Last night was Sunday Dinner Co’s monthly dinner for November. This month’s dinner was a love letter to places Sunday Dinner Co’s co-founder & my partner, Taylor Goring, calls home. Fusing flavours from Jamaica and Barbados into the cuisine for the night, Chef Taylor, intended to elevate otherwise “day-to-day dishes” that families often share.
In a way, the Caribbean is a giant intersection where all regions of the world meet. Being at the crux of many historic heartbreaks, trades, and international relations, and based off of location alone, this part of the world proved to be the grounds for the merger of many cultures. When East met West met North met South, met the Indigenous Arawak people, a unique Caribbean culture with a plethora of subcultures was developed. What this meant for the relationship between gastronomy and the Caribbean, was beauty in flavours, colours, techniques, and textures.
Being a melting pot with contents being hundreds of years old, and as a result, housing a multitude of gastronomic influences, Caribbean cuisine is so unique in its ability to seamlessly fuse with the new, and be at the epicentre of what it means to be developmentally open gastronomy. From olfactory identities to identities via flavour and colour, working with Caribbean cuisine and its synthesis of worldwide ingredients and flavours left us with a world of possibilities.
If you’ve never thought of pairing West Indian tamarind sauce with your Cod Fish Fritters, or as they are called in Barbados, Fish Cakes, I implore you all to try it out ASAP. The acidity of the tamarind sauce played beautifully with the savoury fish cakes and the sweet plantain.
The cook time on the coconut seafood broth in this dish sits pretty, at over 4 hours. During this time is where the magic happened- this broth was packed with umami and had a deep and decadent flavour. It paired beautifully with the fresh shrimp caught by Taylor’s uncle and his family’s herbed cassava recipe. The green onion and avocado cream provided a light balance between sweet and bitter, that cut through these rich ingredients.
‘Jerk’ is a cooking technique native to the Arawak community, and describes the process of smoking meat. This technique has transcended time and has become a symbol of Jamaican cuisine with a unique blend of spice. As with any smoked or cured meat, the colours of the meat tend to go pink. This initially scared us during our test run, but seeing that the perfect temperature for chicken in order for it to be safely consumed is 165 degrees F, which we easily hit, we decided to dig deeper into our research. The level of spice in our overnight marinade ended up curing our meat, leaving us with an exceptionally tender jerked chicken. These were our findings, and now yours!
This was probably the most difficult dish to put together. Getting the density of the pasta down, so that it could cook through without breaking (as it was filled with oxtail meat and oxtail gravy) was only the beginning of this challenging dish. We ran into the issue of the pasta sticking together which we did not foresee at all. The lesson learned here: if you intend to make fresh pasta, flour it and freeze it instead of letting it set in the refrigerator to ensure that it doesn’t stick and tear. Aside from that, we seamlessly kept the pesto and the herbed brown butter foam at room temperature in order for it to not split and/or either melt/solidify. This was remarkably challenging as we couldn’t entirely control the temperature of the room- BUT WE DID IT!
This Peach Cobbler was buttery and melted in our mouths. Topped with a biting ginger and spiced rum ice cream fused with a spiced rum eggnog ice cream, it felt like a hug from the inside. It was the perfect way to end the evening!
We had a successful (SOLD OUT!) second event, hosted in Maxine Knight‘s space with a turnout of marvelous folks responsible for the astounding energy pulsating through the room. We couldn’t have served such an amazing meal without the help of Taylor’s cousin, Celena Ingram- a chef, and foodie based out of Brampton, ON. So, a major thanks goes out to her.
It is said that a Sunday well spent, brings a week of content, and there is no other way we would have rather spent our Sunday. We genuinely hope that everyone present had an incredible time, enjoyed the atmosphere, the community, and the food itself. We want to thank everyone for their feedback in addition to their presence and energy.
Our next event will be on the 17th of December so please keep a look out on our social media pages for those details (@sundaydinner_co). We are looking forward to seeing you sometime soon!
Love & light,
Janu …& Taylor sitting beside me.