Saturday, September 18, 2010

SABCC 'Visits' Jamaica

The latest stop on the South Alabama British Car Club's Tour of the Empire took us to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Yep, reggae, dreadlocks and exotic dishes awaited the tour group there. You may recall that the tour is a series of dinner activities at restaurants serving the cuisine of the former British Empire. Prior to today's visit, the club enjoyed food from Hong Kong and India.

The club met at the popular Jamaican Vibes restaurant on highway 90 in Mobile and were greeted warmly by the owners of the establishment who made us feel at home by pushing every table in the restaurant together for us to occupy. In fact, the doors were locked and the OPEN sign was turned off. We had the place to ourselves without even asking.

Mona, our gracious hostess, took time to educate our group about what we should expect from Jamaican food and drink. She told us that most of the heat had been removed from the recipes but they would gladly add it in the form of hot jerk seasoning on the side if we wanted it. They had a wide array of fruit juice beverages, soft drinks, ginger beer and a delightful brewed beverage called sorrell. Mona took our drink orders and a surprising number of SABCC'ers chose the sorrell and (according to the aficionados in our group) some of the best cream soda that they've had in a while.

She then took our orders for food a few couples at a time and set her husband Noel (or 'Tips' to his friends) to filling the plates with generous portions of curry chicken, curry goat, jerk chicken, oxtails and sides such as rice and peas, cabbage and other delights. Some of the first timers to Jamaican food were a little taken aback by some of the dish names and perhaps by seeing goat on a dinner menu, too. Noel generously offered small 'tasters' to those who weren't quite sure what to order.

Once a choice was made, plates came out quickly and our group of 25 hungry British car enthusiasts enjoyed the slightly spicy, slightly sweet meat dishes. Samples of dishes were passed up and down the table to share choices made with neighbors; even the meat and vegetable 'patties' were shared.

I don't think anyone went away hungry or disappointed.
In all, the 'visit' to Jamaica was very enjoyable. We were even invited to attend the celebration of the second anniversary of the restaurant's opening - an event set aside for Noel and Mona's family and close friends.

Yes, we all left as friends - and fans.

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