I am off to Jamaica with the film crew from CIA to begin the process of developing the next video from Unilever. There will be more to report soon and lots of pictures.
Better late than never I trust. Here is a glimpse of the my presentation at the World of Flavours event at CIA-Greystone. Click this link to watch the video: http://vimeo.com/40316193
I am off to Jamaica with the film crew from CIA to begin the process of developing the next video from Unilever. There will be more to report soon and lots of pictures.
Curry Powder - see video for recipe
I am excited to be off to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley this week to join other chefs at the 14th World of Flavors conference. It’s a privilege as this is the first time the Caribbean has been represented and I am looking forward to not only exposing our long history but also demonstrating examples of the modern culinary culture that we have been developing for many years now. For many Caribbean or at least Jamaican food is defined by Jerk. Whilst jerk is a worthy part of our culinary history and worthy of Presida status by the Slow Food Movement it is mostly misunderstood and the title mis used. I will therefore be delving into the real meaning and demonstrating some modern interpretations that are considered acceptable within the region. The first and most important delineation is the difference between using the title Jerk and using Jerk Spice.
As jerking is process, which includes marinating and tenderization with specific herbs, and slow cooking it cannot be readily applied to just any item. It is acceptable though, at least in my eyes, to refer to the fact that one has used Jerk spices, commonly pimento, scotch bonnet and thyme to flavor one or another item; items that will not be marinade or slow cooked. My favorites in this category include Jerk spiced Short bread and Popcorn.
Anyway, my presentation will focus on Jerk and Curry as the two foundational flavours that defines our cuisine
beginning with making each of these items. There are of course as many recipes for each as there are cooks in the Caribbean but there are certain fundamentals that cannot be ignored. I will begin form that point and then demonstrate the divergence or styles that can branch form these common routes. There are a series of opportunities over the four days of the conference running from walk around tasting sessions to demonstrations, lectures and live fire cooking sessions.
I will be starting off with Janga Soup and Jerked Pork Belly Mac and Cheese springs rolls on the first evening. During the next two days, I will be making Curry as a mother sauce and creating Samoa’s, Empanadas and Pasty with various curried items. Of course as is indicative of our cuisine there will be lots of interesting sauces and sides to complement and enhance the flavours.
I am looking forward to meeting other chefs from other cultures, learning and sharing. After the event I will publish the recipes from the conference, write more about others reactions to our style of cuisine, and share more about what I have learnt from this important culinary activity
On a hot weekend in Kingston, when the humidity is high and the breeze refuses to blow it away the place to be is Port Royal. If you have the time pack a picnic and cold bottle of white wine and head to Lime Key. If you cant afford a full day's jaunt but are still in need of some relief and a relaxing afternoon, pass the Morgan's Harbour departure spot for Lime Key and head on down to Gloria's.
The breezes can usually be counted on to blow on this peninsula, stuck as it is well out into Kingston Harbour and you can take full advantage of that sitting under the canvas shade in the street outside Gloria's. In fact there are now two Gloria's at Port Royal but i prefer the original in the old town next to Lue's grocery
Gloria's is renowned for its fresh seafood and indifferent service. If you're in the know and in a hurry you can call ahead and order your food otherwise be prepared to wait. The surroundings are authentic, if up graded, road food style with oil cloth table coverings and plastic lawn chairs. Order a drink while you what although the bar menu only runs to sodas and red stripe - but what could be better with Gloria's food. While you order may take some time the people watching is fun as the "yard" is usually packed with interesting people often doing interesting things!
The menu runs the gamit from fried whole fish and sliced fish, curried seafood items such as lobster and my favorite Brown Stew fish to watch an informative video and see a good recipe paste the following into your browser or highlight/click http://www.jamaicatravelandculture.com/food_and_drink/brown_stew_fish.htm
Gloria's Brown Stew Fish
Gloria's brown stew fish and fried fish are well worth the journey and the wait. Be sure to accompany any thing you order with their festival. I have order festival all over the island and there is no doubt Gloria's is the best. Although they start with Grace's packet festival mix they blend it / fry it in such a way that it comes out crispy and light. Order several as they are yummy!! When the "hungry belly" is full stroll back through the town along the water front before heading back to Kingston for dessert
on this hot summer's after noon with a luxurious belly full of Gloria's fish there is only one place for dessert - Devon House I Scream. The trip back to Waterloo Road in New Kingston will be long enough to allow your lunch to settle and in case you are still full when you reach Devon House dont' worry as you'll still be in for a long wait.
