Watch the video of my potato soup. I think you will love it!
Leave your feedback or ask me any questions.
Watch the video of my potato soup. I think you will love it!
Leave your feedback or ask me any questions.
I had only 30 minutes to do this. Any minute a studen’t call might have come in. I did not know if I’d have enough time to cook everything.
Why did I do this? I had watched an interview with Wolfgang Puck, he said his interview method was to have a chef make him an omelette. If the omelette was good, he hired the chef, if not…
I needed some alone time, some peace. I needed to go somewhere, but it had to be somewhere in Jamaica. The question was where?
At first, I looked at Kingston. It was close and easy to get around. When I searched through the north and west coasts, I found it. Montego Bay and Ocho Rios hotels were almost all booked or a bit expensive. My wish was all-inclusive or nothing! This is because as a solo trip, I did not plan to go walking all over the town. I wanted a do-nothing relaxing stay.
So, where did I end up going? I found a hotel that I was not familiar with but had been seeing the name pop up on my Instagram. Sneaky Google. It was Riu, particularly, Hotel Riu Negril. I checked this hotel every other day for a week before I booked using the app. I booked, then cancelled, then rebooked. I opted for the pay at the hotel and free cancellation. Unwanted surprises can happen, so cover your bases. It may have cost a little more, but I would rather spend three or four thousand dollars (JMD) than lose as much at $30,000.
I booked the hotel, next I have to consider how I would get there. Driving was out of the question, I was no longer familiar with some routes. What I was familiar with was public transport from Kingston to the countryside. Or so I thought until someone reminded me of Knutsford Express. I had used that bus service years ago to get to the, then Air Jamaica Jazz Festival (name changed to something else).
So I booked a one-way trip with Knutsford Express to their Negril depot. I had not decided yet if I would stick to the two nights three days stay at the hotel or book another night. I needed a break and rest from my ‘situation’. Hotel booked and transportation reserved! I had something interesting and fun to look forward to.
You see this Covid pandemic is having a very negative effect on most, and I will be presumptuous to say. Dare I say, all of us? It is affecting us emotionally, mentally, and financially. Did I forget anything? I am not afraid to say that before I returned to Jamaica for this, I was beginning to feel the drag of the semi-isolation. As an introvert, I like being in my own space, but it was getting to me. My return to Jamaica hit me harder, MUCH harder than I expected. The situation I came into was not…is not ideal for me, that is my personality and emotional baggage type.
It is important to be aware of your state – your physical, mental and emotional state. Getting the help you need if something is not right is important. So without going into details, I decided to take a break by staying at an all-inclusive resort. All I would need to do is sleep and eat. Take it easy for a few days, reflect, and not think about certain things. While this decision was not cheap, it was not as expensive as other options could have been.
Days before, I packed and printed my booking information for the hotel and the bus service. On the day, I got up early, got ready for my retreat and caught an express bus into New Kingston. I was pretty early, too early for the 10 AM bus, so I stopped in Starbucks and had some tea and pastry. Both were unimpressive and expensive. I walked over to the Knutsford Express depot. Would you know it, there was a cafe there. I kicked myself as I regretted that $1,000 spent on food that was not worth it.
The staff at Knutsford Express were each very nice and professional. I would recommend the service. In the waiting room, they had a TV and air conditioner, so I had a pleasant time waiting. A few minutes to the hour, it was time to board the double-decker-esque bus. It was a lovely scenic ride to Montego Bay.
Montego Bay is a tourist hub in Jamaica. Jamaica’s economy depends heavily on tourism, and most of our visitors come from North America. The stopped to let off passengers at the airport, then it went to the Knutsford Express depot close by. We all disembarked, and I soon got on their Negril-bound bus. It took 2 hours to get to the Negril depot.
I took a taxi from the Negril depot to Hotel Riu Negril. I was tired but excited. Getting on the property was a bit annoying. They questioned the taxi driver and checked his id. Ugh, it was like we were trying to get on private property than a public hotel property. Once let in, check-in was easy. The room was large with interesting décor. The walls are beige, but the doors and doorways were heavy dark cherry wood with mouldings. The furniture was dark. I did not care much for the furniture because the theme did not seem very uniform to me. The floors were cold tiles. The room was quite comfortable with the fan on, and I hardly even needed that.
