Tag Archive | "jamaican food"

Jamaican Callaloo With Shrimp.

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Jamaican Callaloo With Shrimp.

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As I’ve discussed in my Cookbook, there’s much debate in the Caribbean when it comes to callaloo. In the southern Caribbean it’s a delicious soup-like dish made with young dasheen bush leaves, flavored with crabs (for the most part) and simmered in coconut milk. However in Jamaica, callaloo is the bush or plant (amaranth) which is prepared in several different ways, but most popular is Jamaican Callaloo With Saltfish.

In this version of cooking Jamaican callaloo ((amaranth, chorai bhagi), we’ll bypass the salted fish and go with some precooked shrimp. However you can certainly use fresh shrimp for even more flavor.


You’ll Need…

2 lbs Jamaican Callaloo
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (or olive)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (your fav salt)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup small shrimp (pre cooked)
1/2 cup water
1 medium tomato diced
1 scallion
2 sprigs thyme

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Wash, trim and chop the callaloo into ribbons. If using some of the stem, do try to use the tender ones and try to scrape of some of the outer skin. Thinly slice the garlic, chop the onion, scallion and tomato and finely dice the scotch bonnet pepper.

Heat the oil in a wide pan on a medium flame, then go in with the onion, garlic, black pepper and scallion. Drop the heat to low and let that go for about 3-4 minutes.

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It’s now time to add the shrimp (if using frozen-precooked shrimp, wash and squeeze to remove most of the water) , stir well and cook for another 3 minutes. Yes the shrimp is already precooked, so you can easily add them near the end, but I quite like adding them now to enhance the flavor of the dish. If using fresh shrimp, cook for about 3 minutes, then remove them from the pan and set aside. Add back the last 3-4 minutes of cooking.

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Turn the heat up to medium high and go in with all the other ingredients (not the water  or lemon juice yet) and stir well. It may seem at first that your pot is not large enough, but the callaloo will wilt down. After a couple minutes, add the water and cook until tender.

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After about 10-12 minutes, taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Here is where you’ll personalize this dish by checking to see if you like the current texture of it. Some people like their Callaloo very tender, while other like a slight bit of texture to it. In my case it was close to where I like it, so I went in with the lemon juice and turned up the heat to burn off the remaining liquid in the pan.

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The lemon juice will help balance the flavors of this dish and quite honestly elevate it. This dish (please review all the ingredients) can be considered gluten free and if you want to add a bit more flavor you can use coconut milk as a replacement for the water. Not the classic Jamaican callaloo with Saltfish or Chorai bhagi with saltfish as we would call it in Trinidad and Tobago, but I assure you… you’ll love this take on cooking Jamaican callaloo.



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Taro With Stewed Saltfish Caribbean Comfort Food.

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Taro With Stewed Saltfish Caribbean Comfort Food.

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After seeing the price of dasheen at the market, I opted for the much cheaper taro as I had a craving for what we call ground provisions, in the Caribbean. Dasheen, yams, eddoes, sweet potato and cassava all fall under the ‘ground provisions’ umbrella – also known as ‘food’ in Jamaica. The taro is very similar to our beloved dasheen, the main difference being it’s white in color (when peeled) and a bit milder in taste.


You’ll Need…

2-3 lbs taro (dasheen)
1/4 teaspoon salt
water for boiling the taro
2 medium tomatoes
3 scallions
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
3-5 tablespoon olive oil
pinch black pepper
1 onion
1 cup shredded saltfish (salted cod)

To learn how to prepare the salted cod (any dry salted fish) watch this video (click): How To Prepare Saltfish.

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Do wear gloves or coat your hands with some vegetable oil as the sap/starch from peeling the taro can cause some irritation to your hands/fingers. Using a sharp knife or potato peeler, remove the other skin off the taro (discard). Also remove any blemishes and cut off any previously cut areas (like the stem area) to expose the fresh interior. Cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces  and place in a pot covered with water on a high flame. As it comes to a boil add the salt , turn down to a rolling boil and cook until tender. Taro cooks faster than dasheen, so in about 10-15 minutes it will be fully cooked. Pierce with a sharp knife and if there’s no resistance you know it’s fully cooked.

