It’s Caribbean food week.
Caribbean food seems to have been around for a long time in the UK but it hasn’t taken off like Chinese, Indian and even, more recently, Mexican food has.
We are not sure why that is and we were personally saddened when Ochis Caribbean restaurant in Darlington closed a few years ago as it always seemed to be ahead of its time – or perhaps diners in Darlington now have more choices when it comes to world food.
One of our favourite restaurants in the whole world is a Caribbean restaurant and you only have to travel to Devon (ok, still a fair trek for us northerners!) to experience it. We are talking about Verna’s Pepper Shack in the wonderful fishing town of Brixham.
No visit to Brixham is complete without a visit to the Pepper Shack. The Chef Verna hails from Trinidad and produces some amazing, authentic Caribbean meals, including her signature dish goat curry, which has to be tasted to be believed.
Outside the bigger cities, we are not sure why there are not more Caribbean restaurants, or even takeaways, in the UK and when you consider some of the following dishes, we are sure you will agree:
- Jerk chicken – perhaps the most well-known Caribbean dish, this spicy marinade containing chillies, garlic, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon and much, much more, makes even a plain meat like chicken taste great.
- Goat curry – if you can’t get to Brixham, then try making it yourself; it’s fairly easy as you are effectively making a basic curry sauce – onion, garlic, chillies, curry leaves, curry powder, ginger and thyme – before adding goat shoulder, tomatoes and stock and cooking slowly for a few hours.
- Pepperpot – Simmered in huge pots (hence the name) this is a thick, rich stew generally containing beef, aubergine, okra, squash, potatoes, but there’s lots of regional variations depending where you are in the Caribbean.
- Callallo – Brought to the Caribbean from slaves from Africa, this is a vegetable stew (yes they like their stews in the Caribbean) made with leafy greens, peppers, okra, coconut milk and either meat or seafood.
- Plantain – This unsweet variety of banana can be served savoury (plantain chips are lovely) or sweet. Try smearing them with butter, sugar, salt, pepper and orange juice and putting them on the BBQ (in foil) for 30 minutes – wonderful.
We hope that whetted your appetite for Caribbean Food Week; it certainly has for us!