Devon House I scream, although available all over the island, draws throngs to Devon House itself. As a beautiful century's old manor house its an wonderful piece of history surrounded by well kept and shady grounds. Even without the ice cream it's well worth the visit as there a a wide variety of shops and restaurants throughout the grounds. But really! the ice cream is what we've come for.There are 27 flavours in all to choose from which include Dragon Stout, Rocky River, Pistachio, Coconut Coffee and Soursop. Choices, Choices, Choices LOL well there is a line waiting out the door pick one and wait.
When travelling from Hanover or St James to Kingston you have two main choices (there are in fact many options - but two that are most well travelled).
The popular route follows the new North Coast highway that now runs all the way from Negril to Port Antonio. Smooth as a baby's bottom and fast as a greyhound this road covers half the distance to Kingston in sartorial splendour before offering several options to cross the island.
The shortest route will leave the highway at St Ann's Bay (stop at Scothies at the turn off if you have time) and head via Chalky Hill to Moneague and on into Kingston. (If you didn't stop at Scothies it may be time to pull in a Faith Pen) Other wise you can continue to Ocho Rios and drive up the beautiful Fern Gully by way of reaching Moneague - although at this time this route is closed for while.
Of course if you are loving the highway you can continue all the way down to Annotto Bay before you take the twisty and potholed road that brings you to Stony Hill. The bonus on this route is the chance to stop above Castleton for the best red pea soup on the island or fried sprats at Aquarius.
Whilst the North Coast Highway is salubrious it has by passed many of the prettier towns along the coast such as Duncans, Rio Bueno and Falmouth leaving one bereft of road food options other than the occasional roadside fruit vendor.
Today though the road less travelled takes us up Long Hill leaving the splendid highway at Reading. Once reaching Montpelier the choice is of turning off left and heading across the island through villages with distinctly English names such as Croydon and Stonehenge until reaching the south coast at Middle Quarter; whilst remote, wild and beautiful this route has the disadvantage of cutting out a stop at Bluefields. By continuing on straight towards Sav. (Savanna La Mar) and turning left at Ferris Cross, Bluefields soon appears on the right. Bluefield Bay boast beautiful white sandy beaches and a neatly organized park with several lyming options
Turning off the highway and driving into the park Fresh Start is on your right.After an hour or so of driving from Round Hill it's a welcome sight. As I arrive, Otis and Jennifer Wright are already hard at work early on this Saturday morning. Fresh Start is well known for it's wonderful fish and seafood dishes but also offers an earthy menu of real "roots' cocktails.
Linval Malcom started me off with a Carrot and Ginger drink, which definitively proved the point that these potions are "fi real"
Whilst Otis began stoking up the big grill out front and selecting his fish Jennifer was already hard at work over the the coal fire preparing fried Chicken and festival for the beach goers who would soon arrive in droves.
Jennifer hard at work frying chicken
Ingredients – Marinade
1cup cows milk
1teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teasppon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Ginger powder
2 lb chicken breasts and thighs
3/4cup all-purpose flour
1teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 scotch bonnet
Oil for frying
Method In large resealable food storage plastic bag, mix all marinade ingredients. Add chicken pieces; turn to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight to marinate. Coating:.In pie pan, mix flour and all remaining chicken ingredients except oil. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Prick the pepper and add to the oil. Remove chicken pieces from marinade a few at a time, allowing excess to drip off. Roll chicken in flour mixture until well coated. Add chicken to hot oil in skillet, a few pieces at a time until all pieces are in skillet. Cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until deep golden brown, crispy, cooked through but juicy!!.
Whilst Otis encourages the pimento wood fire, today's catch rinses under the pipe. There are Trunk fish, parrot fish, grunts and turbot. Otis will start off the day by stuffing several of the turbot and cooking them slowly of the flat grill.
