C is for… Cere, Ceviche, Conch and Custard

San Pedro, BelizeSan Pedro, Belize

As much as I love discovering new restaurants and the thrill of hanging with the chef and being behind-the-scenes, I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen.  I also want to get outside and explore.  To me, that means visiting the town – taking a stroll on Main Street, which oftentimes is the only street around.  That’s the way to get a feel for what the locals do during the day, where they hang out, how they dress, the dialect they use amongst themselves and of course,… what they eat.

San Pedro, BelizeSan Pedro, BelizeSan Pedro, BelizeSan Pedro, Belize

San Pedro was one of these towns for me, the only town on the northern island of Ambergris Caye in Belize, with a few sandy, unpaved streets and golf carts as mode of transportation.  I loved San Pedro – and not only because I discovered fantastic custard at DandE’s.  (But that didn’t hurt.)  The shop brought me right back to summer camp, its wooden screen door that snaps back at you as you walk inside, just like that of our canteen, with the same creaky noise too.   Most of all, it had ultimately creamy frozen custard.  I went for a scoop of coffee (my go-to flavor) and a second scoop of mint chocolate chip, only because of its bright green color – a nod to my sister’s childhood favorite.

San Pedro, BelizeSan Pedro, Belize

It’s often these small food memories that stay with me when I return home from a trip, perhaps even more so than a fancy restaurant with tablecloths or more formal setting.  An ingredient, a local snack, a conversation with a producer, a lunch standing up at a street food cart…  There was one restaurant in particular that was truly a food highlight of my week in Belize, an informal, inexpensive and colorful place called Elvi’s Kitchen.  You’ll have a casual, authentic experience in a friendly and down-to-earth setting, with phenomenal food to boot.  Despite its popularity and probable presence in many a Belizean guidebook, this is no tourist trap, and I’d say it’s a must for anyone going to San Pedro. After all, it is known as “Di Place” for seafood.

ElviElviElviElvi

(Above, clockwise from top left: Bright exterior to Elvi’s Kitchen; Conch, shrimp and lobster ceviche, Watermelon and pineapple smoothie. Restaurant interior; Seafood ceviche served with tortilla chips)

With your feet in the sand (that’s the floor), you’ll stare up at the enormous tree (inside the restaurant), which is in its original spot from when the restaurant was first a burger stand back in 1974. You’ll read through the long menu (including those burgers) and might have a hard time narrowing it down. Be sure to ask the servers for help, they’re friendly and knowledgeable and will point out the many specialties and local favorites: Good fu di back, a conch soup served with coconut rice; Cajun quesadilla; Flautas con salsa roja; and even Elvi’s famous fried chicken. I couldn’t serve myself enough sautéed squid with roasted garlic and lime – but my fork was faster than my camera.

ElviElviElviElvi

(Above, clockwise from top left: Fried plantains; Belizean cere with shrimp, green plantains and onions in coconut milk [recipe below], served with white rice; Server presenting the whole deep-fried hogfish with plantain chips; Rice and beans)

To finish a meal at Elvi’s, there’s really only one thing to do.  And that’s order dessert.  More specifically, you’ll want the key lime pie.  Trust me; I don’t even like key lime pie.  This was perfect – crisp gingersnap crust, tangy lime ice cream as filling, a scoop of sweet meringue and a slice of lime on top.  Elvi Staines agrees that she got this recipe right – and she’s not sharing it! She did share the recipe for her caramel flan though, which was served in a beautiful sugar nest. With savory and sweet recipes below, we all have the makings of a Belizean meal to enjoy at home.  Thanks Elvi!

ElviElvi

Savory & Sweet Recipes from Elvi’s Kitchen in San Pedro

Belizean Cere

1 lb fish fillet, diced in 1″ cubes
4 green plantains, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups coconut milk
salt & pepper
1 Tblsp corn oil or vegetable oil

Preheat sauce pan over moderate heat. Add oil, onions and sliced plantains. Sauté until plantains have turned bright yellow and the onions are cooked. Season fish with salt and pepper, add to pan. Cook each side for one minute, then add coconut milk. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes and taste to see if it has enough salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

~

Caramel Flan

1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tblsp water
5 eggs
2 cans Carnation Evaporated milk (410 g)
1 can Nestle Sweetened Condensed Milk (395 g)
1 Tblsp vanilla essence

Heat sugar with water in a heavy pan and stir until sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until it turns golden brown. Pour caramel into baking dish.

In a large bowl whisk remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over the caramel in baking dish and place baking dish in a water bath. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) for one hour. Remove, let cool thoroughly and then unmold. Serve chilled.

18 Responses to “C is for… Cere, Ceviche, Conch and Custard”

  1. Mowielicious says:

    I’m loving your Belize series. And HELLO! Key Lime Pie! Shall. be. making. very. soon. =) Lovely photos my darling – makes me feel like I’m actually on holiday reading your blog. I owe you an email. Or 2. Or 3. But who’s counting? xxx

  2. Meeta says:

    oh what a trip you’ve taken me away to. just love this. it’s the warmth of the food the country the people that attracts me to central and south american countries. lovely!