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Drain and set aside as we get to the next step of the recipe..stewing the saltfish!

Prepare the salted fish by boiling in water, drain, rinse with cool water and shred (watch the video mentioned above). Then slice the onion, garlic, scallions and scotch bonnet pepper. Remember you can use more or less scotch bonnet pepper and do wear gloves when handling them (wash your hands with soap and water immediately after).

Heat the olive oil on a medium flame (large sauce pan) and go in with the shredded salted fish. Let that cook for about 3 minutes (low heat) before adding the onion, garlic and black pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the thyme.

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After 2 minutes add the tomato, scallions and cooked taro. Stir well and cook for another 3-5 minutes to infuse the taro pieces with the stewed salted fish.

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We didn’t add any salt to the stewing of the salted cod as the residual salt from the curing process will be enough to season this dish. If you want you can also add some bell peppers for extra flavor and vibrancy (with the colours). Besides being very delicious, this dish can be considered gluten free as well.

Do serve warm.. btw this is a one-pot dish!

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Jamaican Festivals – The Ultimate Fried Dumplings!

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Jamaican Festivals – The Ultimate Fried Dumplings!

My first true encounter with ‘good’ Jamaican festivals was breakfast at our friend Dino’s home in Portmore Jamaica several years ago. Imagine waking up to a full spread of festivals, ackee and saltfish, boiled green bananas and to top it all off, a piping hot cup of rich and creamy Milo! Moms (Dino’s mom) had us set for the day! When the day came for us to continue our trek through Jamaica (Ocho Rios > Montego Bay then Negril) it was painful to know that we won’t be waking up to such a wonderful home-cooked breakfast anymore.

My inquisitive self had to investigate this wonderful Jamaican Festivals recipe in more detail, so with some arm-twisting I got mom to leave me with some hints. Here we go…


You’ll Need…

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

* About 3 cups of veg oil for frying.


In a large bowl sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the cornmeal, sugar and salt. Give that a quick whisk to mix the ingredients, before we start adding water.

It’s now time to start adding the liquids, so pour in the vanilla and start adding the water a little at a time as you whisk everything around. As it stars to take the shape of dough, you will need to get your hands in there and start kneading. If you find that the 1/2 cup of water was not enough, do drizzle in some more. The idea is to work it for 5-7 minutes, until you have a well formed dough ball that’s firm dough and slightly sticky. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow the dough to rest for about 1/2 hr.

After it’s rested, dust your work surface with four and divide the dough ball into 8 equal (as best you can) parts. Then using your hands form each piece into a cigar shape. Try to make them about 6-8 inches long and not overly thick. They will increase in size as they fry.

It’s now time to fry these until they are golden brown and get ready to enjoy some of the best fried dumplings you’ve ever had. Heat the vegetable oil on med, then gently add the shaped festivals dough into the pan. Allow to cook for about 2-3 minutes before you flip them over. In total you’ll probably need between 5-6 minutes for each to be fully cooked and take on that lovely golden color we’re looking for. Have paper towels ready to drain off the excess oil after they’re cooked.

These Jamaican festivals are just amazing and you’ll love the crunchy exterior and the fluffy interior will have a lovely texture followed by the flavored sweetness of the vanilla and sugar.

Do try to serve warm and if you want to get a  bit creative you can certainly dust them with some icing sugar if you want to make them more like a snack for the kids.


As I promised on Facebook a few days back, we’ve got a lovely 7 piece Tomodachi knife set to give out to one lucky winner. There was a lot of excitement when I posted that note, so I do expect to see a lot of entries for this giveaway. All you have to do is watch the following video and in the comment section directly below, let me know if the tutorial was helpful (basically what you like about it).

