Monday, August 18

Try This: Jamaican Style Ackee and Saltfish!

Hi Friends,

Ackee and Saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica and many guests to the island just love it and ask for it each morning at breakfast. Most, if not all hotels in Jamaica serve up this unique and delish dish as the "Traditional Jamaican breakfast."  Over at Jamaica Inn, Chef Maurice has given us a glimpse as to how he serves it up.

Jamaican style ackee and saltfish, our National dish.

A little history of this famous dish - the ackee fruit was imported to Jamaica from East Africa before 1725!
To prepare the dish, salt cod (packet salt fish may need to be boiled down and should be free of 'pink' mould) is sautéed with boiled ackee, onion, scotch bonnet peppers (optional), tomatoes, and spices, such as black pepper and pimento. It can be garnished with crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes, and is usually served as breakfast or dinner together with breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas.
Ackee and saltfish can also be eaten with rice and peas or plain white rice. When ackee and salt is combined with plain rice it is often called seasoned rice which is a delicious one pot meal that is usually eaten on Fridays as a quick and easy meal for dinner.
In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, "ackee and saltfish" is eaten widely, although canned ackee is more often used than fresh in some foreign countries.
You should be able to find tinned ackee in a supermarket near to you for this dish!

Recipe (Serving up for 2-4)
Ingredients needed:
½ a pound of salt fish
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small sweet pepper (yellow/red or green) slice julienne style
1 medium tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper - chopped finely **
2 stalks of escallion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons of vegetable or extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Only use scotch bonnet peppers if you would like the dish spicy**
 - Put saltfish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour.
 - Pour off water; add fresh water and cook until tender.
 - De-bone and flake saltfish.
 - Heat Vegetable Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sauté onion; garlic; escallion; tomato; scotch bonnet             pepper and sweet pepper for a few minutes until tender. (about five to six minutes.)
  - Add flaked saltfish; Grace Tinned Ackee (if not fresh ackee) and black pepper.
 - Toss lightly; cover and allow to stand over low heat for about 2 minutes.  Serve up!
Chef Maurice serves up ackee and saltfish over at Jamaica Inn with fried breadfruit and lightly sauteed plantain - a true Jamaican breakfast! (a green scotch bonnet pepper is pictured on the plate - remember these peppers are very hot!)

Me...taking pictures of the dishes in the natural light...!

Enjoy this most famous Jamaican dish!

Wednesday, July 23

{What Chef is cooking} A Vegetarian Delight!

Hi Friends,

Chef Maurice shared another recipe with me, and this one is meatless...but quite yummy.  Sautéed callaloo, plantain and breadfruit...very Jamaican, and very easy to cook.

A delightful and healthy recipe which can be served as a main meal (with bread, plantain or breadfruit like we did...or as a side dish with chicken, fish or even Thanksgiving turkey....!)

The callaloo is our form of "spinach" and very easy to cook.  If you cannot find any in your area, feel free to use spinach.

For a good serving for up to four people --we cooked the callaloo (about a pound), and used one to two cloves of garlic (minced),  two medium sized sweet peppers (red, yellow or green), a small onion - chopped, a sprig of thyme, two tablespoons of butter (or olive oil if you want to be super, super healthy) two small tomatoes - diced.  

Saute the onion and garlic with thyme together in pan with butter or oil for a few minutes, then everything else and mix together, lastly add the callaloo and cook down for a further five to six minutes. Remember to take out the sprig of thyme before serving.

If you are serving with plantain, here are the directions of how to prepare and cook:

       One Large ripe plantain
Olive oil or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Lay the plantains on a cutting board and slice them into 1/2-inch pieces. If you like thicker plantains, slice them into 1-inch pieces. For thin, crispy plantains, slice them into 1/4-inch pieces.

Add oil and heat until pan sizzles – add plantain pieces and cook two minutes on each side until they are golden brown.  Note that the longer they fry, the sweeter they will taste.

Add salt and pepper to liking

If using breadfruit: (pictured on the right of the plate above)

Breadfruit is considered a “Fruit” but actually eaten as a starch. You should be able to find this fruit at a West Indian or Tropical Good Grocer.  You can also purchase tinned breadfruit in most supermarkets across the USA.

