Every few years, Ryan’s parents invite the entire family on an adventure sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. They rent a large catamaran, comfortable enough to sleep eight of us—including Ryan’s oldest brother David, his wife Jenny, and their two daughters, Stella and Lucia. The boat has four cozy bedrooms and four bathrooms on the lower level, while the living space is located upstairs, along with a tiny kitchen equipped with a small propane stove. It never felt cramped, except for the brisk navy showers before bedtime, where we would quickly scrub off the layers of sunscreen and salt from our daily snorkeling adventures, using as little water as humanly possible in a space about the size of a phone booth.
On the first day of the trip, we stocked up on food and drinks at the local grocery store in Tortola before setting sail, filling three shopping carts with our provisions for the week. It has become a family tradition to split the cooking duties, with each couple taking a turn to prepare a dinner from scratch. One night, Jenny assembled delicious vegetarian burrito bowls with quinoa, black beans, olives, fresh salsa, and shredded cheese, and when it was our turn to cook, we made our creamy sun-dried tomato rigatoni with arugula, a simple one-pan pasta dish from the blog. Served with a side salad and toasty garlic bread, this zesty pasta was a hit with the entire family. We finished the meal with squares of dark chocolate followed by an improvised theater performance by our nieces under the stars. Dinnertime on the boat is always a highlight of the trip: while everyone is relaxing after a full day of activities with dark and stormy cocktails in hand, we enjoy a home-cooked meal on the deck of the ship as the sun begins to set.
We didn’t cook every evening—some of the islands we visited had restaurants, and it was nice to take the night off and sample the local cuisine. On Norman Island, there is a restaurant called Pirate’s Bight that offers spectacular ocean views along with a super-sized version of beach Jenga. Our nieces had everyone at the restaurant on the edge of their seats during an exciting one-on-one match when they were constructing a tall tower rising high above their heads, and it was exciting to hear a crowd of strangers cheer them on, watching them battle it out on the sand. This was also when we fell head over heels in love with an appetizer, a colorful garlic toast unlike anything we had ever tried. As soon as we got back from our trip, we were roasting garlic and blending goat cheese until we finally re-created that glorious side dish, and now we are excited to share this scrumptious souvenir with you.
Your guests will be toasting to this toast. Each crusty baguette slice is topped with a smooth and spicy goat cheese spread and decorated with half a head of roasted garlic. Garnished with fresh micro greens, sliced cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, and thin, crispy tortilla strips—this is a game changer for garlic lovers. Our version is slightly different from the dish served at the restaurant—we use goat cheese instead of cream cheese, and added lemon zest for extra tanginess. This is a beautiful hors d’oeuvre for your next house party and an easy side that will elevate any weeknight dinner. Pick out a tropical cocktail and a simple dessert, and transform an ordinary evening into something memorable.
Roasted Garlic Toast with Spicy Goat Cheese
Makes 4 large slices
For the roasted garlic:
2 heads of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
For the spicy goat cheese spread:
4 ounces (113 g) goat cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-3 pinches ground cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons whipping cream
For the crispy tortilla strips:
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small flour or corn tortilla, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
4 thin, wide slices of crusty bread such as ciabatta
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest from one lemon
flaky sea salt
4-6 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
pea shoots or other micro greens
To make the roasted garlic:
Preheat oven to 400°F/204°C. Cut the top 1/4-inch off the garlic head, exposing the tops of the cloves. Place the head cut-side-up on a square of foil, then drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Fold the sides of the foil up and wrap the head tightly, creating a sealed packet. Repeat with the second head of garlic. Place the two foil packets directly on the oven rack and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool briefly before opening, as the steam inside the foil will be hot.
To make the spicy goat cheese spread:
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth and creamy.
To make the crispy tortilla strips:
Pour the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and when hot, add the tortilla strips. Toss and stir until crispy and golden, about 1 minute. Remove the strips from the pan and set aside. Leave the heat on.
Brush the bread slices with olive oil, then place them in the hot skillet. Toast until golden brown and crisp on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove the slices and set on a serving plate. Spread each slice with a generous spoonful of goat cheese spread. Squeeze out the garlic cloves from the paper skins, and divide the cloves evenly between the 4 bread slices. Sprinkle each slice with a few pinches of lemon zest and flaky sea salt. Top with cherry tomatoes, the crispy tortilla strips, and micro greens. Serve immediately while still warm, and enjoy!