Sunday, January 29, 2012


i feel somewhat blasphemous doing this, but i knew the job was difficult when i took it. it's no secret that we're guinness drinkers over here, so it might shock a few that we're actually saying the word mackeson on the blog.

well truth be told, in a realm such as this, we're equal opportunity. so when i was given the choice of stag bread or mackeson bread at maria's bakery, i opted for the only available stout option. decided to take one for the team.

turns out that things could have been much worse. it was actually a nice bun. taking one for the team wasn't bad at all. though it was a hefty bread that was very filling (it was part of a relatively big breakfast that rallied me through the entire day!!) the price tag puts this in luxury class for me. at $25, this will have to be a once in a while treat. i mean, i think two people can share it if done right, but that's still a good bit of coin to put down on a round. now the bun i got (yes, got as in got a free sample. thanks for the generosity) was from the daily display, so there is a chance that the price tag might be the loaf price. we'll double check and let you all know.

following the recommendation of the sales rep (my bad fuh not getting her name but... more times fuh dat), i wanted to try it with something cheesy, so i whipped up some cheesy scrambled eggs with a few strips of turkey bacon at the side. i also toasted the round a little for no reason other than i like a lil crisp to my bites. it did go well with the sharpness of the cheese as it had that bitter sweet stout flavor. not the alcohol flavor, but the dark, roasted aftertaste you get from stout. it worked in this situation. i think it could also be nice at the side of a spicy chili bowl topped with cheddar. or even with a flavorful stew. i would imagine the beer versions might do well with a soup.

i would have preferred the flavor of guinness bread more (which they also make) because i don't really like the sweetness of mackeson, but that is purely a preference thing. it was a good bun with the right texture and flavor for a bread of that nature. if nothing else, it got me interested in finding out how the guinness and the stag versions would do. if you happen to be interested as well, you have to place an order to have it made as it's a specialty item. i think i'll be placing one soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


whoever said one thing twice is NEVER nice wasn't quite on the ball. because when chef jason invited us to another TTHTI Internal Internship session, we thought it was great.

this time we went for dinner and we got there early so we could go backstage to see what happens behind the doors.

just to bring you up to speed, the Internal Internship is a series of breakfasts, lunches and dinners prepared and hosted by the TTHTI students. this creates a real-life scenario which allows the students to use their skills in a true environment, inclusive of paying customers with appetites and opinions.

it is intended to help prepare them for what they will face when they step into the commercial kitchens of the real world.

for us, it was exciting to see how a commercial kitchen really operates. it showed us what it takes to get an order off the menu and onto the plate.

the one word we'll use to describe it is: PACE! we struggled to keep up and keep out the way at the same time. imagine our surprise when the chef in command on this dinner, chef david, assured us that a real kitchen is even more tempo with a lot more shouting, brutal honesty and plain ole cussin'.

up close, the students showed a lot of skill on the job.

simple stuff, but they seemed to be making it happen under the pressure.

so down to the tasty stuff. after we collected our footage, we sat with chef jason and chef gregory for dinner. i had the mussels in marinara sauce for my appetizer.

there was also a nice chicken chowder with a split peas base.

the salad got some high praises. fresh garden vegetables, tempura plantains and blue cheese dressing.

the main course featured a pan seared snapper with garlic lemon butter sauce, which i had with the duchess potatoes and sauteed vegetables.

also available was leg of lam with dijon mustard. this was a best seller. sold out pretty early.

and there was also an asian rubbed chicken with a peanut butter and soy sauce reduction. you'll also see the cheesy spaghetti here. another choice the menu offered. the chefs were impressed with the sauce.

did i mention that they baked fresh bread in house to go with the meal? ok. well they did. with a herb butter to spread.

we weren't up for dessert, so we didn't sampled the creme de mint chocolate mousse. but it looked really good when it was setting.

