It was a cold winter’s night back in December when while doing a “viewing” of a Thai restaurant that was up for sale, my friend turned to me and asked “will you be keeping the Thai menu?” To which I answered NO! The plan is to have a Caribbean menu. It’s been my dream to add a little Caribbean sunshine to the culinary delights which our city seems to hunger for. Especially during those cold winter evenings when the temperature hit’s – 15 C. His response was not what I expected – “but what will you serve, you guys don’t have many dishes!” He (tried) explained… all you have is roti, curry goat/chicken, jerk and rice and peas. I kinda took offense to his remark, but I knew where he was coming from. The average Canadian exposure to Caribbean food, is the limited menu those take out Caribbean restaurants serve. Yes, some sort of curry with roti or jerk with rice and peas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY proud of those dishes, but it’s pains me to know that our rich culinary heritage is not really showcased as so many other cultures in North America (Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian etc).
So where am I going with this post?
When my friend Steve @ UncommonCaribbean.com sent me a copy of a cookbook he contributed to, I figured it was your typical cookbook and it sat on the far right corner on my desk for a couple weeks. It’s only after I saw Caron going through it (isn’t funny how we show interest in things only after someone else is using it) that I decided to see what Mr Bennett was up to…
Yes, there’s a recipe for roti with sweet potato and chickpea filling, but that’s where the typical Caribbean food begins and ends in this masterly crafted book. Masterly Crafted? Hear me out…
This is a comprehensive look at not only a list of interesting recipes with instructions for you to follow and hopefully be successful at recreating, but you’re taken on historic trip of St Croix and I especially love the section dedicated to long tradition of rum making on the island. What can I say.. I’m an island boy who appreciates a good rum (hold the coke) ever so often.
The Recipes – On this blog I try to relive more of the traditional foods I grew up with on the islands and the feedback I get from the 1000’s of readers daily is always positive. But as a foodie I also enjoy trying new and exciting dishes, so maybe this is why I love the sort of fusion twist the recipes presented take. You have the “Lime and Coconut Ceviche, with ginger and fresh fish. Then there’s the Pig Foot Cake (yea not the most appealing when you read it out loud… but sounds very interesting when you go through the ingredients etc) with egg and fois gras torchon. If you know anything about Caribbean people you’d know that “wasting” is not an option, so pig feet or trotters are used in many delicious ways. So to see the humble pig feet paired with fois gras, was somewhat exciting for me. But I could not contain myself (will be trying it this weekend) when I saw the Mango rum Pulled Pork recipe. I’ll definitely share that one with you guys in the upcoming weeks.
Crucian Painkiller – wicked name for a drink and from the sound of things – seems like a must try! In the section of the book dedicated to ‘beverages” you’ll find a lovely mix of classic cocktails and an an assortment of drinks I’m sure you’ve never tried. Here’s your chance to be the star bartender at your BBQ this summer with drinks which will impress all your guests.
Speaking about rum and cocktails… I’m not a wine drinker and I’ve been known to say that wine drinkers are phonies. I guess that’s the typical comment when you don’t know much about something. We were in Trinidad and Tobago for carnival a couple years ago and my sister had friends visiting from Switzerland who were not only amazing at preparing ‘fancy’ meals, but they were very knowledgeable when it came to wines. They tried to give me a quick lesson, but my mind was on one thing at that point- Carnival. Wasted opportunity I guess!
If you’re anything like me and would like to learn more about wine, especially when it comes to Caribbean food, you’ll love the chapter dedicated to just this. “Wine In The Tropics” A Simple Guide To Pairing Wine With Caribbean Cuisine”. I’m no wine aficionado now, but I have a foundation to build on and I’m confident enough to hit the specialty wine section of the liquor store without being intimidated when the clerks comes around asking questions etc.
This treasure is broken down into several sections as do all cookbooks …Wine, Beverages, Appetizers, Soups and Stews, Entrees, Vegetarian (yup they though about everyone’s choice) and desserts. And there’s the “meet the chefs” section, where you get to know the chefs who contributed on a more personal level. So you get a sort of insight as to where the inspiration came from for the recipes they present.
Can you tell I love this book? Steve, if you’re reading this my friend THANKS for sending me the copy (next time can you hit me a little autograph?) You guys did the island of St Croix very proud by the way you captured the true essence of the Caribbean in words , pictures and with island vibe we all love.
Click on the image below or click here to learn more about the book and to try and reserve a copy.
Before I go, I’d like to announce the winner (sorry for the delay in making this announcement) of the Italian cookbook giveaway for the month of April.
It’s with great pleasure we call on Anandi Beharrysingh to contact us with your mailing address! You’ve been chosen the official winner of the “Pasta Step By Step” cookbook. Please contact us with your details so we can rush this out to you. We’d like to thank everyone who participated and hope that you’ll take part in the new giveaway we’ll be doing early next week. Trust me! You’ll love the next prize we have up for grabs. Shims, I almost forgot… thanks to my sexy assistant who helped with the draw!