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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Faith's Pen - The Jamaican Food Stop

Faith's Pen lay-by
For any Jamaican who travels the main route between Kingston and the resort town of Ocho Rios and the rest of Jamaica's north coast Faith's Pen is a well known rest stop to sample some Jamaican cuisine. Faith's Pen is located along the man road between the rural communities of Mt. Rosser and Moneague and consist of several shops serving up a variety of our local cuisine.

Cow Cod Soup
This lay-by offers the weary traveller a safe place to park, after traversing the winding roads, and take a break to sample some real Jamaican country cooking. The over 20 twenty shops are certainly adequate to satisfy the palate of even the most picky eater as they serve up an abundance of dishes ranging from soups to local proteins and starches. What do they include?

Food vendors preparing several local foods on wood fires and  grill
For starters there are several Jamaican soups ranging from the staple chicken soup and mannish water to the exotic cow cod soup. After belching off the gas with your choice of soup you can feast on jerk pork, jerk chicken, steamed fish, roast fish, roast yam, roast saltfish, roast fish, boiled corn, roast breatfruit, bammy and festival! Thirsty? Well the vendors can certainly quench your thirst with the world renowned Red Strip Beer, an assortment of soft drinks and for those looking for an extra pep some Jamaican roots wine.

Jamaican foods on the pan (local grill)
Faith's Pen is more than just the food though, as the vendors themselves are pretty friendly and you are certainly sure to come across some interesting characters like I did! While eating some food I saw this man, called Gippy by the vendors, sitting proudly by himself on one of the several tables provided for guests at the travel stop. He was more than willing to pose for a few shots and upon seeing this a few of the vendors pointed out another old man who frequent the stop, who they called Cigar Man. He too was pretty willing to pose for the camera. In fact this proved fruitful as the photos of Gippy was selected as one of the top photos in the recent JCDC Festival Visual Arts Jamaica 50 Competition and earned me an award.

Gippy, one of the old men of Faith's Pen
Cigar Man,  one of the old men of Faith's Pen
If you happen to travel the route between the island's north coast and Kingston or Spanish Town be sure to look out for Faith's Pen and sample some real Jamaican country food!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jamaica Night at Wyndham Kingston

Vegetable selection at Jamaica Night
I recently went to the Wyndham Kingston Jamaica Night buffet and sampled their Jamaican themed culinary presentations. Jamaica Night is one of the themed buffet nights that the Wyndham Kingston offers to its guests and patrons and is held every Tuesday at their poolside. Jamaica Night gives patrons a taste of our local cuisine as well as live entertainment provided by a local band. But what would my Jamaica night experience include?

Cow skin and gungo peas soup
For those who like to start off their dining the right way, the soup of the day was cow skin and gungo peas soup accompanied by a choice of white or whole wheat rolls. I was a bit skeptical of the cow skin and gungo soup but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted. If it wasn't for the fact that I had to save space for the rest of the food I would have opted for a second serving.

My plate from the vegetable buffet
If you are like me and love your vegetables then Wyndham did not disappoint as there was an assortment of salads to choose from: such as fresh garden salad, coleslaw, chicken and sweet corn salad and if your a bit more adventurous there was a yam salad with red herring. There was also ham for those who wanted some cold cut meat to go with their choice of vegetables. However, if you are not the vegetable kind then there was fruit salad to ensure your meal was somewhat balanced. 

Cow foot a part of the protein buffet
The buffet offered main course dishes that give a taste of Jamaica and featured local meats such as curried mutton, jerk chicken, jerk pork, cow foot as well as fish stuffed with steamed callaloo. These meats were offered with accompanying starches such as yellow yam, boiled bananas and seasoned rice.  I'm not a fan of cow foot so I sticked with the curried mutton, jerk chicken, fish and the jerk pork with some yellow yam. The pork was nice and soft and the chicken was very tender and juicy while the curried mutton went well with my yam and banana. With all that down the hatchet, it was time to move on to the final part of the meal.

Apple Strudel
There was a wide assortment of pastries to satisfy the sweet tooth such as plantain tart, coconut toto, coconut macaroon, apple strudel. Being a big lover of pastry I made sure I sampled all of the above and what better way to have my pastry than with a cup of smooth, delicious, freshly brewed Blue Mountain Coffee!

Live band performing at Jamaica Night
I enjoyed this feast to the sound of a wide assortment of Jamaican music, ranging from Reggae to Rock Steady and Ska, provide by the live band. Some of the patrons enjoyed the music even more than I did as they abandoned their table and took to the dance floor and grooved to the music.

Jamaican craft items on sale at Jamaica Night
Food and music was not all that you could have at Jamaica Night, you could also take home a bit more of our Jamaican culture. Jamaica Night also features a vendor with a wide assortment of Jamaican craft items and clothing for those who want to take a piece of Jamaica home with them.

If you are looking for somewhere different to dine but want some Jamaican style food then Wyndham Kingston in New Kingston is definitely an option. All you can eat food under the open sky, live Jamaican music, secure parking  and all for a relatively reasonable price of JM$2560 per person makes Jamaica Night a pretty decent dining choice.

For more photos visit my Facebook album Wyndham Kingston Jamaica Night.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Jamaica 50

Fireworks at the Jamaica 50 Grand Gala celebrations at the National Stadium
Yesterday Jamaica had the grand finale of the fiftieth year of independence from colonial rule, yes fifty years of being a sovereign nation. The country has certainly come a long way since that faithful day on August 6, 1962. However, it has a very long way to go before this nation can be the success that independence was supposed to bring.

Indeed, this country and its populous has undergone hardship, our successive leaders have failed miserably and our precious resources have been squandered due to the greed of those in power. Nevertheless, this tiny country is known by the entire world as it produces many reasons for us to be proud. Such a small and poor island has produced many icons like the king of Reggae music, Bob Marley, and the king of the tracks, dubbed the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt just to name a few.

We have made it so far through many hardships but we still have even a longer way to go to achieve the full potential of a talented nation and a beautiful country. Despite all the pitfalls the black, green and gold still stands after fifty years.