The room seemed clean but was bare. There were lamps, a tv and a phone in view. The bar was bare – no water, no cups or glass, no ice and no snacks. In the closet, there were an iron set and a safe, which I used during my retreat. The bathroom design was clean. There were two tiny soaps; I used those for hand-washing. There were three bath towels, two face towels and no washcloths. Was that an oversight or the norm? I did not know since most of my experiences of staying in a hotel were in other countries. There were no toothpaste, razors, lotion, bath soaps or conditioner to go with the lone shampoo. I am used to having all or most of these in the hotels I have stayed at in other countries.
Those discrepancies aside, I set out to do two things, source some food and get toothpaste. I was able to get a small tube of overpriced toothpaste at the hotel store. There was no shop anywhere outside. So let me get into the resort experience.
Day One: I was able to check in when I arrived at 3:00 pm. My room was cool and nice. I checked out the various restaurant menus, so I could decide what and where to eat. Oh, I should add that the room had no printed information on things on and off the property. I am not sure if the pandemic was a reason for some of these shortcomings. Since my stay was during the week, there were not many people there, and most of them were from the USA.
I decided to eat at the Kullinarian gourmet restaurant. The restaurants are all first-come, first served. They did not accept reservations. I thought that since it was an all-inclusive experience, I was going to have something I do not usually eat – a steak. I ordered the steak with couscous and mash plantain. I requested a medium steak. Oh, what a horrid experience. The couscous was fine, the steak looked unattractive and tasted even worse.
I will say this their red wine was the best I have had in my life. The staff was excellent. However, the main course and the brownie dessert were not at all good to me. So, with culinary disappointment, I went to my room. I got ready to retire to bed, but not before watching some local TV.
Day Two: My morning started with a shower and meditation on the Bible. I wanted to get to breakfast before 8 AM because I wanted to avoid a crowd. After all, we are still in the covid pandemic. The walk from my building to the main dining area for the buffet breakfast was about three minutes. I am a brisk walker. There was a little queue, where we were sanitised and checked for fever. The buffet offered a wide array of choices, some I missed getting because I did not notice them. The breakfast that I took was tasty, except for the bacon.
Breakfast over, I went and joined a Zoom meeting for about an hour, then I killed time before lunch. Yes, this was a food-motivated retreat. I did not do much, I may have gotten a fruit drink, sat somewhere outside and people-watched and relaxed. My buffet lunch was at Seagull. I tried almost everything in small doses. I passed on the dessert because that is not my jam! Most of what I took was enjoyable, but the jerk chicken was the best. I ate upstairs where I could people watch and see the ocean. There were some cute little blackbirds around. They were waiting for us to finish so they could grab something from the plate. I like our Jamaican blackbirds, with their black and yellow eyes and unique cries. They are less intimidating than the gigantic crows or ravens that I have seen overseas.
After lunch, I returned to my room to do something relaxing and constructive – read. On the warm and humid balcony. Why did I do that? I did it because of the aesthetics. I was on vacation at a resort, solo travelling, wearing my resort wardrobe. I needed to hang out on my hotel balcony, by the pool of the beach. Eventually, the heat got to me, so I went back in and threw myself on the bed and watched TV.
On this night I had dinner at Mandalay restaurant. It offered buffet-style Asian cuisine. Since the appetiser station was empty, I went there first. I had one each of all the sushi (Japan), rolls (China & Vietnam) and the various noodles (Vietnam). Those were enjoyable. After devouring those, I headed for the other station. I wanted 1 shrimp tempura but got 3 large ones, I knew that I would not finish them. I also took barbecue ribs, and I went over to the Indian station. Let me say that the tempura was okay, the rib was unimpressive, and the Indian food was a dismal failure. The worst there, at the hotel. The dishes had zero flavour. Did the cooks forget to add love and SALT to the dishes? I was so disappointed with these. Well, at least I had the sushi!
