My Jamaican Food Finds…live in Kingston!!!
Written by NZINGHA
What is it about Caribbean people? What is it about Caribbean food? What is it that makes the Caribbean so special? There’s just something about all of these questions all rolled up into one that give me a simple yet direct answer…”Is jus good mon, mi haffa have it all ya know, don’t study dem a ting jus a live it yah!”
The food experience literally begins during your flight to the Island of Jamaica. It had been many years since I’d been there for work shooting CD covers and music videos for various JA musicians.
I’d remembered long ago on Jamaica Air the in flight meal being that of a choice of Curry Chicken or Jerk Chicken or Fish and Rice and Peas and Plantain…you had a full meal during your 3 hour inflight journey.
During this more recent flight I had to JA the food was still good yet just a teaser of what was to come. During the flight you had a choice of sandwiches mine was Jerk and Cheese served in an informative yet lovely print box. The sandwich was awesome but a teaser!! I wanted more!!
I found myself in sunny Jamaica again after all these years. I had a blast!!! Of course what bought me to Jamaica was again doing Makeup for one of my celebrity clients …Ms. Diana King. I was there to do her Makeup for a series of music videos to be shot over 4 days (one full video per day).
Can I tell you those 4 days I had the ride if my life!! The work (which was great working with Diana King), the sun (gorgeous climate), the people (mi family, cuzzinz a we), the food (glorious food). The food is what I’m going to try to focus in on during this particular post. The food….UNPARALLELED!!!
Though there was no real time between work for me to do a real sit down dine in meal (accept for my last day at a Japanese Resturant, and a “quick run through” Usain Bolts Resturant (excuse the pun) and a stop into the Marley Museum). There were several food stops that really stand out in my mind. And these for sure are places whenever you are in JA that you MUST VISIT.
Top of my list:
Each Resturant has their own divine taste, feel and atmosphere. But where do I start this food fare breakdown? Mmmmm, I guess I should start at the top of my list right? Okay, so lets go…
There were two “take out/dine in” spots that are as critical to Jamaica’s take out scene that give you the fame of McDonalds “Golden Arches” only it’s Caribbean food and one of the best commercial Jerk you’ll ever find in JA or dare I say anywhere in the world! The first one in my book though some will beg to differ in the order I place these but hey this is MY BLOG!!! First up is Island Grill!!!
I loved the taste of their Jerk Chicken, it’s Flavor still wafts on my palates memory. Oh the heat is real and not only that but they had the nerve to have an original additional side packet of original Jerk sauce (just I case you want more, though that sauce was a bit more tame on the heat. I thought it would be great for a salad). The in house menu of Caribbean fare was extensive!!! And not just Jerk but all things Caribbean and of course in particular indigenous to Jamaican cuisine…like Festival, Akee and Jerk. This one would be my first choice.
Second on this list is none other than the ever world renowned Scotchie’s Jerk House…honey they specialize in Jerk for real!! They had a system going that was reminiscent of how the original people of JA used to Jerk with an open grill over a lattice of smoking Pimento wood to give those meats that unique Jerk flavor.
Ok, so when you first go to Scotchie’s you are to enter through a parking lot filled with cars like no room to even get out. My first thought was “Ok, this is WACK!!! What in the ghetto blazes is going on here! This mess right here NO MON!” But I always remember with any really good food it just may be from some ghetto shack and that’s exactly what I was expecting!
No only did I eat the Jerk there but I had to eat my words!!! Simone and I walked into what seemed like a scene from the Wizard of Oz, we went from black and white film to technicolor!!! A beautiful Pavillion with wood bridges, gravel and ornamental walkways with blooming bushes of Hibiscus and other flowering foliage, thatched bungalows for dining, wifi and the scent of Jerk in the air.
When you enter closer to the counter over the bridge there is a menu board with every kind of Jerk and side dish you can imagine. The joke was on me I was the Jerk!!! Simone ordered her fave Jerk with a tall long slender guy with a Marley shirt on and a hairnet covering his near bald head just like all the other wait staff but they were wearing floral service coats.