After opening up the cavity and cleaning it out he mixes Scallion, Celery, Thyme, Scotch Bonnet and peppers together in a flavourful, finely chopped melange and stuffs the fish. Damping down the fire he slides a heavy metal plate over the coals and greases it with coconut oil. When the plate has gained some heat the Stuffed Turbot go onto the grill and begin to sizzle.
Watching the fish with a careful eye Otis begins to prepare Conch and Lobster Curry, Run down and fried fish ensuring they will be ready for the lunchtime rush.
Leaving the wonderful aromas behind but with some of Jennifer's fried chicken tucked in my pocket I continue on down the road less travelled
Tyrone and Simone
As you travel around the roads of Jamaica you will often come across the most unassuming places serving unbelievably good food. Claudette's sitting quietly at the top of Spur Tree hill, just west of Mandeville is one such place.
Curry Goat like several other emblematic dishes that define classical Jamaican cuisine is a highly personalized item. Every home has its preferred recipe, curry powder blend, accompaniments and style. It is therefore no mean feat that Claudette's has been voted "The Best Place for Curry Goat; years in a row in the Jamaica Observer People Choice Awards
Claudette's Dining Room
When heading out for Claudette's you may need a guide as the restaurant in true Road food style is set back from the street housed in an unassuming brown double wide trailer. There is no sign to annouce that you have arrived but when you enter the austere but brightly painted dining area you know that you are in the temple of great food. During my visit individual or small groups mostly men sat quietly consuming their curry goat. They ate with the seriousness and respect that is given by those who know they are in the presence of something special - something great which, regardless of the price they are privilege to have the opportunity to consume, although in fact whether you eat in our take out the prices are very reasonable.
Claudette herself while a powerful presence ruling her small kitchen, is not the social butterfly, prefering to let her youthful and attractive staff take care of the customers and the daily chores. Its a healthy sign that every one seems to be having fun although no one makes a move with Ms. Claudette's say so!
Like so many good food establishments Claudette's follows Hermann Cain's philosophy of Focus- Focus- Focus. This means that the menu consists of Curry Goat or Manish Water, dumplings, White Rice or Peas and Rice and a little coleslaw. Of course Bigga and other sodas are there to wash it all down but Claudette knows if you want to be the best stay with what you do best.
Her kitchen out back of the trailer is small and smoky with a series of low fire pits burning pimento and sweet wood. Its a suitable altar for such good road food - don't miss it when your're on the road to the south coast.
ICurry Goat - A Recipe (remember - there are many)
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
Preparation & Cooking Time: 1 to 1½ hours (not including marinating)
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and sugar, stirring until the sugar is brown. Add the goat with marinade, green onions, and curry; stir thoroughly. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the goat slowly in its own juices, stirring occasionally, until the goat is nearly tender, about 30 minutes. If the meat is tough, pour ¼ cup / 60 mL of water at a time down the sides of the pot, not directly onto the goat (or you will toughen the meat).
Add the potatoes and ¼ cup / 60 mL water; stir thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked but not too soft. Crush some of the potatoes to thicken the sauce, if desired. If there is not enough sauce, add ¼ cup / 60 mL water and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve with rice or roti and a salad.
Donette Prendergast- Owner/Manager
On a sunday afternoon, if you're caught in the sweltering heat of a Kingston summer, the place to head for is Hellshire beach. An hour's drive from most parts of town, Hellshire lies beyond Portmore, just west of Kingston.
Once no more than a fishing village, Hellshire has grown into a a community of ramshackle bars and restaurants, renowned for strong drink, great seafood and lyming.
On any typical weekend thousands of Kingstonians will be headed across the causeway to enjoy the beach, buy fish, imbibe and nyam; then often party late into the night or early morning.
Amongst the many choices arrayed over a mile of beach my favourite is Prendy's. Dark, smoky and revebrating with reggae Prendy's is the epitemy of all that makes Hellshire beach a destination. With a lively bar and long tables covered with oil skin clothes its a great place to escape the heat of the day and people watch. If you're as lucky as I was on my last visit there will be a Port Royal Rum promotion with vivacious young ladies dispensing rum Punch!
