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My My My, Fling Back Friday to Pork Palooza!

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Last Wednesday night was Pork Palooza, part of the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival. It was held at The Savanna, 42 Lady Musgrave Road and Gabby’s trusted Suga Bears were out and ready to report!

Hundreds of patrons came out to support the event, excited to see what would be in store. There was Roast pork, stashes of Bacon, Pork cheek, Pork belly, Pig ears, every part of the swine you can think about!

The handpicked best Pork Chefs on the island were Alexa Von Strolley, Chantay Campbell, Gairy Bowes, Christian Sweeney, Shea Stewart, Dale Delisser, Simon Levy and Sarah Willers.

Parking and entry into the venue was well-organized and executed. Tents were displayed nicely and logically for easy access in a U-shape with a Bar in the middle and a Band at the bottom of the ‘U’. Bistro tables were all around the venue and the Band was quite entertaining. Organisers failed to acknowledge them between sets.

Christian Sweeney and Shea Stewart had the longest lines for the night.

Shea had Pork loin stuffed with feta and callaloo complemented by a mushroom sauce that was magical. The pork was a juicy, lean cut that tasted FANTASTIC!

Sweeney’s dish was EXCELLENT. The pork was lovely and well seasoned. The plating and presentation were very original. The guac was a different touch and he advised patrons to squeeze a little lime over it. Before the lime, it was great and after adding the lime, it was even better! Patrons thought visiting his tent was very interactive in comparison to the others.

Simon Levy had a 4-Pork Ramen soup. Call the ambulance because people were suffering from a hypertensive attack from one of the pork cuts used. It threw off the entire broth, causing some people to stop eating the entire dish.

A Suga Bear asked for no water/broth because she didn’t like how it looked as a soup. So she was able to enjoy everything else in the bowl.

There was a tent with Pork Burgers but it was not impressive. The bread was too thick and the patty wasn’t well seasoned. It was a bit disappointing and later in the night when the crowds came and all the lines were full, that station was empty. Their sauce deserves a ‘big up’ though!

Gairy Bowes had Stuffed Pork Butt with Gold Bread. Patrons thought it was superb. Wow!

The Pulled Pork Panini sponsored by National was very tasty and had a pleasant kick to it.

The organizers certainly had a treat for patrons with a Copperwood Pork creation! They had something that many people have a weakness for – Bacon! Candied bacon. It was the rave of the night. It was in beer cups floating around the venue. Extremely tasty with a unique presentation. It was like picking sweetie out of a candy jar.

Now for Alexa Von Strolley! The oh so talented young caterer to watch! She surely took us through a culinary journey of the pig’s anatomy.

IMG-20151029-WA0007-1In the dish pictured, on top is Deep Fried Pig Ears, below was a big chunk of Crispy Pork Belly and on the side were pieces of Orange Braised Pork Cheek. It did not look appetizing at all but this was Pork Palooza and Suga Bears were determined to try everything and embrace the culinary adventure. So even tho the Pork Belly just looked like a slab of fat and was indeed fatty, the taste was pleasantly soft and not chewy. The Ears was of course an interesting twist. Well done Von Strolley.

Other tents failed to be as impressive.

There was Crispy Roast Pork by Dale Delisser. It was like a drier version of Crispy Pork from any Jamaican Chinese restaurant with a little extra kick to it. It was alright.

There was a tent with Pork Heart and Fried Pork, where the texture of both was off and the Fried Pork was too salty.

Desserts were offered too! Banana bread and another dessert with the essence of pumpkin was in the National tent and ice-cream was there as well.

This was actually all a Competition. The Crispy Roast Pork won for the night surprisingly even though Suga Bears rated it as the 4th or 5th best tent for the night. However our natural ethnic population is changing as we speak and the presence of the Chinese was strong.

How exactly did the voting process go?

According to Tina Hamilton, Brand Manager of CB Foods and Nutramix, only the 8 featured chefs were eligible to win Top Hog. Voting was done by the patrons who were given voting tabs at the entrance along with their wrist bands.

Somehow, every patron was not aware, but Ms. Hamilton stated that they were urged to vote for their favorite chef throughout the night by dropping their tab in a voting box provided at the chefs’ stations. These boxes were collected and votes tallied at 10:25pm showing Dale de Lisser as the one with the most votes. Anyone who voted for Dale also got a takeaway gift from Copperwood.

At the end of the night, for $5000JMD, Jamaican patrons had a bellyful and enjoyed themselves, getting value for their money.

What followed last night? Crispy Fried Fare and Beer at the Gardens of The Jamaica Pegasus. That was well supported as well, featuring The Pegasus’ own Chef Mark Cole who cooked for President Barack Obama, Chef Suzanne Couch and more.

