Fish On


"Fish on, fish on!" Jack the first mate cried over the rumble of the powerful engine. Dumbstruck, I watched as my line began to run. "Reel in, reel in!" he shouted at me as if I were a child. I looked down at the spinning reel.  I began winding the handle.

"No, no, let it run now." Ben the engineer chastised as he reached in front of me to adjust the drag on the rod.

"I got it," I seethed through clenched teeth. The crew had taken the sport-fish vessel out for the day. I was the least experienced and therefore the most excited. Jack and Ben had the most experience and therefore the biggest egos.

Jack had a keen sense of the water and shortly picked up a group of birds ahead.

"Birds starboard," he yelled as he swung the boat to the right. Ben let the lines out, and we watched the lures dance in the foamy wake. Jack shouted down to us from the tower. "They're diving the surface of the water."

"That means there are larger fish below driving smaller fish to the surface," Ben explained to me.

I was enjoying the whole scene when Jack started calling "fish on" and barking orders at me. "It's your rod," he scoffed as he shifted the boat into neutral.

With a violent twitch, the tip of the rod in the holder in front of me bent like a bow. The reel whirled, letting out the spool with an alarming buzz saw sound. It hissed like a hose that had snapped and was spewing steam. I grabbed the rod from the holster and placed it on my thigh to anchor it. I held tight and adjusted my stance as tension increased on the line.

"Let it run," Ben said.

"Reel in, reel in," Jack yelled. They were both chomping at the bit to take the rod away from me. But, there is a code of respect on the water and this was my rod, my fish and my fight.

I knew I had to tire the fish out before he exhausted me. I shifted the rod and bent my knees, flexing to absorb the pounding of the waves. I pulled the rod tip up toward the sky, bringing the fish in closer. I dropped the rod parallel to the deck and reeled in the slack. I repeated this procedure three or four times. The muscles in my arms shook. The Rolling Stones belted out "Start Me Up." I could barely hear Mick's voice. "Ride like the wind at double speed. I'll take you places that you've never, never seen."

"There it is, reel it in now," Jack shouted from above. As the fish swam closer to the boat I could see flashes of color and the blunt nose of a mahi-mahi. A blur of silver and blue lit up the water as the fish saw our boat and panicked. He leaped effortlessly, flashing iridescent green stripes. I hesitated, watching the show. Adrenaline surged through my veins. I felt like Hemingway. The fish gathered a reserve of strength and ran with the line. I leaned back and reeled once more. The fish finally appeared behind the boat. Ben leaned over and gaffed the beast. It bucked and flopped wildly as Ben hurled it onto the deck at my feet.

I looked down at my conquest. He was beautiful. He was mine. "Not bad," Jack mumbled from above. "Beginner's luck," Ben added. I beamed. Back in the galley, I butchered my fish. I picked up my filleting knife, testing its sharpness against my thumb. I looked into the fish's eyes. "Thank you," I said in homage. I ran the knife down its pectoral fin, separating the bones from the flesh.

My mind raced through recipe options. Mexican? Asian? Caribbean? I didn't want to insult my fish with just any old preparation. This meal was going to be a memorial to its life. To the fight he gave.

I cut thick meaty fillets for the crew. I puréed cilantro and cashew nuts to crust the top. The scent of cilantro filled the air. I danced around the galley. I belted out the words in my head, "You make a grown man cry." I steamed coconut rice and diced mangoes for a salsa. The work flew by.

This was no ordinary crew dinner. This was not food I picked up at the market. This was MY dinner. MY fish. The delicious smell of the sea emanated from the oven. The guys may not have been forthcoming with praise for my fishing skills, but they would love the dinner I had just brought home. After all, in my mind that's what fishing is all about. The meal it provides. "She's a mean, mean machine."


6 mahi-mahi fillets, 6 oz each (or other white flaky fish)

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Sprinkle salt and pepper over all sides of mahi-mahi and place on a cookie sheet.


¼ cup cashews, lightly toasted 1/3 cup cilantro, stems removed 4 cloves garlic

2 green onions, cut in quarters ½ teaspoon ground white pepper 1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree for 2 minutes until a rough paste is produced. Spoon the herb paste on top of the fish, creating a half-inch thick topping.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the fish for 15 minutes, depending on the type of fish used, until the flesh is firm. Serve with mango salsa.


1 ripe mango

2 tomatoes

½ red onion

¼-½ habanero pepper, depending on heat tolerance

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves 2 limes, juiced

1 teaspoon sea salt

Dice the mango and red onion to uniform quarter-inch size. Cut the inner seeds and pulp out of the tomato leaving a flat fillet of tomato to work with. Dice the fillet to a quarter-inch size. Chop the habanero as small as possible to evenly distribute heat. Mix all ingredients together; taste for seasoning and serve with fish. Serves 6.

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Rum, Reggae & Spies!
The beach at Fleming Villa | Source GoldenEye

In my quest for the best Caribbean Rum, I’ve sampled a few. From Appleton to Ron Zacapa rum, my tastebuds have celebrated the luscious flavors borne from fermenting sugarcane into smooth amber elixirs.

In the pursuit of rum perfection, I’ve noticed that a well-designed label can give clues about what awaits inside the bottle. Many simply present the distiller’s name and location where a rum derives its unique flavors. But it’s hard to resist the image of a crusty old captain, pirate ship or sassy sea wench when pouring a hefty splash into a tumbler.

Curious rum aficionados like myself are always eager to hear the back story behind the libation in our hand. Like a slice of pineapple or lime wedged upon the rim of a glass, the history of a rum’s journey from the Caribbean to our lips can make a cocktail taste even sweeter.