Jamaican Rum Punch - the drink of choice if your not drinking Guinness!
There are many variations on this recipe but the combination is what matters the most (other than perhaps where you drink it and WHO you drink it with!)
Follow this ratio and you can't go wrong;
1 part Sour
2 part Sweet
3 part Strong
4 part Weak
In the tradiitonal way this would be the juice of a lime, simple syrup, over proof white rum and water. Of course you can substitute other more exotic ingredients for the water just don't mess with the rum ( and pick your company well!!)
Prendy's is known for fabulous seafood, steamed, roast or fried. Everything is cooked to order in the teeming kitchen made bright by the flaming fires of pimento wood. Great vats of oil and fish stock sit atop these primitive wood fired stoves and are tended by energetic cooks preparing each order individually.
Having made your selection and while you sip your rum punch, order a conch and crayfish
soup preferably with some delicious festival (recipes will follow in a later posting) as the preparation of your meal will take some time. Regardless I can assure you that you will not be bored as the restaurant is always alive with activity
Established as a bar, a restaurant and a fish market there is lots going on. Bonette Prendergast manges the chaos with cool aplume whilst her husband, a fisherman by trade, manages the retail business.
When asked how she got into the business Prendy replies " I married a fisherman so it just made sense" Regardless its a winning team and a road food destination not to be missed.
( more Hellshire pictures, tales and recipes to follow soon)
Tanya Barriffe with Sweet Potato Poon
Scothies- Kingston is the latest and largest version of this Jamaican icon which literally began as a "hole in the wall" operation in Montego Bay.
Renowned for it renditions of classic jerk pork and chicken it also offers Roast Breadfruit, Yam and Sweet Potato in addition to the wonderful sweet potato "poon" which is slow cooked over a charcoal fire in the back yard.
A bucolic oasis amidst the heat of Kingston, Scothies, sitting in a dusty used car lot on Chelsea Ave in New Kingston, has fast become a must visit vendor of Jamaican road food; serving 2500 meals on a busy day.
While remaining rustic, Scothies offers the opportunity to sit in an arbour in the verdant gardens. Choose to be served or line up at the take out window, sharing in the carnival atmosphere of food being prepared .
The cooking takes place in a large smoky kitchen reminiscent of Dante's inferno. Laughing cooks drop huge slabs of pork and split chickens directly onto rafts of sweet wood laid over huge charcoal pits
The meat is covered with zinc sheets to retain the smoke and reflect the heat from the glowing coals below. Beginning early in the morning hundreds of pounds of meat that have been marinaded over night go onto to the grills to be tended carefully over the long cooking period.
Jerking is a complex process that goes beyond the marinade, requiring an understanding of history to execute properly
The story of Jerk begins with the Maroons. When the British captured Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish Colonist fled leaving a large number of slaves behind. Rather than be enslaved again by the British they escaped into the remote mountainous regions of the island, joining those who had previously escaped to live with the Ameridian natives. The maroons lived in the tangle of mountains, supporting themselves by farming, hunting wild boar and raiding the plantations. The Spanish had imported large quantities of animals to Jamaica, of these pigs and goats adapted the best, many escaping into the wild.
These wild hogs became a favorite food source for the Maroons
Due to their aggressive attacks on the planters, they were constantly harrased by the British army who hunted them throughout the rugged cockpit country. Wiley and mobile they defied capture by constantly moving throughout the hills. To sustain themselves and avoid giving their location away they devised the method of "jerking" their food.
Wild boar was tough and of course refrigration unknown, they therefore preserved their meat by marinading it. Pimento and papaya acted as tenderiser while, lime juice scotch bonnet and bird pepper acted as preservaties. The marinaded meat was "jerked" or dried in pits of smouldering green pimento wood covered with leaves and earth. This slow cooking method had the advantage of not requiring constant attention or signalling their location.
