As avid seekers of yummy eats, we’ve started cataloguing our food posts into a little series called Food Finds. These posts include casual reviews of the unsung culinary gems we encounter on the road–or even right here at home in DC and NY
We’ve been indulging in some scrumptious Jamaican eats during our stay. We’re so lucky to have our own personal Jamaican chef on staff here, Winston, who has been cooking up a storm. Check out some of these dishes!
Ackee & Saltfish for breakfast. As we’ve learned, ackee is a vegetable or fruit that grows on a tree here in Jamaica. There are actually some ackee trees on the grounds here, but the trick is that you can only eat it when the fruit has split open on the tree. Otherwise it’s poisonous if you eat it under-ripe or over-ripe. They call it “Jamaican poisoning” and yes you could kick the bucket from this kind of poisoning …sooo yes we’ll leave it to the experts to prepare it and not pilfer any from the trees here and bite into it on the sly hehe.
We were all so amazed at this totally new food – our parents were especially impressed since they’ve been cooking all their lives and of course have their own share of exotic asian foods which most Americans or Germans have never tried before. So, how to describe what ackee tastes like… it looks a little like scrambled eggs! It’s a very mild taste, and is sauteed with onion, tomatoes and fish (cod, I believe). It was sooo good! We scraped the plate clean. The dish is eaten with fried pouches of dough called Johnnycakes. These were ingenious. Of course it’s next to impossible to mess up a fried dough dish, and every culture has its own version of it, but the Jamaicans prove they seriously know how to do it.
An obligatory close-up of the johnnycake. I’m gonna have to ask our local Jamaican restaurant (in Takoma Park) if they have these because damned if we’ll have to travel to Jamaica every time we get a hankering now for a basket of these!
Callaloo And this is callaloo. We spotted this on the menu at Rockhouse Hotel bar the other day and found out it was a spinach-like green vegetable. Sure enough Winston had it on the breakfast spread the next morning. They were super soft, softer even than collard greens and very tasty. Again, we scraped the plate clean. I think this party knows healthy delicious vegetables when we see them.
Chicken Fricassee. Mm Mm mmmMMMM. This was a lunch dish. As yummy as it looks. Melt in your mouth, perfectly spiced, stewed chicken. This dish was full of spices and had some serious depth in flavor.
Even more impressive was the fact that Winston made cabbage and carrots into a dish I couldn’t get enough of. The cabbage was locally grown, and it had a different texture from the cabbage you get in the shops in the US. It’s a bit crispier, for one thing. And though cabbage has always seemed like a bland food to me, this cabbage was as flavorful as even something like a meat dish. After Mom and my aunt and uncle pestered him for the secret, Winston said he used ginger, garlic, salt and pepper, soy sauce and oyster sauce. At the mention of oyster sauce, you heard a murmur from the 3 of them “aahhhh” hehe. Cooking nerds.
And here are some dishes we’re more familiar with We had French toast for breakfast one morning and crispy bacon.
My feet Just kidding these were not a dish on Winston’s spread. I’m sure they would be pretty tasty and full of chewy tendons though.