Jamaica on a plate

Posted on: 24 April 2017 by Anthony Page

A trip to Jamaica would not be a true island adventure without experiencing its brilliant native cuisine. From classic jerk chicken to fresh seafood, I managed to try it all.

Think of the dishes that are synonymous with Jamaica and you'll probably come up with ackee and salt fish, chicken, rice and peas and jerk chicken. Well, you can park all of these and discover a whole new movement of creative native gastronomy at the hotels and resorts on the island.

If you are fixed on playing safe and eating European dishes you will be well catered for but, seriously, you will really miss out on what Jamaica has to offer... So, my advice is to go native, and enjoy it!

Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston


At the hotels we stayed at the choice was wide and varied. Our first stay was at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston and it was here we sampled an amazing gourmet meal on our second night. Prepared by executive chef Mark Cole, reputedly the best chef on the island, the meal was an astounding.

Seven courses - each featuring recipes and produce unique to the island – provided a memorable culinary showcase of the evolution of Jamaican cuisine. It was a meal of outstanding quality and the equal of any of London’s finest hotels.  

It featured Jack Fruit, Breadfruit, Yam, Pig Trotters and Red Peas. All were new tastes and textures to me but all delightful. It was here that I was introduced to the Scots Bonnet chilli reputedly of the fieriest to eat raw! I tried it and once the initial shock had hit my mouth it was possible to discern the host of tastes and flavours that came from it.  I was quickly given a glass of milk to sip and my mouth got back to normal. For this act of courage, I was made an Honorary Jamaican - I had earned it! One of the dishes was a sorbet made with melon, ginger and Scots bonnet chilli – it was amazing.

Find out more at Jamaica Pegasus

Mockingbird Hill Hotel, Port Antonio

Pop-up restaurant by the Rio Grande River

By contrast, our dinner at the Mockingbird Hotel at Port Antonio was more traditional and made with locally grown organic ingredients. The quality of the meal was exceptional and served by a helpful staff who explained each course to us and how it was prepared.

The meal was fixed and so having to choose from a menu was not an issue – the selection and balance of each course to the next was perfectly chosen. It was a light meal of fish, vegetables and fruit. Enjoyable and filling.

Talking to the owner of the hotel it became clear the hotel was a labour of love for her and her partner which had taken twenty years to evolve.

Everything about the Mockingbird is tasteful, calming and peaceful with a serenity about it is hard to find anywhere these days.  When she is not cooking and running the hotel, Barbara Walker is a very accomplished artist and the hotel and rooms act as a gallery for her work.

More information can be found at Hotel Mockingbird

Half Moon Hotel, Montego Bay

Half Moon Hotel, Montego Bay

Our final hotel at the end of the trip was the renowned Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay.

The Half Moon is a large complex consisting the hotel and an array of luxurious villas (of varying sizes), an equestrian centre, golf course, an amazing spa and two miles of beautiful white sandy beaches and restaurants.

We had dinner at the Sugar Mill Restaurant. And as we’d come to expect - the food was delivered to an exceptional standard.

Our palates were treated to an exquisite menu of epicurean delights: smoked marlin, oxtail ravioli, red snapper with plantain, rack of lamb and a dessert plate.

This hotel is top of the market and although expensive worth every penny if you truly want a holiday of a lifetime. Just look at the picture!

To book your stay visit Halfmoon.

More information

For more information about trips in and around Jamaica, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board (020 7225 9090), or see www.visitjamaica.com.

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