Everything’s Irie! Authentic Dining in Jamaica.

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I’m an island girl at heart, and the simple things in life make me happy. Sunshine, beautiful beaches and sparkling turquoise waters leave me smiling and feeling peaceful. Adding delicious food on top of that means that all is right in the world for me! There is something that is so incredibly satisfying about trying wonderful new foods and restaurants while on vacation. I don’t mean some chain restaurant that you can find back at home. I’m talking about that little hole in the wall/road-side stand that locals love to frequent. That, my friends is where the REAL magic happens.

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On my last trip to Jamaica I was determined to eat as much Jerked food as possible. Mission accomplished. Our first adventure away from our quaint little resort led us to the popular Pork Pit in Montego Bay. The staff that we made friends with suggested we go there if we wanted to experience true Jerk Chicken and Pork. The trek uphill in the blazing heat was well worth the prize at the end of the journey. We followed our noses up a narrow wooden staircase that opened up into a wonderful airy open spaced restaurant. We could see the different jerked meats being cooked over large grills on top of coals, and we instantly became excited. We walked over to a small window and placed our orders. Two of us opted for a classic- Jerk Chicken with a side of rice and peas, and one got an order of Jerk Pork with fries. We also opted for the delicious flavours of pop that you can only get in the Caribbean. Nothing says tropical like delicious ice cold pineapple soda. After receiving our sides and tickets with our selections, we were told to head over to the main man with the meat. He expertly selected our meats and chopped them up and placed them in our containers, and with a wink told us to enjoy.

 

Everythings-Irie-2EDFinally- it was time! We all smiled, and dove in. Pure perfection. Nothing was dry or old, and you could taste the passion that was put into the food. The jerk seasoning had the perfect balance of heat and flavor, and the meat was literally falling off of the bone. The rice and peas was delicious, and had the exact amount of coconut that is needed to make the dish just right. The fries were light and crispy and melted in your mouth. Side note- ketchup in Jamaica is much sweeter then North America. While it is delicious, be careful to not put too much to drown out the flavours of the other food! After eating in almost complete silence (it was just too good for words!) we met an interesting character who went by the name of Bruce Lee the Spider man. He was smitten with one of my friends, and offered to draw her portrait for free since she was so beautiful. She bashfully declined, but was presented with his signature and phone number in case she changed her mind. Bellies full, and in fantastic moods, we said good bye to the Pork Pit, and vowed to return for another fantastic meal.

By Ruby Reis

 

 

Eating local at Jamaica’s Round Hill Resort

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good apple. But when I travel to the tropics, I like my fruit to be a little more… tropical. So when I headed to the breakfast buffet on my first morning at Jamaica’s Round Hill Resort, I was beyond thrilled to see a whole fruit buffet lined up in front of me, with classic options such as pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, star fruit and passionfruit as well as a couple of local options – the pear-like otaheite and the lushly sweet naseberry.

After breakfast, during a tour of the property, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Round Hill has a policy of supporting and promoting local foods and producers – and really, with roadside stands heaped with pyramids of fresh mangoes, it makes a lot of sense to make use of what grows easily on the island. For instance, one of the cottages has a starfruit tree in front, the produce from which is used fresh and in juice at the breakfast buffet. But I was a little surprised at the extent of the resort’s organic garden and that they employ a full-time staff member to manage it.

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Billy, who calls himself a farmer, was eager to show me around the land and demonstrate his hard work and commitment to organic growing methods. In a timing that seems off-kilter to a Canadian, summer is the off season due to high heat and humidity, so Billy had been busy planting rows and rows of peanuts, a legume that fixes nitrogen into the soil to provide nutrients for other plants. I was also interested to see marigolds planted throughout to attract pests, as well as a row of corn plants (well past their prime at this stage) on one end of the garden, also to keep pests away from other crops, Billy explained. But I got the greatest kick when we smelled the leaves of the garden’s allspice tree – it was like sticking your nose into a spice jar. (Traditionally, allspice wood is used in preparing jerk, as its smoke adds an extra flavour to the meat.)

The next day for lunch, I ordered a vegetable wrap and salad and enjoyed it all the more knowing it contained fresh herbs and the tiniest cherry tomatoes from Billy’s garden. And on my last night, I snacked on peanuts from another local farmer as I sipped on a tasty (but oh-so-strong) Planter’s Punch in advance of a margarita pizza – topped, of course, by Billy’s fresh and flavourful basil.

By: Kat Tancock

An Enchanting Evening in Negril

Jamaican Beach-side Dining

By Ruby Reis

There is something incredibly magical about dining right beside the ocean at sunset. Everything seems to slow down around you, troubles melt away, and the world seems so beautiful and serene. Life needs more moments like this.

I recently experienced one of my most memorable beachside dining experiences on my last trip to Jamaica. We wanted to go exploring, and hired a wonderful driver to show us around the island. My girlfriends and I weren’t really interested in seeing the popular “tourist traps” and were VERY enthusiastic about eating delicious Jamaican food. We literally could not get enough. Our driver Tyrone delivered in every possible way. We toured small settlements, ate sugar cane and coconut water at the side of the road, tasted wonderful fresh Jamaican patties in a small local shop, and had another delicious meal of Jerk Chicken at a roadside stop called Best in the West in Negril. We couldn’t have been happier.

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After a long day of exploring (and eating!) we were whisked away, to what ended up being our favourite portion of a fantastic vacation. We found ourselves at a small beachside restaurant by the name of Canoe in the west end of Negril. From the outside it looked like a small beach cottage, nothing too fancy. We walked in, and were immediately greeted by some of the loveliest people I have ever encountered. After chatting with the owners, we realized that it truly is a small world and they happened to be from Canada! They had fallen in love with Jamaica, and decided to open up shop. I can’t blame them- it really is a tropical paradise.

An-Enchanting-Evening-4EDWe settled in on the back verandah which was directly on the beach and ordered 2 for 1 Rum Punches (they were amazing!) and began pouring over the menu. Everything looked so delicious, and everyone agonized over the choice they were about to make. My friend Krystel and I happen to have the same taste in almost everything- from bathing suits to food- and we both decided on the Chili Coconut Shrimp, and Rose ordered the highly recommended Escovich style Kingfish. We were told that everything was made fresh to order, and if we wanted, we could take our drinks and explore the beach. And we did just that. We wandered around the beach, and I spotted a familiar childhood favourite- a Sea Grape tree. I insisted everyone try one-even though they weren’t as ripe as I would have liked- and we just soaked in our beautiful surroundings. We were given a wave by our waitress who was letting us know that dinner was ready, and we all eagerly headed back anticipating the scrumptious meal we were about to have.

I honestly have to say that this was the best seafood I have ever eaten. Seriously.

Words really can’t describe how delectable this meal was. The shrimp was cooked to perfection, and had the perfect balance of spice from the chili, and sweetness from the coconut. The meal was served with fresh grilled vegetables, and a side of delicious pasta salad. The Kingfish was equally scrumptious, and had just enough heat from the spicy marinade.

While we were dining, we had font row seats to one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever experienced. The wonderful food, combined with the amazing atmosphere, and home style feeling truly made for a delightful evening that I will never forget.

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