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Taste T&T 2007

Well, I made it to the Taste! Reporting a bit delayed due to travel and no internet. But as Lilandra and TriniGourmet reported, we had a plan, we bought tickets and we made it on the Saturday – May 26 2007. All pictures (not with the D80, as I never had time to read the manual or try to use it before the event and decided I should stick with what I know best, just for now). Thanks to my good friend TB for the logistical support and company! We also went along with the parents, sister-the-elder and the niece (16-months and determined to stay awake to see the sights, sounds and people). This latter group had a different experience, not opting for the Gourmet tickets. After a minor delay, we managed to meetup with the TriniGourmet, who had resorted to stalking a group of likely suspects, who fortunately turned out to be our family members. She is just as lively and enthusiastic as her website (and various comments) would suggest, and I think although brief, we had a good time.

The Taste was held, like last year I believe, in the Jean Pierre Complex, which abuts the Hasely Crawford (National) Stadium in the capital city, Port of Spain. (Jean Pierre was one of our top netballers at a time when T&T were ontop of the World (champions in 1979, 3rd in 1983 and 2nd in 1987) – she went on to be a Minister of Sport; Hasely Crawford is the holder of T&T’s only Olympic Gold medal, for the prestigious 100m in 1976). I think the first year the Taste was held on Cipriani Boulevard, home to Jenny’s on the Boulevard and now Tony Roma’s (there are also Government offices and the Family Court magistrate’s court). Before we get to the food … the atmosphere and decor of the Taste was great. There was music: live acts including a small Chinese group, classical pianist, lounge singer, saxophonist, all performing on small stages scattered through the complex in the midst of different eating areas; a pan round the neck band walking through; and dancers – Chinese dragon dancers, African-influenced and other local dancers. The decor was oranges and yellows, with lights and flags, greenery and little bodies of water. Very pretty and entirely conducive for a good family-friendly festival lime. I understand Brian MacFarlane, esteemed Carnival designer, was the man behind these pretty installations.

But onward to the food! According to the VisitTnT website,

Trinidad and Tobago’s premier culinary festival, Taste T&T features live cooking demonstrations, entertainment and exhibits of authentic indigenous street fare, local delicacies and gourmet fusion cuisine.

Based on the concept of a tasting village, where fantastic fare is presented within a communal space, the festival allows patrons to savour local culinary fusions and exotic delicacies created by Trinidad and Tobagoโ€™s best cooks and chefs.

I didn’t make it to any live demonstrations – maybe next time. I have to admit that Lilandra and I may have had a different experience from the family. We bought the Gourmet Tickets for Group C (TT $200 per Group, which allowed you a Taste from 4 different menus, plus Complimentary Wine). See TriniGourmet’s post for a look at our ticket (well, representative of course :-) ). TIDCO has the complete menu available. I will say from the outset, that although TT $200 (about US $32 or ยฃ16) may seem a bit steep for a “Taste”, we were quite full after 2 such samplings. Perhaps due to the Crix and cheese/tomato choka we interspersed it with, but still, 4 such plates are not a bad deal.

Gourmet Taste! Saturday 26 May 2007

Group C – in order of the tasting!

C4: Amtar’s – Chef Amit and Tara Ravel

Amtar’s served up some Indian (not Indo-Trini) bites that were quite tasty. Out of the 6 items, 4 were vegetarian, and the other 2 contained chicken, which was halaal, so Lilandra and I were able to partake of their entire menu. For TB, who skipped the chicken, there were some extra portions. Starting from the green item in the front and circling the plate clockwise:

  • Spinach Patra – Layers of spinach leaves (seemed like callaloo leaves or dasheen bush) rolled with sesame seeds, and what tasted like ground split peas in the layers. Somewhat similar to the rolled saheenas that are common to Trinidad, but not layered in as much batter. These were good. TB did point out that there was not much flavour from the sesame seeds, however.
  • Vegetable Pakora – various vegetables mixed in a batter of flour or ground split peas flour, and served with a tamarind chutney.
  • Mixed Vegetable Masala Katchouri – A blend of 4 mostly green vegetables encased in a batter and deep fried. Served with a gorgeous green coconutty sauce/chutney. We tried spotting the vegetables – looked like peas, bodi (bora or yard long beans) some spinach, and a mystery 4th (onions?).
  • Kaju Pak – nut barfi – cashew nuts, with pistachios I think. Very nice and creamy. Not overly sweet, considering the dish, or particularly spiced, so it was a nice end to the Amtar’s platter.
  • Sliced Tandoori Chicken – nicely seasoned, moist chicken. Delicious, if a tad salty, but I think that’s the nature of the tandoori style sometimes.
  • Chicken Samosa – Hot, cripsy pastry with seasoned chunks of chicken inside. It was nice to have a samosa with chunks of meat rather than minced. And the samosa was fresh, hot and wonderfully crispy.