Your name will be automatically entered to win this beautiful knife set which I’m sure you’ll enjoy using. One lucky winner will then be chosen (randomly) and we’ll mail out the prize to you as we normally do.

Here are the rules pertaining to winning this knife set.

- contest is open to everyone globally (even if you won something here before)

- 1 winner will be chosen at random

- contest is open from May 30 – to midnight June 30.

- winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.

- the winner will have 1 week to contact us with their mailing address

- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)

I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this wonderful collection of knives out to you. It’s simple, free and fun!

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The Ultimate Jerk Pork Recipe.

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The Ultimate Jerk Pork Recipe.

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Today we’ll induct yet another dish into the series “The Ultimate” (keyword search ‘ultimate’ in the search box – top right of this page for more recipes in the series). This time we’re doing one of those classic Jamaican dishes… Jerk Pork. The first time I made this dish was about 5 years ago when our friends were getting married and they were having the stag / doe and asked for us to bring along a dish. Since then, we’ve only heard good things from the many guests who were there that night. This weekend being Tehya’s birthday and knowing that my mom is a fan of jerk pork, I thought it would be perfect for the bbq we were having.

If you read the piece I did titled  Jamaica One Plate At A Time, you’ll know that I went in hunt of the perfect jerk while we were in Jamaica and found (more like stumbled.. stretch our legs and use the bathroom) a spot called “Supreme Jerk Center”  on our way to Negril from Montego Bay. The fella doing the jerk had some skills. Not only was the pork perfectly cooked over the open coals, but we could tell that he allowed the meat to marinate for quite some time. As the pork was infused with that authentic jerk flavor and the smoky taste from the pimento wood was divine. Though I don’t have the use of the open coals, I’m positive that my jerk pork could easily rival his.

For this recipe you’ll need to refer to the jerk marinade recipe I shared with you a few months ago or see below for quick instructions. If you don’t feel like making your own marinade, check out the selection of Jamaican Jerk Marinade and BBQ Sauces you can purchase.

You’ll Need…

Jerk Marinade

5 scallions (green onions)
5 sprigs of fresh thyme (about 1 tablespoon chopped)
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 scotch bonnet peppers
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1 onion
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger

* Basically all you have to do is give everything a rough chop and place in a food processor or blender as I did and pulse until you get a smooth consistency.

Then you’ll need…

1 boneless pork loin (about 7-8lbs)
2 cups of the jerk marinade

Let’s get started. Give the pork loin a good rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Then place the pork in a large dish/pan and using a pairing knife, make some stabs into the meat (about 1 inch deep). This will help in the marinating process. This step will get a bit messy, so using gloves may come in handy. Remember we used scotch bonnet peppers in the marinade so you may find that your bare hands may catch on fire! Pour 1 cup of the jerk marinade over the pork loin, then using your hands, massage and work it well. You can certainly bush the marinade on, but I much prefer to work this with my hands. Now cover and leave to marinate for at least 5 hours in the fridge.

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Take the pork out of the fridge about 25 minutes before you start to grill, to allow it to come back to room temperature. I’m using a gas grill to cook this but if you have a wood or coal burning grill, do your thing. Basically you want to bring the temperature of the grill to about 300 degrees and brush the grate with some vegetable oil. All you do is take tongs, grab a piece of paper towel and dip it into a bowl with vegetable oil an brush the grill.

The goal is to slow cook this so you have 2 options. Grill on the top level grill or sort of warming rack (as I did) or grill with indirect heat. The flame would be on one corner of the grill surface and the meat on the other. This way you don’t get direct contact with the meat and flame/heat.

Basically all you’re doing for the next 2.5 to 3 hours is basting every 20 minutes and turning over when you do, so the meat cook evenly. When you removed the pork loin from marinating, do save the left over marinade and add a further cup, to use for basting during the cooking process.

