By Emma Sharp Dalton-Brown
Once only a necessity for survival, eating has become a form of entertainment, a pleasurable pastime that pretty much transcends every other form of fun. While Jamaican cuisine makes its way through the kitchens of the rest of the world, international fare is in full force on our home ground. Our restaurants have taken tokens of this and interlaced it with Jamaican favourites.
Newly opened Roe, a Japanese restaurant run by Kaz and Michiko Asonuma, and situated in Sovereign North, has rolled out four specialty sushi rolls: Bamboo Walk – with ackee, salmon skin, escallion and eel sauce; Marilyn Monroll – with salmon, plantain, sweet marinated lime, red masago all wrapped in a pink sushi sheet; Maroon – okra, plantain and spicy mayo; and Accompong – plantain, avocado and spicy mayo. Selena Deleon, a fitness- instructor who partly owns this new venture, has been a powerful player with tying healthy Jamaican-Asian choices into the sushi-based menu.
The regal and award-winning Regency Room at Terra Nova Hotel, serves up two appealing appetizers: Curried Ackee in a Cumin-flavoured Crepe, with mango chutney;and Spicy Stuffed Crab Back with Asian Slaw. To finish off with a sweet bite, they’ve included the Italian Coconut Panna Cotta with Papaya Gelee.
A few steps away, in the same hotel, the hip and happening Regency Bar & Lounge has topped that with fiercely delicious fusion food such as: Meat sliders – Lamb with Madras Curry Aioli; Jerk Pulled Pork with Pepper Jelly & Crispy Onion; Beef or Chicken with Sauteed Mushrooms & Onions. They also have Seafood Sliders – Escoveitch Fish; Shrimp Fritter with Caper Aioli Slaw; and Crab Cake with jalapeno vodka mayo. The chefs have cleverly in-corporated a traditional French Pissaladiere (pizza), with bites of slow roasted mahogany duck and sweet Asian sauce, topped with mozzarella.
They’ve come up with Lobster Beignets, deep-fried in a light ginger batter, served with spicy lemon caper aioli. And they have even outdone themselves by creating an Oxtail Tart, placing marinated boneless oxtail, stewed with miniature spinners, into a French shortcrust pastry shell. Deeeeelish!
Renowned Chef Gariel Ferguson, of G’s BBQ in Market Place, has incorporated Asian flavours with two of Jamaica’s favourite foods: Wood Smoked Asian Glazed Pork served with Escoveitch Pickle; and Panko-Crusted Fried Fish with Bammy Fries & Pickled Onions
Rising Chef Conroy Arnold, who runs the kitchen of Christopher’s in Hermosa Cove Hotel, in Ocho Rios, has similarly brought an Asian flare to his fare: Curried Goat Ravioli with Coconut Cream Sauce; and Jerk Chicken Spring Rolls, served with Soy & Scotch Bonnet Dipping Sauce. He’s also put together a Wood-fired Brick Oven Pizza with his own Smoked Bacon & Ackee topping. A new breakfast favourite for us Jamaicans perhaps?
It seems that there is so much more we could do with ackee, as Carrie Sigurdson, co-owner of Tea Tree Creperie in Kingston & Montego Bay, also demonstrates with Jamaica 50 Crepe – ackee & salt fish over a bed of cream cheese and pepper jelly, folded into a crepe and topped with steamed callaloo. Did someone say this was one or two meals?
The same could be said for the overly generous portions at Chris Gayle’s Triple Century sports’ bar in New Kingston. Getting more than a bargain for the buck, the Oxtail Quesadilla and the Oxtail Fajita will wipe out any yearnings to eat Mexican food somewhere else; and the Ackee Spring Rolls manage to wrap Jamaica up with the Far East in a neat and scrumptious starter, fit for the beginning of a cool culinary fusion tour of the hot spots of our increasingly diverse island!
In a country characterized as a melting pot of cultures, it should be no surprise that fusion dishes are our speciality. And what happens when you mix that with athletics? You get a one of a kind experience at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records.
What makes Tracks & Records really unique, and genuine, is how the lay out, interior design, menu, and serving team, have all been brought together to create a stadium-like atmosphere. On the menu you will find traditional and fusion specials; Island Nachos (using plantain chips), Jerked Pork and Curried Sea-food Crock Pot for example.
Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records is the first of a series of establishments by the KLE Group that leverages encapsulating food, athletes, music, and culture, as part of promoting Brand Jamaica.