Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mrs Muambas Sauces, Review and Recipe.

I'm sure you are aware by now that I love Caribbean food and this cuisine is featured heavily throughout my blog, Twitter, Instragram and Facebook page. I love to eat Caribbean food throughout the week, but realistically when time is seriously pressing on I can't always make authentic Caribbean dishes in a quick amount of time, so many traditional dishes I make are over the weekend. 
I'm a fan of using quick fixes (but not to often, I must add) and have used jars of sauces in other cuisines (and I'm sure many of you have also done this) to make Italian, Chinese and Mexican dishes. 
For some reason I never really thought of sourcing Caribbean sauces to make a quick and easy Caribbean meal, until now. I first discovered Mrs Muambas premium Caribbean sauces at The BBC Good Food Show Winter whilst looking through the show guide at home when unfortunately it was too late to purchase these sauces. I was therefore incredibly excited when I was sent a selection of Mrs Muambas sauces: Jerk sauce, Curry Sauce and BBQ sauce to sample and review. Each jar serves 3-4 people and contains authentic Caribbean flavours, is beneficial when you want a taste of the Caribbean whilst not in the Caribbean. Through theses sauces you can taste the Caribbean with each meal made. I'm pleased to share that you can now purchase these sauces online, so you do not have to wait to attend food shows to sample a little bit of sunshine on your plate. Each jar costs £3 from the website or £12.50 for a sample of 5 sauces.

Mrs Muambas sauces. 


Mrs Muambas Sauces.
I made a couple of dishes using these fabulous sauces. The first, the classic jerk chicken I lightly seasoned chicken legs with all purpose seasoning and poured a whole jar of luxurious jerk sauce and left to marinade overnight. The following day after I arrived after work,  I placed the marinaded jerk chicken in the oven for 1 hour on gas mark 6, turning over once. My initial impressions of my jerk chicken using this sauce was that the jerk chicken tasted delicious, heavenly and scrumptious. I savoured every bit of this chicken and ensured that the curried bananas that I served this with, was used to soak up all these glorious juices. I must say that jerk sauce was very spicy, just like traditional jerk chicken that is served in Jamaica.
Jerk Chicken.

Jerk Chicken.

I also used Mrs Muambas curry sauce to make a classic Caribbean chicken curry, which I served with rice and broccoli. I followed the same principle of seasoning as I did when using the jerk sauce; lightly seasoned chicken and allowed the curry sauce to do all the hard work. I found that using Mrs Muambas sauces, I did not require to heavily season the meat as the flavours in the jar are positively intense. 

Caribbean curry chicken. 

Caribbean curry chicken. 

Caribbean curry chicken. 
Would I recommend these premium Caribbean sauces? Of course! I hope that you are able to sample these delicious sauces, I for one will be stocking up at the next food show I visit where these sauces are selling so I can sample a sunshine sauce which is made with love.

The recipe for my jerk chicken was adapted on the link to Mrs Muamba's website .

Recipe for Calypso Rice and Curried Bananas, from Caribbean Cooking by Camilla de la Bedoyere.
Serves 4
2 tbsp vegetable oil.
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped.
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed.
1 habanero chili, deseeded and finely chopped.
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped.
225g basmati rice.
juice of 1 lime.
350 ml vegetable stock.
200g black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed.
2tbsp freshly chopped parsley.
salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the curried bananas
4 green bananas
2tbsp vegetable oil
2tsp mild curry paste
200ml coconut milk

Method
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onion for 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chili and red pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Rinse the rice under cold running water, then add to the pan and stir. Pour in the lime juice and stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the stock is absorbed.
Stir in the black-eyed beans and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to stand covered for 5 minutes before serving, to allow the beans to warm through.
While the rice is cooking, make the curried green bananas. Remove the skins from bananas. Slice the flesh thickly. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the bananas in 2 batches, for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Pour the coconut milk into the pan and stir in the curry paste. As the banana slices to the coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, over a low heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the bananas are very soft and the coconut mil slightly reduces.
Spoon the rice onto warmed serving plates and serve immediately with the curried bananas.

Disclaimer: I received a selection of Mrs Muambas sauces to sample, I was not required to write a positive review, as always all opinions are my own. 
xxx
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Monday, 22 December 2014

Carib Grill

As a lover of Caribbean food and restaurants, I was estatic when a deal became available on Groupon which featured Carib Grill restaurant. Carib Grill is located in the leafy cosmopolitan area of Moesley in Birmingham. The deal that really caught my eye was: 1/2 jerk chicken, rice and peas & rum punch for two people for the barginous £16. I knew that there would be no way I would be able to stick to that budget, not least because having viewed the menu online, the starters and desserts looked tantalising. Birmingham is no stranger to a large selection of Caribbean restaurants and I have covered a couple here on the blog. But every restaurant is different, different presentation of food, flavours and atmosphere, so I promptly decided to visit this restaurant. I was initially impressed with the bold exterior, this must be the first restaurant I have visited which is covered in red and green; it certainly stood out on the high street. The colourful exterior was matched by the colourful interior, there were flags from the more well-known Caribbean islands. There was also softly played reggae and calypso music played in the restaurant and reminded me of a restaurant that I visited in St Maarten. 