I recently stumbled upon the extraordinary tale that intertwines Jamaican rum, world- class musicians and James Bond. To fully appreciate this unique saga, follow my lead and shake up a GoldenEye Cocktail (see recipe below) to sip while the story unfolds.


James Bond Dr No Poster Credit Flickr

Our story begins in 1939, when a London journalist named Ian Fleming joined the British Navy Intelligence Service. His unit specialized in military espionage and covert plans to thwart German aggression in Europe and the Caribbean.

During World War II, Fleming was engaged in Operation GoldenEye, and in 1942 he was sent to investigate suspicions about Nazi submarines in the Caribbean. During this deployment, he became enamored with Jamaica and vowed to live there some day.

When the war was over, Fleming returned to Jamaica and bought 15 acres of plush land that was once used as a donkey racetrack. In 1945, he built a house not far from the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay, and the seaside property became Fleming’s tropical sanctuary where he could focus on writing and the discrete task of taking previously tight-held secrets into a public, fictional genre.

He named the estate GoldenEye as a tribute to his Navy service and began working on a book that evolved around the dashing spy and Special Agent 007, James Bond. This protagonist would emerge as the amalgamation of agents he’d met during his maritime service. As an avid birdwatcher, Fleming took the name for his lead character from American ornithologist James Bond, an expert on Caribbean birds, who wrote the definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies.

Fleming’s first spy novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1952. This book and all 13 in the James Bond series were written in his bedroom at GoldenEye. Three of them — Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun — take place in Jamaica.


Chris Blackwell | Credit GoldenEye

Not only did the breezy island life at GoldenEye inspire Fleming’s novels, but so did his fetching neighbor, Blanche Blackwell. She was the muse who helped spark his creative drive. The Blackwell family had lived in Jamaica since 1625, exporting bananas and coconuts and crafting a distinctive brand of rum.

Blanche’s son Chris Blackwell grew up between England and Jamaica, and in his childhood spent a good amount of time with Fleming. In 1954, after Blackwell got booted from an elite British school for rebellious behavior, he came back to the island to get involved in the family rum business. Contrary to plan, he followed his instincts and made a career choice that would dramatically alter the global music scene.

For a while, he kicked around working as the aide-de-camp to the governor and as a waterskiing instructor. But after hearing the blind pianist Lance Heywood play at the Half Moon Resort, Blackwell recorded the musician, and in 1959 he launched a music studio called Island Records. In sync with his unconventional style, it became known for discovering and nurturing innovative performers who had been shrugged off or overlooked by bigger record labels.

Island Records introduced the world outside of the Caribbean to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jamaican reggae music, showcasing island culture and universal struggles of indigenous people. It launched British bands such as Traffic, Bad Company, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Roxy Music, King Crimson and Fairport Convention. It also cultivated artists such as Cat Stevens, Brian Eno, Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Waits and the Irish band, U2.

Throughout his success in the music industry, Blackwell remained in contact with Fleming and his projects. When the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, Blackwell was hired as a location scout and consulted on the soundtrack. Sir Sean Connery, whom Blackwell had met during the filming of Dr. No, remained a friend until his passing in 2020. Using a family recipe, Blackwell launched his boutique rum in 2008 that is distributed around the globe.

Live and Let Die was filmed in 1973 on the Blackwell Estate, which now includes The Fleming Villa. Scenes from the movie were shot near GoldenEye, Blackwell’s luxury hotel in Jamaica. The latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, returns to the exquisite Jamaican backdrop of GoldenEye, and the production team was treated to a supply of Blackwell Rum for inspiration while filming.

TO CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, a special bottle of Blackwell Rum has been released, along with a new memoir by Chris Blackwell, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond. If you’re cruising around Jamaica this winter, cue up some Bob Marley tunes, open a bottle of Blackwell’s 007 Rum, and shake it (don’t stir) with pineapple juice and ice to create the GoldenEye Cocktail. And if you’re nestled in at home in a colder climate and dreaming about the Caribbean, we suggest watching a Bond flick and warming up with the Toasted Toddy.

GoldenEye | Credit GoldenEye



-1 part Blackwell Rum

-1 part pineapple juice

-Lime or pineapple wedge


Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge

Toasty Toddy | Credit GoldenEye



-3 parts Blackwell Rum

-2 teaspoons brown sugar

-1 1⁄2 parts fresh lemon juice

-6 parts boiling water


Add all ingredients to a mug, except for the water. Pour in the boiling water, Stir well to blend

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Holiday Cocktails for Any Time of Day

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Christmas Morning Punch | Credit Kozak-Salo, Getty Images

Christmas Morning Punch

A sweet treat to get your day started

4 oz. raspberry vodka
2 cups orange juice
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1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup ginger ale

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Christmas Margarita

A zesty fun drink for any festive occasion

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Christmas Margarita | Credit Chernishev, Getty Images

2 oz. gold tequila
½ oz. orange liqueur
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. pomegranate juice
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2 tsp. simple syrup

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Jack Frost | Credit bhofack2, Getty Images

Jack Frost

A creamy delight to enjoy in your PJs when the kids go to bed

½ cup light rum
½ cup Blue Curaçao liqueur
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Nautical-Inspired Cocktails for Fall

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Fall Cocktail | Source Veselova Elena from Getty Images

The Captain Cider


1.5 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
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Fill a rocks glass with ice and combine all ingredients. Gently stir and garnish with a cranberry and apple slice.

Hot apple cider in a glass cup on a tree stump
Hot Apple Cider | Source Wendy Melgar from Getty Images

Hot Captain Cider


2 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
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Combine the rum and apple cider in a small pot and microwave or heat over a stove. Carefully pour drink into a mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.

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