This next and final post on my Jamaica adventures (happily) consists only of things I tried. We’ll start off with…rum!
I had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Appleton Estate for a look at how rum is made. However, I think most people on the tour (including myself) were most looking forward to the tasting at the end. We started out by seeing the old methods of extracting cane juice from sugar cane and separating the brown sugar and molasses. We then got to see their “new” distillery and aging rooms. We were able to taste 5 or 6 different Appleton products, all of which were very good and quite strong. Appleton makes their own versions of a number of alcohols you may be familiar with, such as Coco (Malibu), Rum Cream (rum version of Bailey’s), and a coffee liqueur (comparable to Starbucks’?). An interesting tidbit: Check your bottle of rum for where it was made (Latin American country or elsewhere) and whether there is a number on the bottle. Latin American countries may list a number like “12” to signify that the average age of the rums in the bottle is 12. However, countries on the British system, such as Jamaica, would list 12 signifying that the youngest rum in the bottle is 12 years old.
On the way to the Appleton Estate, our tour guide stopped and pulled some of these leaves off a tree for us to crush and smell. We all tried to guess what the scent was–cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg–turns out they were all right…sorta. This is actually an allspice leaf, which, contrary to popular belief, is not a blend of spices. According to the guide, chewing the leaf numbs your gums, which led to the discovery of novocaine. I haven’t found any websites to verify this claim, but this was still probably the coolest bit of trivia I learned on the trip.
Finally, a few items of local cusine I was able to try: conch fritters and jerk chicken.
Admittedly, the conch fritters came from the Negril Margaritaville, but the chain is pretty good about featuring local cuisine on their menus. That said, the fritters were very yummy, but had more bread than I would have liked. The jerk chicken came from a stand on our resort’s beach and was fabulous. The plate I have pictured is covered in “spicy sauce” but they offered a sweet sauce for topping as well. I may try to convince Mario to jerk some chicken next time he grills. Yum!