  3. Emma says:

    As this page was loading, I was curious what I was going to find. After all, the address was telling me that I was about to see “elvis kitchen.” I won’t lie that I wasn’t a bit disappointed that Belize doesn’t possess Elvis’ kitchen in its treasure trove of restaurants… however, the delicious-looking ceviche more than makes up for that!

  4. ayamlin says:

    Hi!
    I really like your blog.
    the picture on the top of the blog is very cute and I enjoy seeing many pictures
    also dishes.
    I’m a follower of your twitter:)
    my twitter is on http://twitter.com/ayamlin
    by the way I’ve been to Swizerland for 6days about 10 years ago.
    when I was in Zelmat, 9.11 happened…..

  5. jkiel says:

    mmmm key lime pie…
    so I’m *really* curious about the .. rum ream? rum cream? rum dream? drum cream? drum dream?? funky!

  6. Nomadic Chick says:

    I am on board to try that Cere recipe. I love, in fact, am obsessed with coconut. Sadly, this could mean I once was one in a former life. :)

  7. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Kerrin, yet another fantastic wrap up of more treasures in Belize. I particularly love the sound of that frozen custard. Never heard anything like it before. Coffee is one of my absolute favourite flavours, too. And, you’ll never guess what else….choc-mint! LOL. I would have distracted you somehow to whip that tub away from you.

    So funny you talk about that screen door from school camp. I think I remember the same screen door. Or was that a screen door on a childhood friend’s house? Hmmmmm…..????

    I love all the ‘advertising’ posters. Very cool.

  8. Kristi (belizedragonfly) says:

    I absolutely love Elvi’s Kitchen and have been there several times – I live in Corozal, Belize so it is a short trip to San Pedro. Typically I go deep sea fishing with a friend around San Pedro and Caye Caulker and we take our daily catch to Elvi’s. You can also hire a guide to take you out fishing and take your catch to Elvi’s if you are just visiting for a few days. They always do an outstanding job and the staff is absolutely wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kerrin says:

    Mowielicious, I’m counting of course ! haha ! Glad I could take you on holiday here, enjoy the last few Belize posts coming up…

    Meeta, you said it best !

    Emma, that is too funny. I actually giggled when I first noticed that, realizing I couldn’t put the apostrophe in the website address. ha ! Sorry to disappoint. But hey, perhaps I’ll do a post on peanut butter one day, and then I can feature Elvis himself – yum to Elvis’ famous sandwich: peanut butter and bananas. So good.

    jkiel, good point ! I did a quick search online and found that the sign was for Jankunu Rum Cream in fact. But I liked your guesses even better :)

    Julia, your two favorite flavors too ? (but of course !) Meanwhile, get this – apparently today (Feb 19th) is National Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Day in the US ! Who knew ?!

    Kristi, how lucky that you live so close to San Pedro (and to Elvi’s !). Deep sea fishing and eating your catch sounds pretty ideal to me. Thank *you* for sharing ! :)

  10. Barbra says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking that next winter I will go some place warm and sunny for a while. Do you think DandE’s would hire me?

  11. my spatula says:

    such fantastic photos! you’ve really captured the spirit and essence of san pedro. all i can say is that fresh ceviche followed by frozen custard makes for a happy day for me. okay, a slice of key lime pie, too!!

  12. bethany says:

    Oh how i would love to try ceviche in that part of the world! One day! One day! As for key lime pie- i’ve had before nowhere else but in the floriday keys but never really took a liking to it. However, the one pictured above is calling my name… i hear it and I’m listening!

  13. Jen Laceda says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    You had me drooling all over this morning! What a delightful post! If and when I get to Belize, DandE and Elvi’s will be tops on my list! That Belizean Cere looks delish! Definitely something I will be trying, so I shall bookmark this page. Do you happen to have the recipe for rice and beans as well? :)
    I will email you later to catch up with stuff…
    Cheers,
    Jen

  14. Kerrin says:

    Barbra, I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you. ;)

    my spatula, thanks so much. And yes, why stop at frozen custard – definitely pie too !!

    bethany, funny you should mention key lime pie. I just did a new post on that dessert – and you’ve already commented on that one too ! :) I admitted to not having been a big fan either, but you and I are both tempted by Chef Futo’s recipe. We’ll have to make it and compare notes !

    Jen, awesome, glad you’ve got this page bookmarked. Definitely let me know if you try making the cere at home. And one recipe for rice and beans coming up…. stay tuned !

  15. Kerrin says:

    Drum roll please… here it is Jen, the recipe for RICE & BEANS !
    (from Ruthie Flores of Ruthie’s Cabanas in Dangriga)

    Ingredients:
    1/2 lb red beans
    1 can coconut milk
    1/2 onion chopped
    1 tsp black pepper
    1/2 sweet pepper
    1 tsp garlic powder
    salt
    1 lb rice

    Boil beans until soft.
    Add coconut milk, onion, black pepper, salt, sweet pepper, garlic powder, rice.
    Cook covered for about 1/2 hr on low until water is absorbed.
    Serve with stew fish, chicken, salads.

  16. Jen Laceda says:

    OMG!!! You are the best, Kerrin!! Thanks!!

  17. Y says:

    Sigh. What beautiful photos (love the signage). Ice cream pie sounds fantastic!

  18. Read Around the World: Highlights | Delightful Children's Books says:

    […] Belizean Cere (fish) or Caramel Flan — MyKugelhopf […]

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