Vote for your favorite St. John business

BestofviThe Virgin Islands Daily News is running its annual "Best of V.I." competition and this year's promises to be the  biggest ever.

You don't have to be on island to vote for your favorite restaurant, jewelry store, real estate broker, or whatever. You can do it via Facebook, Twitter, or text message.

Just download the "Voter's Guide" so you can make sure your vote goes to the business you intended. You can get the listing here. Neither the Facebook app nor the Official Ballot indicate when voting ends.

The 64-page official ballot lists hundreds of business categories and businesses in those categories.There are also provisions for write in votes.

Wining a "Best of V.I." award is a big deal.  Business owners love to post certificates of their award as a way of assuring customers they're good people to deal with.  And on the "Best of" Facebook page now, you can read messages from business owners campaigning for votes.

‘Flavors’ a tasty treat at the Westin

DessertsA crowd of several hundred locals, snow birds, and transplants partied well into the night Saturday at the annual Rotary Club fundraiser, Flavors.  The event supports college scholarship funds awarded by the St. John organization.

Dozens of the island's restaurants and bars are the centerpiece of the evening, competing for honors by serving appetizer-sized samples of their best offerings.

Flavors is a nearly year-long project for its Rotary Club members and organizers.  The effort is lead by Katherine Steinborn of St. John's Katie Lady Catering with lots of help from Paul Kessock Jr. of the West Indies Corp. on St. Thomas, the major spirits distributor in the territory.

The photographs and information about the award winners accompanying this article are all courtesy of wedding photographer-par-excellence Bob Schlesinger.  He and his wife, Karin, operate Tropical Focus Photography and you can see samples of their work here (weddings) and here (family portraits).

Flavors' prize winners in the various categories represented restaurants both new and old.









Asolare, the People's Choice Award winner, with a 'close second' by the Westin.

On the other end of the spectrum, a Bar Food award went to the island's newest place, Castaways, which opened recently in space formerly occupied by Duffy's Love Shack and Crazy Crackers. It was honored for a grilled tuna with coconut curry conch confit.

In one of the new categories, Mixology, Happy Fish won, followed by Asolare and High Tide.  All three of the winners' entries featured Kettle One vodka.


























The evening's winners:


  • East West Catering – Lobster and shrimp potsticker with Japanese ponzu sauce and sweet Thai chili sauce
  • Westin – Pan seared sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto , white truffle crème fraiche and local greens
  • Tap Room – Duck Confit – purple potato chip, cherry port reduction, blue cheese


  • Asolare – Beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes, asparagus with lemon grass and soy demiglace.  Seared scallop with local pumpkin puree, house cured bacon with port and chili emulsion
  • Banana Deck – Chili rub grilled shrimp with barbeque hollandaise sauce (served with chilled cucumber soup)
  • Happy Fish – Red curry duck, braised in a red coconut curry sauce with white rice

Bar Food:

  • Tap Room – Pulled Pork Sliders – bacon savory succotash, parsnip crème. They cheer their winning by doing beer shots
  • Mojo’s – Hummus, chicken and bacon slider, chili
  • Castaways – Grilled tuna sashimi on brioche with coconut curry conch confit


  • Westin – A large selection including a lemon grass crème Brule and raspberry Chambord (sp chocolate truffle with choice of coconut, macadamia nut, heath bar, pecans, roasted tri-citrus almonds
  • Café Roma – tiramisu


  • Happy Fish – Summer and Spice: Kettle One with fresh tamarind, lemon and chai featuring a citron Kettle One agave nectar reduction.
  • Asolare – Wild Card: Kettle One with lemon grass, coconut, cardoman (spice gives the drink its name) with ginger bear
  • High Tide – Maho Mule – Kettle One with lemon grass, tamarind, lime juice all shaken then some ginger bear

Arizona couple fawns all over Caneel

David and Carol Porter, aka The Roaming Boomers, are either just having a hell of a good time in retirement or very smart business people.  Probably both, to judge from their work-in-progress travel web site.


The latest stop on a 25th wedding anniversary Caribbean tour (aka 'romantic' trip) was Caneel Bay Resort. Their video chronicle shows off beauty of the resort, includes a bit of original video featuring Carol, and a lot of stock photo shots from Caneel's promotional library.  A credit at the end of the video offers "Thanks to our Host: Caneel Bay Resort" which hints at, perhaps, the Porters' stay was a freebie, or partially comped, in exchange for the publicity.

The Porters' Web site makes clear that they are into high-end travel spots.  And it looks like they're developing it into a new business. (They sold a previous venture in Michigan and moved to Scottsdale.)

Kudos to the Porters.  They like to run their own business, they like to travel, they're putting the two together.

Whether there is a disclaimer that should have been included in their video, there is no denying … Caneel is gorgeous and we'd agree that it's, as the Porters said, "a place you should attempt to visit at least once in your life."

  • Watch the Roaming Boomer's video of Caneel here.

Sundown for Baked in the Sun

St_john_bakery_01 Soon there will be no cake for you, or scrumptious sandwiches, from one of the island's best bakeries. 

Located on the third floor of the Marketplace, the owner of Baked in the Sun confirms that "as of today we are closing Oct. 16th."