These unfortunate dining experiences, do not encourage me to return to this hotel chain. I do not think I want to risk having a similar experience again. Still, one should never say never, if I notice positive reviews of any of their chains in Jamaica or elsewhere, I may consider going. My third day, included a nice big breakfast, and a ride back to New Kingston on Knutsford Express.
Despite the disappointing meal options, my staycation was not all bad. After all, the staff and service at Knutsford Express were excellent. The taxi service in Negril was good and informative, and the staff and some meals at Riu Hotel Negril were good. I am happy I took the time to have this local experience. I intend to do self-care activities like this again. Well, not on the same scale, but a treat yourself type of thing.
My next wish is to go to a gallery or museum and have a spa day. Let’s see if I can pull that off.
So, what are you doing to take care of yourself during this time?
It has been almost a year since I have been back. There have been challenges, some more than expected. Yet, there is one challenge that was so devious, so tormenting, that I failed to notice. How could this happen to me? I tried so many alternatives to shake this, but I could not.
What could be so terrible and unexpected? My taste! I know. I am shocked too. I will call this reverse food culture shock. What I am about to describe is not like reverse culture shock, which has not left me. I have been craving delicious Chinese food for months now. I had memories of delicious Chinese food here, in Jamaica. I thought that it could not be hard to find a decent Chinese meal. I tried four, ranging from cheap to expensive. All disappointing. I wondered how could this be? How could four different Chinese restaurants do so poorly? How could one of two Lebanese restaurants destroy my faith in Lebanese food? To be fair, the that-which-shan’t-be-named restaurant was likely not very good. Why? That is
I began to wonder why the jerk pork, chicken and other dishes were failing so terribly. I decided to check in with a fellow nomad who had lived in Japan. She told me that on her return to Jamaica, nothing tasted the same, only her mother’s cooking could make her happy. That may be the case for me. Some of the foods I have bought have not impressed me much. The only one, outside my home, that tasted good was the Japanese meal I had at Sora Japanese Cuisine. I still would not put it too high. Once you have had the authentic cuisine of a country, replication abroad does not compare.
At times I wondered if I had gotten covid-19 and the lack of taste was the after-effect of the infection. Still, several other dishes do taste good. Wendy’s provide amazing fast food, Domino’s pizzas is better than Pizza Hut’s, and the spring rolls I had were delicious. Proofs that my taste buds are still working. They just appreciate certain flavours or flavour combinations more.
Now that I may understand what could be going on, I can be more open-minded when eating. Has this ever happened to you? I know that I dislike rice here. I long for Japanese brown rice. Since I cannot get that here, so I buy Jasmine or Basmati rice instead. Most times I mix it with other rice (wild, wheat, rye, and Texmati brown) or bulgur. It is the closest I have to pleasant tasting rice. I have always liked my cooked rice to stick together. This act is an abomination to most Jamaican cooks, but I do not care.
The sticky rice I enjoy eating.
Unlike…dare I say…many Jamaican, I do not enjoy fluffy rice. I also do not like the following:
· Tamarind balls
· Sweet potato-anything
· Cornmeal porridge or pudding
· Brown stew fish
· Saturday soup
· Coconut drops
· Grater cake
· Red Stripe beer
· Meatloaf (fast-food version at the patty shop)
· Star apple
· Ripe banana
I encourage you that if you ever get the opportunity to try them, try them. Anyway, these are the ones I could think of. What are some popular traditional foods from your country that you dislike? I have a few Japanese acquaintances who do not like sushi. I have to admit that it surprised me to learn that.
I hope my taste for the food here returns. I know I will continue to try new things because that is, after all, my nature as a foodie.
Share your food experiences, please. I want to read your comments.
What move? You would think that after studying food management in university, working in the industry, and having that obsession from childhood, that I would be a chef, baker or something along those lines? I did consider it, and I enjoyed working in the industry in the back of the house, where the excitement is. However, my skinny frame could not handle the dangers. Dangers? In a professional kitchen?
I don’t mean people were attacking each other, although there were emotional moments, but never dangerous. We were all too busy working. Well, I was…because truthfully, there were some dramas. I worked in kitchens in Kingston, Two Harbors, Highlands, and somewhere in Florida. Working at these places were wonderful and interesting experience which I am glad to have had.
So why didn’t I end up working in a kitchen somewhere, anywhere? Let me briefly mention what it was like first.
In my kitchen, my first solo cooking experience was at my grandmother’s. The moment she allowed precocious me to use the stove, I grabbed it and never looked back. I tried everything. I sat in front of the TV watching cooking shows for hours, writing down recipes, creating my own as I experimented.
When I first learned about the Food Network, TLC or Travel Channel’s cooking shows, I watched them, I bought recipe books, pouring over them. These were my hobbies, bur I never thought of becoming a chef or any professional cook. It was just for fun.
Then, while working in the corporate world, I decided to leave my job to study Food Service Management…not before requesting or applying to a few culinary schools overseas. I never considered Europe or anywhere else, except the USA, where attending university is like signing over all future inheritance to the school. Anyway, my local university was fine. I enjoyed my time there…graduated, and off I went to Japan to live one of my dreams.
However, in between that, I worked in a variety of kitchens. Highlands, North Carolina. That location was a resort town, it was just picturesque, like in a Hallmark movie. I worked in two kitchens. I remember working at Kelsey Place Restaurant at Highlands Inn. The experience was great, the food we prepared was delicious and the experience was nice and not nice. I remember working alongside a lovely lady from Georgia named Patricia. She was funny and informative. I learned about southern cooking there and kthat’s where I realised that southern food was actually delicious. I sometimes worked with a Mexican lady called Rosa (I think). Rosa and I got along well. I really respected how hard she worked and how smart she was about everything. I despised how the main waiter thought he could treat some of the staff in the restaurant. He dared not try that with me. Jamaicans generally don’t suffer from low self-esteem.
Though, I do not think I have pictures of Rosa and Patricia, I still have a picture of them in my mind. That’s so strange, because if it weren’t for a picture of another chef, at Kelsey Place, I wouldn’t have remembered her face…I still don’t remember her name. Impact is everything, I guess.
Splashing Rock Restaurant at Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors, Minnesota. I have to say that I fell in love with Minnesota, and I continued to feel that way until the death of George Floyd. I don’t hate there, but a veil has been lifted. I think I had the most fun working in the kitchen at Splashing Rock because it was an ensemble kitchen. There were fun people to work with and I have the pictures to remind me. I was able to experiment in the kitchen. There was a real chef there, and though he was a bit tough, I thought he was fair or fair enough. He would smoke salmon on a wood plank and it was amazing! The crème brulé that we served were so good, that I’d buy myself one at the end of the night and go to my place to eat it. Never steal food from the place you work…buy it instead. Actually, never steal from anywhere. I remember the guys I worked with, one was so cute, I used to tease him that he was like a German baby with golden short coils and sea blue eyes. Two Harbors was a great experience, and I made lifelong friends there.
The restaurant in Florida was just not that exciting. I remember it was called the Bamboo Club, an Asian-fusion restaurant, not very cohesive, but the diners would never know that. I remember that after my first lobster murder, the guys, were always too busy to grab a sleeping lobster…and I was always the one to go murder the innocent. All in all it was a good experience. I also worked briefly at a Young Chef’s Academy. It was nice helping children who were interested in cooking and baking. Sadly, my main job was at the Bamboo Club, so I could not spend much time at YCA. It think such a place is an excellent opportunity for kids.
Here is the funny story on how I ended up working in a restaurant in Florida. I did not want to be in Florida. It has always been my least favourite state. It is hot, flat and has devastating hurricanes. My plan was to go to Ireland to work in a kitchen. I applied to a few places that were promising. I remember a helpful gentleman, a Mr. Sean Murphy, seeing about my eligibility to work in the country for the summer. No dice, so that’s how I ended up in Florida. I completed my required university internship there.
