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BELOW LEFT: Coffee beans at the Old Tavern Coffee Estate
in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. RIGHT: Visiting the
Craighton Estate coffee plantation in Irish Town.
pimento wood. Below, hardwood
coals cook the meat without the
flames ever touching it.
pit masters set corrugated metal on
top of the grilling meats, trapping
the smoke, for incredibly moist and
Patrons order at the counter, and
food is packaged up in
for transporting to the beach. But I
prefer to eat there, grabbing an openair seat under a thatched roof, listening to reggae music and watching
the pit masters skillfully stoke the
fire. In addition to the Montego Bay
location, Scotchies has an outpost in
Ocho Rios, as well.
Thirty minutes south of Ocho
Rios on Route A1 is Pen, a spot
with about 30 outdoor food stalls
serving Jamaican specialties, where
you can try two of the most
iconic dishes. One Stop does
an incredible version of ackee and
salt fish. The starchy ackee fruit has
the buttery texture of an avocado.
Here, boiled and then
with salted codfish, onions, Scotch
bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices.
the national dish of Jamaica, and
while it may sound and look weird,
A few stalls away, Shack
specializes in goat curry. This
origins stem back to the 19th century,
when migrant workers from India
landed in Jamaica. In a culinar
game of telephone, what started out
as an Indian dish changed dramatically as hard-to-find Indian spices
were replaced with local ingredients.
Today, 100 percent Jamaican.
Goat meat is simmered with garlic
scallions, salt, pepper, thyme, curry
and Scotch bonnet peppers, then
served with rice. Any Jamaican will
tell you that goat curry takes them
back to childhood family suppers.
Lastly, you may need to leave your
hotel to experience prized
Blue Mountain coffee. The rare beans
grow at high altitude in the
eastern Blue Mountains. The cooler
temperatures create a bean that renders a dense, rich and mellow brew.
This coffee is so beloved by the world
that the majority of it is exported.
However, that mean that a
cup of Blue Mountain brew is impossible to find.
In 1985, the Sharp family started
growing coffee at their mountain
estate. Owners Jason and Richard
Sharp attribute their worldclass coffee not only to climate but
to their harvesting process. All of
their beans are handpicked and sorted manually according to density,
then roasted. In 2005, the Sharps
opened Cafe Blue in Irish Town, near
their farm, and later also in Montego
Bay and Kingston. They sell baked
goods, sandwiches and gussied-up
coffee drinks, but their Blue
Mountain brew that makes it worth
your while to leave your beachside
For more from chef, author and teacher
Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre
Foods on the Travel Channel, go to
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