On our most recent trip to Jamaica, Emma and I, as always, got to sample some wonderful food. So I decided it was time to write a blog on the subject.
Each of our Exceptional Villas in Jamaica has a full staff, including a Chef who has been hand-picked by the villa owner. Our Exceptional chefs are some of the finest Jamaican cooks in the world. Some of these wonderful cooks like to stick with the more traditional type of Jamaican cooking, which in itself is a pleasure for the senses. Others like to venture further and experiment with international twists and turns, but always sticking to their fresh local produce and Jamaican flair which their taste buds grew up on.
Theatrical Lunch at Hillside Villa , Montego Bay
On arrival to the first villa of our trip “Hillside Villa at Round Hill”, Stanley the friendly and gracious butler served a wonderful lunch cooked by Natalie. To begin, we had a tropical fruit salad and a bowl of creamy Vichysoisse , perfect for the tropical weather, followed by a Chicken salad. We ate our lunch out on the balcony overlooking Montego Bay – the view was amazing. When we began our soup, the sun was shining, by the time we started our main course, a tropical storm had arrived which made for some spectacular viewing. Dinner that night was just as delicious, with a starter of Prawn & Avocado salad, followed by grilled Mahi Mahi, rice & beans.
Beautiful Jamaican fruits and freshly squeezed juices featured at every breakfast time. The taste and texture of all fruits in Jamaica is rich and perfect, nothing like the exotic fruits we buy at home, which have travelled thousands of miles, unripe and without real flavour. Jamaicans traditionally eat Ackee & Saltfish for breakfast. Ackee is an intriguing fruit which grows on trees all over the island. However, the fruit is poisonous and very dangerous to eat if not ripe. It’s difficult to imagine a fruit looking like scrambled eggs when cooked, but that’s exactly what prepared Ackee looks like. It really is delicious. And of course we cannot forget the delicious Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, some say it’s the finest in the world – Emma and I agree wholeheartedly
Lobster Lunch at Endless Summer, Montego Bay
The next villa on our whistlestop tour was for lunch at “Endless Summer” in Montego Bay. Our butler David served a magnificent Pumpkin Soup, followed by a Lobster Salad prepared by chef Melvin. Dessert was a delicious pineapple upside down cake. An island staple is Pumpkin Soup and each chef has their own twist to the recipe. Each Jamaican table usually has a bottle or two of various Hot Sauces and the hot & sweet Mango Sauce at Endless Summer gave a delicious little extra twist to the Lobster.
Gastronomic delights at Canoe Cove, Ocho Rios
Our overnight stay at “Canoe Cove“ was incredible. The young and very enthusiastic staff at Canoe Cove are on a mission to be the best there is in the business. Not least the chef, Akeema, who has a passion for cooking which is impossible not to notice and admire. In between each course, Akeema came to the table to explain every dish with flair and pride.
Love & Laughter at Stush In The Bush
Emma and I were both very excited about going to “Stush In The Bush” at Zionites Farm on Free Hill. “Stush” is an up and coming “sexy vegetarian” restaurant which is being noticed by the worlds’ best food writers. We both enjoy vegetarian and vegan food, more especially healthy food. Chris, Lisa and their family have set up a little piece of heaven in the mountains of Jamaica.
On their farm, Chris grows fruits, vegetables and various herbs and is delighted to take guests on a walking tour, explaining with obvious delight the natural cures and health benefits which each tree, bush and plant offers.
Lisa is an amazing cook. We watched her as she gracefully and with much ease, prepared our lunch, in her kitchen-come-bedroom (trust me, it works – no wonder we could taste the love in the food), working effortlessly to bring together a vegetarian lunch which made our taste buds dance with delight. Until then, I believed that Naples had the best pizza in the world, now I’m not so sure (apologies to all our Italian friends). Stush in The Bush is one of those places you don’t forget about, ever, for all the right reasons. We really encourage you to spend an afternoon here. There’s no rushing here – laid back, warm, generous and happy, with stunning views of the mountains unlike any other. It was difficult for us to leave “Stush in The Bush” but we will be back.
Sweet Peaches at Villa Bambu
We spent our final night in Jamaica at Villa Bambu. An exquisite ending to a perfect trip. Peaches is the cook here and she is known far and wide for her hearty Jamaican cooking and happy demeanour. Peaches met us at the door on arrival with a big beautiful smile and the villa pet parrot, Eva, on her shoulder. Leslie the Butler was by her side, laughing and welcoming us as if we were old friends.
We knew that Bambu was going to be something extra-special. Following a massage on-site and a swim in the pool, it was time for pre-dinner hors d’oevres of shrimp cocktail, home-made guacamole with crackers and Ackee Cups. Peaches had made a pretty little cup out of a slice of toasted bread and served the Ackee inside it, flavoured with fried onion, garlic & Scotch Bonnet pepper. It was amazing. She then created an amazing dinner for us starting with creamy Conch Chowder followed by chicken, broiled fish, homemade coleslaw, green beans & rice. Dessert was an amazing coconut pudding and I’m hoping that she might share the recipe if I ask her nicely. Leslie the wonderful butler seemed to always appear when needed. He’s a sweet, lovely man, who obviously loves his job.
Jamaica is an incredible island made up of many wonderful things : colour, happiness, beauty and love. You’ll find all of these traits not only in the people, but in their cooking too. “One Love” – Indeed!