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THE JAZZ RUN ……Great food, no fuss in MoBay

Posted by Dresonic on January 25, 2007

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WITH all roads leading to Montego Bay, you’ll need, in addition to a Jamaica Observer Page 2 chair, a culinary map. so read on, as we reveal the best places to eat. And since you’re in the second city, all beverages are on Mark Hart of Caribbean Producers, and the bubbly of choice is Laurent Perrier.

What’s great about Montego Bay is that in the midst of the most amazing, truly luxurious properties, you’re never far from a plate of good, ‘no-fuss’ food. Say goodbye to Kingston for a couple of days – goodbye old-school sommelier, sniffier-than-thou purists are also dismissed. Most importantly, bid goodbye to pretentious food. Pretentious food is not to be confused with gastronomic excellence, for sun, sand and beach aside, we still laud and applaud gastronomic fare but ‘fess up, can you really tell hand-dived scallops from their dredged common cousins? Spot regular sea bass from line-caught? Good! Now that you’ve got the message, don’t be fooled!

What you like is still king, so do what we’ve done, which is take the test, choose the best and vote with your feet and your plastic. Fantastic! Our first stop will be Scotchies (close to Holiday Inn) for delicious jerked chicken, pork, sausages, roast sweet potatoes and yam, or Pelican Grill for delicious local fare like stew peas or curry goat, a hearty malt milkshake and a slice of lemon meringue pie. Be prepared to ask for a doggy bag for dessert, the rest of the milkshake can be had on the way back to the hotel. Island Grill is always a worthwhile stop for good old Jamaican cooking; nothing beats fried ripe plantains, jerked chicken (leg and thigh) and pumpkin rice.

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Doctor’s Cave Beach is a must both for sun as well as to see who else is in Montego Bay. A major fillip is how well the beach is maintained. Eating and drinking are both extraordinarily good with Groovy Grouper, Margaritaville and the Dock Bar & Grill. Enjoy unique beverage concoctions, light salads, seafood and tasty sandwiches.

That’s Thursday. Come Friday, enjoy Chinese at Dragon Court (we plan to sample the duck), Champagne with tea at The Ritz Carlton (they call it the Royal Tea), all before heading out to jazz. If you’re staying at an Ironshore Villa or any other for that matter, then load up with the freshest seafood this side of Jamaica at Rainforest Seafood Market located at Coconut Way, Montego Freeport.

Contemplating what to pick up will be the dilemma since there’s lots to choose from: sushi platters from California, smoked salmon and vegetables to sashimi, or Panamanian mahi-mahi, Chilean sea bass, Trinidadian tuna loin, Floridian stone crabs, fresh scallop, Alaskan king crab and crab claws, New Zealand mussels, oysters on the half-shell, lobster, conch, Middle Quarters peppered shrimp, local parrot, grouper, softshell crab.oh yes, we figured you’d be drooling by now. Enjoy a cup of conch chowder while you decide what to leave behind.

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Saturday morning is the day to spoil yourself. Interpret this to mean room service. Hands down, The Ritz Carlton and Half Moon are the best places to dine in. Don’t be surprised if you’re still in bed come lunchtime. That’s okay too, just ask for the Mangos patois menu if at the Ritz. If you’ve got one of those ultra-chic Imperial Suites available only at Half Moon Hotel (speak to Myrtle Dwyer), then you can do an Alicia Keys and have executive chef Frederick Gayle whip up some de.vine fare.

Enjoy a post-show supper at Houseboat with its moat – great service! Ask for Ewan Heath and offerings like the hearty beef and black bean chili soup, grilled loin of Atlantic Swordfish with tomato caper sauce Provencal Balsamic Reduction, Parmesan Polenta or pan-seared jumbo tiger shrimps with coconut curry sauce and wild rice pilaf, and we could go on and on.

Sunday, all good things must come to an end save good food, that is, so sleep late and head south by west back to Kingston (via Hanover) with a lunch stop at Lobster Trapp, where you might just spot former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. It’s one of his favourite places to eat. That’s one suggestion. The other has got to be the cashmere chic Round Hill where, between the inimitable Josef Forstmayr and executive chef Trevor Duncan, there’ll be delightful, gastronomical, unpretentious offerings. Tea starts at 3:30 so make it all a super leisurely affair. One last thing, don’t forget to drink Wata, lots of Wata – at least eight glasses a day.

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