Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taste Trippin' Part Seven


It's that time again. No matter that the sun is still shining in Chicago and the temps haven't dipped to their customarily frigid levels, it's the season to travel to one of my favorite islands. There are very few places that can match Jamaica's stunning beauty but what I love most of all is the island's unparalleled culture. Music and food are the hallmark's of genuine Jamaica culture and I like to envelop myself in both at Chicago's Ja Grill. No, there's no palm trees and there's no lyrical patois floating everywhere but there is ackee and saltfish.  The national dish of Jamaica is a savory blend of salted cod and mild ackee fruit, traditionally served for breakfast. The ackee is a  delicate, pale yellow,West African fruit that is poisonous until it's fully ripe, which is why I leave it to the experts to cook up one of my favorite dishes in the world. So I grabbed my friends and flew over to Jamaica via JA Grill and spent three hours at their legendary Sunday brunch. With vintage ska music pumping through the color-splashed walls, I immediately ordered the ackee and saltfish, above. Rice and peas, cabbage and plantains round out this meal and you would think that's all I'd need but you would be wrong.



By the time the music switched to Bob Marley classics, Sheila the Bajan Beach Bunny had ordered a plate of curried goat, above. The buffet is all you can eat and requires well-conditioned stamina and pacing. I sampled a bowl of fruit before I started my ackee and saltfish, as well as festival, a slightly sweet cornmeal and flour fritter.


The next dish that we ordered was the curried chicken, with heaping sides of callaloo, a leafy green vegetable also called amaranth and the requisite rice and peas and plantains. I really didn't have any room for any of the curry so I rested and lounged until I regained my energy.



The ital stew pictured above, a creamy mixture of vegetables simmered in coconut milk was tempting so I took two whole spoonfuls before I had to retire eating for the rest of the day. The Beach Bunny wouldn't hear of that until I had ended our munching marathon on the expected sweet note.


The sweetness arrived in the form of  fluffy waffles and butter rum syrup.  The actual dish consisted of jerk chicken and waffles but there's no way we'd survive that so we settled for a small taste of the waffles with divine butter rum syrup that was strong enough to make me woozy. We stumbled out of the brunch stuffed and satisfied, the only thing missing was a hammock to catch a quick cat nap under the beaming (Chicago) sun.

13 comments:

Angela said...

These look delicious! I've seen quite often restaurants and fair stalls of Jamaican food but never had the chance to try it out, although they did look appetizing. Next time I shall give it a try for sure :)

Fly Girl said...

Angela, your life won't be complete until you taste Jamaican food! Don't pass up another chance.

Catherine said...

All these dishes look so appetising and appealing - mind you I am enjoying the taste of Provence here on the Riviera...

Fly Girl said...

Catherine, I love Jamaican food but I wouldn't mind a taste of Prvovence!

A Cuban In London said...

You know what, Fly Girl, it's just as well that I have a steak in the fridge, which I seasoned about an hour ago. Or else, I would be licking the computer screen. I love, love, love Jamaican cuisine. And I'm privileged to have a good restaurant nearby.

Thank you very much. I love the way you mix the culture and atmosphere with the food.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Oh Cubano, you never have to worry about getting Jamaican food in London, that's one of the reason's I love London Town. Which is a good thing actually, because I really don't eat English food.

Oneika said...

Loving the rice and peas. For some reason I feel like it taste better when they serve it in that shape... LOL.

Just recently started following you and love your blog.

http://oneika-the-traveller.blogspot.com

Fly Girl said...

Oneika, Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm off to visit you right now.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Even when some of it is not quite my taste, it still looks delicious.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, I think you would change your mind if you had to taste these dishes!

nicole is the new black said...

Hi Fly Girl! man that looks good, I JUST made waffles this morning LOL. I need some west indian food in my life. they have it in berlin but its just hard to come by

Fly Girl said...

Nicole, Caribbean food is a life necessity, I could not survive without it!

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

A wonderful food experience, then! Thanks for sharing this one...