Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Strawberry Hill: The Experience

Published:Thursday | August 8, 2019 | 12:07 AMJessica Harrison
Next visit, ask for the ‘Blackwell Rum Punch’
Fish, anyone?
Chef Romar Ford with the prepared escovitch shrimp.
Oh-la-la, dessert!
Have you ever had escovitched shrimp?
Name a more dynamic duo besides this oxtail and curried goat. Go on, we’ll wait.
The ‘Strawberry Bliss’ is just that: blissful.
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If your zest for life includes a deep appreciation for nature, good food and mini road trips, join us on this tantalising and harmonious journey up Strawberry Hill.

The road to the Strawberry Hill Hotel and Spa extends from the busy square of Papine to Irish town and despite being narrow, it is beautifully paved, making the journey an easy, scenic route. Upon entering the grounds, the lush vegetation and beautiful views of both Kingston and the Blue Mountains will take your breath away. And, if you’re into animals, the two resident dogs, affectionately called ‘Whitey’ and ‘Sugar’, will be there to greet you with bright eyes and wagging tails, along with the exceptional hotel staff.

“I’m used to working in big commercial hotels but the charm here at Strawberry Hill is what keeps me going. I also enjoy how personal the experience is for me as I get to greet each guest when they arrive, call them by name during their stay here, and say goodbye when it’s time for them to leave,” said General Manager Dianna Marley.

Dining

Strawberry Hill boasts several all-white, open dining areas with wooden floorboards. The tables are already beautifully set when you arrive and the wait time is pretty short.

Each dish placed before us was a sight to behold and a taste worthy of being savoured. The escovitch shrimp was ample and oozed flavour with every bite. Served in a pineapple shell, we are definitely giving extra points for presentation. Chef Romar Ford paired it with a basic salad consisting of baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted almonds. For an extra kick, we suggest drizzling a little of their in house strawberry vinaigrette.

A nice serving of oxtail or curried goat will put a smile on any Jamaican’s face, but imagine a restaurant where you can order both at one price? Ladies and gentlemen, take our advice: ditch the menu and just order the ‘Jamaican Duo’. It is served with rice and peas and slices of fried ripe plantain. “We actually got the recipe from Chris Blackwell’s past personal chef. There is an extra pinch of this and that to differentiate our oxtail and curried goat from others, while keeping the same Jamaican flavour you know and love,” said Chef Teino, formally known as Kehmar Sterling.

Drinks

We then made our way to the bar to confirm all the buzz about the most popular Strawberry Hill mixes, ‘Strawberry Bliss’ and the ‘Blackwell Rum Punch’. Each drink was carefully designed by a Strawberry Hill mixologist years ago. The Strawberry Bliss was as refreshing as a mimosa, as it is made up the same way. It is usually served as a complimentary drink for the Sunday brunch, but of course, it is popular among guests and as such, very frequently ordered. The Blackwell Rum Punch is a coloured gentleman’s drink that will pack a punch, depending on the amount of Jack Daniel’s rum you can manage. Date night this week could possibly be a romantic evening, enjoying cocktails in front of an open fire while overlooking the Kingston city lights.

Last, the desserts. Appeasing one sweet tooth at a time, Strawberry Hill is known for its Baileys cheesecake. Not too sweet with the consistency of perfection, every bite is bound to take you to a ‘foodgasm’. Remember the potato pudding you couldn’t resist buying every Saturday from the lady in town with the fat arms? Strawberry Hill will remind you of what made you fell in love with potato pudding in the first place.

What are you waiting for? Put down the paper and gather your friends because they’re serving lunch in a few!

jessica.harrison@gleanerjm.com