So why the history lesson? I finally put together a cooking course and posted it, not in my website (https://www.tnjvirtualbiz.com), but on Udemy. The course is called Jamaican Cuisine 1 | Udemy
It took me months to put it together. Filming the cooking part was fairly easy. However, I had to do the voiceover/narration bit. Then there was the editing of the videos. The hardest part to get done, were the videos with me talking about the course. I could not decide if I should film in my busy kitchen, banning anyone from entering while I am filming and forcing the family into silence. Or, film in a room and create a pleasant virtual background. I went with the second option. Then more tedious editing.
I was surprised with, but appreciative of the process to get the course on Udemy. I have used Udemy several times, actually, to learn other skills for my virtual assistant business. It is a website I am familiar with using. I do hope my attempt at creating this course goes well. I will be working on more courses, and better produced ones. I certainly will work towards providing them on my own website soon.
Well, I hope you all stay safe and healthy. Don’t forget to share some of your experiences. How has your journey taken you to where you are now?
My training and how I was raised has let me to believe that our appearance is important. The importance of one’s look of self, being neat and clean, and one’s property, being clean. Why have I brought this up?
I started my virtual assistant (VA) business while teaching online.. This was after leaving Japan, where I worked as an English teacher, for 10 years. Right, so I chose the VA business (visit http://www.tnjvirtualbiz.com – shameless plug). Why? Because I wanted to use my skills to help others while having some flexibility. It has not been easy. I still have to teach online, so I have not dived headfirst into my VA business yet.
I have noticed that as I reach out to other VAs for feedback and help, I get those who offer sound advice. Not to mention their essential services – coaching. Fine, if I can afford to pay, I will do but I am starting out. I cannot afford to pay some of these prices. Some are as much as $950 US, which is over one hundred thousand Jamaican dollars. What?! No! I can’t. I don’t care how good you are. I do not believe in putting myself in debt…not anymore.
Okay, I am veering off course. Let’s get back on track. So, these ‘coaches’ reach out to me. I am very appreciative, especially if something they suggest works. More often than not, it is common sense. Then bam! they hit with their offer. I am like, girl, why’d come at me like that? In my head, that’s what I say. I see your hustle, though, and I am not hating what you are doing. However, I am not rich. If I did not live with family, I would register myself as ‘poor’.
Some of these coaches do promotional videos looking ‘a hot mess’. You know, hair not done and face seeming unwashed. Sometimes their clothes look like they rolled out of bed. Looking like something you would wear in your home. They may go as far as the local community shop (shoutout to businesses in Jamaica). I am not impressed by this. How can I respect this business model? The person has not taken the time to wash her face, or put on uncrushed clothes and fix her hair. The background should be more presentable. They are relatable to some, but definitely not to me. It does not instil confidence for me.
Pride in self and your brand should be paramount. You attract what you put out. I am still learning about advertising and presentation. I am not that good at it, but I am not comfortable putting crappy work out there. How can I expect to get high-end clients (shoutout to my future high-end clients, I see you!).
This brings me to the video cooking lessons I have been working on for weeks now. I have done the videos, edited them, prepared the recipes and the presentation outline. What I cannot seem to complete is the video with me in front of the camera. My face and my setting are an issue. I hate wearing makeup. Actually, wondering if I should bother to wear makeup. Should I create a virtual background or stage it in my busy kitchen These are my concerns
What do you think of someone selling you something but looking like they do not have their life together? It is not about pretending to be what you are not. Still, it is about respecting your customer/clients/audience to put yourself together.
This is my view. I would love to hear from you. My challenge to you is to share your opinion on this. Am I too old school?
During this time of COVID-19, it is still strange to refer to our time as the ‘time of COVID-19’. Wow! Well, travel is suspended or completely stopped in some areas. That means there’s not much most of us can do. Lots of countries are still open because their economy is dependent on travel, but they are not open to everyone.
As promised, I said I’d try to post about some of my past trips, not in any order…I think I already wrote a bit about my trips in South Korea, and Germany and Norway. So, let’s jump to 2019. I almost typed 2020. That how confused I am with the dates nowadays. As I type these words, I wonder if I had already written about Italy, Poland and Ireland. Have I?