C3: Ithaki – Cascadia Hotel (Executive Chef Raymond Joseph)

  • Red Wine Caramelized Braised Lamb topped with an Apple Salsa – (we skipped the Lamb, but still got the topping) The apple salsa was loaded with chadon beni (culantro) and was very much like a good apple chow.
  • Mexican Style Black Bean Ragout – not bad, but I like beans generally. It wasn’t particularly special though.
  • Assorted Diced Provision tossed in a Roast Garlic Olive Oil with Flaked Salt Cod and Brunoise of Vegetables – good flavours, but the provision was a bit hard. I like ground provisions cooked almost or to the point of being mushable. Makes the flavours blend better and more enjoyable rather than having to spend energy chewing.
  • Banana and Chocolate WonTons – I believe these had a 3rd ingredient, but I cannot recall. The 3rd flavour probably didn’t come through ๐Ÿ˜‰ These were served with a Caramel Rum Sauce, which I passed on, but TB suggests the sauce was much too sweet. The WonTonsby themselves were pretty good. Perhaps they could have just been dusted lightly with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar and cocoa. Mmm.

C1: Food Etcetera – Chef Dean Johnson

  • Spiced Rubbed Grilled Swordfish with a Pineapple Plaintain Chutney – the swordfish was cooked just right so it was not tough, and the spice rub was not very heavy. I liked the pineapple plantain chutney, although I didn’t think the Swordfish needed it OR
  • Crab-Stuffed Rolled Salmon Fillets with a Tomato Butter Sauce – Lilandra had this one really (pictured on the right). I tried a bite, but I preferred the swordfish. The crab seemed bit dry and I am not sure I tasted any of that lovely sounding Tomato Butter sauce SERVED WITH
  • Yam Croquettes – went well with the Pineapple Plantain Chutney as the croquettes were a smidgen dry. Officially these were served with grilled onions and a garlic sauce. Red onions I do not like, but that’s just me.
  • Wok-Seared Vegetables – Stir-Fried Vegetables. Just regular stir fried vegetables. Good, but nothing fancy. Plus had officially reached bellyfull status at this stage, so concentrated on the more unique tastes.

C2: Bernardโ€™s Gourmet Services – Chef Bernard Long

Chef Bernard was stationed behind the counter rapidly and skillfully tossing Chicken, Shrimp, Pork and Lamb (in separate woks!) to serve up as Assorted Fajitas, while his minions heated up flour tortillas and offered you the usual condiments (salsa, sour cream, spicy). Pity we were so full already. Or maybe it was a good thing, since all we could have was the shrimp. I didn’t actually eat mine. Lilandra will have to advise.

I do wish that the minions would have served up extra portions of shrimp if you were skipping the 3 other meats. Our plates look so bare.


Indigenous Street Fare and Local Delicacies

The family reported that there were a few food concessions available for the non-Gourmet types. 2 main booths, one on either side of the Complex, but both serving exactly the same fare: the regular creole food and Indo-Trini food (rice, dhal and curry) you can get in any food court or regular eating place in T&T. There was 1 bake and shark (shark and bake) stall, that had lines, lines and more lines and a place that was supposed to be jerk chicken, but there was not much activity at the time we were there. No doubles?

Free samples were provided from:

Lipton – showcasing their newest fancy teas – so no regular tea for Dad, and only fruit flavoured iced tea

Crix their regular lines (plain and multigrain) with cheese paste and tomato choka – not a bad serving, if only they’d added the new flavoured mini-Crixes to the sampling

KraftClub Social and cheese. Long line. Not sure why, but they closed up shop early so clearly they undercatered.

Frutalocal carbonated fruit juices, from the makers of Chubby (SM Jaleel).

And others I cannot recall at this precise moment.


