Have you ever had Pig Ears? If you were at the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival’s event, Crisp, in November 2017, you would have had the pleasure of tasting crispy Pig Ears from two Suga Endorsed Chefs! – Chef Christina Simonitsch of Simo’s Bread and Catering and Executive Chef Mark Cole of The Jamaica Pegasus, who cooked divine dishes for President Barack Obama, Prince Harry and Princess Ann. They put on quite a display.
Last December I tasted long cuts of Crispy Pig Ears (hair removed of course) prepared by Chef Cole at The Jamaica Pegasus.
I loved it! It tasted like a cross between Calamari and Squid.
The entire Pig Ear was used, so all of it was not crispy. My friends were not fans of the outer ear’s gelatinous texture, which they called the ‘gooey’ and ‘rubbery’ part. However, the cartilage in the center that is crunchy and tasted crispy to us, was their favourite. I liked all of it.
Pig Ears aren’t that popular to be a part of the Menu at The Jamaica Pegasus yet, but I am happy I had the experience of tasting it.
I can see Crispy Pig Ears as an Appetizer or Side dish that goes well with Beer.
Pig Ears can be eaten warm or cold and are cooked in various ways all over the world, often served with a lemon, soy sauce or even vinegar when pickled. They are usually Boiled first, then Grilled, Stewed, Roasted, Pickled, Smoked, Baked or Deep Fried.
The Bulgarian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, American, Lithuanian, Filipino and Vietnamese often offer Pig Ear dishes as part of their Cuisines.
I challenge Best Ethnic Restaurant of 2017 and one of my faves, Mystic Thai in Montego Bay to offer a dish with Pig Ears on the menu! Suga will be in Montego Bay soon. 😊
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Christina Simonitsch of Simo’s Bread and Catering, Montego Bay is in town today! Check her out at Kayter on 18 Ballater Avenue. She will have Christmas gifts available. They will be perfect to give just about anyone you know who will be cooking up a storm this Christmas.
Christina not only does specialty Breads and Pastries, but has Gourmet selections and her private label Condiment line of Pepper sauces, Sea salt, Pepper Jelly, Basil Pesto, Jerk Butter, Marinades and more are one of a kind. She makes Honey now too!
Christina M.B. Simonitsch
Location: Montego Bay
Catering, Cooking Lessons & Staff Training
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Jamaica Food and Drink Festival’s Crisp last Thursday night was a soggy but tasty, well decorated affair. Rain was continuous throughout the entire day right up to the scheduled start time of 7pm. I kept checking the event’s Instagram page to see if it was still on and saw no update even after 6pm. So I got ready after 7pm as planned and arrived at 8pm.
I was surprised to see so many persons already in the venue with their umbrellas and some equipped for the drenched Gardens of the Pegasus in rain boots! There were already lines by the different Chefs. I hate lines. Especially since I had less than an hour to circle the event to get to another engagement afterwards.
Tickets were almost sold out and the event was still on despite the continuous rain, so it was clear that Patrons came out early to get their money’s worth. This event proves Food surely brings out Jamaican people, rain or shine and early too.
It was after the fact that I saw updates on JFDF’s Instagram page that the event was still on and the new start time was 8pm. I am sure many persons would not have seen those notices if they already started getting ready to battle the traffic.
I appreciated the colourful, Mexican themed décor. It definitely lightened the mood along with fully stocked bars that had a wide variety of Beers and even Beer mixes. The Beergaritas were a good idea for persons like myself who didn’t feel like drinking from a bottle that night.
With regards to the lines, some moved faster than others. I am happy I got to sample from almost everyone since I had to leave early.
My biggest regret was that I missed out on Chef Mark Cole‘s Crispy Pigs’ Ears and Plantain crusted Beef Tenderloin. I heard they were amazing.
Chef Cole was the main person I was looking out for but didn’t spot him at all. Apparently the rain got the best of his tent and he was moved to the tent by Jamaica Pegasus’ Desserts that wasn’t as visible as the others close to me. I didn’t plan on sampling Desserts, but those Cinnamon Churros looked divine! I definitely have some catching up to do and will make up for what I missed with a visit soon!
The Winner for Suga!