It all started with football…real football. My love for Italy was solidified with the Italian team…with Roberto Baggio, The Italian footballer. In high school, I loved watching the World Cup. I enjoyed it so much that I missed at least one day of school to watch a match. I cannot remember which what it was, but considering I was a fan of four countries, it could have been a match with one of my favourites – Brazil, Italy Germany or Spain. Yes, I am still a fan of those countries, list in the order of preference.
I ‘met’ Roberto Baggio at the, hmm, possibly the 1990 World Cup. I may have been drawn to his wavy ponytail, serious expression, and the fact that, thankfully he did not make the penalty that could have hurt Brazil. I looked forward to the next World Cup to see film.
So, that was the reason I soon fell for Italy, and ever since I wanted to visit the country. Fast forward to 2019, I went and stayed in Rome and Florence for a total of 1 week. It was nice, but I have to say that Rome was not very impressive, because it seemed a bit dirty. Coming from super clean Japan, most places appear filthy.
Now, Florence on the other hand, was beautiful and clean. The architect was different, the colours and feel of the place was different,but pleasant. I actually thought out loud, ‘I could see myself living here’, I really did.
I was so into taking in everything with my eyes that I forgot to take more pictures. What I will say is that while I may not be eager to return to Rome, I am sure (all being well) that I would return to Florence.
Was Italy what I expected? Well, I didn’t get pick-pocketed, though I think someone tried to do that. I was on hyper alert since I was solo travelling at the time. I did not go there with any preconceived notions. I was open to the experience of being there. Overall, I think my experience was a positive one.
I just realise that trying to remember what I did years ago on a trip, is not going so well. Plus, I take terrible holiday picture, I mean, just terrible. I am the type of person who takes lots of food pictures. I like to live in the moment and not spend half my trip taking pictures so I can show people who may have as much interest in them as a person does looking at beaming parents’ pictures of their kids. Not many people really care…Or, do they?
I think my trip to Poland, was way more interesting, because of the danger and intrigue…oh, and oh so delicious (to my surprise) food. Let’s get to that in my next blog. What happened? What could have happened to us in Poland?
The year 2020 has really tested us all in different ways, some more seriously than others. I will not even pretend that what I am going through or am writing about is anything near what some have had to endure. However, I want to write about something I hope to do as soon as circumstance allows.
So what do your think nomads dream of? Travelling, being somewhere else, new cultures and experiences. The idea of being compelled to stay in one place is like a little prison. As a someone who likes to experience the little joys of eating, not just at home, but outside, in another country, staying in is like having your hands tied. Foodies crave culinary experiences and nomads need to travel.
I came across an article on BBC about Dorothy Bonarjee who lived in Europe – Scotland and France. Her family was Indian, and she was educated in the UK. She was a poet and lawyer. One thing about her life that struck me, was her choice to live outside her country until her death. I thought right away, that is me. I have pretty much always felt like I could…would live in other countries, while visiting my home. Movement is so important to me. I just feel so bored if I am living in one place for too long. How long is too long? From experience, five years. What is the longest I like to be back home? About a month. And, how long have I been back? Ahh! Seven whole months.
I long for new sites, smells, and tastes. I am not one to travel to another country and be off doing only touristy things. I prefer to live as the locals do, occasionally doing some touristy things of course. I have some ideas on where I would like to visit, I do consider the food of the country I visit. After all, what’s the point of being in a country if you do not enjoy the food there.
Learning about other cultures is so interesting. However, I don’t want to learn from studying as much as I want to observe and experience it. I want to walk down the streets, go to the grocery stores, eat and talk with the people, see them living their lives, and have them explain some things to me. I want to share my culture and food with them. This is how we should live with each other. An open mind and an open heart.
Sometimes I cannot visit a country, but I can experience a bit of its culture through another country. That’s fine. The picture above was taken when a group of us spent the day at Little World in Japan. It was huge a cultural park with souvenir stores, foods from around the world, historical sites on that part of Japan and folk costumes from around the world. I could only afford to try on two costumes. I tried on a German costume because I am a fan of the German football team, not a hardcore fan, but a fan nonetheless, so most things German interest me. Which is the reason I visited German three years later.