Place the breadfruit in a 375 degree oven and roast for an hour to one hour and a half.  Make an X on the end of the fruit, and use vegetable oil to rub over the outside.  The skin will be easy to peel once fully cooked.  Cut the breadfruit in two.  Cut the middle (heart) of the breadfruit out and slice it up for frying.  Place some vegetable or olive oil in the pan.  Cut thin slices and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Serve up as a side dish with butter and a sprinkle of salt - or serve up with sautéed callaloo above!

Tuesday, July 22

Fabulous Packages at Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios!

Hi Friends,

I wanted to share with you a few packages running currently at the beautiful and chic Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios.  They have just introduced an over the top, ultimate in luxury package which includes every creature comfort and amenity that you could possibly think of...including private jet transfer to an airport a mere 20 minutes drive from the hotel!  More below....and there is something for everyone, as the Hot Summer Savings Summer Package runs through to October, so you still have a chance to book that.  Also, check Jetsetter right now to get on-board with a fabulous flash sale running which has six days left!

This package is designed to be a wow factor package and is a five night, all inclusive, over the top package that we created for the discerning traveler.  With Private Jet transfer from LA, Miami or NYC (other cities can be arranged also!) - landing direct to the chic Ian Fleming International Airport in St. will not be disappointed with the special amenities and excursions to be experienced.

You will be able to choose whether you would like to stay in the modern Villa 7, an exquisite two story luxury villa with an infinity pool built right on the bluff overlooking the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea....or the traditional White Suite - just as stunning, and where Sir Winston Churchill once stayed.

The veranda of the White Suite...

A Butler will be on-hand to meet and greet you as you arrive to the hotel, and show you to your  exquisite accommodation...where you will be given a Tour and a welcome bottle of champagne with a platter of the most divine fruits and cheeses as well as a special gift from the Owners.  Be pampered with a sublime couples massage in your villa just before sunset to relax you and get you in the mood for a beautifully prepared five course meal under the stars.

Each day, be more pampered with massages or treatments from the award winning Ocean Spa....and if you are ready to explore, we have a helicopter ride arranged to transport you along the north coast of Jamaica....another excursion will be a half day at the private beach with waterfalls, and a picnic prepared by the Chef's at the hotel.  Swim, chill and enjoy the waterfalls.  Take a luxurious drive one day over to the historical and beautiful Good Hope Great House, where LyndaLee, your host will take you on a private hiking tour and pointing out over 100 species of birds....the tour will end with a private tour of the spectacular Great House, complete with antiques and breathtaking views.  

Chef Maurice will be on-hand to treat you to a very special Cooking Class and meal in your prepared for a delicious Jamaican style meal.

 A private cooking lesson will be set up with Executive Chef Maurice in the privacy of your villa...

An exclusive insider's tour will be arranged at The Good Hope Great House, where you will be able to hike and spot some rare species of birds, swim and then tour the antique filled Great House with your host, LyndaLee.

Back at the hotel, a special evening awaits with five course dinner and wine pairing either set up on the beach, in your villa or on the magical rooftop terrace.  The dinner ends with you letting off sky lanterns and making wishes!

 A charming and divine English Style Tea will be served to you in your room each day....this is Marvin showing off a splendid tray of treats....
A one of a kind, five course gourmet meal, complete with wine pairing from the Manager's choice from the Global Wine List, and ending with sky lanterns to make those special wishes...

This boat will transfer you both to a private and beautiful beach complete with waterfalls and picnic prepared by Jamaica Inn Chefs!

Also included in this superb package is a private in room shopping experience will also be arranged with John Hardy or Pandora.

All inclusive, of all meals and beverages, all taxes and service charges, afternoon tea everyday, private transfer and oceanfront accommodations - please see the website link above for rates from each city to make your booking with that special someone!

You still have a chance to book this Special Package running until October of this year!  You will receive free nights if you book three nights or more so it is entirely worth it.  See the website for more details and how to reserve one of these spectacular ocean front room now!
The breathtaking premier veranda suites at Jamaica Inn - so magical!

  • Stay 4 nights for the price of 3 – save 25%
  • Stay 7 nights for the price of 5 – save nearly 30%
  • Stay 14 nights for the price of 10 – save nearly 30%

  • Hope to see you soon at The Inn, I am sure you will find a package right now to suit your budget and needs...

