Above: Saltfish and ackee, widely regarded as Jamaica's national dish. Lisa served it with fried breadfruit, the perfect foil for the salty chunky dip.
I first discovered Lisa's Jamaican Kitchen's cooking when I helped out with service at her supperclub debut back in June. I was so bowled over by the morsels she insisted I try while "on shift" that I couldn't wait to come back as a proper guest, with Babs (Mr Edible Experiences) and friends in tow.
After a hectic summer of foodie events we finally got our chance at the end of September, when Lisa was hosting a Supperhero dinner in aid of internatinal aid agency Action Against Hunger's Love Food Give Food campaign.
The short version of this writeup is that I REALLY REALLY wish I was just shameless enough to ignore Babs's rolling eyes, and bring takeaway boxes with me to buy up Lisa's leftovers.
Next time, eh. And yes. There will definitely be a next time. *CRAVE*.
Others evidently feel the same. Half the table in Lisa's living room in Surrey Quays this evening were repeat guests, still willing to pay, still willing to bring friends, still with a childlike excitement in their eyes.
Lisa opened the evening with Jamaica's national dish: Saltfish and ackee, on a canvas of fried bread fruit.
Then came "festivals" - Jamaican fritters spiked with salt fish and shrimp.
We at the dinner table were keenly aware that this was all a trap. If we failed to pace ourselves with the breadfruit and festivals, we'd suffer during the mains later. But YOU try these starters tell me if you can pace yourself.
And here they come. Escovitch fish: Succulent fried red sea bream with a spicy, sweet, tangy vinegary dressing that really lifts the dish. A Jamaican rendition of Spanish escabeche / Peruvian ceviche / Persian al-sikbaj - essentially a mild preservation method of fish or meat via sugar and acid.
Whatever takeaway ambitions I may have had for this dish, there was none left to take away!
Lisa's Jamaican chicken curry, with carrots and "spinners", the little pasta-like tails in the mix. Gorgeous comfort food. This will be massively popular during her winter suppers I imagine.
The star dish of the evening was ripped to shreds before I could even snap a photo - a big brown slab of jerk pork belly seasoned in Lisa's family-secret jerk marinade, pressure-cooked, then roasted to crisp the skin, and served with a fresh-pineapple laced homemade BBQ sauce. So beautiful, so moving, that one of our fellow guests made a marriage proposal to it. Yes really.
For veggie side dishes we had fried plantain, and a cooling cucumber and mango salad.
And now to desserts! Hominy corn is served as a breakfast porridge in Jamaica. This evening Lisa sexy-ied it up with cinnamon, nutmeg, sultanas and a torched-sugar top. By this time everyone was groaning in their seats from the volume of food consumed, protesting they would manage a spoonful each only. Of course they pushed through to the bottom of the porridge pots anyway.
These may just look like fritters again, but they are in fact deep fried banana bread balls. Light, fluffy, sweet and caremelly with cooked bananas. My only question is, this is obviously such a genius idea, why hasn't anyone I know done this before?
Another highlight of the evening that disappeared quickly: Lisa's "Reggae" hot chocolate, made from pure, unprocessed cacao and Lisa's blend of spices. Why have her past guests called it "reggae" hot chocolate? You just have to be there to see and experience it for yourself.
Before we go, I nip into the kitchen to photograph Lisa with her stash of jerk seasoning. Someday she will bottle and sell it. We can only hope.
Lisa' next supper will be a Jamaican Sunday Feast in Covent Garden. Come curious. Come hungry. Come ready to reggae.
Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences, and manage bookings for Lisa's Jamaican Kitchen Supperclub. There was an advance payment to cover the cost of food, and a cash donation on the day that went to Action Against Hunger. For this event I paid only the charity donation.
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