The huge open space behind the ordering counter revealed the stars of the show the chefs Jerking everything from Chicken to Fish with large slats of tin sheets covering the smoking meats.
Ask me if we had dinner plates with our food on it?…,NO MON just everything packed in tin foil!!! everyTING!!!
What did we have…Jerk Pork and Chicken, yellow Yam/Sweet Potato and Festival (a slightly sweet Cornmeal Dumpling similar to an American Hush Puppy) and of course to drink I had Sorrell (a drink made from the Roselle Plant) and Simone had a Ting (a Grapefruit Soda)…we didn’t stay to sit down in one of the bungalows because we were
on the way to take me to my hotel/apartment in Liguenae and this was our first Food stop in JA. But when I got to my room I ripped into that food and I was in lip smacking heaven! Yeah definitely do Scotchie’s again for sure.
Next on my list is Tastee for their Meat Pâté (of which I took some back home in a box). You can find Tastee all over the Island and even in the airport just like you would a McDonald’s!!! They don’t specialize in Big Mac’s they specialize in Pâtés (Patties)!!! Beef Patty, Vegetable Patty,Chicken Patty, Cheese Patty,Chicken Loaf
, Meat Loaf (beef) and Coco Bread.
Now I must say this…Tastee Pâtés definitely ROCK!!!, however there’s a little hole in the wall Pâté Shop in St. Thomas, USVI that for sure would give Tastee a run for their money!! But back to Tastee they don’t just have Pâtés on their menu they have other traditional Jamaican fare as well. Tastee is true to their name TASTY!!
Sweetwood Jerk Joint is another great Jerk spot not to far from Emancipation Park. This spot has a beautiful landscape as well. A must to look into if you’re planning on sitting in the park or in their Pavillion. I found them to be a bit pricy but hey the foods good so sometimes it’s well worth it!!! And it is!!!
Now I have to tell you about two other locations that have nothing to do with Jerk or Akee and Saltfish. It’s about the well attended Coffee Shop “Rituals” a d when I say they rival Starbucks they go beyond any Starbucks mechanical churn em out style and flavor (though addictive) but Rituals is one of those places that make you go whoa. They’ve got Latte’ s that are endless. I think I had two different ones at the same time. I had an Kiddie Latte that was flavored like Cotton Candy!!! Genius to have a kiddie menu.
East Japanese Resutrant. I know what does that have to do with anything Jamaican…well I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a Japanese Resturant with Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet Sauce as part of their condiment lineup on the bar and tables!!! The food and service were stellar performances!
But I have to say when I saw the bill I almost passed out it was $6700 or so!!!! I panicked no lie but Simone my tour guide and dear friend reminded me that that’s not American dollars or British Pounds but Jamaican Dollars or J$ formerly “Maccaroni”, Shillings, Maravedies and more see here…
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaican_dollar. Needless to say the bill was essentially like $70 or so!! WHEEEEEWWWW!!!
And last but not least everyTING to eat in Devon House is a sweet treat from the Sorrell filled Chocolates at “Chocolate Dreams” chocolate shop to “I•SCREAM” Ice Cream shoppe. And I gotta say two specials are a must on your taste testers list. First is the Guiness Stout which I thought would be gross but turned out to be a pleasant surprise and Second my absolute favorite in the shoppe….the Rum Raisin!!!! Stop the press for Rum Raisin is all I have to say!!!
Devon House is a beautiful former plantation turned into a well manicured almost private like mall with dainty little shops all throughout. If you are ever in Jamaica this is a stop over you have to experience. Lovely…simply lovely.
Well I hope you had a wonderful ride with me through Kingstons finest.
Stay tuned for more on my stay in JA…and I’ll close this segment out with one of my favorite JA musical luminaries singing a classic favorite tune of mine…Grace Jones…”Eh Eh”, “My Jamaican Guy”.
Grace Jones singing: “My Jamaican Guy” (Live)