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When I purchased my pork loin I looked for a piece with a thin layer of fat. This allows the meat to basically self-baste while cooking… so you don’t get an overly dry finished dish as the loin is usually very lean. Remember to try to maintain the 300 degrees, keep the lid on the grill closed and brush on marinade every 20 minutes or so. You will notice that it will start going dark and have a sort of burned look, but this natural. It’s just all the sugars doing it’s caramelizing thing. Good jerk is supposed to have that sort of colour… but remember – no direct heat or it will become burnt!

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Do allow this to rest a bit before slicing, so some of the natural juices are allowed relax the jerked pork loin. We had over 25 people here and I still had enough to pack a doggie bag for my parents when they left. But we did have many others dishes as well. Conservatively, this is enough for about 10-15 people as a main meat side..

— Winner Wanted!—

It’s that time again – we’re giving away the following book (see below) to one lucky person for the month of June.  All you have to do is leave me a comment in the comments section below (please say something about this recipe) and your name will be automatically entered to win this amazing book on organic gardening and cooking with herbs, vegetables and fruits.

cookbook giveaway

Yea! Not your typical Caribbean book, but a wonderful way to  learn about organic gardening and cooking. Focusing on plants that are easy to grow, Adam Caplin takes an illuminating new look at the delights and challenges of cultivating edibles, showing how they can be grown – on their own in beds and containers, in mixed borders, and decoratively with flowers – for their ornamental as well as their nutritional value. Celia Brooks Brown presents 35 mouthwatering vegetarian recipes – for soups and starters, main courses, salads and light dishes, salsas and chutneys, and sweet things. This book features glorious photography by Caroline Hughes and William Shaw.

There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment  there. I don’t care what your comment is, but it would be nice if you could tell me what you like about Caribbean food and if the recipes I share are helpful.

Here are the rules pertaining to winning the copy of “New Kitchen Garden”…

- contest is open to everyone globally

- there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)

- 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)

- contest is open from June 13 – to midnight June 30.

- winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.

- the winner will have 1 week to contact us with mailing address

- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)

I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this book out to you. It’s simple, free and a great way to experiment with some organic gardening and cooking. Good luck to everyone who enters.


Oye! before you go… Remember you can watch the cooking videos on the recipe channel and we’d love to interact with you on our Facebook fan page. There’s a few thousand of us already causing commesse on there… so do check it out.

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The Ultimate Ackee And Saltfish Recipe.

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The Ultimate Ackee And Saltfish Recipe.

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As many of you know, there’s been several “Ultimate” dishes I’ve shared in the past and I’d like to add this Ackee and Saltfish dish to that list of amazing meals.  We were fortunate to have visited Jamaica a few weeks ago and even more lucky to have our friend’s mom cook us a traditional breakfast while we were at their home in Portmore. I have to confess that it was my first experience with ackee and saltfish and how quickly did I fall in love with this, the national dish of Jamaica.

I don’t ever recall seeing any ackee trees or even hearing about eating it while growing up in Trinidad and Tobago (have to ask my dad the next time we chat), but I assure you that it would make a great addition to our rich landscape and I know it would quickly become a hit on many breakfast tables throughout the twin island republic.

In this recipe I’m using canned ackee, but I assure you that though it’s very delicious, it cannot compare to the fresh ackee that was prepared for us. (BTW, do you know that in Ontario, we pay in excess of $11 a can for ackee? That’s over $72 TT or $970 Jamaican dollars) Really have to go plant some trees and cash in on this.

You’ll Need…

1 can ackee (use fresh if you have – about 2 cups)
1/3 lb saltfish – boneless/skinless  (salted cod or other)
1 medium onion sliced
1 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper
fresh thyme (couple sprigs)
1 medium tomato cubed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil (see note below)
2 scallions
1/4 medium sweet bell pepper
2 cloves garlic

Note: I like using olive oil, but you can use vegetable oil or butter as I’ve seen some people do. Since we’ll be using salted fish, there’s no need for any salt in this dish. Finally, if using canned ackee as I did, do handle with care or it will break-up easily and become “mush”.

