Jackfruit Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese? Ahmm, yes please!

This recipe idea popped in my head out of desperation for a breakfast quick-fix. I had recently purchased some jackfruit and realised that I needed to consume it before spoilage took over. While rummaging through my fridge, I also discovered a block of gorgonzola cheese that was neatly tucked among a chaos of other neglected ingredients. (I was meaning to clean my fridge for about a week now but hadn’t gotten around to it, because procrastination.)

Jackfruit

Enormous & prickly on the outside, jackfruit somewhat resembles durian. Once cut open, the yellow fleshy fruit pods or “bulbs” are revealed. [image source]

Native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, the jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands. It is commonly found here in Jamaica, but some persons don’t take to the fruit as easily because of its strong smell and flavour that may be cloying. With a starchy and fibrous texture, the flavour of the flesh of the jackfruit can be likened to a combination of pineapple, mango and banana.

gorgonzola cheese

Gorgonzola cheese – marbled by streaks of green and considered the Italian member of the Blue Cheese family – is commonly paired with sweet aromatic fruits like apples and pears, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the very strong, sweet, fruity aroma of the fibrous jackfruit flesh would be as good a compliment to the contrast of pungent, salty, creamy gorgonzola. To bring the flavours together even more, I tossed the salad in ginger extract, which added yet another depth of flavour and aromatic complexity. Also, I’ve had gorgonzola cheese that comes already crumbled, but I find if you crumble it directly from the block it tends to be richer and creamier with a more satisfying taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Jackfruit chunks
  • ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles (preferably cut from the block for a richer, creamier texture)
  • 1 tbsp ginger extract

Jackfruit

Method:

  1. Combine jackfruit and gorgonzola in a bowl.
  2. Add ginger extract and toss to combine.
  3. Refridgerate for at least 20 minutes to allow flavours to come together and for salad to chill.
  4. Remove from fridge and enjoy.
Jackfruit and Gorgonzola Cheese Salad

Jackfruit and Gorgonzola Cheese Salad

I really recommend you try this simple dish of robust and contrasting flavours and textures.

One love,

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New Restaurant – Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge

Opa! logoThere’s a new restaurant in town, and being one of two Greek restaurants on the island (the other being Mykonos Greek Bar and Grill in Ocho Rios) and certainly the only one in Kingston, I am pretty eager to check it out. Owned and operated by Alexx Antaeus – the same guy who brought us Isle Chix (Jamaican Cornish-style hens) – Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge promises to focus on fresh interpretations of traditional Greek cuisine, with a Jamaican flair, where patrons can delight in the unique and healthful benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Patrons will also be able to experience  premium Greek wine and spirits from the restaurant’s signature bar lounge.

Alexx Antaeus, proprietor of Opa!

Alexx Antaeus, proprietor of Opa! [Photo credit: Skkan Media Entertainment]

Authentic Greek cuisine

As an experienced restaurateur with strong food service and entertainment backgrounds, Opa!’s principal proprietor Alexx Antaeus, who is also a music producer with a recording studio in Manhattan, New York,  brings a fresh approach to the dining and bar experience. Opa!’s design will feature a modern and relaxing atmosphere with both indoor and alfresco dining and bar options. Targeting business professionals and diplomats, Opa! sits in between fine dining and elegantly casual, and also accommodates persons wishing to chill after dinner before heading out to the city’s night-life. Full menu will be available up to midnight. Antaeus has committed to sourcing ingredients from local and regional suppliers where possible, with a preference for organically grown products. To ensure authenticity and quality, master Greek chef Giannis Tobas, and Greek celebrity chef Maria Loi have been brought in to collaborate on menu development and overall restaurant operations.

Celebrity Chef Maria Loi and Master Greek Chef Yannis Tobas.

Celebrity Chef Maria Loi and Master Greek Chef Yannis Tobas.

I have always admired how the Greeks celebrate food and wine as quintessential ingredients for a good time. The very-fitting “Opa!” is a word Greeks use as a pronouncement of celebration; the celebration of life itself.

Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge flyerOpa! is located at 75 Hope Road (a block up from Citibank) and will kick open its doors on Wednesday 20 November with a special event honouring US Ambassador Bridgewater for the completion of her three-year service to Jamaica. The Ambassador will host her private guests, but patrons can make reservations for any time between the hours of 5PM and 12AM. I’ll be sure to share my experience in a subsequent post.

For more information, visit their facebook and twitter pages.

Opa!

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Foodie Fraud: 7 Signs You In Fact Only Like to Eat

“Foodies” have been springing up everywhere these days; it seems the term inadvertently gets self-ascribed to anyone who enjoys a meal. But no, sir, opting for extra large fries at Burger King then proceeding to make a mayonnaise-ketchup concoction, or having an insatiable desire to eat (out) doesn’t actually you a foodie make. In fact, that may be a simple case of greed. Good ole gluttony, which by the way is one of the seven deadly sins…according to the christianfolk at least. But that’s a whole different blog post, possibly for another blogger.

