Coffee producers and baristas were out in their numbers last Saturday at the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Marketplace in Newcastle, St. Andrew.
Many booths had hot coffee to keep patrons warm in the fog, such as Cafe Blue, Stoneleigh (Mavis Bank 100% Blue Mountain Coffee), Toyota Coffee House, Starbucks, Perk Up and Country Traders Limited (Coffee Roasters Blue Mountain Coffee).
Cafe Blue also had their Milk and White Chocolate covered Coffee beans that I enjoy.
My husband enjoyed the smooth, hot brew offered by Perk up, from Flamstead Estate. Perk Up had a soft launch at the Coffee Festival, as they are planning to enter the market more competitively. They are currently at a few cafe outlets, including Shelly’s Cafe at U.T.E.C.H.
Deaf Can Coffee Baristas were there, brewing at 3 different tents including Cannonball Cafe and Jamaica Toyota Coffee House.
I was impressed with Cannonball Cafe that uses Jablum Coffee. They were the only ones I saw that offered Frappes and Coffee Martinis. I had the Caramel Crunch Cafe Frappe for just $300JMD. They had Paint and Sip for $1500JMD along with a free Espresso Martini overseeing a picturesque view too! There were cold brews from Cafe Blue and Stoneleigh, but I prefer Frappes. Even though it was a cool atmosphere being up so high, the sun was still fully out and I warmed up after walking around the venue.
Cannonball’s coffee infused desserts were a treat too! My nieces and I enjoyed their Coffee and Chocolate Brownies for a steal of $100JMD, Mini Eclairs with Coffee infused cream ($300JMD) and Coffee Bread Pudding with Coffee glaze ($300JMD).
Cannonball Cafe can be found in Barbican (Loshusan Centre), New Kingston (Barbados Ave.), Manor Park (Lower Manor Park Plaza) and Sovereign North Plaza.
Restaurants other than Cafe Blue that are on the Blue Mountain Culinary trail were out, such as Belcour Lodge with their line of Preserves and Blue Ridge Restaurant and Cottages. Blue Ridge had a tasty Coffee Cake for $300JMD.
The experienced and poised hostess, Emprezz kept the patrons well-informed throughout the day and presented prizes and surprises, hosted short interviews and more.
The suits of Tourism came out, shook hands and spoke to the patrons. Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlet along with his entourage, as well as Adam Stewart, Chairman of The Tourism Linkages Council were there. The council has been making great strides, developing projects to increase our influx of visitors to Jamaica via the Gastronomy network, Shopping, Health and Wellness, Sports and Entertainment and Knowledge. The Jamaica Coffee Festival Marketplace branched out across all these networks, with major focus on the Gastronomic Network. Key initiatives and Projects such as development of a Blue Mountain Coffee experience, strategic partnerships with other networks and the promotion of food festivals were all achieved. Kudos to them and the great turn out of patrons to support such an important initiative. Tickets were sold out!
If the endless amount of coffee wasn’t enough, Tarrus Riley entertained the crowd for over an hour!
CB Chicken, Copperwood Pork and Best DressedChicken were out to feed the masses. The Best Dressed Booth was quite popular with their Gourmet Hot dogs, loaded fries and more. I enjoyed their Jerked Chicken.
Island Blue, which you normally see in our hotels, displayed and sold their Jamaica Coffee Liqueurs from Baronhall Estate, Coffee Beans, Branded mugs and more.
Kande’s Delights had long lines for ice cream including coffee flavours of course.
Various Arts & Crafts exhibitors were about, but one of the Skin Care exhibitors, I Love Sweetness Coffee Scrubs grabbed my attention with their body scrubs, scented soaps and skin tonics. Their representatives were quite knowledgeable about their products and marketed them well.
There were representatives and Informative pamphlets from Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) and Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) on the story of Jamaican Coffee. Jamaican Coffee Recipes were available too.
Hollywell provided information on tours and events, signing persons up to receive information on events in the future too. They also had persons chatting up a storm about their Coffee Rice and Peas cooked by ‘Natural by Nature’ in their community.