One of my regrets of not staying in Japan longer was that I never got to visit any of the countries in that region that were on my list. I always thought I would have enough time. I visited one country that never made it to my list – South Korea, and the only reason I went was because it was easier and cheaper to visit. One day, I hope to visit Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. I really, really like the Australian cricket team.
Still I was able to visit my beloved, very beloved…to the point of obsession, Ireland, and Norway, Italy, Poland and dear sweet Germany. All were very nice experiences. Some were very pleasant surprises. I was surprised that the foods in Norway and especially Poland were so good. The Norwegians were kind and the country was on par with Japan in cleanness. But, let’s talk about these visits another time. I cannot travel now, so let’s reminisce in my next post.
For all my nomads out there, trapped in our boring homes, figuratively holding our passport, visas, and very little in our pockets, but ready to go as soon as the borders are open. Ready to be trapped in any other country but our own. Willing to recklessly risk not being able to get back home. To ignore being called crazy or stupid by family and friends for daring to dream to see any other part of the world, but home. Let’s keep that dream alive, as we careful prepare for the gates to be open!
On December 9, 2020, I conducted some business in St. Andrew, and I decided that since I was out, I would make the most of it. I wanted to go to my old favourite Japanese restaurant, East Japanese Restaurant, and pick up some Japanese grocery at Hanz Mart. Both were supposed to be at the Market Place off Constant Spring Road. I was excited, and I did not want to take a bunch of public transportation because of covid-19 and I really did not know which buses to take. So I decided to walk. I actually walked from New Kingston, stopped at some book shops, then continued walking to the Market Place. I was a wreck!
I found Hanz Mart, ravaged of Japanese goods by covid-19…Imports from Japan were have been greatly affected. After picking up four items, I settled on two, because one was expired, and the other would soon expire. I took a bottle of ponzu and natto (fermented soybeans).
When I asked the shop attendant about the whereabouts of the restaurant, she told me it had relocated. What was I to do? I was surely deliriously hungry now. I saw a Mediterranean restaurant. Now, looking back, I should have walked around some more to see all the restaurants. I stepped in, there were not many people there. Well, this is the era of corona, of course restaurants are not bustling with life. I got seated, by the hostess/waitress/server. I quickly looked over the menu, calculated how much I was willing to spend and how tasty it sounded. I ordered the Arayes and baklava. The picture and the actual arayes were not twins, they were more like kissing cousins. It looked and bit dry and actually tasted a bit dry.
When I checked the google map picture of the restaurant’s Arayes meal, it really looked quite different. You can see the onions, tomatoes and maybe parsley, mine was just dark. I forgot how much it cost, but it was not cheap. Anyway, time was running out, so I had to stop eating and get home quickly on public transportation. Let me just add that the service at the restaurant was good. I had no complaints until…
So I ask the hostess for a to-go container, and I informed her that I would have to take my much anticipated baklava to go. I got my container, put my food in, and waited for my JM$800 dessert. It came, and I checked it…
To be honest, I it had to be a joke! I was being charged for sweets that should be given out at the cashier as ‘service’ as the Japanese would say. I was extremely disappointed and in shock. You can see my review on Beirut Mediterranean Cuisine here. I am just still in disbelief. If I had any presence of mind, the dessert would have been refused. You live and you learn. I will not return or recommend this restaurant. I am still hoping for a refund or to hear that it was all a mistake, and “Here’s you baklava.” A foodie can hope.
A few days after that ordeal, I made some curry chicken and had it with rice on one day, and home-made rotis another day. I used the worst part of the chicken. I am sure you guess which part? Yes, you guessed it, the breast. I am so not a fan. The texture killed my curry.
So there you have it, a bad dessert experience, a great find, and a somewhat delicious home cooked meal. I have not been out since, but I have another mission next year, so maybe I will use that time to do another solo dining at a favourite restaurant.
Take care, all.
Are you a foodie who is interested in trying a Jamaican meal?
I just posted, on my website, the recipes (English and Japanese) for a traditional Jamaican Sunday dinner. Please try it, and let me know how it turned out for you. My plans are to write a recipe book…some day…soon.