Start by putting the dry salted fish to boil in a pot on high heat, then simmer for about 20 minutes (you can also soak in cold water overnight before boiling if you wish). I try my best to get the boneless/skinless saltfish as it makes for less work. After boiling drain, rinse under cool water and squeeze dry. Now break apart into the size pieces you like. I’ve seen people use a fork to sort of shred the saltfish, but I find that I like the texture of large flakes. Also, this allows me to actually taste the saltfish when eating.

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While the saltfish was boiling to remove the excess salt that is was cured in (also re-hydrates and tenderizes the fish), I prepared the ingredients that we’ll be using in this dish.

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In a large sauce pan, heat the oil on medium heat (or if want you can use butter or margarine), I love the flavour the cold press extra virgin olive oil gives to this dish. Then add the garlic, sliced onions and scotch bonnet pepper. Allow that to cook for a couple minutes (until the onion softens up a bit), then add the sweet pepper (bell pepper) scallion, black pepper,  and thyme. Allow this to cook for a couple minutes, then add the pieces of saltfish and cook for another 3-5 minutes. To prevent the tomato becoming too mushy, I now add it to the sauce pan and let it warm through for about a minute or two. Remember to stir, so all the ingredients get a chance to marry and explode with spectacular flavor.

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Now is time to add the star of the show. Now here’s the thing about canned ackee.. it’s VERY fragile. So after I open the can, I pour everything into a strainer and run cold water over it. Just to remove that liquid it’s been packed in. After this drains, I add it to the saucepan with everything else, but I DON’T stir with a spoon. I use two forks and gently toss it with the other ingredients. The trick is not to break it apart, or you’ll end up with a huge pot of mush. After adding the ackee, it takes a minute or two for it to heat through and absorb all those wonderful layers of flavor we built.

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It’s amazing how simple, yet tasty this dish is. Very similar to the tomato and saltfish we make in Trinbago, except you add the ackee which gives it a unique taste and texture. It looks very much like scrambled eggs, but I assure you that no scramble eggs will ever taste like this.

That lovely morning outside Kingston we had boiled green banana (green fig), yam, dumplings and some of the best bread I’ve ever had (hard dough) and we washed it all down with a piping hot cup of Milo sweetened with my favorite… condensed milk.



It’s that time again – we’re giving away the following cookbook (see above) to one lucky person for the month of April.  All you have to do is leave me a comment in the comments section below (please say something about this recipe) and your name will be automatically entered to win this amazing cookbook, highlighting the art of mastering pasta dishes. Yup! Not Caribbean, but a wonderful way to  learn some Italian cooking with easy step by step recipes. There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment  there. I don’t care what your comment is, but it would be nice if you could tell me what you like about Caribbean food and if the recipes I share are helpful.

Here are the rules pertaining to winning the copy of “Pasta Step By Step Cookbook”…

- contest is open to everyone globally

- there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)

- 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)

- contest is open from April 14 – to midnight April 30.

- winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.

- the winner will have 1 week to contact us with mailing address

- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)

I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this cookbook out to you. It’s simple, free and a great way to experiment with some Italian cooking. Good luck to everyone who enters.

Happy cooking


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Jamaica One Plate At A Time.

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Jamaica One Plate At A Time.

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Why is it when you return from vacation, you feel so drained that you could use another week or two just to get back into your groove? I’m not one to do the normal tourist thing, especially when I’m in the Caribbean, as I see every island as “home” And as I would do when I’m in Trinbago, I go exploring! Some places even the locals would think twice about venturing, but with my cocky self and curiosity to see how people really live, I do get a good glimpse at life of the everyday man.

Our visit to Jamaica was a last minute suggestion (“pack your back we’re going yard”) so I didn’t have time to do my usual planning as I would normally. But we lucked out as the friend we traveled with is originally from JA as well as the good friend we met while there. Basically we were with people who knew how to show us “local” life. If you ever get the chance to travel with someone who’s originally from your destination, I highly recommend it.