Congratulations to the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival Team. Great initiative, efficient use of space and well executed event. #SugaEndorsed
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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TGIF! Remember that the Jamaica Blue Mountain Festival starts today!
The Coffee Industry Players in association with JACRA and RADA will be busy hosting workshops.
Do not miss The Festival Marketplace! It should be a cultural experience showcasing not only our local coffee and coffee-induced products, but our talented crafty artisans, dancers, singers and more, headlined by Tarrus Riley!
The shuttle departs hourly from UTECH starting at 9am and Tickets cost $1000JMD for Adults and $500JMD for Children under 12 and Students with ID. The Festival ends at 6pm.
> Cafe Blue (Sovereign & Irish Town)
> Cannonball Cafe (New Kgn, Sovereign North, Manor Park)
> Toyota Coffee House: 93 Hope Road
Take a drive along the Blue Mountain Culinary trail. It has some cosy spots with spectacular views and food. See the list with numbers on the flyer below, call and make your reservations today!
They are all quite a treat, but if you like local cuisine, Crystal Edge is the place. If you have a sweet tooth, Cafe Blue is just next door with exquisite desserts by award-winning baker, Nadine Burie.
Blue Ridge is far up, but worth the trek. Savoury food and good service. Their presentation is also one of a kind.
Support Brand Jamaica and our flagship Blue Mountain Coffee this weekend in Newcastle, St. Andrew!
***Prices for the Nyam & Scram and Morning Bites Categories do not include Beverages and G.C.T***
Here are my recommendations for Breakfast and quick Grab & Go Bites:
Morning Bites – Kingston
> Cannonball Cafe is the only establishment listed this year although Breakfast can be sourced at a discounted price from Brew’d Awakenings as well.
Cannonball has decent Breakfast deals for less than $600JMD at all locations – Loshusan (Barbican), Manor Park, New Kingston and Sovereign North.
Nyam & Scram (30% off) – Kingston
100 at 100 Hope Road would be my primary choice for this Category. Nothing is new on their menu but they have tasty items that are well-known at a discounted price.
The Jerk Chicken Cocowich is consistently good and you get their signature Jackpot Dessert to go with it for $1670JMD!
You could also get their delicious, cheesy Flatbread and Soup for $1169JMD or two other options for less than $2000JMD.
4U Vietnamese Restaurant in Manor Center should be a decent spot, but I would go during the week to avoid the crowd on the weekend.
I recommend their Sizzling Plate of Beef, with which you get Soup and Dessert for $1200JMD. Ask for the Chili Sauce if you want more spice!
Ali’s Jamaican Cuisine on Annette Crescent has some Spicy Curried dishes with Roti for less than $900JMD.
I love Kushites Vegetable Cuisine at Eden Gardens on Lady Musgrave Road, but I believe they are more for fine dining and are too pricey for the Nyam & Scram Category. The same goes for Fromage Brasserie in Marketplace.
Oasis on the Oxford on the other hand is too expensive for mediocre food and poor service.
Jo Jo’s Jerk Pit and More on Waterloo Road is a good food spot, but their service is slow on a regular basis. So imagine Restaurant Week! I tried them once for RW but would avoid doing so again in the future.
I went to Nirvanna Restaurant and Lounge last year for this category. The menu is similar so the dishes should be tasty and filling. You should get value for your money. They usually have good service with a full house, but to be on the safe side, I had called in my order ahead of arrival last year. It worked out well, so you could do that too if you have a tight lunch hour.
Brew’d Awakenings as mentioned earlier, is simple but has decent Breakfast bites and other choices such as a Salad or Panini for $800JMD.
Triple T’z Eatery on Annette Crescent has a good reputation amongst my Suga Bears, so I would give them a try where value for money is concerned. You can get two Meats and sides with Soup and Dessert for $1200-$1300JMD.
Enjoy and be sure to give Suga your Feedback!
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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***Prices for each category include choice of Appetizer, Main Course and Dessert. Beverages, GCT and Gratuity additional.***
There are many options, but just a few stand out for Suga based on reputation, service, previous experiences including RW experiences, their RW Menu, usual serving sizes and value for money.
