MEET STREET! – A NIGHT AT THE JA FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL
Greetings & salutations jenkle people!!
Food Food Food! The third staging of the week long Jamaica Food & Drink festival has come to a close and based on the reviews on social media, it looks like it was a hit! The festival consisted of 7 events, but the team and I only made it out to Meet Street which we have done every year since the inception of the festival. Personally, it’s a joy to see the growth of local brands as the years progress, and it’s great that the organizers have created a festival like this with different themed events catering to people from all walks of life.
This year’s staging of Meet Street was held at the Waterfront in Downtown, Kingston and let me tell you I think this was the best one yet.
So here’s the rundown. When it started, Meet Street event was originally billed as one which highlighted food trucks, but this year the theme was “Meet Street & The Market – Food Fair & Marketplace.” Essentially what that meant, is that the event this year wasn’t just going to have a food truck focus, but it would be a “Food Fair & Marketplace that caters to all palates with a wide array of food trucks, restaurants, food booths, pop-ups, food supplies and urban crafts.” So said so done. This year’s event had the most booths I’ve seen since they have started. There was a good mix of both food, crafts, drinks, and a lot of entertainment.
There were a whole bunch of food purveyors on site, and this year I definitely tried way more options than I did at the first two stagings. Of course we couldn’t try everything, and I didn’t get pics of everything we did try but there is more in the Episode 1 of #DownDiRoad SEASON 2. Episode one is called #MEETSTREET!
Let me highlight the booths that the team and I visited (before the camera battery died), as well as give you a little review and some information on them.
Super Spicy Doubles
So ‘Super Spicy Doubles‘ is the brainchild of Trinidadian chef and caterer Nicole Hall. Passion is a crazy ting. The story goes that Hall quit her law practice and traded in the case files for curry powder! Super Spicy Doubles was born and they now operate daily via catering events, or their daily delivery service.
So the first thing I tried from there was the ‘shark & bake,’ a dish I have been wanting to try for years. The shark and bake is a popular Trinidadian street food, which is shark meat and condiments slapped between a soft flatbread. Super Spicy Doubles substitutes the shark meet for catfish which Ms. Hall assured me tasted almost the same. With the meat, there was lettuce, tomato and pineapples, so it was like a really soft sandwich topped with their signature sauce. The sauce is a chutney called ‘Chadon Beni’ made from cilantro and it added so much flavour, I might have to link Ms. Hall for a bottle.
We also had the chicken ‘doubles’ which is also another popular Trinidadian street food. A flatbread is used as well, but this one is flatter and softer, and filled with curried chickpeas & shredded chicken topped with that ‘Chadon Beni’ sauce of course. It was really good I didn’t expect the chickpeas to taste so good. I will be making an order from Super Spicy Doubles real soon!
Check out Chef Nicole Hall’s Super Spicy Doubles
Call or WhatsApp them for orders at 876-361-2243. Order from 9-5:30 pm Tue. – Thur. & until 8:00 pm Fri & Sat.
Facebook -> superspicydoubles
Instagram -> superspicydoubles
Street Food Saturdays
So I heard from the shout that a booth called ‘Street Food Saturdays’ had some really good food. Based on the reviews, the Smoked Corn Pork Sliders, Rum-Fiah Shrimp, and Saltfish Mac & Cheese balls looked like the popular dishes. I decided to take one for the team, so I got us the Mac & Cheese Balls <
YYYY Y> which were freshly made and steaming hot. The flavour was really good and they had a spicy sweet sauce on top that I really liked. Chef and owner Simone Walker-Barrett recommended that we pair it with the saltfish avocado sauce which was supposed to cut the saltiness, but I don’t think any of us really liked that one (LOL). All in all the food was good and I hope I get to attend Street Food Saturdays at some point in time.
Chef Walker-Barrett hosts the event every last Saturday of the month in Mount James District, Golden Spring, St. Andrew. Basically it’s a picnic which consists of her twist on Jamaican cuisine, in a family oriented a fun environment.