The Taste was a good lime. We got safe parking for TT$20 right next door. The decor, atmosphere and music was comfortable, and enjoyable even for the baby. And you bump into friends, and long-time-no-sees (some more than others) since Trinis are into their food and festivals!

The Gourmet programme was a good deal, but next time, since we’re going as a group, we’ll each get a DIFFERENT Group ticket and sample all. Less likely to get stuffed. Could some of the Chefs please, please, please give some attention to the vegetarian crowd? It was great to start off with Amtar, but after that, Group C went down in terms of the variety available to those with food restrictions. And this was the most vegetarian friendly group…

I was a bit disappointed by the general admission Taste, however. I thought there would be other restaurants, caterers or Chefs who would have booths all around the Complex, not necessarily making a full menu like the Gourmet section, but making lots of 1 or 2 specialty items. For sale, obviously, but then we could really get a Taste. Apart from the Gourmet sections, you didn’t really feel like this was a FOOD festival. Was it different on Sunday? Did I miss some areas? I am willing to be corrected.

UPDATE: Visit the TriniView.com Gallery for the Taste T&T 2007 which gives a more comprehensive picture (or indeed pictures) of the Taste: VIP; Gourmet; free samples; and general tasting!

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14 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. lovely seeing your viewpoint and pics ๐Ÿ˜€ (will be raffin some of the pics ๐Ÿ˜› ) hehehe i’ll be posting my post .. (now a RESPONSE) asap hehehe ๐Ÿ˜€

    lively and enthusiastic? :) i like that ! lolz ๐Ÿ˜€ so nice to finally see the faces behind the names!! ๐Ÿ˜€ :D:D hi Trini MOM! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. The TriniGourmet on May 28th, 2007 at 3:50 pm
  2. raffing my pics :-O well, at least you announce the nefarious intentions! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. chennette on May 28th, 2007 at 4:01 pm
  3. yuh gone GREEN ๐Ÿ˜€

    3. The TriniGourmet on May 28th, 2007 at 4:50 pm
  4. they pulled down TriniGourmet, they say it get too big :cries: ah scrambling a ting :(

    4. The TriniGourmet on May 28th, 2007 at 4:52 pm
  5. so I realise – tried accessing it just now!
    and I trying to settle on a colour…

    5. chennette on May 28th, 2007 at 4:55 pm
  6. good review.

    the green is nice however the font color could be darker. its a little hard on the eyes. experiment with the CSS for the fonts and yuh should be fine.

    6. Dre on May 28th, 2007 at 5:16 pm
  7. Merci for the comments Dre – experiment with CSS? man, you pushing me to really work on this blog thing and not deal just with templates? :)

    7. chennette on May 28th, 2007 at 5:25 pm
  8. Really good review Chennette, thanks.

    I was wondering about Trinigourmet’s site and now I see that there is a problem… :( I’ll keep checking.

    8. Cynthia on May 28th, 2007 at 6:16 pm
  9. Wow! So much great looking/sounding food!
    Glad you had such a fun time โ€” and got to meet up with a fellow blogger!

    9. ewe_are_here on May 29th, 2007 at 7:06 am
  10. It was indeed fun. Pity about having to work now.

    10. chennette on May 29th, 2007 at 9:06 am
  11. So hard to read your blog first thing in the morning, makes me feel like going to lunch right away.

    11. Cranky Putz on May 29th, 2007 at 9:45 am
  12. hehe – possibly always my aim :-)

    12. chennette on May 29th, 2007 at 9:50 am
  13. Damn damn damn…..now we’re going to sleep hungry…we want food now…nice food now…we can’t finish reading this entry, its making us tooooo hungry. We might have to come home sooner than planned…

    13. Hmmm on May 29th, 2007 at 6:49 pm
  14. i wasn’t too happy
    will reread whole post and post more later
    just so beat
    barely in my room, much less on a computer

    16. Lilandra, Empress of Chocolate on June 1st, 2007 at 2:09 am

5 Trackbacks

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  2. By Technical Difficulties! : TriniGourmet.com on May 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm

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  3. […] Chennette did such an excellent job of recapping the events I thought I would use her article as a jumping-off point for my own memories and […]

  4. […] Just crix and cheese paste is such a staple in our food culture, that it was on offer at the Taste of T&T! […]

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