Follow Me Foodie to Jamaica!
I did it to you again! Did you know I was gone!? Well I was! But I’m back, and this time from foodie paradise! I was recently invited on a culinary bloggers press trip to Jamaica, and I think I ate my weight in fish and sweated it all out in Scotch Bonnet peppers. Hot damn those are spicy! But you know what else is spicy? My upcoming Jamaican blog posts! Can I get a “Day O”?! Daaaaaay O… daylight come and me didn’t wan’ go home!
Climbing the coconut tree barefoot at Prospect Plantation in Ocho Rios… that isn’t me though.
But everything has to come to an end, and I can’t complain when home tastes good too! Of course, if you’re familiar with my blog, everything will be based on honesty. So if you’re ready, Follow Me Foodie to Jamaica!
Wait! Isn’t this New York? Yes, but just a heads up, I haven’t quite finished with Follow Me Foodie to New York and there’s still more to come! And of course I’ll never ever be finished with Vancouver, so I’ll have posts for that too. I’ll just be switching things up here and there to keep things interesting. Anyways, I’ll say a temporary farewell to city life and slow things down, and I mean really ssllooww things down… to island time.
“One Love! One Heart!
Let’s get together and feel all right.”
– One Love lyrics, by Bob Marley (Photo from the Bob Marley Museum)
If feeling all right meant stuffed, I definitely could relate to Bob Marley’s state of mind. He enjoyed his country’s home grown herbs, and I enjoyed his country’s homegrown food! But wait, can you grow rum cakes?
It was a packed eating itinerary of exploring Jamaica’s culinary scene in Kingston and Ocho Rios, and you can be sure I tried everything in order to report back. I can’t say I was too familiar with Jamaican food before this trip, but now I have a better idea.
I have visited Jamaica on a Caribbean cruise way back when, but at that time I was more interested in the banana boats than the bananas, so that doesn’t really count. Other than that, I think the closest I’ve come to authentic Jamaican food is from Jamaican Pizza Jerk in Vancouver, BC. Okay, but wait, don’t roll your eyes! The word “pizza” might throw you off, but after this tour, I can say that it was actually a pretty good representation of the food there. Pizza is really just a small portion of what they offer.
There’s also The Reef (which is more Caribbean) and a few other Jamaican restaurants in Metro Vancouver, but I have yet to explore them. But now I’m even more eager to do so!
It’s a country that’s reliant on its natural environment. From home grown herbs (legal ones), to tropical fruits and the fish from the surrounding sea (always served fully cooked), it can be a healthy diet, although most of the time it’s served with heavy or deep fried starches. It can be vegetarian friendly, but it’s ideal for fish lovers and pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish/seafood).
And if you’re a meat eater, no worries for sure! You’re guaranteed to settle your carnivorous cravings whether it’s from goat curry, oxtail stew, and of course Jerk chicken.
Scotch bonnet peppers roasting for a home made hot pepper sauce at the Belcour Blue Mountain Preserves farm.
I have to give a shout out to these. Scotch bonnet peppers came up often, but not everything is spicy. I wouldn’t say the spices are as strong as they are in Indian food, but there are some cultural influences from cuisines including Indian, African, Chinese and Spanish. I warn you though, these scotch bonnet peppers are ridiculously hot.
I had a horrible eye touching experience with them when I was 11. My mom brought them home thinking they were mini orange bell peppers, and I discovered the hard way that they weren’t.
Anyways, during my trip in Jamaica I accidentally ate one with all the seeds, and all I wanted to do is curl up into a ball, puke, and cry myself to sleep… it was bloody painful. Most Jamaican people don’t even eat them whole and they even try avoiding the seeds… it was an experience I’ll never forget and I hope not to relive.
I must say that it’s really hard to give restaurant recommendations if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Actually even if you’re familiar with the area, it’s still challenging. Mainly because none of the “real deal” Jamaican restaurants have signs. Most of them are literally hole in the walls, or shacks, next to rows of other hole in the walls, or shacks, so describing which shack, or how to get there is near impossible.
I could only go as far as the tour took me, and it was enough to give me an idea of what’s considered a local favourite and what’s a tourist trap. To be honest, I had a taste of both. However, what’s important is that I got familiarized with the ingredients, food and culture, and there’s definitely lots of delicious things to report back on.
Don’t you even think that I forgot about the desserts! I could never. As for the desserts, carrot cake, banana bread and coconut tarts come up often. I was surprised that rum cake actually didn’t, although I did have an amazing one while I was there. I’m trying to land my hands on the recipe, but watch for my posts!
The more traditional Jamaican desserts and candies include Grater Cakes, Coconut Drops, Jackass Corn, Coconut Gizada, and Rum Balls, which I got to try compliments of Jaci’s Multi-Treat Pack.
And of course, for some, there is the dessert after dessert… Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Jamaica starts tomorrow!