
Middle: Death in the D.R.: Dominican Rum, Lime, Honey, Absinthe, Champagne
Right: Dry Harbour: Pot Still Rum, Lime, Absinthe, Habanero Pineapple Shrub
Cuban Torta: Pork Terrine, Prosciutto, Provolone, Pickled Jalapeño, Mustard
“What A Jerk” Wings: Double coated, double fried
Bridgetown Swizzle: Barbados Ru, Averna, Falernum, Lime, Angostura
Diablo Prawns w Rum Glaze, Garlic Butter & Herbs
Yucca Fries w Banana Thai Basil Ketchup
Jamaican Roasted Lamb w Lettuce Wedges & Pickled Mango
Whole Roasted Red Snapper w Ginger Oil, Cilantro, Chili Vinegar
The Silver Goblet: Coconut Ginger Sorbet
House-Made Caramels w Maldon Sea Salt, Toasted Cashews
The “bird cage” table in the back dining room
Dinner in the bird cage: Me, Peter, Evelina & Greg
Brunch Menu Festival Bread w Goat Butter, Guava Jam & Rum Honey
Brunch Menu Bloody Mary: Vodka, Dirty Sue, Tomato, Jamaican Jerk Spice
Brunch Menu Banana French Toast: Rum Coconut Whipped Cream, Caribbean Spiced Maple Syrup
Brunch Menu Sunny Spot Egg Plate: Korean Style Baked Eggs, Jerk Seasoned Potatoes, Mo Jo Glazed Grilled Pork Belly
Brunch Menu Eggs, Sausage & Grits: Fried Eggs, Jerk Sausage Patty, Anson Mills Grits, Maple Syrup
822 Washington Blvd
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292