If you ever go to Turks and Caicos, you’ll probably eat conch once while you’re there. If you’re like me though, you’ll probably eat conch every day. I love conch, and lucky for me, the slippery mollusks were everywhere on the islands. In fact, Providenciales is home to the only conch farm in the world. Not impressed? Well, the conch farm also has two conchs named Sally and Jerry trained to come out of their shells on command. I kid you not. In any case, I did not eat Sally or Jerry, but I ate several of their brethren, and the best place to do it was at Da Conch Shack (Site Warning: music auto-plays on load. Your boss may have no love for “One Love.”)
On my first visit to Da Conch Shack, the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was gray and chilly with on-again-off-again drizzle. Luckily, David and I were able to grab a table underneath the covered area by the kitchen and quickly tucked into a hot basket of freshly fried Conch Fritters ($10).
Although I wished the conch was less finely minced, it’s hard not to like crisp steaming bready orbs that taste of the sea. The golden fritters came with a creamy thousand island type of dressing, but well-seasoned, they didn’t need much of it.
Conch Creole ($14), served with white rice, was less satisfying. It was a bit bland yet had a strong briny flavor. It had rained the past two days, so perhaps the conch wasn’t as fresh as it could be.
The next day, however, there was no doubt the conch was fresh. The sun had finally decided to come out, and on the beach, a man was hard at work with a hammer cracking conch. There was a mound of empty shells next to him, and behind him, a small kayak full of the morning’s catch of conch. I left David to watch while I placed an order at Da Conch Shack, and by the time I came back, David had taken over the conch shelling. According to David, he wanted to learn how to shell conch so he would know what to do if we were ever stranded on an island. Note to self: Always travel with a hammer.
When David was done with his short apprenticeship, we went back to Da Conch Shack for Cracked Conch ($14), fried conch strips similar to fried calamari but more meaty and less chewy. It was calamari in the best-case scenario: crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. And again, our order was served with thousand island dressing for dipping, but it wasn’t really necessary. The conch was seasoned perfectly. It was serious seafood crack. If the cab rides weren’t so expensive (from our hotel it was around $40/roundtrip for a 10 minute ride), I would have been there every day and/or night of our trip.
So I learned one important lesson from Da Conch Shack. No, not how to shell conch. The lesson: Always rent a car when visiting Providenciales. Two visits to Da Conch Shack is really not enough. No hammer necessary.
Da Conch Shack
Blue Hills Road (at Blue Hills Beach, look for the boat full of conch shells in the parking lot)