Have you ever thought about trying island cuisine but didn’t have the time to go? Or even a worse dilemma, had no idea where to go for the best selection? New York is the melting pot of culture and the Caribbean culture is no exception. You may be unaware that your new favorite spot for island delicacies maybe right around the corner. In this special Caribbean edition of New York Minute, we expand our usual local coverage of fine dining in the Queens to Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Trinidadian cuisine has blends of Indian, African, European and Chinese influences. One of the more popular dishes in islands of Trinidad and Tobago is pelau. It is a traditional Trinidadian one pot rice dish made with either chicken or beef and pigeon peas. Pelau is often flavored with garlic, onion and pepper spices.
Another Trinidadian favorite is a delicacy called ‘doubles’. It’s a sandwich on two pieces of flat fried bread, filled with channa (curried chick peas). Doubles can also be eaten with pepper sauce and tamarind sauce. It is often associated with breakfast but can be eaten anytime of the day.
The Spot: Ali’s Roti shop offers some of the best doubles in Brooklyn. (337 Utica Avenue between President and Carroll Street) They also serve rice dishes like rice and stew chicken, rice and curry chicken.
Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. Guyanese food represents their rich cultural mix of African, Indian and native backgrounds. Some of their dishes include vegetable fried rice, chow mein, pepper pot, a flavorful stew that has beef, oxtail and even pork flavored with cinnamon, and cassareep (a special sauce made from the cassava root) goes well with bread or rice. There is also cook up rice. It is rice is a one pot dish with peas such as black-eyed peas and chicken. It’s absolutely divine.
The Spot: Hibiscus restaurant and bar (124-18 101st ave, South Richmond Hill, New York 11419) offers some very flavorful dishes. But don’t expect your drinks to be watered down!
Haitian food origins in several culinary styles such as French, African, Spanish, and the Middle East. Native to Haiti, “soup Joumou” is a spicy soup made with butternut squash, stewed beef flavored with spices like parsley, garlic and salt and vegetables such as potatoes and pumpkin. It’s usually eaten on New Year’s. Another dish called “di ri djon djon” a kind of black mushroom rice, goes well with fried plantains. This is a great tasting dish especially if eaten with shrimp.
The Spot: Brasserie Creole (227-02 Linden Blvd, Cambria Heights, NY 11411) has a selection of well done Haitian dishes. They also offer dessert such as cakes, sweet potato pie and coconut pudding.
The national dish of Barbados is flying fish and cou-cou. It consists mainly of cornmeal and okra. Some other popular dishes including the classic fish and chips, macaroni pie and breadfruit, a fruit grown in the Caribbean with bread like texture and a potato like flavor. Barbados is also known for many other fishes including kingfish, swordfish, blue marlin, shark and red snapper. Seafood fans should take note to their specialty dishes.
The Spot: To taste the different flavors of Barbados visit the restaurant Culpeppers (1082 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225).
Jamaican dishes highlight the flavors, spices and influences coming from its Spanish, African, Indian and Chinese roots. Popular Jamaican cuisines include curry goat and the combination plate of ackee and saltfish. Jamaica’s national dish is rice and peas with jerk chicken with a side of fried plantains. Jerk is a style of cooking where the meat, usually pork or chicken, is seasoned and marinated with Pimento and Scotch bonnet peppers. The result is a very deliciously spicy dish.
The Spot: Negril Village in the city (70 W. 3rd St., New York, NY 10012). It’s a family fun restaurant where you can enjoy a good meal and listen to the sounds of calypso, rhythm and blues and reggae.