The 6 other Chef stations that I visited did a great job. Kudos to all of them for still producing great culinary work in such unfavourable conditions. However, the winner for Suga was Dionne Reid from Smoked Marlin!
That outcome was totally unexpected for me given my visit to their Restaurant earlier this year and their presentation compared to the others.
When I was by their station about 8:30pm, Patrons including myself did not receive the Beignets. Perhaps they were not ready as yet.
Regardless, they made it work and still plated quickly for persons lining up to see what they had to offer.
The taste of their Smoked Marlin Tostaditas had three stages for me. The experience started with a mild introduction of veggies, followed by a hit of spiciness, which gave a complete ‘woah effect’, topped off by burst of flavour. Bravo to Dionne Reid and her Smoked Marlin team all the way from Hanover.
Special mention goes to one of my faves, Christina Simonitsch and Andre Sewell. I finally got to try his food! Looking forward to one of his pop-ups since he is no longer at 218 Gourmet by Mountain View Avenue fulltime. Even though Sewell was not producing samples as fast, I refused to leave the line. The wait was worth it. I heard his line was continuous for the night and got many return patrons like Smoked Marlin, Christina Simonitsch and Mark Cole.
Christina’s Pork Belly was succulent with a tasty Crisp on top. Quite appropriate for the event. The Sorrel and Red Stripe Gel complemented it well too. I’m upset that I missed her Crispy Pigs’ Ears too! They looked like a part of her display like other Chefs, but I should have known better with Christina that anything on her table is up for grabs.
I thought Andre Sewell’s Jerk Fried Chicken Crispers with Scotch Bonnet Sriracha could have been a bit spicier, but it was delightful nonetheless. Afterall, spicy is my personal preference and it was Crisp not Picante.
The Popcorn Shrimp and seasoned Popcorn was a bit disappointing from Sarah Willers of Blue Ridge. I thought they would have been more creative, given their reputation of extravagant presentations and delicious food from the cosy restaurant nestled in the scenic Blue Mountains.
I enjoyed Dwayne Smalling aka Bearded Chef’s Beggar’s Purse though. The tropical flavours were truly brought out. Mission accomplished. Well done Chef.
Lastly, I cannot forget to mention one of the People’s favourites for the night, National’s station featuring Chef Christian Sweeney. The Cheesy Hardough Fries with Pulled Pork and Shrimp were a hit and I enjoyed it.
Crisp had high expectations so the quality of the event was definitely compromised by the rain. The Chefs had a late start and the surfaces to walk around were drenched, topped off by balancing an umbrella, food and a drink, but you can’t control mother nature. At the end of the night Patrons still left satisfied.
I am thankful and give a lot of praise to the Chefs, the Jamaica Pegasus and the JFDF team for managing to still pull off a great event. #SugaEndorsed
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Stush in the Bush and Simo’s Bread and Catering joined forces for a Bottomless Mimosa Brunch, titled Moveable Feast, last Sunday, October 8th at Arcadia Great House in Duncans, Trelawny.
Not to be confused with Michele Williams’ Moveable Feast Catering Company that has been in the business in Jamaica for over 10 years, the title of the event was inspired by the title of an Ernest Hemingway novel, A Moveable Feast. Lisa Binns of Stush in the Bush loved the title of the novel and deemed it fit for her Brunch collaboration with Christina Simonitsch of Simo’s Bread and Catering. Lisa says she hopes to ultimately move this feast around the island.
With Stush in the Bush based in St. Ann and Simo’s Bread and Catering based in Montego Bay, I thought Trelawny was the appropriate destination for their first collaboration, almost meeting in the middle.
The magic of this Sweet and Savoury event surpassed my high expectations. They both put on a spectacular spread with efficient logistics for their guests to have enough time and space amongst themselves to pick, choose, refuse and then indulge by the luxurious indoor and scenic outdoor seating available. The décor and landscaping of the Great House were tastefully vintage. Exquisite antique furniture, art work and fixtures.
Four Buffet rooms, an Ice Cream stand and a Pizza station located all around Arcadia Great House, was the equivalent of pure magic.
