Thursday, March 29, 2012


a while back we discovered pepper roti in debe. all the heavens rejoiced! we love it! but with my kneed-a-phobia that makes me mess up anything dough related and baidawi's (the official muffin man) confusion about the whole subject, pepper roti remains one of the things that could only be solved by a debe run. imagine my optimism when i stumbled across this new product in the supermarket. rani sada roti. nice packaging. looks very premium. and the all-important best by date is on there too. not that it seems to need it... the product isn't staying on the shelf. i mean, if you're selling out racks of sada roti in aranguez, you have to be doing something right. anyway, after trying it, i got this crazy idea that i could use this to create a pepper roti substitute. soooo...

i put some spuds to bubble on a dj.

chopped up some shadon beni, good bit of garlic, a hot pepper and two pimiento peppers. yes, iz pepper roti we said.

grated a little carrot. more for the colour than anything else.

put it all into a nonstick an sauteed everybody up a bit to let the flavors out.

so potatoes all boiled and strained, time to make this happen.

i put them into the pot with the seasoning, mashed them up and mixed them up with a little salt, black pepper and a touch of safron. so far, i'm thinking the filling is shaping up to hit the nail on the head.

the rani sadas have some size and they're soft and fluffy. i think they would make some reaaaaally nice wraps with some chicken, veggies and a nice sauce or two. for my imitation pepper roti i opened it up.

i pasted the mixture onto the sada. a decent layer.

after topping that with some cheese, i sprinkled just a little bit of italian seasoning on it...

and a lot of crushed black pepper. did i mention that this is supposed to be a pepper roti?

yeah... so this is what the landscape looked like after the sprinklings. next step, close it and put it into the oven with the fire on top. just looking to crisp it up a bit and melt the cheese inside.

end result... this. NOT EVEN CLOSE! it didn't taste like a pepper roti. spicy and nice, but not a pepper roti. actually, it was more like a real nice homemade sada and alloo. not a problem, we enjoyed it all the same. nothing like a tasty morsel to take the sting out of missing the target right? i probably might not try making pepper roti anytime soon, but this will definitely get a repeat performance when i'm in that mode. and i'll be keeping some of that rani sada handy for that quick bite.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


so! we kinda left things hanging with regards to the developments of the culinary team. partly by circumstance and partly by design. the aim was to drop it on you in an interesting manner that would get as much hype as possible. so here it is. from the THRTA food and beverage competition day 1 and day 2, here are the winners who are now the trinidad & tobago national culinary team, as they were presented at the awards ceremony, hyatt regency, with minister of tourism The Honourable Dr Rupert Griffith M.P. (5th from left). from left to right: Carla Cupid (alternate Bartender) - Kapok Hotel, Isaiah Connell (Junior Chef) - Toppers Restaurant, Devon Joseph (Chef) - Chaud Restaurant, Daniyel Jones (Bartender of the Year) - Martini Makers, Rajesh Goolcharan (Chef of the Year), Kendell Mulzac (Pastry Chef of the Year) - Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Arnold Jupiter (Alternate Chef). the team would be captained by Raymond Joseph of Courtyard by Marriott! this is the crew that will represent t&t at the esteemed 'TASTE OF THE CARIBBEAN' competition, june 2012 in miami. it's a big deal.

in preparation for the big event, the team engages in a series of practice dinners that seek to recreate the competition environment. this is serious business. apart from the stresses of competition cooking, it adds the extra pressure of having to use the mystery basket ingredients provided to create a three course meal for paying customers. this round was at TTHTI, so our friends at THRTA invited us to take in some of the action. action indeed. lots of slicing...

...and dicing. made possible by sponsors MALABAR FARMS FOOD SERVICES who are providing all the ingredients for these tasty training sessions... 12 in total.

and while we're talking about sponsors, we must mention BRYDENS for supplying the ingredients for the bartender's drink as well as MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION for supplying wines to accompany the dinner. check out the drink demo in the video.

the chefs used the ingredients in a very creative manner, taking local favorites and giving them that international slant needed to win a competition like this.

it was a rush seeing them maneuver the kitchen with the intent of preparing the meals in time for the 8 o' clock dinner time that guests were invited to be seated for.

it seemed like no time at all before a calm prep turned into a fast paced production line styled plating session.

unlike the previous competition, they had to prepare way more than two plates. they had to cater the full three courses for about 32 guests.

all with the expected accuracy and consistency competition judges look for under competition rules. we were right on hand to see chef raymond inspect each plate. tight ship boy raymond.

and it was no different for the dessert. it was way more intense than we imagined.

but like first class professionals, the team displayed great skill and a lot of technical ability under the extreme conditions.

bringing a level of innovation that made us think that once again, t&t would be going in with a very difficult team to beat.

the end result was a clever menu: the appetizer was a fish trio. poached curry marinated snapper paired with mint/apple chow. deep fried cod fish tempura ochroes served with mango chutney. and pan seared red snapper atop garlic wilted patchoi accompanied by a spiced beet glaze.

the main course was a grilled pesto rubbed lamb loin in a rum enhanced reduction. sweet potato, dasheen and plantain in a roast corn blue cheese sauce served with a vegetable souse and finished with a basil oil drizzle.

but the dessert was our show stopper, mainly because of this channa brittle. a creative take on peanut brittle, using an ingredient that offered some difficulty fitting into the dishes.

it became part of a citrus zabagloine sitting on pumpkin pudding with a nutmeg tuile. Poached coconut meringue on a channa brittle accompanied by a chunky green pawpaw sauce, served with a shot of pineapple mojito at the side.

it was an exciting experience for us and we're sure a valuable learning experience for the team who would need all the practice they can get between now and the competition. our overall review: the menu was very creative with some nice twists that utilized the ingredients effectively. flavors weren't magnificent, but were enjoyable for the most part. however, some of the ground provisions didn't reach a satisfactory degree of tenderness which was the most noticeable inconsistency to us. we think that we've got a strong team with exceptional strength in dessert and beverage. it will be good to see how things progress and what the outcome of the competition will be. check out the video to find out how you can support and be a part of the demonstration dinners.