Our trip took us from Montego bay where we landed, to Ocho Rios for a couple days, then Kingston, back to Montego Bay where we were based the last couple days and a day trip to Negril. On the night we arrived we took the drive from MoBay to Ocho Rios where my friend spent the first 10 years or so of his life. That’s when the culinary experience started. In town (must have been after midnight) we immediately got some roasted nuts from the nuts man on patrol (see pic below). The nuts are a bit different than in Trinbago, as these ones were still in the shell/husk. (this pic was taken during the day in Mobay)

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We then headed to the market area where there was a buzz of activity, including a wide assortment of “drum” chicken on sale. Basically oil drums cut in half to form a BBQ, where chicken is grilled over coals. I heard the chicken being called “jerk”, but it was more a of a grilled chicken, as there wasn’t any real “jerk” seasoning to it. I also found that the meat was severely overcooked and dry to the bone. The “drum” chicken I had in both Ocho Rios and Kingston didn’t really impress.

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The last day of our stay in Ocho Rios we did hit the farmers market, but since it was not an official market day it was not as packed with vendors or shoppers. However the produce on sale were fresh and there was an ok assortment. The sales people were super friendly and always willing to share a smile and story. Here is where we picked up ingredients for dinner that night. I made a lovely spread for us as it with my friends birthday. Herb stuffed chicken roasted in the oven, fresh green salad and rice and peas. I’m not sure if it was the herbs grown in the wonderful Caribbean sun or the chicken that was probably raised on corn, but I was told that it was one of the best roasted chicken everyone had ever had. You could even smell it cooking three floors down at the pool area.

On our drive down from Ocho Rios to Kingston we stopped off at a roadside vendor for oranges, soup (a huge pot of goat head soup) and roasted yam. And a quick drive up a bumpy road, saw us visit the home of the famous Walker’s Wood Jerk Marinade (basically a house at the top of a hill with a beautiful views of the surrounding area). The oranges were very sweet and the people manning the stall were friendly and full of banter when we did chat a bit.

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Kingston on some levels reminded me of Port of Spain, with a true loud Caribbean buzz of activity and crazy driving. But to be honest I didn’t expect to see so much garbage on the streets, especially since Jamaica is such a mecca for tourism in the Caribbean. However once you entered New Kingston, you felt as if you were in a typical North American city. Clean, modern and even the people seemed to be more professionally  dressed. My friend insisted we head over to Gloria’s in Port Royal (5 Queen Street; Port Royal, Kingston), for dinner. Gloria’s is one of those places where both locals and tourists head to for good seafood meals. A street setting, with tents on one side with tables and chairs and on the other side of the street is where the kitchen was situated. Overall a terrible experience for 3 of us in our party, but at least my friend got what he wanted and was very satisfied. He had the steam fish platter (see pic below)… we also ordered the spicy shrimp and curry shrimp platters. The curry fish was rather salty and combined with the terrible service, long wait (how does a seafood restaurant not have seafood?) and chicken being on the menu and not having any, it wasn’t what we hoped for.We did get a couple free side orders of bammy and festival, which were both delicious.

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We were fortunate to have stayed at our friend’s place, so this meant home cooked “Jamaican” breakfast in the mornings by his mom…(I did get the recipes, which I will be sharing soon). Ackee and saltfish, dumplings, green bananas and how could I forget the hot Milo and that wonderful bread. I can’t believe that I actually enjoyed whole wheat bread.