The Palms at C&C South Beach and Tamarind Indian Cuisine.
Menu stand outs for C&C South Beach are their Smoked Salmon Salad Appetizer, Washington Palms Pork Chop and Seafood Thermidor main courses. Their options for Dessert should please everyone. Keep in mind that South Beach usually has large serving sizes.
Menu stand outs for Tamarind Indian Cuisine include the Non Veg Platter, which is a combination of assorted chicken tikka, sweet chilli shrimps and sliced Szechuan fried fish, as well as the Green Thai Curry with your choice of chicken, fish or shrimp accompanied by Naan bread/rice and Tiramisu for dessert.
I still haven’t made it out to Rib Kage at The Serengeti Bistro, Hope Zoo, but I have gotten good reviews. It could be safe to take a chance on them.
> Montego Bay
The new Hard Rock Cafe and the oldie but goodie, Pelican Grill are the best choices hands down.
> Ocho Rios
Evita’s Italian Restaurant is usually good and fairly new kids on the block, Great Escape Restaurant at Runaway Bay have been doing well. I had a good time at Great Escape for RW last year and their menu has not really changed Definitely value for money.
> Old Harbour
Kaluga Cafe should please RW diners.
Dragon Court Restaurant has been consistently good over the years.
> Montego Bay
MVP Smokehouse has a decent menu to explore.
Smoked Marlin has delicious food and an inviting menu with value for money, but I question their ability to provide good service with a RW crowd. Good risk to take though. I suggest you go with fun company.
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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I grabbed a tasty ‘Coketail’ on the way in to Picante last Friday night and stopped by Walkerswood featuring Alexa Von Strolley. Her Coconut milk, Mint and Cucumber Granita pleased the palate. Her Spicy Pork Belly with Chinese Pancake was indeed spicy. I enjoyed it. It didn’t look like the Curried Arancini with Fried Thai Basil Shrimp and Spicy Carrot salsa was ready though, so I missed out on that one.
Chef Andre Fowles was my first stop inside the main area. I was excited to see what the famous Chef had to offer. He is the first Jamaican dubbed two-time ‘Chopped’ Champion. He is also Chef de Cuisine at the renowned Miss Lily’s in New York.
He is famous for Jamaican Fusions and he demonstrated that last Friday night at Picante. Chef Fowles served up a juicy, well seasoned Oxtail mole with ‘Tun Caanmeal’ Churros. He was surprised that I wanted Pork. I think he thought the ladies were watching their weight. But he had no idea who he was talking to. I told him to give me the ‘Picante Pork Belly’ stat. It came with Scotch Bonnet Avocado crème. It was spicy but it didn’t make me scream, Picante. I enjoyed all the flavours resonating from the dish though, a mix of both sweet and spicy and I felt honoured to have his food.
Charissa Henry of Pink Apron Ja, who has been on the circuit for about three years had a lot going on, maybe too much. Her food came with instructions and a paper bag to shake it all up in. Her ‘Blouse and Skirt Swimz’ consisted of Jam-Asian Salt and Pepper Shrimp served with Nitrogen smashed, Chai Sweet Potatoes. I thought the Pepper Shrimp would have been spicy, but they weren’t. The entire concept was creative, but I don’t think the ‘shake-up brown paper bag’ to eat out of was suitable for a casually elegant event. Great job with the Nitrogen smashed, Chai Sweet Potatoes though. That had a uniquely satisfying taste and texture and definitely displayed thinking outside the box.
Allison Porter-Smalling a.k.a Chef Alli P, foodie turned homegrown Chef turned Cuisine artist, a newbie in the industry, peaked my interest. But her Beef Skirt topped with Watermelon Salsa and Scallion Aioli was disappointingly bland. No wonder there was no line. Points for presentation though.
If you were wondering which station had a line the entire night, that was Stush in the Bush’s Chris and Lisa Binns at work! The King and Queen of a unique farm to table experience including vegan delights, fiya grilled pizzas, homemade sauces, butters and preservatives.