this shoot was fun. and the conversations we had with chef jason, chef david and the inspiring chef gregory (who could be a motivational speaker if he wanted to be) were particularly encouraging that night. this time around the food was good. not blow mind, but well executed with good flavours across the board. and the chefs pointed out just one or two technical improvements that could be made, which honestly, the average customer may not pick up that easily. the internal internship period ends on february 4th, so you still have some time to head down to TTHTI and check out breakfast, lunch or dinner if you're interested. check out the video of our backstage experience:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


the search for the most talented chefs and bartenders to represent T&T came to an end with a... hmm... bang doesn't seem right to say as we're talking about cocktails. let's go with SPLASH! day 2 of the THRTA food & beverage competition was the mixology round in which 18 bartenders (minus one who unfortunately passed away before the competition) competed for the 1 coveted spot on the team. now, just to give a quick insight as to why it's such a big deal, the T&T team is the team to beat at the annual TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN competition. last year in miami, the team won gold and master mixologist daniyel jones won prizes for best rum drink, best vodka drink and most creative cocktail overall. in other words, we have it goin' on.

anyway, the competitors worked 3 at a time (with one group of 2) and had 4 minutes to complete 2 glasses of their original cocktails. one for the judges/samples and one for display. and yes, the audience got samples too. a good competition to be at if only for that.

there were 3 rounds. in the first round, the bartenders got to prep their garnishes before preparing a rum drink and likewise in the 2nd round for a vodka drink. the top 6 competitors from these two rounds went on to the final round in which they had to produce 2 glasses of their unique creations from a mystery bar of ingredients. they were given 15 minutes to submit a recipe for their cocktails, then 10 minutes to execute it before the judges.

though the bartenders exhibited a sense of style in their presentations, some even going as far as describing the processes they were using, this wasn't a flair competition. the judges were focused on the classic cocktail and the methodology behind them.

once again, people following the competition over the years commented that the level this year was remarkably high. i guess we came in at a good time. now we did get shots of the drinks and such and footage to put the names to the faces, but we have to hold off on the ingredients for now. can't sell out the blends before the competition. it's serious we tell yuh! check them out (click on the slideshow to view photos):

the final 6 boiled down to (in no specific order) daniyel jones, amanda richards, carla cupid, abiola jules, clinton ramdhan and asha beharry.

as we mentioned, we have to hold off on the recipes for now, but maybe when they announce the winners in 2 weeks, we'll see what we can gather. if not, we'll update the blog after the competition when things aren't so secret. it was an exciting time. our first mixology competition was everything that we expected. check out the vid and see the stars in action:

Monday, January 16, 2012


the Trinidad Hotels Restaurants & Tourism Association started the quest for the best onsunday, january 16th as chefs and junior chefs from some of the top hotels and restaurants, as well as some independents and even students came to try out for the Trinidad & Tobago Culinary Team. it's a big deal. this is the team of chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders that represents the country at the international culinary competitions, so everybody brings their A game. simply put, it's 2days of food and beverage fun.

day 1 of the competition saw 4 junior chefs (Anesa James - Hilton Trinidad, Ariel Benny - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Emmanuel Jones - Hyatt Regency Trinidad and Isaiah Connell - Toppers Restaurant)

15 senior chefs (Devon Joseph - Chaud Restaurant, Ca-el Seebaran - Chaud Café, Jeremy Lovell - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Tricia Wright - Hilton Trinidad, Josh Stephens - The Shamaiah Café, Damion Thomas - Magdalena Resort, Chelsea Payne - Hilton Trinidad, Arnold Jupiter - Independent, Gerard Richards - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Xenon Thomas - Magdalena Resort, Margaret Jones - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Kyle Ali - Magdalena Resort, Dominic Ventour - Magdalena Resort, Nigel Walcott - Hilton Trinidad, Janelle Ollivierre - Hilton Trinidad, Rajesh Goolcharan - Independent)

4 pastry chefs (Anslem Allette - Chaud Restaurant, Kendall Mulzac - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Cheryl-Ann Shortt-Charles - Independent, Marisa Julien - Courtyard by Marriott) go at it in a battle of flavours that could tease almost any taste bud.

for the chefs and junior chefs, the competition took the mystery basket format which always adds an element of excitement. the challenge was to use all the items in the mystery basket along with elements from a community pantry to create 2 plates. 1 for the judges to sample and 1 for display.

pastry chefs however had to submit their menus from before, but they had to make 8 plates to prove that they had the ability to be consistent.

it made for a great day of food. check out some of what we saw:

allspice and chocolate seared duck with fish stuffing duxelle style, yam with sweet potato gratin, eggplant ratateuille and orange cilantro sauce.

