Jamaican taste with international flair: A deliciously distinguished combination
It was an event filled with flair and flavour as The Distinguished awardees and specially invited guests graced The Jamaica Pegasus for the long-awaited gala and dinner on Monday evening.
Once the elegant attendees walked the red carpet, they mingled while sipping on cocktails courtesy of Baileys and having their appetites whet with a rich display of mixed dried fruits and nuts from Sunshine Snacks.
With the hobnobbing complete, honourees et al entered the transformed Grand Jamaica Suite where they were transported to a symphony of Jamaican notes elevated to savour with an international flair.
According to Executive Chef Mark Cole, based on the clients’ request, he aimed to create dishes that were made popular overseas and add as much Jamaican influence as possible.
The ‘yard meets abroad’ culinary journey began with the soup selection. Made with yellow heart breadfruit and roasted pumpkin, the soup stayed true to the cream of pumpkin soup rubric and was garnished with crunchy cinnamon croutons.
“We used the same concept of a cream of pumpkin soup to create the yellow heart breadfruit and then made some croutons from pumpkin, dicing it and roasting it before folding it into the soup and adding crunchy cinnamon croutons as well, to balance the dish,” Chef Cole told Food.
From there, we landed at dish destination number two: the salad. It doesn’t get more island than tropical fruits. All marinated with a balsamic and naseberry emulsion, it was perfectly paired with the breaded tomato with organic greens and smoked gouda cheese.
“For the salad, the international flair came with the smoked gouda cheese. And the Jamaican influence is in the fruits,” he added.
The sorbet was up next and it was certainly a showstopper. Originating from France, Chef Cole shared, a sorbet is useful to cleanse the palate before going on to another course.
With lemon being the usual primary ingredient, the good chef decided to create a culinary twist by making a sweetsop and soursop sorbet, presenting the same tangy flavour while doing its job by cleansing the palate. Those who had the privilege of tasting this would notice a nice hint of spice in the mix, due to the wonderful presence of Scotch bonnet pepper.
“This welcomes the next course with the right flavours. It’s an interesting sorbet; an original recipe,” he revealed. And it doesn’t get more Jamaican than soursop, sweetsop, and Scotch bonnet pepper.
The ‘feastivities’ continue with an enchanting surf and turf delight. Blue Mountain coffee was used to marinate the beef tenderloin. “After it sits for a couple of hours, we coat it on the outside to give it this nice crust and coffee flavour. But there’s a trick that we do so that it doesn’t come across bitter to the taste,” Chef Cole highlighted.
Important to note is because beef pairs so well with wine, the tenderloin was cooked in the Jamaican Red Label Wine reduction.
The star of the salmon portion of the dish was actually evident in the co-stars, the mango and the dill which is poured over the lightly cooked salmon.
Bread pudding is a big deal in Jamaica. He decided to seal the dinner with a native bread and butter pudding, incorporating pimento and serving it with a side of fruit compote.
The deliciously distinguished combinations deserve a standing ovation.