But says Kim Edwards, "Nothing is decided or final," and she even holds out the idea of reopening after "some time off with my family … spend(ing) some time sailing in the Caribbean."

News of the closing traveled quickly on the Trip Advisor forum.

WishIWasintheVI spoke for many, commenting, "It's a shame, as they have rave reviews  and I hate to see any business close…and leaves me at a loss for a cake for my daughters(and both my parents) birthday and my vow renewal unless I want to pay a fortune from Katilady or St. John Cakes, etc."  STTresident was more philosophical; "It's sad but so the islands turn. Businesses come and businesses go and only the very strong survive!"

Baked was listed for sale in April of 2007 with an asking price  of $450,000.  Edwards said one of the current employees "is considering buying the business."

2011 Blues Festival – Twice as Nice

2011_StJohnBluesFestival Steve Simon, Blues Boss of the world-renowned Johnnie Walker St. John Blues Festival proudly says this year's festival will have two nights of celebrity concerts in the Coral Bay Ball Field.

The two 'star studded shows" will play Friday evening, March 18th, and Saturday evening, March 19th.
Friday evening will feature Grady Champion and his band, Candye Kane and Blind Pig Records recording artist Albert Cummings.
And then taking the stage at 8:00 pm on Saturday evening will be Telarc recording artists Moreland & Arbuckle, the "Queen of Memphis" Reba Russell and her band and the man who inspired John Belushi to create the Blues Brothers, Curtis Salgado and his Big Band.

Tickets will go on sale right after the 1st of the year and will be available on St. John at Connections in Cruz Bay, Connections in Coral Bay, Chelsea Drugs in the Marketplace and on St. Thomas at Chelsea Drugs in Red Hook.
Advance tickets are $25 for each night or $45 for a two night pass.  Tickets purchased at the gate will be $30 each night.  All children under 16 are admitted free.
There will be $5 safari taxi rides to the Coral Bay Ball Field from the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock and from the Coral Bay Ball Field to the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock all night long both evenings.

The 9th Annual Johnnie Walker St. John Blues Festival is brought to you by Johnnie Walker, The Lumberyard Complex, Merchants Commercial Bank, the U.S.V.I Department of Tourism, Rotary of St. John, The Gifft Hill School, Shipwreck Landing Restaurant, Rhumblines, The Beach Bar, Sun Dog Cafe, Jeff & Bonnie Simon and Steve and Helen Simon.

The Inquiring Iguana encourages you to make your plans to stay at his Blue Tang villa while you're sampling the Festival and the island's joys.

Christmas (shopping) in July

World class photographer Steve Simonsen says his calendar for 2011 is a "Limited Edition ."


It may very well be that previous years' have also been limited, but something tells the Inquiring Iguana this one is going to be really collectible.

On Simonsen's Facebook page, he's been experimenting with fine art photography and has some stunning images.  Wouldn't be surprised to see some of the arty-farty in the calendar for 2011.

Janet, the photog's much better half, says she'll ship the calendars in October.Order now so they know how many to print. $23.50 for one, Priority Mail shipping included, two for $42.

You can order the calendar here: web.me.com/ssimonsen/Store/Calendars.html

Kati Steinborn is on the grow

Katherine Steinborn
(dba KatiLady) built a business the hard way. She's earned it.  

From preparing welcome baskets for villa renters to an award-winning catering business, Steinborn expanded her business from a core to its natural extensions which now include in-home gourmet dinner preparations and meal deliveries.  

Most recently, she's gathered the sum of her 14-year-old business' parts together to create a wedding/event planning business.

Now, Steinborn's going public, sort of.  She was out of sight, in the Tradewinds building. Not much drop-in street traffic there. Instead, her businesss' products were delivered to villas and events, and then gone.  

But now, she's had to go 'retail' because she needed more space.  She found that space at the Lumberyard.  She plans to offer more services as well as cooking classes and perhaps even wine tastings.

St. John brews now on tap in Maine

St. John Brewers' beers are now available in New Hampshire and Maine. 

Kevin Chipman and Chirag Vyas introduced their Mango Pale Ale and Island Hoppin IPA brews at a series of 'meet and pours' last week in the two states.

New England's not unknown to them.  Their brews are in fact bottled by Maine's Shipyard Brewing, but until now they haven't been available in bars there.  With New Hampshire and Maine on board, that makes seven states where the brewers' handcrafted beers can be enjoyed.

Part of the introductory tour included an appearance on Portland's Channel 23 and its Good Morning, Maine program. The highlight of the interview was when Erin Ovalle, the host, asked the guys, "You live on St. John?."  Kevin and Cheech said, yes, they started the beer business on the island nine years ago.

"Wow," said Erin, "What a life brewing beer and living on St. John. Doesn't get much better than that."

The beer boys agreed.

  • Watch St. John Brewers in Maine

Best Beach?

St. John boasts dozens of great places to soak up the sun and play in the sand. 

Chances are that if you were sitting at the Beach Bar, everybody along the counter would have a different beach they think is #1. 

What's your favorite?  Cast your vote for one of the most popular or add your own.

  • The St. John Beach Guide has a great rundown.  See it here.