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Our last night in Kingston saw us head over to Portmore to a seaside sort of bar (like a rum shop in Trinbago) for what was supposed to be for a Guinness and cup of fish tea, but after the fish tea (which seemed to have heightened our hunger) we decided on dinner (yea this was about midnight). This was going to be my first experience having steamed fish with ochro, steamed vegetables and crackers. The pics below will show you a quick glimpse of the kitchen our meals were prepared in and the fact that you get to choose the fish you want, before it’s cooked. I opted for the red snapper as the parrot fish looked too pretty to eat. The joint had a good local vibe to it as you got the impression that the people who were there at the bar and tables just got off work and where here to have a good meal and watch the news which was on the tv up in the corner. I’m not sure how they could hear the broadcast as there was loud music being played on the outside of the bar.

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BTW, we got a good taste of island fast food (?) when we had lunch at one of the malls in Kingston. We opted for food from “Island Grill” and I fell in love with pumpkin rice (really wanted to try the callaloo rice but the order got mixed up). I’ll definitely be making this dish for the site very soon.

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It was then time to head back to Montego Bay where things were a bit more touristy.  It’s a beautiful drive from Kingston, through Ocho Rios though valleys, hills and some of the most lush vegetation I’ve ever seen and finally MoBay. We were on the lookout for Scotchies as we entered MoBay, but ended up at the “Ultimate Jerk Center” which turned out to be the 2nd best jerk I had on the island. In the pics below you’ll see the jerk chicken salad, jerk chicken with rice and peas, curry chicken with rice and peas which I had. The Ultimate Jerk Center is a wonderful spot to stop for lunch and it seems that most of the tour buses stops here. Beautiful grounds, clean bathrooms and excellent service tops the list for this place. There’s a well kept cricket pitch at the rear, which took me back to my days playing colts cricket, in whites.

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jamaican food (19)

jamaican food (20)

This would be the first time since landing in Jamaica that I got jerk packed with flavour, a rich smokey explosion and a bit of heat from what was surely scotch bonnet peppers. If you like spicy food, do ask for a side of the hot/jerk sauce… a chunky sauce, bursting with the heat from the locally grown peppers and enhanced with the essence of pimento berries. You must stop here for the food.

The culinary adventure then took us from Montego Bay to Negril. After an hour in the car we decided to stop at the next bar to stretch our legs, as five people in a compact car can only lead to a bit of discomfort. This landed us (by pure luck) at a road side  jerk restaurant called “Supreme Jerk Center”… the BEST jerk during our trip. We had small portions of the jerk chicken and pork and my mouth is still watering as I type. Perfectly grilled over coals, juicy (not overcooked like elsewhere) and just bursting with flavor. I can only assume that the meats were marinated overnight and basted while grilling. After the first batch, we ordered another.. it was hard to drive away from this spot without filling up and ruining our plans for lunch in Negril.

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jamaican food (22)

The resorts as you enter Negril are quite impressive (same for Montego Bay), especially for me who hails from Trinidad and Tobago where we don’t really cater to tourists as our cousins in the rest of the Caribbean do. That said, Negril is a tourist town, with Rick’s Cafe being one of the spots every tourist hits. Rick’s is well put together  (I can check that off my list)… but really not my thing. However I do plan on going back to jump off the cliff at a later date. That night in Negril we headed over to “Sweet Spice” restaurant, where once again we dined with quite a few locals. If this spot was a bit closer to the main town area in Negril it would be very hard to get a table. The service was typically Jamaican (friendly chat when you tried to complain about something) and the food was just superb. My camera was hindered by the low light, so I do apologize for the bad quality pics of the curry goat dinner and the fry chicken steak platter. Definitely a spot you must try if you go to Negril

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The final morning we decide to head out for breakfast as everyone else in our party slept in. We had a full day left in Montego Bay and we wanted to make the most of it .. we got word that we would be returning to fresh snow when we got home. Absolutely the best dining experience when it comes to service can be expected at the “Pelican” restaurant in Mobay. With a great view of the ocean from our table, I had the Jamaican special.. fried plantian slices, green banana, yam, fried dumplings and some of the most tasty callaloo (chorai bahaji) and saltfish I’ve ever had. This was the first time in this trip I got a chance to enjoy a good cup of coffee.. oh how I missed my coffee. There was even some calypso and soca being played in the back ground. And to top it off our waiter even gave me some slices of fresh scotch bonnet peppers.

