Picante, not for the faint of tongue

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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The Jamaica Food and Drink Festival (JFDF) kicked off the month of November with Picante, an event that guaranteed the spiciest foods and desserts. It wasn't for the faint of heart!

 

Hundreds gathered on the South Lawn of Devon House to sample fare from Chef Wenford Simpson, Jhanelle Mair, Mark Cole, Shea Stewart, Lucian Dunn, Christian Sweeney, Garfield Seivright Jr, Stone, Rui Sa, Damion Stewart, Andre Sewell, Orlease King, Dionne Reid, Alex D-Great, Eleni Daperis, Tortuga Rum Cake featuring Sugar Buzz, Nirvanna Indian Restaurant and Häagen-Dazs.

 

Each participant offered multiple dishes, much to the delight of patrons. Walkerswood featuring Chef Wenford Simpson presented a peppery jerk shrimp and chicken fried rice and a curried vegetable succotash with garlic croutons. Chef Jhanelle Mair represented Usain Bolt Tracks & Record with a jerk shrimp ceviche served with sweet potato chips with orange and cilantro sauce and a Scotch bonnet tuile.

 

Elenis Daperis served delectable desserts drizzled with cayenne pepper and spicy chocolate sauce. Her Spicy St Honoré Eclair infused with Scotch bonnet and Elegance flourless chocolate cake dunked in Scotch bonnet ganache was a hit at the Sagicor Investments booth. The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel featuring award-winning Executive Chef Mark Cole made an impact with Picante with Wow, Indian dumpling topped with beef, pulled jerk sausage and mushroom finished with tomato jam and pepper jack cheese. Cole's infamous blowtorch display also garnered much attention.

 

Shea Stewart brought the heat with his Salt n Peppa Shrimp served with cauliflower mac & cheese, chilli oil and crispy bacon. If a shortage of Scotch bonnet soon occurs, blame Uncorked featuring Lucian Dunn's Scotch Bonnet Mousse-topped Salmon with Caper grits and Cilantro Split Cream. The spicy creation was a popular choice at Picante. Christian Sweeney came with a 'full-belly' meal that delighted guests. He served spicy pork belly coco bread sandwiches served with spicy cream of red peas and smoked ham soup.

 

Tortuga Rum Cake featuring Sugar Buzz was a necessary stop for most, and with five offerings patrons' only issue was deciding which one to try first. Häagen-Dazs joined in on the fun with a range of flavours which included Brownie Macchiato and Caramel Chai Latte.

 

Garfield Seivright Jr prepared Piquant Candied Mango Tamarind Pork with caramelised onions and wild garlic challah while the chefs from Nirvanna Indian Restaurant served Chilli Milli Chicken Kebab with Naan. The Taste Black History station featuring Chef Stone and Rui Sa was large and in charge. Stone whipped up spicy grilled chicken tossed in pepper sauce served with yam and plantain mash while Rui Sa placed strips of Spicy Fried Snapper in Red Stripe Beer Batter served with Mushroom Mayo.

 

Broken Plate featuring Damion Stewart shared dill smoked lobster with pepper jack crab polenta cake topped with Scotch bonnet dijon cream, and Andre Sewell offered Bamboo Smoked Pulled Pork Tartlette with Scotch bonnet Sorrel Cream Cheese mousse.

 

Reggae Mill at Devon House co-principal Orlease King came to impress with her Boneless Picante Oxtail on Arawak flatbread. Her modern spin on meat that is near and dear to Jamaicans was much appreciated by those who stopped by her booth. Spicy food lovers lined up for smoked marlin featuring Dionne Reid's Habenero Lamb Balls and Ruby Goat Dairy Jerked Halloumi.

 

Alex D-Great lived up to his moniker with a screened-off booth with openings large enough to accommodate a server's hand. Instructions read, 'Ring bell for food, signed management.' Theatrics aside, the Dinna Starter, crispy fried chicken gizzard with Scotch bonnet ginger scallion sauce and ripe plantain butter crostini, was seasoned to perfection.

 

 

After the capsaicin overload patrons had their pick of beverages from Appleton Estate, Caribbean Dreams, Barton & Guestier strawberry and rosé Provence popsicles, Wata and Absolut Vodka. There was a Visa cash bar that only accepted the brand's card at their point of sale. The top-shelf bar sold White Walker by Johnnie Walker, The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve, Santa Margherita Prosecco, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut and Appleton Estate rare blend.

 

The spicy foods at Picante were hot, Hot, HOT. Thursday Food shares highlights.


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