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Monday, October 29, 2012

Kuyaba - Negril Beachside Dining

The Kuyaba sign at the entrance of the property
On a recent trip to the popular Jamaican tourist destination, Negril, I stopped by Kuyaba for lunch. Kuyaba is a hotel and restaurant that lies right on the beautiful seven mile beach of Negril. The rustic wooden structures of the property gives the feel of being at a real island getaway at a remote location on the beach.

The view of  Negril beach from the Gazebo at Kuyaba Restaurant

The view of the deck and thatch roof of Kuyaba Restaurant from the gazebo
The wooded structure and thatch roof of the restaurant gives the place that relaxed feeling and complements the whole idea of dining on a beach. The restaurant consists of four areas: a covered dining area which sits under the large thatch roof; a bar which is also located under the thatch roof; a large outdoor balcony for those who want a real outdoor dining experience; and for those who like a little exclusivity and a great view of the beautiful Negril beach there is a gazebo that seats four and overlooks the restaurant and beach. All dining areas however provide a lovely dining ambiance as one's senses are stimulated by the gentle sea breeze and the soft crashing of the waves of Caribbean Sea. Nevertheless, there is no guessing where I decided to have my lunch! Up in the sky baby!

Grilled chicken wrap and a serving of fries
Grilled chicken salad served with a tasty dressing
Freshly made fruit punch with Jamaican rum
After being ushered up to the gazebo by my waitress for the day and perusing the lunch menu I decided to try the grilled chicken wrap while my date for the day tried the grilled chicken salad. For drinks we had freshly made fruit punch with some good old Jamaican rum and piña colada respectively. The wrap  was made with fresh vegetables and succulent grilled chicken strips and a creamy sauce, served with a side of crispy fries. The grilled chicken salad was also made from the same fresh garden vegetables and tender grilled chicken, but the highlight was the tantalising sauce that was served along side the salad. Both dishes were very tasty and combined with the view and gentle breeze made a wonderful lunch experience!

Buddy one of the birds at Kuyaba

Charlie one of the birds at Kuyaba
This was not my first visit to the restaurant as I have had dinner there once while in Negril for a destination wedding. I indulged in one of their pasta offerings and I was not disappointed as it was quite a tasty meal. Kuyaba restaurant serves all three meals of the day: breakfast, lunch and dinner and at a very affordable price! Don't worry about gaining a few pounds after indulging in what they have to offer as the beach is right there for those who want to take a swim in the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea that caresses the lovely white sand Negril beach. So if you happen to be staying in Negril or passing through Kuyaba restaurant is definitely a stop worth considering! And don't forget to say high to Buddy and Charlie, the resident birds, while you are there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hurricane Central: Sandy Takes Aim At Jamaica

Hurricane Sandy
Just a few days ago all was well in the Caribbean basin but things were about to change! A low pressure system formed on Sunday the 21st, then on Monday the 22nd it became Tropical Depression 18, on Tuesday the 23rd Tropical Storm Sandy was formed and immediately took aim at our island Jamaica. I woke up this morning to see that Sandy grew in strength and has become a Category 1 Hurricane with 80mph maximum sustained wind and now poses an even more serious threat to Jamaica. This is the first direct hit for the island since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.

I will now chronicle the state of events as the day progresses and Hurricane Sandy makes her way across Jamaica for as long as the power will last. Stay tuned!

It's now 10:48 am in Kingston and all seems quiet apart from the constant rain that has been soaking the island since Monday. I have been seeing reports that the wind has started to pick up in the eastern end of the island.

12:13 Conditions are now deteriorating as Sandy now approaches the island. The rain has begun to increase in intensity. There has been report of flooding, storm surges in places like Caribbean Terrace and the temporary bridge at Kintire has been swept away by the raging Hope River.

View of Kingston & St. Andrew from Red Hills taken by Atom In The Skin
Storm surges at Caribbean Terrace Harbour View (Jamaica Observer)
Storm surge at Caribbean Terrace (On The Ground News)
Adventurous citizens running from large waves crashing in at Caribbean Terrace (On The Ground News)
12:52 The eastern end of Jamaica seems to be getting the brunt of the hurricane so far. Fallen trees have blocked some roadways and downed power poles have cut off power to many communities in Portland.
Fallen tree blocking a main road in Portland. Photo: Vidal Smith Jr.
Here is a video clip I took just after retracting my awning. This is the first of the winds associated with hurricane Sandy so far in Kingston.