    Tuesday, July 1

    Hometown Hidden Gems in Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

    Hi Friends,

    I'm writing today to tell you all about my three fave hidden gems in Ocho Rios, the sweet resort Town I live in beautiful Jamaica.

    All across the globe today, there is a super amazing hidden gem - which is a service becoming more and more popular for visitors called RelayRides which is a peer to peer car sharing service.  As you plan your vacation, and if you have car rental needs, do not forget to use this special and unique service whereby you can go online and book a car based on your own preference and get rates that are usually 30-40% than than the usual. Car owners just have to go online and register if you are interested. Based on this fab service, I thought I would share my three fave hidden gems in my hometown, and if you happen to be looking for adventure or amazing places to stay or have a meal - then I have you covered with these picks!

    I've written about Ocho Rios many times on this blog, showcasing my fave hotels, things to do and restaurants....but now I want to delve into the real hidden gems of my town where I go to eat, stay and play I hope you enjoy reading about these special haunts.

    Fave sweet hidden gem where I go for a fabulous Sunday breakfast,  lunch with friends - and sunset drinks:

    This special and unique boutique property in Ocho Rios offers beautiful Villa accommodations - one to three bedroom - check the website for more information (linked above.)

    What is so special about this sweet gem? - My Hidden Gem Tip:

    The vibe of this new property is just very magical and serene. It's small, private and enchanting with a team of efficient and professional managers including a super talented Executive Chef who has taken the menu repertoire to a new level. Having just won the coveted award from The Jamaica Observer Food Awards "Chef on The Rise" there is a lot more to be seen from Conroy.  If you stop in for a drink on a Friday evening at sunset, ask for the cocktails to be served in one of the sweet gazebos overlooking the water...and surprise, Conroy will also send you down a platter of of some of the mouthwatering nibbles he offers.

    Where I like to hang out and chill on a Sunday morning for a superb breakfast, lunch sometimes during the week and sunset cocktails with friends.

    A Magical Organic Farm in the Cool Hills above Ocho Rios

    My next hidden gem is a beautiful and rustic organic farm up in the hills of St. Ann the parish that Ocho Rios is located in....about 20 minutes drive up in the cool hills. The small and neat Zionites Farm awaits. This is the Farm where the popular and now fast becoming best-selling Stush in The Bush products are made and packaged.  I've already posted quite extensively on Stush in the Bush and I have linked a popular post above (highlighted.)  My friends and I recently went back up there for an afternoon filled with a lovely tour of the organic gardens and grilled organic pizza topped with the most divine vegan cheese and the famous vegan pesto....soooo yum. 

    My Hidden Gem Tip: If you would like another menu Chris and Lisa, Owners of the Farm will arrange, or if you would like to pair the meal with wine, they don't mind you bringing your own wine.....get ready for the most yummy lemonade ever also!

    My friends and I recently visited Zionites Farm where we had the most sublimely delicious grilled balsamic onion and vegan cheese pizza (and more!) and  fresh lemonade.  Only a 20 minute drive from Priory in St. Ann.

    Yes - I've written about this small boutique hotel many times on this Blog,and there's more than one reason it makes my hidden gem list.  That so many people who are not staying at the hotel and do not realize that they can make reservations for lunch and dinner...or just show up for a sunset cocktail looking out to the beautiful Caribbean sea. You will be served in the most elegant and lovely way by a team of staff members who have been working at The Inn for many years - and if you drop info for cocktails, expect lovely platters of mouthwatering hors'doevres complimentary.  

    A collage of some lovely snaps taken by Owner of Jamaica Inn, Eric Morrow. 

    My Hidden Gem Tip (The Summer Season at The Inn):

    Summer Rates are running now at The Inn!  Effective to the middle of December - see the website for more information and for special Packages and Offers.  If you love Yoga, then be prepared for a fabulous and unique Yoga Retreat to take place in September (23-28) - the all inclusive package includes all food and beverage, beautiful accommodation, return trip to airport - a welcome gift, an Opening Reception on the beach, two decadent Yoga classes daily, afternoon tea, two unique excursions, A closing Party -- and ALL taxes and service charges!

