Sunday, 29 October 2017

Jamaica Food and Drink Festival 2017 : Meet Street & Final thoughts


For one week every October, Jamaica Food and Drink Festival brings to its patrons a culinary journey of events with different themes. Pork Palooza is everything swine, down to the desserts. Chopstix, as the name suggests, is all foods Asian. Crisp is all about crispy fried everything paired with local and international beers. Vintage is a seven-course wine pairing feast. Picante is all about the hot, zesty flavors. Meet Street & The Market is one for the kids, food trucks, restaurants, and pop up kitchens, with family entertainment. The week ends with a Sunday Brunch at the Gallery.

At this year’s Jamaica food and drink festival, I had the pleasure of being a guest and not a chef. At the first festival in 2015, I was a chef at Pork Palooza, and never in my life have I worked so hard. I totally missed the second staging all together because I was in NY getting fitted for my wedding dress. This year I was asked to be a blogger and cover a few events, to which I happily accepted.

I’m only giving a review of the events I attended; Chopstix, Picante and Meet Street. In an effort to not have the post unbearably long, (because I have so much to say) I’ve separated the review by event. So this post is about Meet Street & the Market.

The Backstory

I have always had a thing for open air food festival type of events. Whether it be Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, Kingston Kitchen's night market or Portland/Boston Jerk festival, I'm always down for the trip. I love events with multiple stations offering delicious foods for me to taste, especially when they are all inclusive. That experience can't be beat. 

Pre- Feast preparation 

Again, we woke up to rain, but by the grace of God it got sunny and stayed sunny. The plan was to get to the festival at 5pm to get about an half hour of day pics before it got dark. I got dressed in my casual outfit, even got my sunglasses ready. I sat and waited, and waited, and waited to get picked up. We arrived just as the sun was setting (bummer). So my plans for non-flash photography were out the door, but we were still early enough that none of the food could run out on us. The plan of attack for the night was sharing. In order to taste multiple things we could not fill our bellies up at just one place. So everything purchased, we would share it and then move on to the next vendor.  

The Décor

Very causal and homey feel with dim string lights, picnic tables, bistro tables and other types of seating. It felt like a beer garden and had that same vibe.

The Layout

The stage, with the live performances was front and center. Food trucks and food stations flanked on either side. Seating filled most of the open spaces in the front and on a grassy patch in the center. This layout allowed us to take several strolls down one side and up the other on the hunt for various bites.

The Food

I loved everything I tasted. This event is not all-Inclusive, you pay an entry fee and then pay for the food at the different vendors. These vendors are not giving you small bites, they are giving you large full size portions. So with that said, it would be highly impossible, to eat every single thing offered. Unless of course you got there at 3pm, left at midnight and had an infinite supply of cash. I went there intent on having the oxtail grilled cheese from House of Loaves. It was incredible, very rich in oxtail flavor. The bread they used was nothing short of mind blowing; flavorful, soft, lightly crunchy on the outside, just perfect. Next, it was the battle of the fritters between Fish Pot and Martins Jerk Catering. Both were yummy. Fish Pot had an overall better flavor but the salt-fish chunks were huge and it was very thick. Martins flavor was not as good, but we loved that the salt-fish was finely distributed inside and it was thin,  hot and very crispy. Needless to say we alternated bites. All this time my husband was no where to be found.  He suddenly appears through the thick aroma of food with some Copperwood jerk pork that was incredible. We all immediately went over to the CB food area and got some jerk pork and jerk chicken. The chicken and pork both melted in your mouth. As I continued perusing the walkway, I spotted some huge pans and glimpsed the words paella. That could not miss me! We got a plate from I Love Paella and devoured it. Hubby didn't like it (but him nuh know good food) My sister and two cousins had the plate like pass-roun-donkey until it was clean. I've always heard about veggie meals on wheels but never tried them.  I'm not a fan of soy but they had a very flavorful tempeh dog. At this point I had to take a moment and sit down, because I was full. The last two bites for me was some frozen yogurt from Tutti Fruitti and finally some delicious glazed doughnut balls from Chocolate Dreams. I opted not to stick them in the chocolate fountain (and in hindsight that may have been a mistake). I don't even think we scratched the surface of the food, there was even garlic crab, curry goat, soup, coconut jelly, so many options. Unfortunately my belly could only hold so much.

Love at first bite.


Thin and crispy, just the way I like it. 

My husband in his Pork Lover shirt.

This Paella was everything. 

The Bottom-line:  Here are my ratings for Meet Street & the Market

Good food, good vibes!

Décor: 8/10 Beautiful calm setting by the water, string lights, live music. all adding to the very warm ambiance.

Food: 9/10 The only reason I did not give the food a 10 out of 10 is because I didn't taste everything. So from what I tasted the food was excellent and worth every penny.

Crowd: 9/10  There was ample space to fit the crowd, however I don't think there were enough picnic tables. This was only a problem at night, during the day time (or dusk when we arrived) there was available seating but once it got dark and a whole lot more people started to arrive the seats filled up quickly. Never-the-less not an overbearing crowd at all.

Bottom-line: This was an excellent experience, I didn't see an unhappy child not once.

No meat over here.


Out of focus smothered in ketchup and delicious jerk chicken.

So good!

Final thoughts on JFDF:

I attended 3 of the 7 events that makes up Jamaica Food and Drink Festival and it made my week so much greater. From Chopstix to Meet Street it was a really good time, good food, good vibes.

In life I always believe no matter how good you are there is always room for bigger and better. It got me thinking that JFDF may just need to add an 8th event. I mean, you can't be Jamaica Food and Drink Festival and not have a Jamaica night? Could you imagine a huge culmination of the week; 30 chefs and everything authentic Jamaican food? I mean we are talking brand Jamaica here, and I do not doubt that in 3 to 5 years this festival will be one of the most sought after foodie destinations come every October. We may have to beg, lie, cheat and steal to get tickets (just kidding).

Everyone is all about "Brand Jamaica" so I think a celebration of its food prepared authentically, in the best possible way would be cool. Most persons visiting Jamaica, never truly get a taste of real Jamaican food, especially if they don't leave their hotels. I wonder what a possible menu for that night would look like?....Lets dream shall we:

Jerk chicken, cow skin soup, oxtail, curry goat, manish wata, jackass corn, toto, pone, escovitch fish, roast and boiled corn, sweet potato pudding, roast yam and salt-fish, roast conch, coco bread, pepper pot soup, bammy, festival, pepper shrimp, turn cornmeal and steam fish, roast fish, stew peas, brown stew everything, callaloo, rice and peas, ackee and salt-fish, ginger bulla cake, everything rundown, fry dumpling, fry plantain, patty, blue drawers, chicken foot soup, mackerel, gizarda, black cake, roti, jerk pork, cornmeal pudding,  breadfruit, drops, grater cake, bun and cheese, fritters, do you see what I see? And don't even get me started on the fruits because that's a whole other paragraph to itself.  I got bits and pieces of these foods in the three days but I think our food needs a day for itself, don't you?

Xoxo Greedygirl

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