Our table was booked for 8pm one rainy Friday, but for one reason or another (poor time planning on my part), my amigo and I arrived at 20:40. Fortunately the waiter greeted us with a beaming smile and ushered us to our seats. Once we were seated and gave the Groupon voucher, we were quickly served our rum punch. I love rum punch, but I was not expecting it to contain soooooooo much rum. It was a good job I was not driving as I would not be able to finish of my tropical rum punch, which was served with nutmeg for that additional flavour, due to the high alcohol content.  I was impressed with the presentation of the rum punch, especially the umbrella, it was, as they say in Jamaica, it was "irie".
Rum punch
Next up, was the main event 1/2 jerk chicken with rice and peas (£10.50) , oh and a side order of fried plantain (£3.50) . I could smell the jerk chicken whilst I was chatting to my amigo, the infection barbecue smell swept through the restaurant, so when it was served I was anticipating great things. The jerk chicken was beautifully presented and tasted pretty awesome. The distinctive jerk flavour was there; the chicken skin was crispy and well seasoned, the chicken meat tender, moist and juicy. In fact, although the portion size was huge, I wanted more, yes more jerk chicken because this was the BEST  jerk chicken I have tasted outside of Jamaica. The rice and peas was filling and tasted delicious too, the peas was gungo peas (my favourite) and presumably cooked in coconut milk, due to the rich creamy taste. With every jerk chicken that I order, I have to have an accompanying side dish of fried plantain: my favourite side dish, sweet, addictive and divine. My only criticism of the fried plantain is it was slightly dry, I like my fried plantain to be fried in oil, lots of it, I suspect that there was restraint with the oil used.


Jerk Chicken

Fried Plantain
I almost always have two courses when eating out, either a starter and main or a main or dessert, I decided with the latter. Having recently returned from my annual Caribbean break, I sampled the most amazing Tortuga cake from the Cayman islands and greatly anticipated to try this cake again, as this was on the menu. I was very disappointed, almost distraught that the Tortuga cake was sold out because apparently, this is brought in batches from the restaurants owners trips to the Caribbean. After some consolation, I ordered the chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice-cream. This was a wonderful second choice, the slice of cake came straight out of the land of the giants. Most importantly was the taste, chocolatey, rich, gory, delicious, moreish and moist, this was the perfect slice of cake for me.




I would definitely visit again, the restaurant had a friendly relaxed Caribbean vibe and more importantly the food represented true Caribbean cuisine and superb value for money. In fact, it was a "home from home".

Positives: Excellent food, excellent service, great atmosphere.
Negatives: A dish that I wanted to order was not available.


This restaurant gets a 4 star rating by Food Glorious Food.

Food Glorious Food Restaurant rating index.
5 Star - Excellent: loved the food, loved the restaurant, loved the service, Already booked my next visit.
4 Star - Overall good: food was delicious will visit soon.
3 Star - Average: food was nice, but improvements can be made. No rush to return.
2 Star - Below average: nothing special, in no rush to visit again.
1 Star - Inadequate: Do not go, you have been warned.

Disclaimer: I reviewed this restaurant because I love eating out, as always, all opinions are my own.

Carib Grill on Urbanspoon
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

MSC Divina and Caribbean islands

I love reminiscing about holidays and all the memories that I have, good and bad. I recently went on a cruise, this was my second cruise but my first big cruise. Back in 2012 I went on a mini P & O cruise to Belgium and Guernsey. But this cruise,  by MSC, for those who want to know stands for (Mediterranean Shipping Country) I visited numerous Caribbean islands. I said adios to the West Midlands and Ola to the East and West Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico, Bahamas, Miami, St Marten, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. 
What I did not realise at the time of booking is that MSC cruises is an Italian cruise line, so there was lots of Italian food, which during week 1 is fabulous, not so great for week 2. There are seated allocation for the two main restaurants on board MSC Divina: The Black Crab and Le Muse. There were several other speciality restaurants including Eataly steakhouse and Ristourante Italia. These speciality restaurants came at a cost, the same as a normal a la carte restaurant so, in my opinion did not represent value for money.
As time is of the essence, I was in two minds on what to review on my blog, should I review every island and my experience there and bypass my experience on the cruise. Or should I share my experience on MSC cruise and limit the time given to the beautiful Caribbean islands. I've come up with a wonderful solution to this, which is share the food on the cruise ship, alongside food whilst visiting the islands. With the occasional beach snap just for good measure.
Here are some of my favourite dishes served on MSC Divina. These include: waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, spaghetti cabonara, chicken and ribs, smoked salmon and bagels.