Tonight is Stix + Stones Skewers and Spirits at The Ruins, Mona Visitor’s Lodge, UWI Mona for $6500JMD from 7pm to 11pm. 

Winner of Best New Caterer at this year’s Observer Food Awards, Allison Porter-Smalling, Opa, Jacqui Tyson, Liqy Liqy and more will be present. Select Brands is also a sponsor, so cheers to a great Friday Foodies and enjoy the weekend!

For more information, visit http://www.jamaicafoodanddrinkfestival.com

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The NBA 2015-2016 season has begun!

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Hello Sports fans! It is here! The NBA 2015-2016 kicked off last night.

Who played and what happened?

The Hawks lost to the Pistons, 94-106. The Bulls overcame LeBron James’ 15 points and 10 rebounds to beat the Cavs by a narrow margin of 97-95. President Obama was also in attendance.

The Defending Champs, Golden State Warriors received their rings and their opening game was versus the Pelicans. It was raining 3s from reigning MVP Stephen Curry who made 40 points. When he had 20 points, so did the Pelicans. Amazing. The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis struggled and managed to make 18 points. Final score was Warriors 111- 95 Pelicans.

The Spurs vs OKC and other teams will be up tonight!

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What a horrible experience at Spring Garden, Ocho Rios for Suga!

After a lovely Sunday Beach day over Heroes Weekend about week ago, I was adamant that I had to stop by Spring Garden Seafood and Steakhouse on the Bypass Road, Ocho Rios. My visit was well overdue and after a very recent, teasing picture of their Shrimp pasta, I could not let another weekend in Ochi pass without stopping by.

So my friends and I were not in our Sunday best but entered Spring Garden at 6:45pm. Our greeting was alright and we were asked if one of the gentlemen had a shirt with sleeves. The hostess said she would check if it was ok to still enter and came back and said it was fine and directed us to sit by the bar until she was ready to have us seated.

We figured we definitely would not want to go indoors as that would be more formal and had no problem sitting by the outside deck. So when asked our preferred option, we indicated just that and we were seated at 6:52pm and issued our menus.

Our waitress was Regina. She was not pleasant at all. Waitresses should also know how to pronounce ‘Fillet’ fish. We ordered at 7:04pm and no medium-sized (~1 pound) fish were available, so even though I did not want the large, I ordered that. A few minutes later we were told the large had finished as well. Come on now, it is a holiday weekend where it should be expected that Ochi would be flooded with both locals and tourists. I ordered the Grilled Salmon with a side of Baked potato. We also ordered the Crayfish soup and Jerked Salmon. My other friend was not hungry but requested their wine list. He was not impressed at all by the selection. So he didn’t order anything. It was quite limited and most of what was available could not be ordered by the glass. Only Zinfandel and one other were offered by the glass. But in all fairness their bar with rum and other liquor looked stocked!

Screenshot_2015-10-27-09-35-32-1Anyhow, it took a while to be given water and there seemed to be a roll ration. Instead of putting the basket of bread rolls on the table, Regina walked around to us one by one with the basket and asked, ‘Would you like a roll?’ Hilarious. This was not even done in Jerusalem. So clearly when the answer was no, she moved on to the next person. I regret this choice because what happened if we changed our mind or the food just took long to come out?

Well well well, 7:45pm and not even a soup?! The restaurant was only 3/4 full, not packed. There was only one other table with persons on the deck and they left a long time ago. Do you see anyone else on the deck? I don’t.

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Why did we even wait so long? Under normal circumstances we would have voiced our disgust already and left. But it was a holiday. We had friends visiting. There was a lot to catch up on and we were just in relax mode. But this is where it got ridiculous and inexcusable. Regina, our waitress who did not have the decency to follow up with us even once in the past 45 minutes walked leisurely up to the deck, passed us, looked at an uncleared table, said nothing to us, did nothing about the table either and just passed us right back.

At this point we were ready to leave. It was approaching an hour and no food. Not even soup. Not even an apology for having us wait. I walked to the bar to ask for the supervisor/manager. Regina was blending a drink at 7:55pm and still said nothing to me. She was the only one available to ask for the supervisor so I did just that. The manager came and apologised for our wait and said they were plating our food as we spoke. So I said ok but forget about the soup. That would not make any sense now.

Then after an hour, here are our plates!

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How filling right? Now I am aware there is a shortage of the usual sized potatoes on the island but I was paying the same price for my dish including that side. They should have put the same serving, hence 2 small potatoes to make up for the shortage.

