Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jamaican Dining

Jamaica Island Eats
By Hunter Butler

When traveling to a new destination I find that one thing is always true when it comes to food: no one does it better than the locals. Whether you’re in Italy nibbling on gnocchi or in Louisiana enjoying spicy gumbo, the best food can always be found at local spots.

On a recent trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica I was determined to spend my little free time dining out at as many local restaurants as possible to get a true sense of the island. Food in many ways is a direct reflection of a destination’s culture and its people. What would France be without fresh baguettes and croissants, or England without fish and chips? I wanted to experience the real Jamaica.

In an effort to taste Jamaica’s popular local dishes, I arranged for a taxi driver to show me the island and its best local dining spots. I soon found that a driver in Jamaica is more than just someone to take you from point A to point B; he/she is your connection to the island. My driver, Ruth, was better than a Fodor’s guidebook; she knew the best places to dine for an ideal culinary island experience.

Ruth recommended driving an hour south to Negril, a tourist destination boasting many restaurants on spectacular Seven Mile Beach. We arrived in Negril just before noon and stopped in at Cosmo’s Restaurant, a beachfront cafĂ© nestled among palm trees and specializing in West Indian food. Our waitress was a sweet, local islander sporting dreadlocks and a big smile but few words. I asked her opinion on what to order and she replied with a heavy island accent, “the curries, mon.” I ordered the shrimp curry and a ginger beer. Ruth, my taxi driver and now dining partner, ordered the goat curry.

Just 10 minutes later we were served our lunch. The curries were accompanied by island coleslaw with raisins and peas, two traditional side dishes. After much pre-lunch chitchat, Ruth and I became quiet, enjoying both our food and a phenomenal view. My curry was delicious, prepared less spicy as requested, and chock full of fresh shrimp. Ruth mumbled that hers was good, as well, but seemed a bit jaded. Her eyes did light up at the waitress’ mention of cheesecake, a popular dessert among the locals. I passed on dessert and Ruth promised we’d stop on the way home for something more authentic for me to try.

Ruth took me to a local store to introduce me to one of the island’s most popular exports: Jamaican blue coffee. I had heard much about the beauty of the Blue Mountains located in east Jamaica. They have become a haven for mountain bikers and hikers seeking an active vacation and beautiful views. I wanted to explore the coffee plantations but it is at least an eight-hour drive there from Montego Bay and my plane was leaving the next day.

Back at the Round Hill Resort Villa, I made myself a cup of coffee to sip in lieu of my usual afternoon cocktail. How is it that I had never tried these rich and delicious beans? They were full of flavor, putting my morning Folgers to shame. I was about to start my new beach book but then remembered that it was 4PM – Tea Time in Jamaica! Formerly a British territory, Jamaica still honors British culture with its afternoon tea. Guests typically retire to their resort’s dining area and choose from a variety of teas to sip on while enjoying the view. Tea is also served with fresh biscuits (cookies) and sandwiches. A lovely treat!

On the way to the airport the next day Ruth insisted I try the island specialty before leaving for home. Jerk chicken is Jamaica’s the most talked about dish and I was curious to taste the authentic version. Ruth turned off the main road to the airport and parked near something that looked like an old beat up gas station. I began to wonder if I should have just referred to my guidebook for dining recommendations rather than relying on Ruth; this looked like one shady establishment. However, as we entered the open-air restaurant I saw that it was one of the island’s most popular haunts. The air smelled of fresh cooked meat and locals and tourists filled the tables swatting away flies as they ate their food.

The menu consisted of two options, jerk pork and jerk chicken. I chose both to celebrate my last day of vacation. Jerk is a seasoning, a spicy mix of island herbs, which is rubbed on the meat and then cooked over an open wood-burning fire. Ketchup is the condiment of choice for this spicy meal as it helps reduce the hot sensation of the jerk spice. The pork was a bit dry but the chicken was delicious. I washed the meal down with a cold Red Strip and grinned at Ruth. In my short time on Jamaica she had showed me the best of the best in local dining and she had done her job well.

So next time you travel somewhere new avoid the temptation to eat or snack at ever-present favorites like Starbucks or McDonald’s and try an authentic local spot instead.

More information on the spectacular Seven Mile Beach and Cosmo’s Restaurant, as well as vacation villas in Jamaica can be found at Blue Escapes.

Author: Hunter Butler | Blue Escapes | info[at]blueescapes[dot]com | 512-472-8832 | 800-556-4801

SEO Advocate, Troy Perkins

Article Source:

Jamaica's Beaches

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

History of Jamaica

History of Jamaica

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jamaican Vacations

Traveling in Jamaica
By Ross Bainbridge

Jamaica is a rich island country located in the Caribbean Sea. It is an exotic mix of lush mountains, pristine beaches, warm locals, and delectable cuisine. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Caribbean, attracting tourists from all parts of the world. Jamaica's rich culture and traditions are products of the melding of British and African customs spiced with Asian influences. Travelers are often attracted to the rich combination of cultures that Jamaica offers. Reggae, distinctly Jamaican, is highly popular worldwide. It is what launched Bob Marley to stardom and typifies Jamaican soul.

Traveling in Jamaica may be considered to be one of the most relaxing experiences for travelers. Innately laidback, Jamaica offers a relaxing ambiance amidst bustling cityscapes and busy beaches. Travelers can enjoy the pristine waters of Jamaica along beach resorts lining Jamaican coasts. A wide range of beachfront resorts, hotels, and inns are available all over Jamaica, which fits the needs and budget of tourists. Accommodations may be easily booked through travel agents or through the Internet, depending on availability.

A variety of water activities are available for travelers. This includes scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, fishing, and island boat tours. For those who prefer to enjoy Jamaica's lush mountains, trekking and hiking activities are also available. Jamaica may also be explored in a variety of ways. Tourists often rent motorcycles for accessibility while in Jamaica. Renting open jeeps is also a popular option for tourists in Jamaica. For those who are not keen on renting vehicles, public transport systems, such as cabs and jeeps, are also available.

Because of the popularity of Jamaica as a top tourist destination, travelers are advised to plan and book their trips in advance. Aside from securing plane tickets and accommodations in advance, some travel agents, airlines, and hotels may also offer substantial discounts on advanced bookings.

Jamaica provides detailed information on Jamaica, Jamaica Resorts, Jamaica Weather, All Inclusive Jamaica Vacations and more. Jamaica is affiliated with Jamaica Vacation Packages.

Article Source: