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Island Dining and Monkey La Las in Roatán, Honduras

My husband, Mike, and I are scuba divers, and we meet up with a small group of friends each year for a dive trip somewhere tropical.

January in much of the United States is anything but tropical, so it seems like the perfect time to daydream of sunnier places and the delicious food and cocktails that come with them.

And if you were doing Dry January like I was, that probably hit the skids with everything that happened in D.C. this week, so a frozen cocktail with a side of escapism may be just what you need. If you have stalwartly pressed on with your abstinence, then you have my admiration, and you can enjoy today’s recipe in February.

I’m kicking off Around the World in 80 Plates by sharing the most popular recipe post from our travel blog, We Married Adventure. In fact, the popularity of this recipe is one of the reasons I started thinking about creating a collection of international recipes in the first place.

I hope you enjoy it.

Some people find it strange that we eat so much seafood on our dive trips. After all, if you’re swimming with Dory, you might find it a bit difficult to have her for dinner.

However, we believe in eating fresh, local food whenever possible, and if the diving is good in a particular locale, then the seafood is generally pretty good as well.

On a dive trip in Roatán, this was definitely the case. We enjoyed sensational calamari at Land’s End Resort, delicious lobster at Argentinian Grill, and amazing fish tacos at Ginger’s Caribbean Grill. You know what else was amazing? The cocktails. From frozen margaritas and fresh mojitos to local favorites like the Monkey La La, these icy treats definitely help you beat the tropical heat and humidity.

Frozen margaritas and a terrific view at Palapa Papa’s Beach Club

A frozen coconut margarita at Argentinian Grill

The Zack Attack, a frozen lime and coconut cocktail at Sundowner’s Beach Bar

What is a Monkey La La, you ask? You can get them at bars all over the island, but the fine folks at Sundowner’s Beach Bar have put together this nifty video to show you how to make them at home: Come Preparare un Monkey La La.

In case you don’t speak Spanish, here’s the recipe in English:

(photo: Lydia Laceby)

Monkey La La Cocktail Recipe

1 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream
1 oz. Kahlúa coffee-flavored liqueur
0.5 oz. vodka
0.5 oz. rum (the Honduran favorite is Flor de Caña)
2 oz. cream of coconut
Splash of milk or cream
Optional: Squirt of chocolate syrup

Pour all ingredients over a full blender of ice. Blend for 60 seconds.

Serve in a large frozen glass or mug, preferably on the beach at sunset. (On the beach at sunset is always preferable, isn’t it?)

Sundowner’s Beach Bar

Aside from fresh seafood and icy cocktails, there were plenty of other amazing choices in Roatán. Ginger’s Caribbean Grill was our lunch stop every day after diving with Roatán Divers, whose shop is next door. Ginger and her husband, Chef Jeff, are Texas natives who recently relocated to Honduras. In addition to amazing seafood dishes, they also serve Southern favorites, like their famous chicken and waffles each Sunday during brunch.

Chicken and waffles at Ginger’s Caribbean Grill

Serving even more Southern favorites, this time from southern South America, is Argentinian Grill. Our group made three trips to this incredible restaurant, and favorite dishes included delectable beef empanadas, succulent lobster tail, and perfectly fried conch. This was also the best wine list we found in West End, the part of the island where we stayed.

Flaky beef empanadas served with chimichurri sauce at Argentinian Grill

Speaking of where we stayed, our own beachfront villa was the site of our most spectacular Honduran meal. We booked an evening with Chef Blackie, one of Roatán’s most renowned private chefs, to cook in our kitchen. She arrived with fresh shrimp caught off the coast that day, as well as coconut harvested that afternoon in her own backyard.

While AJ and the guys enjoyed a night dive, Shane and I had a glass of wine and talked with Blackie while she worked. She told us she’d been cooking for over 20 years and that the coconut shrimp was her most-requested dish. When her husband arrived later to drive her home, he said it was his favorite dish, too. If you’re visiting Roatán to fish, you can also hire Chef Blackie to prepare your catch for you in whatever style you prefer.

Along with her famous coconut shrimp, Chef Blackie made for us tender curry chicken, spicy red beans and rice, carrots and green beans sautéed with garlic and herbs, and homemade corn tortillas. Chilling in the refrigerator for dessert was her Key lime pie made from scratch that afternoon.

The gourmet meal prepared by Chef Blackie

Mark, the property manager at the oceanfront villa where we stayed, recommended that we book Chef Blackie for one of our dinners, and we’re so glad he suggested it. With a view like this, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a freshly-prepared gourmet meal at “home”?

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Food and folklore from my travels to over 100 countries.

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