Their long line wasn’t because they were moving slowly either. Even their friends pitched in to help them serve. When the rain relieved other tents from lines, persons still stood in the rain so they didn’t lose their spot in the line for Stush in the Bush! What were they giving these people?
I can’t believe it wasn’t Chicken! It was spicy Cauliflower ‘Chicken’ Wings and Mustard Greens with liquid STUSH Blow Fyah Sauce and Grilled Corn with a Scotch Bonnet Cashew Cream, Cilantro and Lime. Divine! Definitely Picante and even though I tried my best not to choose my faves, Stush in the Bush as the Winning station for the night, I cannot deny them what was earned. Bravo. Hi Five. Rain Dance.
Persons in the line that were clueless about Stush in the Bush from Priory, St. Ann, were surely brought up to speed by me while waiting. After the fact, when I checked on one of the ladies indulging in her Grilled Corn, her reaction was ‘Yes. Sooo good. I have to go to their place.’
Simon Levy, known for his brand, Roast, is the Chef that provides artisan meats to foodies. His Smoked Paprika Pork Belly was tender, but wasn’t anything to keep talking about. However, those Scotch Bonnet Margarita Shots were a hit! Picante!
Oji Jaja’s Coconut Lime Ceviche with Poached Shrimp pleased but didn’t tantalize the palate. I appreciated the exquisite presentation and variety in flavour, but it needed some zest to go with the theme of the night.
Fromage Gourmet Market/Brasserie’s Lisa Chin had some tasty Habanero Shrimp Cakes with truffle Corn Béchamel.
Colin Hylton, one of THE most popular consultancy Chefs in Jamaica and a veteran in the industry for 30 years, familiarly known for his Restaurant that was Guilt Trip, made us scream Picante. That round of Beef that I had when he said he was almost out of food was tough as rocks though. Where did he get that meat?! Anyhow, that sauce was finger-licking and hot!
I had low expectations for Alexx Antaeus of Opa Greek Cuisine. I didn’t even join his line. My husband, Randy decided to still give him a try, bringing back a plate full of food that he hardly touched. I gave him the ‘I told you so’ look and gave his Greek Herb Jerked Chicken, Spicy Beef, Eggplant and Béchamel Moussaka a try. ‘Meh’. It lacked seasoning, flavour and spice.
I was told I needed to head over to Jacqui Tyson. Jacqui is of course an icon in the Culinary industry, of which she has been a part of for the past 20 years. But as I stabilised the contents of my stomach below ‘full buck’, I tried to visit Chefs who I have never tried before. Her tent was also very crowded when I arrived. I was happy to still have space! I made it over to her tent at about 11pm, where there was still a line close towards the end of the night. My husband confirmed I missed her Picante! He visited earlier in the night and said her line was long but it moved quickly.
I had her well textured, Salmon Lollipop marinated in Olive oil, Tarragon and Garlic, grilled with three Béarnaise pepper (Scotch bonnet, Jalapeno and Mexican dried Chili) that was delish. I missed out on the handmade aged Appleton rum caviar that was sprinkled on top. What a calamity.
I took a break, missing out on Chef Christian Sweeney’s delights and passed on Desserts by KukUp Creations.
I then made the wise choice of leaving dessert for the end of the night. I visited Chocolatier Michelle Smith of Chocolate Dreams. What a treat! The entire spread of Hot Chocolate, Truffles, Toffees and Brownies was delicious. We ended the night saying Picante. Those Crunchy Scotch Bonnet Toffees were fire! Well done Michelle.
Picante was a fun, spectacular event. There was good music and I appreciated the availability of my choice of premium liquor up to 11pm and the fact that the rain was not continuous throughout the night. It actually seemed fitting for the event. Everytime a station heated us up like Stush in the Bush or Simon Levy’s Scotch Bonnet Margarita shots, there was a cool foreign-like breeze according to my friend Tiffany and a drizzle of rain. The event was equipped with a huge tent in the middle to shelter persons. We had top of the line options to pick, choose and refuse from. When the Big Man up above thought we were bordering on gluttony a bit after 11pm, a downpour of rain came down to wash away our gastronomical sins and in turn concluded Picante! #SugaEndorsed
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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