trini style ravioli trio with orange fish, curried eggplant and provision foo foo, tossed in a tomato choka and cream cheese sauce, served on a pumpkin puree. pan seared chicken breast on braised patchoi, topped with coconut and chocolate chutney accompanies the trio.

cilantro chicken stuffed with fish mousse with citrus cocoa butter sauce, served with oil down, assorted vegetables and coconut, plantain, eggplant sugar cake.

chicken cubes stuffed with fish pastelle-like filling, enhanced with stewed chicken and served with plantain anna topped with mashed sweet potatoes, accompanied by seasonal vegetables.

curry pan roasted duck breast, brown sugar stew sauce, provision darphin, coconut, lemon grass, green seasoning emulsion, wilted greens. balata wood smoked caribbean salmon, vegetable tomato creole, marinated fresh fruit.

pan seared duck breast topped with a shadon beni gremolata. scotch bonnet pickled white fish, nutmeg spiced provision tortilla, plantain paille with redwine reduction and tumeric sauce.

poppy seed eclair grid, roasted baighan cannoli, tonka bean mousse, pumpkin crumble cake with passion fruit caramel sauce.

molasses/almond cookies sandwiching orange bitters cream, nesting in mango compote. sorrel pudding topped with torched lime meringue and a sorrel reduction. pumpkin mousse topped with portugal jelly and candied pumpkin.

banana rum rumba

this one came out a little late, so we didn't get the menu. we'll follow up on it though. for now, lets just call it a balanced flavoured, well executed slice of heaven that displayed a great level of technical skill as and creativity.

pigeon peas and provision filled omlete on a crusted snapper fillet, accompanied by sauteed ginger vegetables. duck flavoured sausage on a clove and rum reduction sauce, topped with a fresh caribbean salsa.

duck rolled stuffed with eggplant and pigeon peas. pan seared fish with lemon grass sauce. ground provision mash with pawpaw salsa.

grilled duck breast, orange and pimento glaze, "rum down" provisions and papaya chutney.

orange and lemon grass scented duck breast, pan fried and baked to perfection, served with tobago styled groupa, pigeon peas, patchoi and provison oil-down with eggplant choka and pawpaw salsa.

orange glazed duck breast, geera fish, on top of julienne vegetables and provision mash with a pawpaw and lemon grass sauce.

curry duck flavoured with white rum, accompanied by ginger infused fish topped with papaya salsa. served with a creamy provision, cinnamon plantain and seasonal vegetable medley.

pan roasted duck with a plantain crust resting on a bed of vegetables and topped with a provision salsa.

lemon grass and ginger infused pan seared duck breast, orange pickled fish, provision oil down, garlic infused patchoi sautee eggplant choka, pigeon peas dash and a coconut curry sauce.

pan seared rum and raisin fillet of fish, accompanied by a ginger chocolate beurre blanc, orange glazed duck breast accompanied by trini eggplant pancake and sauteed provision, plantain flavoured butter served with garlic sauteed vegetables.

orange infused duck breast pan seared to perfection, accompanied by a papaya cream sauce resting on a bed of sauteed green peas and patchoi. provision oil down with a cinnamon plantain chutney and a chive and shadon beni infused souse, garnished with a breaded pan seared eggplant slice.

pan seared duck breast with orange and lemon grass sauce. rolled plantain stuffed with white salmon, eddoe and cassava mash with a pawpaw salsa, basket of patchoi with eggplant and green peas.

geera marinated duck breast rolled with caramelized pumpkin, herb ground provision mash, stir fried vegatables with orange rum sauce with a pineapple and tomato chutney.

and the final plate of the day also came out a little bit into the other excitement, so we have to get that menu too. but you can still enjoy its pure beauty. not to mention the nerves of steel the chef had calmly plating his dish with only seconds left to go. no sweat at all.

imagine what a task it must have been for judges raymond, debbie and rachel (left to right) to go through all these meals and eventually select from all this talent. luckily it doesnt have to come down to one, but from this line up they will select a pastry chef, a junior chef and two junior chefs. still not easy, but they knew the job was tough when they took it. trust us, they love it!

the next leg happens on tuesday january 17th from 11am to 5pm at TTHTI Chaguramas. that's when the mix masters will come to try out for the ony bartender spot on the team. it's open to the public, so come down if you can. if not, i guess you can check us back and we'll link you up with some more pics and a cool video like this one: