Devon Dick | The cuisine : A Jewel in paradise
During a recent stay at Jewel Paradise Cove Hotel, the culinary department served up a cuisine I can describe only as heavenly. We arrived at noon which was too early for check-in so we had hours to eat at lunchtime.
We were not the only ones who thought the cuisine was of a high standard, but a repeat guest gave us unsolicited information that she is returning only because of how she was treated repeatedly to a mango drink by a waitress. So moved was this Canadian visitor that she wrote a letter of commendation about the staff member to the dynamic general manager, Barbara Burton.
Jamaican cuisine is very important to locals and visitors. In 1999, this reality dawned on me when renowned publisher, Ian Randle, told me that his bestseller was Enid Donaldson's book The Real Taste of Jamaica, published in 1994. I was hoping that my two books, the one chronicling the contribution of the Jamaican Church in nation building, Rebellion to Riot, and the other the Cross and the Machete, in which I argued that it was the Christian faith and not murderous intentions that motivated National Heroes Paul Bogle and George William Gordon in the 1865 Morant Bay uprising, would do as well. I secretly hoped that the combined sales of my books would match Donaldson's book but people had a larger appetite for her book rather than for mine. The moral of the story is history books cyaan eat.
Food is very important, and good-tasting food which is appropriately prepared with the proper nutrients is nourishing and satisfying. In addition, new and different dishes can be exciting and make eating a pleasure, a great time of fellowship and inspiration. Eating quality food can put one in the mood for great work and much fun.
This hotel, like so many hotels in Jamaica, has a Jamaican Corner with such items as dasheen, sweet potato and the usual ackee and salt fish. Surprisingly, there was Mexican food such as taco with meat filling and served with accompaniments like sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce and cheese. There was also a Panini Station. That is variety for any guest.
There was food for the health conscious and vegetarians. There was lentil and corn soup with sugar-free bread.
One guest had the stewed pork and said she was going to make a special request for it to be available for her dinner. It was that good. There was lamb chops but I missed not having a mint jelly. The mango ginger sauce, nevertheless, was a good accompaniment. The coconut rice, shrimp salad, salt fish and curried plantain all added to the spread. It was a feast at one sitting. In addition to a variety of smoothies made in our presence, there was freshly squeezed orange juice done by a machine in front of the guests!
I prefer seeing the food prepared whether it is at the Japanese restaurant or at the pasta station, or at the grill or seeing the chef making an omelette. It is reassuring to view the conditions under which the food is cooked and to be given the opportunity to have some influence in the portions and ingredients.
The pastries would be a delight for any palate. There was Banana Upside Down Cake, sugar-free vanilla rum custard; eggless rum and raisin bread pudding with a vanilla rum sauce and twenty-year-old rum ball. Eating was a delight and a pleasure.
And then one could work off some calories by going upstairs to one's room; there are no elevators. Furthermore, this is the only hotel with approximately a dozen outdoor exercise stations with tips on doing some meaningful fitness routines. A really healthy experience at Jewel Paradise hotel.
As we celebrate today as the beginning of our tourism season, we hail all hotels that use the produce of our land and sea in their creative cuisines, making it heavenly for the guests.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.