My usual faves from Simo’s were present, such as the Mini Cronuts topped with delicious rose and pistachio icing, Mini Pancakes and Crème Brûlée. My favourites from Stush that made their usual cameo appearance were their Blow Fyah and Chimichurri sauce with Crisp Plantain chips, Guacamole sauce, Fyah Grilled Pizza and Passion Fruit and Mango-Lime Vinaigrettes to go with fresh greens sourced from their farm.
However, the two main items that stood out for me were the Charcoal Blinis with Truffle Aioli, Quail Eggs Benedict and Avo-Daise and the Rum BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork that were the definition of divine, intricate perfection.
Other highlights for me were the Quinoa Pilaf, Pimento Pickled Onion, Pulled Pork, Plantain Ceviche, Chia seed and Coconut Yogurt Parfait, Lemon Pound Cake with Passion Fruit Butter topped off with Vegan Chocolate sauce and my husband did well with the rich, moist Chocolate and Coffee Cake.
For Salad lovers, the Summer Panzanella with Rosemary Red Stripe Croutons was delish! I was impressed that the flavour of the Red Stripe was not lost in the salad. The Beet Carpaccio with Feta was a great pairing as well.
Keep in mind that nothing is basic with Simo’s. As simple as you would think Chocolate Crisp cookies would be, the touch of salt added brought the taste to a whole new level to enjoy without getting a toothache.
Of course, Mimosas were on tap and the Lemon grass and Ginger Tea served was rich in flavour and absolutely refreshing.
Lime Meringue Tartlets, Sausage and Cheese Quiche, Ackee and Callaloo Quiche, Spinach and Cheese Frittatas, Herb Roasted Tomato, as well as Almond and Apricot Focaccia with rosemary, Lemon Herbed Mushrooms, Cucumber salad, Herb Loaf, Banana Bread, Buns, Herbed Balsamic Sweet Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Mac n’ Cheese, Roasted Vegetables with fresh Herbs (Beets, Carrots, Pumpkin) were other Brunch delights. Believe it or not, there were actually a few more that weren’t listed.
Stush’s Candid Sorrel Chips were quite interesting too.
To seal the deal and cool me down after I was fired up from grilled Pizzas and more, was the Stush and Simo’s Ice Cream Bar. I thoroughly enjoyed the Coffee and Avocado Lime flavours. I really should have had them all, but I was pulled away.
Note that quite a bit of the Brunch delights were Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free!
There were a variety of Preserves, Jams, Marmalades and Sauces that complemented their neighbours on the table quite well. For instance, the Jerk Aioli with the Rosemary Roasted Chicken. Some of them were on sale too.
Simo’s is now doing Honey! It was launched at Moveable Feast.
Purchasing reasonably priced cups of Deaf Can’s Cold Brew and Frappuccino, was the perfect ending to a magical day, which prepped us well for the drive back to Kingston.
Chef Colin Hylton described the event as ‘BEYOND amazing’ and Chef Craig Anthony Fleming, who usually describes the culinary work of Christina Simonitsch as ‘truly first world’ was surely in his element and stated, ‘the brunch selection was beyond perfection’.
Kudos to Chris and Lisa Binns from Stush in the Bush and Christina Simonitsch from Simo’s Bread and Catering, as well as their hard-working team for never compromising on the quality of their gastronomic spreads. Their punctuality, attention to detail, quality control, infectious personality and radiating passion for the love of food is impressive and I felt honored to be apart of their culinary perfection once again.
It was an absolute pleasure to travel from Kingston to witness Christina in her element at one of her family homes by Springfarm, Montego Bay along with her friend from Culinary school, Inemari Rabie of Miel & Meel. Inemari was based in South Africa and is now in France.
The presentation of their salivating spread of Pastries and other delights was so artistic that a few guests said the table was too beautiful to start eating what was on it.
They were on their own though. I enjoyed everything but highlights for me were the Apple Crumble, Roast Beef Salad with Simo’s Horseradish vinaigrette, Onion Tarte Tatin with blue cheese, Vanilla Crème Brûlée and of course the Mini Cronut topped with delicious rose and pistachio icing. It sounds like a lot already, but there was so much more.
Check out if there is space to reserve your spot for Dinner when they come to Kingston on May 19th!