Ackee rice, fish on ice – Jamaica food is plenty nice

In fewer hours than the most typical workdays, you can travel from the shores of the Tennessee River to the beaches of Jamaica. You can have an early breakfast in Chattanooga and arrive in time for late lunch in Jamaica. And what a lunch that will be, especially if a Sans Souci Lido or Grand Lido minibus is waiting for you when your plane touches down at the airport in Montego Bay.

The most luxurious of the six Jamaican resorts operated by SuperClubs, Sans Souci Lido in Ocho Rios and Grand Lido in Negril are all-inclusive (or as management refers to them, “super-inclusive”) adults only resorts. Prepaid packages for various length stays include beautiful accommodations, a host of indoor and outdoor activities, live entertainment and unlimited food and beverages 24 hours a day. Dining can be causal or elegant, at a cloth-covered table, on the beach or in your room. Tipping is not only not necessary, it isn’t allowed.

Just as resort guests can select where and when they eat, they also can select what they eat. Both resorts pride themselves on the variety and quality of their food.

“We serve an international clientele, and we must satisfy many palates,” says Joe Issa, general manager of the Ocho Rios resort.

Ackee rice, fish on ice - Jamaica food is plenty nice

“Our guests have the buying power to go anywhere in the world,” adds Sam James, general manager at Grand Lido Negril. “The quality and consistency of our food is extremely important to us.”

To ensure that consistency, James relies on the expertise of executive chef Anil Sud. Named Jamaican chef of the year in 1987, Sud is a native of India and has worked throughout the world. With his staff,  he serves breakfast and lunch buffets on the resort’s covered or outdoor terraces. Both offer a wide assortment of hot and cold dishes from around the world. For dinner, guests may visit one of three restaurants.

The casual La Pasta offers an ever changing menu of pasta dishes with a variety of traditional as well as unusual sauces. Meals begin with soup and salad and conclude with dessert. At the slightly dressier Café Lido, diners choose from a continental menu featuring meats, poultry, fish and seafood. Jackets are required in Placere, the resort’s fine dining room. The innovative menu leans toward nouvelle cuisine, pairing meats, poultry, fish and seafood with interesting and sometimes unusual sauces and accompaniments. A selection of appetizers, soups, salads and desserts completes the menus at both Café Lido and Placere.

The 24-hour room service menu, served in rooms or at the resorts three outdoor clubhouses, is limited, but nevertheless varied, ranging from hot dogs and potato skins to lamb chops with mint sauce.

“Our guests love those lamb chops,” Sud says. “It would be suicide to take them off the menu.”

Excellent food also awaits guests at San Souci Lido where Canadian Everett Wilkinson is executive chef and French born Pierre Battaglia, Jamaican chef of the year in 1993, is food and beverage director. They  serve breakfast and lunch buffets in the resort’s beachfront Ristorante Palazzina, which offers indoor as well as outdoor dining. These buffets offer an array of international hot and cold dishes. Those wanting lighter lunch fare can get snacks at the beach grill, open from noon until 2 a.m. each day. The 24-hour room service menu offers appetizers, a soup, a salad, sandwiches and several entrees including lamb chops.

Dinner is also a sit-down-and-be-served event at Sans Souci. Cassonova, the resorts fine dining restaurant, offers guests a gourmet selection of appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. Entrees of meat, fish, seafood and poultry are dressed and paired with wild berries, exotic mushrooms or classic sauces.

More casual dinnertime dining is found in the outdoor Terrace restaurant, which offers a different menu, based on an international cuisine each night of the week.

Two nights a week, Sans Souci Lido guests are offered special events. The Caribbean carnival barbeque takes place on the torch lit beach. Grand gala night is set on the lawn overlooking the beach.

“Grand gala night is such an elegant and beautiful event that before we begin serving we set aside 15 minutes for guests to take picture,” Battaglia says.

Presentation is important at both resorts. Guest expect tables to be decorated with ice and tallow sculptures and the colourful array of tropical flowers. Increasingly, they also expect menus to feature at least some Jamaican dishes on a regular basis.

“We haven’t done as many Jamaican dishes in the past as we should have,” Sud says.

“I feel very strongly about the role Jamaican foods should play in our menus,” Wilkinson adds.

Both chefs are working to include more Jamaican dishes on their menus. Breakfast buffets include ackee and saltfish, the Jamaican national dish, and escoveitched fish (seasoned, fried and marinated). Sud also uses ackee to stuff Black Angus tenderloin of beef. (Ackee is a bright red tropical fruit, which has a soft creamy white flesh often served in place of rice.) Sautéed and fried plantains, another traditional island ingredient, also appear as breakfast and lunch dishes and are used as accompaniments to main dishes.

At Sans Souci, the Terrace restaurant has a Caribbean night. A Jamaican lunch buffet is served regularly at Grand Lido. Beach parties and barbeques at both resorts often feature jerk, Jamaican-style barbeque. The goal is to offer guest varied and fine dining experiences and to introduce them to some of the flavours of Jamaica.

In addition to Grand Lido Negril and Sans Souci Lido, SuperClubs operates four other super-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. Couples, Ocho Rios, is a romantic, couples-only resort. Jamaica Jamaica, Runaway Beach, designed for the sports enthusiast, especially golfers, welcomes adult couples and singles. Hedonism II, Negril, is for fun-loving adult singles and couples, Boscobel Beach, Ocho Rios, is a beachfront country club for adults and children. For more information, reservations or a brochure on SuperClubs resorts, call 1-800-859-SUPER.


Source: The Chattanooga Times