Jerk Seasoning Ingredients:
There are any number of recipes for jerk seasoning, and many have an ingredient list a mile long but Jamaican's cooks agree that there are three jerk spice ingredients that are key:
All Spice also known as "Jamaica pepper," gets its name from the rich, spicy flavor which is reminiscent of the mingling of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers are small, orange and wrinkly (looking like the cooks scotch bonnet of old). They are extremely hot- among the hottest peppers known
Thyme, Jamaica's ubiquios herb adds complexity to the flavor of the meat. Thyme was brought the island by the Spanish as it has many symbolic uses beyond cooking- being associated with honour, strength and bravery.
Additional ingredients often include garlic, brown sugar, escallion, soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, papaya, rum, bay leaves, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and black pepper.
There are many proprietary brands of Jerk Seasoning available these days with Walker's Wood, Busha Browne and Spur Tree being amongst the best on the market. Jerk Seasoning can be purchased wet or dry rub. I prefer the wet version and often add coconut oil to the mix to aid the infusion.
Depending on the cut of meat being used and the overall weight one can marinade the item from 1 hour up to 2-3 days. The flavour and intensity will increase and in the case of tougher cuts will tenderize. When fully marinaded and slowly jerked chicken will take on a wonderful white almost translucent colour and a "melt in your mouth" texture. Pork often becomes red around the bones which creates an impression of not being cooked but is just a chemical reaction.
To create your own flavorful seasoning, buy spices whole, toast them lightly in a dry skillet--just until they become aromatic--and then grind them in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
Remember to remove the seeds from the peppers; to decrease the heat, also the white membranes. Do not handle without latex gloves: the oils can cause serious irritation and burning to your hands.
Place the peppers, the ground spices, and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and let it run until a smooth paste forms. soy sauce, lime juice, orange juice, papaya juice, rum, or water if the mixture appears to need more liquid.
Here is one recipe you can try:
1/2 cup ground pimento berries
1/2 cup packed wet brown sugar
1 head garlic-peeled
6 Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeded and cored
Small bunch of fresh thyme leaves - strip out hard woody stalks
2 bunches Scallion or green spring onions
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Course sea salt and ground black pepper
Tablespoon lime juice, orange juice and soy sauce
The road network in Jamaica consists of almost 21,000 kilometers of roads, of which over 15,000 kilometres is paved.
As a percentage of kilometers to population Jamaica is extremely well endowed with thoroughfares. This is fortunate as Jamaica is also a country with a high percentage of entrepreneurs per capita with many of them plying their trade along the nations highways.
In the next few postings I will take you on a pictorial culinary journey around this beautiful jewel of the Caribbean. As people, what we love to eat is one definition of our cultural identity. Jamaican culture is unique in the fact that from the highest to the lowest levels of society everyone enjoys and eats the same foods.
Much of what is eaten at home can also be purchased at a myriad of road side establishments, many rustic in nature but "temples" of flavour; each one a specalist in some ethnic creation that is sure to have its own devotees.
I will not take on the onerous task of defining who is "best" in this gastronomic minefield, just allow you to vicariously wander the bye ways of the island, exploring those places where no Jamaican road food connoisseur with a "hungry belly" could pass. In fact the majority of these "joints" would be considered worthy destinations in and of themselves.
We will visit Scotchies in Kingston, Prendy's on Hellshire Beach, Fresh Touch at Bluefields, The Best Kept Secret in Port Antonio, Claudette's in Mandeville, Gloria's in Port Royal, Howie's in Middle Quarter, Morant Bay and Coronation Markets and who knows who else we will meet along the way,
Jamaica " the land of wood and water" with its motto 'out of many - one people" is a land rich in heritage and agriculture; a rich brew that has fermented over the ages to create a unique culinary melting pot. Let's explore!
Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a vendor, often from a portable stand or cart.
Most street foods are both finger food and fast food. Street food for the most part costs less and it has been suggested that it is eaten by 2.5 billion people every day.
Street food is distinguished by its local flavour and by the simple way that it is served, often right on the street, although food can often sold from counters inside buildings but still be considered street food.
It is also often distinguished by exotic items with bold and exciting flavours. Dishes which reflect the very essence of the cultures from which they come.
Whilst the phenomenon is world wide and most closely associated with the teeming streets of China and India ever country has its own version. In many metropolis areas street food vendors can be found offering culinary vignettes to satisfy the inquisitive or the home sick.