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I was stuffed good and proper and the ethnic fatigue was about to set in, so we headed head out for a stroll up the street or risk me falling asleep at our table. Later on after trying frantically to get a flight to POS (was missing home bad at this point) we did head over to Margaritaville for lunch. I wans’t really hungry, but when I found out that they too had coffee on their menu I just had to have some. I did get a peculiar look from the waiter, seeing that it was a hot 30C sunny day and I was ordering coffee, while most people were drinking cold beverages and fancy cocktails. Here’ you’ll see the fajita combo we got as well as the banana strawberry smoothie at the end. I did snoop at the table beside us and they had the fish and chips platter.. looked amazing! Wish I could sneak a pic for you guys.

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jamaican food (29)

I left Canada thinking if it’s one thing I must do while in Jamaica was to dine at Scotchies, but that turned out to be my biggest disappointment. On our way to the airport we decided we would have dinner at Scotchies, so my excitement level was at code level red when we stopped off here. Once again we were greeted by dry, overcooked and meats with no real flavour. The only bright spot for me was the roasted breadfruit with butter, something I’ve always wanted to try. Next time I can source a breadfruit, guess what I’ll be doing? Scotchies is all hype and no substance, I could never recommendnd that spot to anyone. The bar area setting was nice, but everything else was a let down.. even the stray dog that came begging me for ah sample!

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jamaican food (31)

Final Thoughts.

Overall I wish I had enough time to explore more of the island and partake in more of the local cuisine, but that’s for another trip I guess. Food prices are somewhat equivalent to prices you would pay in North America (or even cheaper at times). But when you get your first bill and it reads $5,000 for dinner for 4, it’s shocking. BTW, with one Canadian dollar we got 84 Jamaican dollars, so that worked out to about $60 Canadian for that dinner. The curry dishes were uniquely Jamaican and I came to realize that every island cooks curry a bit different.. still love meh Trini curry though. Food options are plentiful and I recommendnd you keep away from the fajitas and other North American dishes when you dine out, to get a true feel for Jamaica. Be sure to try the local fruits that in season as well.

Jamaica for me was more about the people, food and lush vegetation. I’ve been up and down the Caribbean, so beaches and other touristy things don’t really stand out. I had the opportunity to not only visit Kingston, but Tivoli Gardens as well and it was quite the experience. We did a “Weddy Weddy Wednesday” with Stone Love, with Elephant Man and I think it was Bounty Killa in attendance, after which we headed over to “Lime” after party while in Kingston. Had the opportunity to hang out with Mad Cobra at a recoding studio, where we got a taste of his latest track being produced and drank a Guinness with Frankie Paul as well. Also hung out with some up and coming artists as we recorded some dub plates (friend we traveled with is big in the music industry), but I don’t recall their names off hand.

While in Montego Bay we did an after party at Pier One.. absolutely the best time we had as far as nightlife goes. We controlled the dance when the DJ dropped the soca (latest as well) and the pics we took could be incriminating. The Guinness flowed, the music boomed and we had an excellent time (hopefully the stains on my linen shirt comes off).

Drove by the “Office” (home of the Reggae Boys) and even played a bit of ball with Mad Cobra and his peeps at a late night session. I had the opportunity to visit my friends childhood home and village, where we even made time to visit his grandmothers grave. A person who took me in her home when I first moved to Canada, as one of her grand children. Wrestled a goat (don’t ask), picked coconut fresh coconut off the tree and cut them open with my skillful use of a cutlass (machete). Basically, this was like going home for me. BTW, is it me or are the women in Jamaica a lot more friendly and outgoing  than the men?

For more pics of my Jamaican trip including videos, check out : Jamaica 2011 (on the left side of the page you can click on either pictures or videos).

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