Jamaica On A Platter
“JAMAICA ON A PLATTER – LET THE EATING BEGIN!”
This March – We entertained our first official guests, the first ones who read the Island Outpost, JAMAICA ON A PLATTER brochure file://localhost/(https/::www.strawberryhillhotel.com:explore:jamaica-on-a-platter:) and bought the package, cold, off the shelf, trusting us to deliver an extraordinary Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Culinary Experience, using Strawberry Hill as the “ultimate Blue Mountain base camp” and it was Kismet!
March 23 ,THURSDAY: Jenifer and Tim arrive. They are serious foodies residing in Grand Cayman – a commuter flight to Jamaica… they land early morning… I was headed about the same time to Kingston from Oracabessa, St. Mary to meet them. My breakfast stop that morning was Castleton Gardens, where a little cookshop sells sweet crunchy hot Bammy and fried Spratt…I indulge, and think simultaneously “this is heven“ and "LET THE EATING BEGIN!”
Jen & Tim get started early…checking into Strawberry Hill in time for Welcome Blackwell Rum Cocktails, and lunch, they hang by the pool, stroll the garden, Gold Room and Spa.
We meet early evening, after a knockout Strawberry Hill sunset and relighting of Kingston, which never fails to impress… Already well chill and enjoying every moment. Jen and Tim give that first Strawberry Hill Dinner experience with Wine Paring all 5 stars…
March 24, FRIDAY/ 9:30 AM - After a fine Jamaican breakfast, the seasonal Star Apple fruit plate, Ackee, Callaloo and Bammy; we drive down the mountain to Kingston. First stop Coffee Trader’s Roasting and Packaging plant. Coffee Traders is one of the island's top exporters of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. The family owned company, incorporates all aspects of coffee production from bean to cup, farming to roasting it’s own, and other Premium Brand Estate Coffees. The plant is impressive and we quickly learned a lot about how an impeccable commercial specialty Coffee Roaster operates - truly awesome.
Then to Devon House for the best Pattie in Jamaica”… I dare anyone to challenge me…(Well maybe Talsey’s at Pantrepant…)
Coronation Market is wonderful in every way… dense, textured, live … we buy produce we can’t resist… a pineapple majestically peeled by a woman – usually PinePeeling is a man’s domain… and generally, it’s a Peacock that loves the attention… a wonderfully peeled pineapple is a beautiful skill… We buy the Pine, coconuts, June Plum, Guava, Cocoa Balls, Paw Paw, roast Breadfruit, anything that looks good and might contribute to our Island Picnic at Clifton Mount, on the morrow.
We are Downtown – the architecture is intriguing, not a grandiose Havana, but a gracious 1950’s Jamaica… so close to the sea front… wharves and warehouses, a sea port community with transient wealth and pirates. Fleet Street and the Paint Jamaica, Plant Jamaica project accessible. This is an Inner-city neighborhood, deeply divided by politics. The Youth we meet and the inspired murals lend hope. Our conversation is gardening, most specifically, composting and Jamaica Politrix..
This is a Culinary Tour so opportunity to explore a Grocery Store is practical and appreciated, especially upon finding a banquet of local jams, jellies, sauces, spices, rubs, coffee’s, tea, honey, liquors, confections, processed meats and fish, soups, baked goods, all ‘Made in Jamaica’.
We’ve got a little time before Tea @ Belcour with Robin Lim Lumsden. Tim is ready for a cold Red Stripe and enjoying the downtown vibe, we find The Kentucky Drinking Saloon… with 3 stools a couple of gambling machines, a bartender with a great wig, false lashes and lacquered nails that are truly a work of art, the clientele immediately offer us seats, we are welcome…
4 PM Belcour, and we are home, almost literally. Robin and Michael Lumsden open their home, their magnificent garden, and their kitchen to us wholeheartedly. Tea consisted of Tea, if we wanted it, but also Bloody Mary’s and Coconut Water, with or without Rum were on offer, and Scotch Eggs, Artichoke Dip, Sweet Potatoe Pudding, Homade Scones, and crackers, Honey Comb and Pollen with Belcour's spectacular line of Jams and Sauces. We talked about Bee Keeping, as Jen and Tim are contemplating acquiring a hive. The afternoon recipes came from Robin’s outstanding Belcour Cookbook & fascinating family memoir.
Back to base camp, I leave Jen and Tim to relish the Strawberry Hill sunset, the Dinner they are looking forward to, (Tim has requested Oxtail) and a sweet Blue Mountain sleep…
March 25, SATURDAY: Is Blue Mountain Coffee Estates Day. Strawberry Hill is 3,000 ft. above sea level – we will climb the mountains another 1,500 ft. to another world. Because of the cool and the damp mountain mist, rainfall usually over 200 inches per year, volcanic soil, it is another ecosystem entirely. It takes Blue Mountain Coffee 10 months from bloom to harvest, almost twice as long as coffee grown in lower regions. That’s it’s magic, the lengthy ripening process enhances the flavor of the beans. On the way up the mountain, we stopped at EITS https://www.facebook.com/17MilePost/ for the most delicious Soup and homemade Bread to enhance our picnic. Yes, Yum!
Twyman’s Old Tavern Blue Mountain Coffee Estate is Jamaica’s artisan coffee roaster, a coffee aficionado’s dream, and David Twyman is living it. David is an engaging host, we taste coffee, hear about the process, bean to cup, walk out into the farm and then purchase coffee straight from the roaster!
Now, through Newcastle – historic military training camp – motto: No Obstacle to difficult, No Task too great! The Camp’s architecture is a romantic Jamaican Georgian dating from 1840, when the base was established to escape the Malaria epidemic in Kingston. The camp was a success and has survived to this day… A drive through the camp takes us up to Clifton Mount - the most beautiful Blue Mountain Coffee Estate in Jamaica – I dare anyone to challenge me! Richard Sharp’s garden is a riot of color! The Clifton Mount story is rich and juicy… The views from here are astounding, across the Grand Ridge of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, including the Peak at 7,402 feet above sea level.
We enjoy one hell of a picnic, with our EITS treats, all the bounty from Coronation Market, plus plenty more Jamaican delicacies - Smoked Marlin, Bun & Cheese, Jerk Chicken, Coconut Drops, Brittle, Red Stripe, Ting, Ginger Beer – Rum spiked to taste.
The Heritage Gardens of Cold Spring are designed around the architectural features of an 18th Century Coffee Pulpery. Mathew Wallen, eminent naturalist, built Cold Spring and here he grew and processed coffee, introducing bamboo, watercress, nasturtiums and dandelion to Jamaica! Back to Strawberry Hill in time for a late afternoon swim, spa or Luxury Nap…
March 26, SUNDAY morning… the church bells ring from St.Marks, the 19th century Anglican Chapel visible from the back garden at Strawberry Hill… we rally and walk out to find the congregation (maybe a doz.) are singing. It’s not a long walk, maybe an hour, and set’s us up for another fine breakfast and the rest of the day spent between Room, Pool, Spa, Dining Room and Bar.
Cayman flight leaves Kingston early evening, giving Jenifer and Tim the day to digest.
Jamaica On a Platter, is offered last weekend of every month. Space is very limited (6 - 8 Persons. )
Call Strawberry Hill Reservations & Please Book Early!
Friday – only closed toe shoes at Coffee Traders – no sandals, no jewelry. And then to Coronation Market… leave your jewelry off and wear your sneakers.
Wrap, for cool Strawberry Hill evenings.
Water repellant jacket for Mountains.
Binoculars. (Great birding.)