Jumped on the UPS to share this quick clip of Hurricane Sandy winds here in Kingston Jamaica.

Hurricane Sandy has left the island of Jamaica but not without the scars associated with a hurricane. There have been reports of flooding, several trees are down, roads are blocked, several power lines are down leaving approximately 70% of the island without power. The city of Kingston is regaining power in may sections including where I am which go back power at approximately 12:00 midnight. The full impact will not be known until at least later today.

Down light pole in Portland. Photo: Dale Virgo
Fallen tree in an apartment complex. Photo: Stush
Photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy taken this morning.

Only sections of the city of Kingston and St. Andrew has power. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Fallen trees blocking sections of Red Hills Rd. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Fallen trees on power & communications lines sections of Red Hills Rd. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Down trees along Red Hills Rd. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Citizens doing cleanup work. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Restoration work in progress along Red Hills Rd. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Fallen trees along Red Hills Rd. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Residents of White Hall Ave cleaning up debris. Photo: Atom In The Skin

A section of the Sandy Gully at Dunrobin Primary that has collapsed. Photo: Atom In The Skin

Monday, October 22, 2012

F&B DownTown An Oasis In the City

Main dining area at F&B DownTown
Normally when Downtown Kingston is mentioned a few things come to the mind of most Jamaicans: no parking, cheap items, Coronation Market, unsafe environment, derelict buildings to name a few. But little would think of finding fine dining in a relaxing ambiance that gives the feel of dining in contemporary New York City restaurant. F&B DownTown has done just that, brought a wonderful dining experience to the heart of Downtown Kingston. Why would I say that?

The fusion of food and jewellery
Swiss Stores Jamaica Downtown location
F&B Downtown, located at 107 Harbour Street, brings a unique fusion of food and jewellery as it is also the location for Swiss Stores Jamaica Downtown outlet. The owners have managed to seamlessly integrate the two unrelated stores into one pleasing dining and shopping experience. They accomplish this through their open design and high roof which allows both entities to merge without losing the wonderful abience that make dining with friends a pleasure. The location comprises of several sections which included the main dining area, two lounge areas for a more intimate and relaxed feeling, a bar, the jewellery counter and a private conference room for those who want to take the board meeting out of the office. The location also offers such amenities as free WiFi for those who have to remain connected to "the grid"!

Two of the three lounge areas at F&B DownTown
The bar at F&B DownTown
Private conference room
The decor of F&B DownTown is definitely pleasing to the eye and the low soft lighting immediately brings one into a calmer more relaxed atmosphere, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city just outside it's doors. Black and white photographs from a local photographer that reflects different aspects of Jamaica line the wall along the main dining area while hanging lamps provide that soft moody lighting by the marble counter of the bar. The lounge areas are outfitted with cosy leather couches and dark stain wooden coffee tables which blends well with the soft lighting of the building.

Pesto With Chicken served here with red wine
Alfredo With Jerk Sausage served here with ice tea
Some of what F&B DownTown offers
Now that I have described the ambiance, what about the food? F&B DownTown offers breakfast on week days between the hours of 8:30am and 11:00am and treats patrons to free coffee with the purchase of any of their sandwiches. For lunch the restaurant serves a wide variety of Premium Sandwiches, Gourmet Salads, Soups and Italian Style Pasta on their lunch menu. Being a lover of Italian food I opted to try the Pesto With Chicken with a glass of red wine, while my date for the day tried the Alfredo With Jerk Sausages and iced tea. The dishes were delicious and the ample serving was just right to tame the beast called hunger! The fun doesn't end at lunch for F&B Downtown as they have their version of the after work jam dubbed "Pop The Friday" on Fridays between 4:00pm to 7:00pm where patrons are encourages to "eat, drink, meet and shop" while they enjoy the offerings including freshly made popcorn.

Free WiFi for people like me
Diners enjoying the ambiance at F&B DownTown
F&B DownTown is certainly an oasis in the heart of the city, a refreshing dining experience which represents what Downtown Kingston should really be. It's my vision that Downtown Kingston becomes a centre for rich culture, exquisite dining experiences, a haven for business and services, a magnet for shoppers and a modern metropolis that Jamaican can be proud of. F&B DownTown and Swiss Stores Jamaica has made a step in the right direction and I hope others will follow too. If you are in the Downtown area or just want somewhere different to grab breakfast, have lunch or to just chill with a few friends and have a drink then F&B DownTown is certainly a good bet!