Putting the Cook back in the Cook Islands

vspace="4" border="1" />It took a long time to find something good to eat on the Cook Islands, but when we finally did,
it was worth the wait.  As mentioned in an href="http://www.gadling.com/2006/01/24/cook-island-accomodations/">earlier post, the food at our resort was
virtually unpalatable (with the exception of a pretty tasty breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries).  We lucked out
one evening when we called for a taxi and chatted with our driver, Frank, about our disappointment.  Frank and his
wife Liza have run a taxi service (Phone number 20203) on Rarotonga for the last two years after having moved to the
island from New Zealand.  Both proved a wonderful resource on the best restaurants the island had to offer (for a
few other, independent recommendations, click href="http://www.frommers.com/destinations/rarotonga/209_inddin.html">here and href="http://www.webby.no/restauranter/default.asp?/Cook_Islands/Rarotonga/">here).

We took Frank’s list and made sure to visit every place he recommended. One word of advice before visiting,
however: reservations are essential on Rarotonga.  Not because of too many tourists, but so the kitchens can be
prepared with enough food. 

The following is a short description of our favorites. 

The Windjammer.  Our very favorite.  We visited this restaurant many times and were
overjoyed with the selection of fresh fish and meat.  Everything had a tropical twist to it and was so tasty that
we very well could have been in a top-end restaurant in a major city.  Even the desserts were outstanding. 

The Kikau Hut.  A wonderfully pleasant hut operated by a couple of New Zealand expats. 
Great food and great wine selection. 

Trader Jack’s.  A scenic location right on the harbor (although twice destroyed by
hurricanes), Trader Jack’s specialized in fish dishes.  I had some wonderful Mahi Mahi wrapped in banana
leaves. Mmmmm.  Show up early and drink with Jack himself at the waterfront bar. 

The Flame Tree. Another cozy restaurant with delicious curries, a superb bar, and a lovely island
atmosphere.

Sails.  A wonderfully located restaurant, this time right on picturesque Muri Lagoon. 
VERY slow service, and slightly better than average food but still worth visiting for the beautiful view. 

Café Salsa.  Located in the center of “town,” Café Salsa is a
convenient stop while doing the obligatory, half-day walkthrough of the capital, Avarua.  Pizzas are hit or miss,
but the pasta dishes are great and cheap.