|Bourbon Beach - best bet to fix your jerk cravings in Negril|
|Showing what he does best|
|Spicy, smoky and tender...delectable!|
This was the resort where we stayed - so I would not have sampled these yum breakfast fares otherwise. Two dishes come to my mind are the banana pancakes and the national dish of Jamaica - 'ackee & saltfish'. Let's start with the pancakes. The banana pancake served here is the best example of cooking a simple dish to perfection (which in my opinion is the most difficult thing to do - remember Chef Mehta losing the next Iron Chef battle 'cos he was not able to make decent french fries?!). The pancakes were relatively smaller compared with those in the U.S; something you will get used to in Jamaica. Nevertheless, I ended up ordering 6 of them beauties to keep me happy till lunch! In short, they were hot, buttery, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside with just the right amount of bananas- you get the general idea :-)
The 'Ackee and Saltfish' - Ackee...what again?? I figured there was fish in it....but saltfish....as in salted fish for breakfast? I googled it up later and found out that it is a combination dish made up of Ackee - a West African fruit that has to be cooked in order for it to be edible and Saltfish - simple cod that is dried and salted. It is a Jamaican tradition and the food of the locals. It did not appeal to me as a breakfast item, but Karthik ended up ordering it. The dish looked like scrambled eggs and tasted much like scrambled eggs just that they were extremely salty! They serve it with some calaloo (Jamaican for spinach), banana, fried plantains, dumplings and some fresh fruit. It does have an acquired taste and if you are into fish, just try the ackee by itself.
|Banana Pancakes @ Country Country|
|Ackee and Saltfish|
This was my favourite joint. The food, the novelty of the place, the cooking style and the fact that they are open 24 hours makes this place a must try if you are in Jamaica! Howie's is on the route from Negril to YS falls and the perfect pit-stop for you to fill your tummy either before or after the visit to the falls. Truck drivers, tourists, local men and women all flock to this 24 hour highway eatery. The food is cooked on about a dozen huge cauldrons on open wood flame and you are already thinking what a nice place! The menu boast some exotic soups - conch, goats head and beans, curries - chicken and goat, fried chicken and fish, and some mouth watering stews. We had the chicken stew with rice and vegetables along with some of their beans soup. The chicken was spicy and the bean soup with veggies made the whole meal very filling. Chase them down with some Red Stripe, the local beer and you need a nice nap to do some justice to that meal! Howie's is definitely a welcome change from the beach-front, all-inclusive 5-star restaurants that you find peppered all over the island. It offers soulful, cheap, spicy, local fare...we have a winner here!
|Howie's HQ Dining|
|Pots and pots of lip-smacking local fare cooked over pimento wood|
|Chicken stew with rice, calaloo and festival (the long deep fried bread)|
How does a restaurant qualify as a mom-and-pop joint? Would it be enough if the place is family owned, operated for more than 20 years, does not have any local branches and serves amazing local food with a distinct flavour? If that is the case, then this place is indeed one. All of us like these mom-and-pop joints for exactly the same reason - the food is unique to that place, there is a certain level of authenticity that makes us believe we are having a good time and the food is prepared in "limited editions" that makes us feel special. People come to such a place for more than just a meal, it's the overall experience. Sweet-Spice is one such local hot-spot. Karthik takes the credit for finding this joint and our driver hinted at ordering conch bits - or conch curry. The curry dishes are their crowd pullers - chicken, lobster, goat, conch to name a few. I tried the conch for the first time and it was very tasty - slightly chewy and tough from what I'd expected. The key, I believe is to marinate the conch for long hours in lime water or pound them hard before cooking. Served again with rice, it was a complete meal. Sweet Spice also serves an amazing list of fresh fruit juices -we got a tropical mix and pina colada...virgin for a change! So next time you are in Negril, ask your driver to take you up to Sweet Spice and get some conch bits...respect mon!
|For a real fare of Jamaican home styled cooking - Sweet Spice|
|some spicy stuff this!|
|Conch bits with rice|
If you want a real taste of the party scene and want to inject some adrenelin to your vacation go to Rick's Cafe. They call themselves the 'World famous Rick's Cafe'. Ricks cafe is beautifully perched on top of the cliffs - the south end of Negril. They are famous for their sunset view, infinity pool, cliff diving and more importantly, their drink list. Two drinks that stood out which also characterize Rick's Cafe are the 'For Her' and 'For Him' drink. To quote directly from their menu, the description goes like this -
For Her: Sex with Rick $6
Vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, OJ, pineapple juice & a splash of cream . . . we’ll respect you in the morning
For Him: Front End Lifter A.K.A. Jamaican Viagra $6
Blended stout beer, white rum, rum cream, clear syrup, oatmeal & one egg topped with chocolate syrup. . . true story
But I was interested in another drink that I'd researched about before I went there - The FBM a.k.a The Flaming Bob Marley, in honor of the true legend of Jamaica. The drink consists of three equal parts - Grenedine spirit at the bottom layer, Creme de Menthe in the middle and topping it with 151 proof Rum served in a tall shot glass. The top layer is then lit and you are given a wet straw to drink it. The idea here is to drink the FBM quickly and in the process, you will notice the flame coming up the straw! And yes, you might wanna stop sucking at that time!! The drink was just alright (the mint liqueur didnt do it for me!) but the idea behind it was kinda cool I thought!
|Evening scene at the World Famous Rick's Cafe|
|The two Flaming Bob Marleys...sitting pretty!|
This picture, clicked by Karthik, paints Jamaica best - laid-back, care-free and intoxicating in many different ways....everyting irie, no problem mon!