Tag Archives: Crisp

Save the Date Foodies!

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The Caribbean’s No. 1 Urban Food Festival starts Saturday, October 20! 

Save the dates and look into securing your tickets! Season bands are on sale this year too.

All days should be a treat. If you must choose, stay tuned to your favourite Chefs and Restaurants’ social media pages and see where they will be.

The website,  http://www.jafoodanddrink.com may feature them soon and tickets are on sale now on the website.

Here are your JFDF Ticket Ambassadors and Outlets:

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Did you know?!

> This year, JFDF will be 100% plastic free!

> Part Proceeds of the event will go towards UTECH’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Hotel Facility

The Festival will sponsor the complete outfitting of UTECH’s demo kitchen.

Enjoy 7 World Class Food Events at 7 Iconic Kingston Venues.

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this Blog, follow Suga Lifestyle Online, on Instagram (@sugalifestyle), Twitter (@sugalifestyleja) or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

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Crispy Pig Ears from Chef Mark Cole at The Jamaica Pegasus!

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Crispy Pig Ears by Executive Chef, Mark Cole at The Jamaica Pegasus

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

If you liked this article, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

 

The Other JFDF Events and Suga’s Epicurean & Delectable Choices for Restaurant Week!

Suga brought you the low down for Crisp at The Gardens, Jamaica Pegasus ($5000 All Inclusive) and Picante ($7500 All Inclusive) at The Ruins, UWI Mona’s Visitor’s Lodge, so how were the other JFDF events? Suga Bears and Suga Daddies reported!

Most persons like to get bad news out of the way first. The events with the highest price tags were not that impressive for some patrons. That is, Vintage for $12000JMD all-inclusive and Brunch at the Gallery for $20000JMD/$150USD all-inclusive.

Vintage 

Meals at Vintage at the Manor in Jack’s Hill were described as basic and a low standard for Ortanique on the Mile, one of the restaurants in Florida that was represented by Owner Cynthia Hutson. Suga Bears enjoyed the view and Dessert though.

Brunch at the Gallery

Brunch at the National Gallery, Downtown Kingston presented by Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau was decorated beautifully by Tai Flora and had a sufficient selection of Wines by Select Brands, but the service of food was slow and it arrived to tables cold. The Brunch was from 11am to 4pm and after a long day, patrons were leaving at 4pm and Dessert was just being served. Should the blame go on the Event Planner, the Chefs or both? It was stated that the execution was poor.

The Menu

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The Menu for Brunch at the Gallery (Photo Contributed)

The Presentation of some of the meals were also quite sloppy to say the least.

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Vegetables and Greens served at Brunch at the Gallery last Sunday (Photo Contributed)

Did the Incredible Hulk have an accident here?! I was in disbelief and gathered that this was the consensus amongst most tables. This looked nothing like the neatly displayed dish on the Event’s social media page. Cold food, slow service and poor, unappetizing presentation is unacceptable for $20,000JMD. I believe things can be shaken up next year. There are so many other talented, efficient Chefs around and I understand the ambience of The National Gallery, but a change in venue could be considered as well.

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Chargrilled Rack of Lamb Presented to a table at Brunch at the Gallery last Sunday (Photo Contributed)

Kudus to award-winning baker, Nadine Burie that probably saved both events. Her desserts are offered at Cafe Blue.

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Fresh Fruit Pavlova by Nadine Burie (Photo Credit: @jafoodanddrink)

Setting bad news aside, persons fully enjoyed Meet Street and the Market in Downtown, Kingston ($500JMD entry) last Saturday. A patron said she did not know that Downtown could be so nice. The set up and atmosphere was phenomenal and the vendors outdid themselves.

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Vendors that pleased at Meet Street and the Market Last Saturday in Downtown, Kingston

Pork Palooza ($6500JMD All Inclusive) at Palm Drive, Hope Gardens that kicked things off for the festival on the Saturday the week before was a hit. The event is usually the favourite for Patrons. Jamaicans love their Pork! It wasn’t the unanimous favourite this year though.

Which event took JFDF 2017?!

Close call! It has been narrowed down to the new event, Chop Stix ($5000JMD All Inclusive) held at Zen Lawn, Hope Zoo last Wednesday that featured fare from the far East and the zesty, Picante!

Based on Food, Weather and Vibe, Chop Stix gets the edge. Picante had the on and off rain, which was uncontrollable with provisions put in place, but Jamaicans love a new event.

The Chefs, Caterers and Restaurants delivered at Chop Stix! Here was the Menu if you missed it. Chop Stix can’t be missed next year!

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So what’s next for my Foodies? Restaurant Week!

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Yes, I know Restaurant Week has lost its steam. Marketing has been ongoing but should be revised, including the selection of Ambassadors. JFDF being so close to Restaurant Week definitely overshadowed it.

Menus for Restaurants are more of the same, but it makes your choices that much easier. The good ones will pop out at you. So that means you may need to make reservations quickly or maybe not, because places I called yesterday that are normally booked out weeks in advance seemed to have quite a bit of space left.

For now, I am leaving you with my recommendations for the Epicurean and Delectable Categories. Here you go!

Epicurean ($4300 +tax +gratuity +beverages)

> The Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.

Despite inconsistencies in service and quality throughout the year, they have managed to keep a good reputation for Restaurant Week so far.

Sidenote: I do not think any Restaurant in Market Place should be placed in the Epicurean Category. The venue is far too casual and a long wait is usually expected.

Out of town? Marguerites by the Sea, Montego Bay. You should expect a spectacular dinner and service with a seaside or picturesque garden view.

There are some other reputable Restaurants listed, but the lack of creativity with their Menus were the deal breakers.

Delectable ($3800JMD +GCT +gratuity +beverages)

> Fromage Bistro on Hillcrest Avenue in Kingston.

Nirvanna Indian Cuisine, Centro-Courtyard by the Marriott and Black Orchid Restaurant at Eden Gardens would be secondary choices.

In the other city? Both options from Mobay are primary choices – Mystic Thai and The Houseboat Grill. So persons can choose between the two based on the Cuisine desired.

***Stay tuned for more Restaurant Week choices from Suga Lifestyle.***

By: Gabrielle Burgess

If you liked this article, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.

Suga’s Top Picks at CRISP Last Thursday!

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Photo Credit: Jamaica Pegasus

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.

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Patrons out early in numbers, equipped with umbrellas during the rain at JFDF’s Crisp.

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.

The Menu!

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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.

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Chef Mark Cole’s Plantain crusted Beef Tenderloin (Photo Credit: Jamaica Pegasus)

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!

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The Smoked Marlin Team speedily prepping to serve Patrons in line.

That outcome was totally unexpected for me given my visit to their Restaurant earlier this year and their presentation compared to the others.

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Suga’s dish received from Dionne Reid with Smoked Marlin Tostaditas

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.

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Dionne Reid from Smoked Marlin’s presentation with all items listed on her menu after she got things going later in the night – Smoked Marlin Tostaditas and Sweet Corn Beignets

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.

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Christina Simonitsch’s Crispy Charcoal Pork Cracker with Carrot Purée, Pork Belly, Sorrel and Red Stripe Gel

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.

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Andre Sewell’s Jerk Fried Chicken Crispers with Scotch Bonnet Sriracha, Avocado Purée and Matchstick Potatoes

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.

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Sarah Willers’ Blue Ridge Popcorn Shrimp with Beer infused Barbecue Sauce and Korean style seasoned Popcorn

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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