(Unnecessary) controversy

So who exactly is a foodie? Well, best believe that there’s lurking controversy whenever one attempts to explain this. This is in part because the term bears different connotations to different people. For some it’s a compliment, an authentication of sorts for a passionate interest in food. Meanwhile others – including top food connoisseurs and culinarians – cringe at the thought of ever being identified as a “foodie”, probably because they consider the term belittling and frivolous. After all is said and done, such a pejorative and hostile attitude towards the term is nothing short of pompous and petty.

Gourmet vs. gourmand

A foodie is a gourmet (yes – the term also applies to the individual), or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food, and not just its preparation or the consumption thereof. Typical foodie interests and activities include, inter alia: gastronomy (food science); wineries and wine tasting; breweries and beer sampling; following restaurant openings and closings; food distribution; food fads; health and nutrition; cooking classes; culinary tourism; and restaurant management.

On the other hand, a gourmand, in simplest of terms, is one who takes great pleasure in (eating) food; one who enjoys food in great quantities. There really isn’t a genuine interest to understand food beyond its presence on a plate. Sure, a gourmand may delight in trying new foods – just as a foodie or gourmet would – but the difference here is for the sole purpose of satisfying the appetite, not to discover a  the perfect crunch or acid factor in a dish.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are some signs you may be in fact just love to eat:

1. You’re quick to order a chicken sandwich, every time

Ain’t nothing wrong with satisfying your craving for that juicy chicken sub, but for heaven’s sakes try something else. There’s a whole world out there beyond chicken between slices of bread cloaked in wilted lettuce. Change it up, live (on the edge) a little. Allow your palate the treat of something new ever so often.

2. You’ve landed at your dream vacation spot, but still opt to dine at McDonald’s

Now let’s be real here. There’s no way you are a true foodie if you don’t have the slightest urge (for me it’s more like a burning desire; a higher calling…MY calling) to go out and explore the street food of some of the greatest cities in the world. In fact, foodies are known to plan their trips around their desired eateries, taking into consideration factors such as opening hours, top-selling dishes, exoticness and review ratings.

3. You eat out of convenience

Once convenience-eating is the modus operandi of your food intake, then it’s time to take a vacation…from life. Yup, something is wrong, really wrong, and it needs to be addressed with utmost urgency. Foodies put much thought into the next meal, sometimes leading to confusion (read obsession) about what to have when, where, and with whom. Truth be told, even the most hardcore of foodies fall into this trap of convenience-eating for a number of reasons, mostly due to sudden lifestyle changes or circumstances beyond their control. But best believe it won’t be long till they’re back on their feet sniffing out average meals masked by cheap and convenient and heading face-on into the most scrumptious of dishes.

4. You might as well be eating chicken out of a can, and this doesn’t bother you.

This level of complacency and nonchalance (and plain sadness) is by no means okay. The value of eating fresh bears much emphasis for any passionate lover of food and so does the never-ending desire to understand food beyond its presence on a plate, or in a can. The point here is that no self-respecting foodie would even consider eating chicken from a can. And yes, such an atrocity does exist.  In general canned goods are a last resort when convenience is your only saving grace.

canned chicken

WTF? Yup, that’s what I thought.

5. You automatically go for the cheapest meal on the menu, portion-to-price considered

No one is saying that you should order a side of sturgeon caviar to go a top a saffron-infused fillet of blue-fin tuna, but if your eyes instantly wander to that $1.29 sandwich just because it’s the lowest figure on the menu or that mega portion of pasta that could feed an army then you’ve lost even more foodie points that you thought. Foodies understand they may need to dish more dime for the care and complexity put in to create a worthwhile dish.

6. You need the waiter to explain your meal 

A foodie on a bad day knows more about the dish they are about to order than madam waitress herself, even if he/she is having said dish for the first time. On a good day you can find even the humblest of foodies cordially correcting ill-trained restaurant staff and suggesting how improvements can be made.

7. The most prized possession in your pantry is that pepper grinder you got, on sale

Sorry if I crush any dreams but there really isn’t anything too glorious about that pepper grinder you whip out in an attempt to impress your friends when they come over. Nor is that pack of smoked marlin any more of a star item. If you aren’t on a constant journey to source some of the most unique ingredients you’ve identified during deconstructing your favourite restaurant meals then you’re really just a regular Joe, who just loves to eat.

So  from this point forward I’d like us to be a bit more prudent in identifying oneself as a foodie. It’s a bit (a whole lot) more than just one who loves eating food.

Stay hungry,

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