Disgraceful service and serving size. If we were allowed to dine in casual wear at the restaurant, we should have been treated like anyone else if that was a factor any at all that triggered inside Regina’s head.

The quality was decent. I appreciated that they did not overcook the salmon like most restaurants. The sauces were good as well to complement the salmon.

Spring Garden doesn’t seem to have a bad reputation out there but I have no desire to return or recommend them. Hopefully they can get it together within the next two weeks and have a serious talk with and/or train their staff.

The silver lining? Usually after such horrible service where diners are not pleased, something complimentary is offered. Nothing was offered. But thanks Pop-Up Gourmet Jamaica for my Advantage card, giving me my 10% discount. We dine out very very regula!

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Gabby from Suga Lifestyle tells The Gleaner her favourite Restaurant dish to date & more

If you missed the Outlook magazine in The Jamaica Gleaner yesterday, check it out online or catch up here.

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Gabby from Suga Lifestyle was featured as one of the Restaurant Week Ambassadors this year. Get the 411 and see what has been her favourite dish and from which restaurant. See what she can whip up in the kitchen as well! After all, if you love food, you have to be able to cook too.

Restaurant menus are already online. Click on the following link and you will be directed to the Restaurant Week Jamaica 2015 website:

http://go-jamaica.com/rw/index.php

Follow Suga Lifestyle. Advice on where to go is coming soon! Keep close to your Jamaica Gleaner too, as updates will be coming full force for the next few weeks.

Get ready to Dig In November 13-21!

Also stay tuned for a very important Sports update tomorrow.

Image: lecremedelacrumb.com

How to Make Healthy Flatbread Pizzas

Image: lecremedelacrumb.com

Image: lecremedelacrumb.com

How to make your Healthy Flatbread Pizza:

● Use a whole grain tortilla/pita bread (Ends up looking like your own Personal pan pizza!)

● Spread some vegetable salsa/homemade tomato sauce/vegan pesto

● Add toppings that complement each other such as:

– spinach, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and zucchini

– arugula and low-fat feta/grated Parmesan

– broccoli, mushrooms, reduced fat mozzarella and onions

– green peppers, olives, tomatoes

● Add healthy meat toppings, such as small pieces of grilled Chicken or baked Turkey breast

● Part skim and reduced fat Mozzarella/grated Parmesan/low-fat Feta cheese could be used

Have fun eating healthy!

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Rotary, Rotaract and the Church help Kids get to School in Negril

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St. Anthony’s Kitchen is sponsored by Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Church and the Rotary Club of Negril.

The Rotary Club of Negril runs a ‘Get Kids to School’ Programme, where kids are given breakfast and then they are taken to school.

Director Rasheena featured in the cover picture from the Rotaract Club of Negril, volunteered to serve at the kitchen a few weeks ago.

A thrift shop exists there as well for anyone to shop, including school items sold at a reduced cost.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and this is an awesome initiative and opportunity for the school children. Education is the key to success.

Kudos to the Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Church, Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of Negril, who continue to serve and play their part in building a better Jamaica.

You can keep up with other good deeds and see how you can help by following the Rotaract Club of Negril’s Instagram page, ‘rotaractclubofnegril’.

Sweet & Sour Chicken - $500JMD

Get some Grub for Lunch at Sakura for just $500!

Sweet & Sour Chicken - $500JMD

Sweet & Sour Chicken – $500JMD

The service is alright, you can be in and out within 10 minutes and there is quite a variety to choose from for affordable prices. A Large lunch with 1 Meat, rice and veggies costs $500JMD and a drink costs $120JMD. The menu does not comprise solely of Chinese dishes, there are Jamaican dishes as well. For instance, Cowfoot was served last Wednesday.
Sakura hits the spot for reasonable food when hungry. Nothing fancy and no burst of flavour, but it tastes like what it is supposed to be.

Sakura

Location: 7th Avenue Plaza. Kingston.

Images: healthambition.com (outer); thelemonbowl.com (inner)

Healthy ways to have a Banana Split

Images: healthambition.com (outer); thelemonbowl.com (inner)

Images: http://www.healthambition.com (outer); thelemonbowl.com (inner)

If you have a sweet tooth and you get bored easily trying to eat right, here are a few variations of having a Banana split that is good for Breakfast or a light dessert:

● Fat-free Greek yoghurt (90/100cal), tbsp. of nuts and raisins, crushed sprinkles of dark chocolate

● Fat-free Greek yoghurt (90/100cal), muesli, fresh blueberries

● Fat-free Greek yoghurt (90/100cal), muesli, fresh strawberries and/or apples

● Fat-free Greek yoghurt (90/100cal), fresh strawberries, apples, blueberries and peaches