    Happy to collaborate and mention about the special global service RelayRides for this post - do not forget to use this hidden gem of a service when you travel this Summer!

    Wednesday, June 18

    Fab Summer Offers in Jamaica! {Recap}

    Hello Friends!

    It has certainly been awhile, and I wanted to catch up after being away for a small vakay.  Writing up today about some super amazing Summer Specials happening in Jamaica that you can book right now if you are looking and is the time.  As I have written on this Blog many times, our rates drop up to 40% in the Summer months from end of April right through to mid December, and you can often find great deals being offered at hotels during this Summer Season.

    Now as a former General Manager of a hotel, I know what many of you are thinking...that the Summer Season in Jamaica usually means, (gosh hard to write this) hurricane season also.  Please do not panic and let this be the concern that stops you from booking a vakay of a lifetime.  There is always a small risk of us having impact from a hurricane later on in the Summer, but I have to say - for many years we have been okay (knocking wood as I write) and please be assured that if this were to happen, you would be fully refunded for your vakay or new dates offered.  

    If you read my recent blog post about the Summer Specials at the fabulous hotels of Island Outpost, then you are aware of those wonderful offerings.  Please check out their website for more information:

    Fabulous Offers are running currently at the unique and chic Island Outpost hotel  - The Caves. Make sure you check them out. A divine and romantic spot for couples. This is the view from The Blackwell Rum Bar which is open in the evenings. Make sure you book a private, gourmet dining experience in one of these cave grottoes - it is a mind-blowing experience. Photo courtesy of Island Outpost.

    Another beautiful hotel that I obviously write up alot about, (as I am connected to this hotel with PR) - is Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios. They have some great Special Offers running currently.  Check out the Hot Summer Savings running until September 2nd.  This hotel has a beautiful beach, and is renowned for it's elegant history and vibe. Most of the staff have been working there for over 15 years, some over 30!

    Does this picture looking over to the beach at Jamaica Inn make you want to book a well deserved vacation?  Have a look at the website to check out more, and don't forget to read the Blog, which I write!  Photo via and credit to Eric Morrow.

    Let's head over to Round Hill in Montego Bay - another chic, beautiful and fabulous Hotel waiting for you to experience.  I have written about Round Hill many times on this Blog. There are a few Summer Exclusives running currently, the Summer Escape runs to the 31st of October. Only a fifteen minute drive from the airport in Montego Bay, it is easy to get to.

    Look at this magnificent view to the ocean from the Pool - how surreal and beautiful. Check out more Exclusive Offers running at Round Hill Hotel  right here. Photo courtesy of Round Hill.

    There is a sweet boutique hotel, which is only a few years old in Ocho Rios called Hermosa Cove, that I write about from time to time...I think you should check out their packages running to see what would suit your taste, but I can safely say it is a very sweet and charming property. The Owners are always around to meet and greet, and one of my good friends - Conroy Arnold - is the Executive Chef here.  He worked at many top hotels and restaurants, including Nobu in NYC and Goldeneye in Jamaica. He just picked up a coveted award, for Chef on the Rise in Jamaica.  One of the Packages that I just love, is the Artful Getaway. This is a package created to host the guests on culture tours right here in Ocho Rios...check out the website for honeymoon packages also.

    Pretty and unique Hermosa Cove in Ocho Rios - a lovely, new boutique hotel offering beautiful one to three bedroom villas and an award winning Chef!  

    Heading over to magical Port Antonio, a place I write alot about on this Blog - you must have seen the rafting pictures recently?  If you stay in Port Antonio, make sure you book this unique and magical excursion - a one of a kind experience. I love both Geejam and Trident - two very chic and exclusive hotels. Check out their websites for packages running currently:

     The Trident Hotel - very exclusive, private and luxurious.  Courtesy of Trident Hotel.

    One of the beautifully decorated villas at Geejam in Port Antonio.  Photo courtesy of Geejam.

    There is so much that Jamaica has to offer in the Summer Season! Do not miss out on the above offers, or ask your travel agent to check out the hotel you are interested in to get you information on special offers. Do not forget to check out the Trip Advisor website to look over feedback on the hotel you are interested in staying at - it is a very helpful resource.  I think you will find that the above hotels all have impeccable feedback!

    Hope to see you soon in Jamaica!
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