Now imagine. Walking through the venue and seeing a HUGE pot of yellow rice. I mean we know Jamaicans love our rice, but when you see something like this it catches your eye. We stopped by the ilovepaella.jm booth and tried out their specialty Valencian paella and surprisingly it was good. I really didn’t know what to expect because I had no idea what paella even was, it just looked like some sort of special fried rice. I was close. Paella is a world-famous dish, which originated in the region of Valencia, in Eastern Spain. Basically it’s a rice dish which combined whatever ingredients were available, in one huge pot on an open flame.
The Valencian paella, which had a unique flavour combination that compensates for the ‘freshness’ of the rice which I didn’t mind at all. I didn’t get the name of the Chef, but he told me he was from Spain and ilovepaella operates the Jamaican branch of the company on a catering only & special event basis. They specialize in Mediterranean food like paellas, tapas and more.
Mark Chong’s Catering
To be honest, I really didn’t expect to have crabs at this event. We passed by some people eating crabs and asked them where they got it, so they pointed us back the way we were coming from & told us MarkChong’s Custom Catering was the place to be. We got a mix of their Ginger, Garlic and Spicy crabs and it was so tender you could eat the shells. Really great flavour on these soft shell crabs and the portion was huge for only $1000 JMD.
Funny story about this booth. A guy came up to us and asked us if he could have some. I was confused but we said sure, only to find out that it was the Chef Mark Chong himself creating some mischief! Chef Chong gave me an impromptu interview and gave me a little history on his company and the services they offer. They have been around for about 20 years and his specialty is crabs, but he offers a wide variety of menu options and services. You can literally customize and build your order on his website!
I think this was my favourite meal of the night and one of the most memorable encounters so be sure to catch the exchange on #DownDiRoad – MEET STREET.
House of Loaves
House of Loaves was the only place I stopped that I actually knew about, and that’s because I pass the truck out on Garelli Avenue in New Kingston quite often. It’s funny that this was still the first time that I was trying their food. The House of Loaves line was the longest all night! Literally every time we passed it was so long. We finally decided that we’d join it because I heard that had an Oxtail Grilled Cheese sandwich that was sick!
Boodoodoop it was done!
I think I was so bummed that I didn’t truly enjoy my replacement Lobster roll, but the bread was A1! Mark got the chicken and waffles which he said was good but by then we were ready to move on to some Copperwood before the camera battery died. You can check out The House of Loaves food truck on Garelli Avenue or follow their social media pages for updates on the events their truck will be at.
There was some more food in between House of Loaves and DeafCANCoffee but check out the new episode of #DownDiRoad for that. We were ready to leave but somebody said we should go back and check out DeafCAN. So this booth was really interesting. Their Instagram page describes them as a “Gospel-rooted Social Enterprise that exists to engage, equip and empower Deaf youth to believe in their abilities, dream big and thrive.”
So check it. This booth was almost fully operated by deaf teenagers and your adults, who did everything from taking the orders, to preparing and serving the coffee. The orders were taken electronically from a really cool iPad app that punches in everything that you need, then rings up your total and prints out your receipt. No need for words! After the receipt rings out, the coffee is prepared and the server shows the number, which you match up, and voila; ‘DEAF CAN COFFEE.’
I had the Nitro Cold Brew which I’m surprised I even had space left to finish.
If you are interested in finding out more about their movement, or interested in supporting and donating to DeafCANCoffee check out these links
Website -> deafcancoffee.com
Facebook -> DeafCanCoffee
Instagram -> deafcancoffee
All in all, I think the organizers of The JA Food & Drink Festival are really doing some good work. Meet Street is something I have been going to since I first heard about it, and I don’t think it will be missing me next year or the year after that. The venue continues to get bigger and bigger as well as the crowd, so one can only hope for continued growth and expansion.
Who knows, maybe one day we will attract even more Caribbean patrons and participants? Picture a Caribbean Food Festival with the best from all the islands, hosted in Jamaica! Food for thought.
Check out some pics below and don’t forget the visuals from the new episode of #DownDiRoad is coming later this week with even more of the places that we stopped!
Until the next one! – Doofy Duane