Food MSC Divina


Food MSC Divina


Food MSC Divina

Of course, the whole idea of cruises is to visit different places during one holiday and on this cruise, wake up in a different place every day. I had to go traditional when in Jamaica and when I visited the popular fast food chain Island Grill ordered jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried festival and salad. A trip to the Grand Cayman, I decided to continue with somewhat of a traditional theme ordering jerk chicken wraps instead of the burgers that were on offer. 
Jerk chicken


Chicken wraps


Cayman coconuts
I've held a strong view of what Mexican food is like and what better way of trying traditional Mexican fare by ordering a Mexican platter in Mexico. My Mexican platter consisted of steak, chicken, fish, tortillas, guacamole and a spicy habernero sauce on the side.
Mexican platter



The Bahamas, Great Stirup Cay was a private island and the food served on this island was provided by the catering staff on the cruise ship. I do wish there was an opportunity to sample traditional Bahamian food, but unfortunately it was not to be.
The following day, I had a culinary delight in Miami. Visited a restaurant in Little Havana to have some cappuccino to keep up my strength, followed by a trip to Buba Gump shrimp company. Anyone who has watched Forest Grump will know the history of the link between Buba Gump shrimp company and the film.



Fried chicken, mash potato and corn on the cob.

Next up St Marteen the half French and half Dutch island. I visited Big Woodside Grill, beachfront restaurant. The restaurant menu consisted lots of lobster specials which as much as I love, felt was a bit too indulgent for lunch so I chose the more familiar BBQ chicken with rice and salad.


BBQ chicken with rice
The penultimate island stop was Puerto Rico. Due to a delay in the excursion times, there was insufficient time to visit a restaurant for lunch. I did manage to quickly buy the most amazing chicken empanada for 2 dollars.

Grand Turk Coconut




Grand Turk
xxx
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Turtle Bay Caribbean restaurant

I love Caribbean food, it's the food that I grew up on as a child and often with foods of our childhoods, they bring back fond memories. Caribbean food has recently seen a revival in the UK with Levi Roots putting the cuisine on the map, alongside featuring Caribbean flavours on talk shows. Turtle Bay is the first (to my understanding) chain of Caribbean restaurants in the UK, what a welcome this has been throughout cities in the UK. I have visited two of their restaurants in Leicester and also in Birmingham and I hope there is a restaurant soon opening in my local city, Wolverhampton. 
Vibrant scenery with Caribbean art work, tasteful Caribbean music. The restaurant in Leicester is somehow superior to the restaurant in Birmingham as there are two floors. The deco is bright, which is perfect for not only not having to squint but also to share beautiful pictures from the restaurant. 
Staff are attentive, able to offer choices, friendly a real Caribbean atmosphere.
It was only right that I share the foodie delights from my two visits, and will share more dishes during my next. I definitely feel that if you have not tried authentic Caribbean food, Turtle Bay is the place to go for authentic food and drinks and you will soon fell you are in Jamrock (or Jamaica if you have never heard of the Damian Marley song Welcome to Jamrock).

Let's start with drinks; there is a fabulous deal at present, 241 (£6.85) cocktails during happy hour, first up rum punch, a Caribbean classic, perfect for those who like their cocktails heavily dosed with rum. Another cocktail I tried was a koka colada , a cocktail that must be related to pina calada, creamy and rich this is perfect drink to go with the spicy meals.
Rum punch
Pina Colada
The first visit at Turtle Bay was lunchtime and I went the whole hog, ordering a Caribbean platter (£12.95) for my friend and I. This scrumptious platter includes: jerk chicken wings, pepper roti, sweetcorn fritters and garlic and herb flat breads.
Caribbean Platter
Caribbean platter
All lunchtime menus are a barginous £6.95 and I chose the Jamaican classic, jerk chicken with rice and peas, spicy succulent and tender wings paired with the mellow rice n peas and crunchy slaw. My friend chose pulled pork brioche bun which was served with fries. I'm not sure how authentic this dish was, but it certainly looked appetising.

On my second visit, I ordered the curry, shrimp and mango curry (£9.65) which was a flavour explosion. Th tenderness of the shrimp paired beautifully with the sweetness of the mango and the fiery flavour of the curry. The accompaniment of the rice and peas ensured this was a true Caribbean delight.

As I love food, I mean really love food and vast quantities of it, I love to order side dishes and I'm a fan of sweet plantain (£2.35).

On to desserts or puddings or sweet treats as we may call them: all are a reasonable £4.85. I've tried two puddings from their menu, the rum and raisin pudding and banana and toffee cheesecake. The rum and raisin pudding won,hands down I absolutely adore the rum and raisin pairing, rich, decadent, fruity and sweet this was a pudding that should be crowned as a must try dish.

Pros: Delicious authentic Caribbean food, good value for money, attentive staff and hearty portions.
Cons: There was a slight delay in receiving our main course at Birmingham restaurant.
Overall: I'm due to visit in September, I loved it so much.


Turtle Bay on Urbanspoon Turtle Bay on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: I chose to review this restaurant as this restaurant is the real deal.
xxx

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