Counting Down To The Awards
Fresh-from-the-farm veggies, chocolate treats and grilled sausages enlivened taste buds at last Monday's three-course Jamaica Observer Food Awards judging session. Journeying into Kingston from Potosi farm in Trelawny were Adam Miller and Marika Kessler who brought variety boxes of just-picked vegetables, herbs and roots, as well as healthy fixings of salads to the table. Caribbean Broilers' new Bad Dawg sausage was the second course, with the unanimous verdict being the grilled pork product was "juicy" and "plump". Chocolatier Michelle Smith tidily wrapped up the evening with calorie-rich, sinfully delicious dessert offerings. Thursday Food pulls out a seat for you at the judging table at the Spanish Court Hotel.
Best Kept Secret Nominee # 2
Farmer Joe & Jane Come To Town
Adam Miller and his partner Marika Kessler defy the farmer stereotype. Extremely articulate and attractive, the pair run their 85-acre Potosi Farms in Trelwany which is nestled in the foothills of the Cockpit Country mountains. As the judges learnt from Miller's slide presentation that showed the evolution of the lands - complete with multiple varieties of seeds and pods, roots, vegetables, and herbs planted in parallel rows - the two are very keen on sustainable development. "Variety is your greatest asset to pest control," Miller told the room. To this end, Potosi Farms maximises the space of the farmland. Okra, watermelon, red cabbage, broccolli and cauliflower are grown right alongside eggplant, parsley, and cherry tomatoes. Miller revealed that currently, Potosi is in negotiations with a number of restaurants and hotels to grow products for their specific use." Our mission is to narrow" he said, "The gap between grower and consumer by providing freshly harvested earth to plate produce". He also said the company, which has seven employees, is looking to expand its clientele. The company provides delivery service on the Duncans to Kingston (via Junction) route on Wednesdays and Falmouth to Negril on Thursdays.
On The Grill
Following the refreshing Potosi Farms presentation, guests retreated outdoors to the piazza -- beautifully arranged bistro-style by the Spanish Court staff -- to indulge in hot dogs. With the scent of pork wafting in the air, we were more than curious about Caribbean Broilers' Bad Dawg sausages which were being tended to by Chef Gairy Bowes. On hand to offer information about Bad Dawg was the product's brand manager, Alicia Bogues. She explained that Caribbean Broilers is strategically looking at the entrepreneurial market and is considering a mobile franchise. Ahead of taking the hot dogs off the super-sized vending cart grill, Bogues said that in short course, some eight mobile carts are to be placed in high-traffic locations on "street corners", with the retail price of $150 and $200 for the hot dogs. The judges' consensus was singular on the sausages, all agreeing they were "plump" and "juicy".
Dessert Dreams Come True
The savoury bites of sausages called for something sweet for balance. Chocolatier Michelle Smith was unknowingly charged with the responsibility of closing the evening on a memorable note. And this she did. Bringing three desserts: a cheesecake brownie, tiramisu and a nut bar filled with pecans and walnuts, the judges were particularly taken with the cheesecake brownie. Smith informed the judges that the desserts sold in her Chocolate Dreams outlet at Devon House are all handmade and fresh, and discarded within three days if not purchased. The chocolatier said plans are afoot to expand the factory where the desserts are created and also to eventually be internationally certified. Presently, Chocolate Dreams provides desserts for Spanish Court Hotel, Café Blue as well as sweet treats for the turn-down service at the Half Moon Hotel in St James. Discussions are underway, Smith divulged, to secure the Ritz-Carlton as a client as well.
Check out Chocolate Dreams online at www.chocolatedreams.com