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5 Must-Attend Food Festivals In Jamaica

By Travel Noire

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Written by Sharine Taylor

I’m sure you’ve heard all about Jamaica’s delicious culinary selections: jerk chicken, oxtail, rice and peas, mannish wata (yes, I’m willing to die on this hill), stew peas, ackee and saltfish (our national dish), and even the array of flavours found in Rastafari ital meals. However, there are a plethora of other cuisines that we’ve remixed to add our 876 touch. All these dishes and more are can be experienced firsthand at one of the nation’s many delectable food festivals.

Jamaica is steadily working its way towards being the Caribbean’s hub for gastronomes locally and afar. Whether it’s fusing flavours native to the island with cuisines and dishes from abroad, or even just celebrating our own fare, these festivals in the nation’s capital put Jamaica’s eats on a platter to dive in fork first.

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival | Early March

Jamaica’s Blue Mountains are home to its infamous coffee beans and if you’re a fan of all things java, art and culture, the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival is for you. You’ll be whisked away to Newcastle, a historic military centre, that is transformed into the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail. Attendees will be met with plenty of music, crafts and food native to Jamaica, and will be able to enjoy the scenic mountain scenery as their backdrop.

The Jamaica Rum Festival | Early March

Rum, music, art and food, what more can one ask for? Even though rum originated in Barbados, Appleton Estates, Monymusk, Hampden Estates, Charley’s, Wray and Nephew (and my personal favourite) Sangsters, are among our best beverage exports. Though 2019 is the festival’s first staging, in typical Jamaican fashion, the event haffi sell awff! Set to be held in the beautiful Hope Gardens, with promised food pairings and live performances from top-tier reggae and dancehall acts, the Jamaica Rum Festival is sure to be a foodie favourite.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum on display at "Life's A Beach, Then You Eat!" dinner hosted by Gaston Acurio, Jonathan Waxman, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Samuelsson, Paul Kahan & Hedy Goldsmith during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Mandarin Oriental on February 21, 2014 in Miami City.

(Photo by Randy Borges/Getty Images)

Pasta Supreme | Late June

Pasta Supreme combines pasta, music and charity for an unforgettably tasty and feel-good experience. With 10 chefs, 20 dishes (on their menu last year they had ackee pasta in a pumpkin creme sauce and bourbon oxtail pasta, mm!), two seafood stations, a kebab grill, a dessert bar, fruit bar, soup and salad bar and a bread station, Pasta Supreme is definitely not an event you want to miss! In addition, a portion of its profits go towards a charitable organization, making the event #PastaWithAPurpose — this year’s recipient will be JAMHAN, a mental health advocacy and support group. To satiate the appetites before the big day, this year Pasta Supreme will host a series of pop-ups where attendees can interact with chefs and sample dishes that will later be featured at the event.

Jamaica Food & Drink Festival | Late October

The Jamaica Food & Drink Festival is one of the most highly anticipated festivals of the year! The annual, week-long staging is a celebration of Jamaican and international food with themed events to guide the culinary experience. Showcasing the gastronomy and creative brilliance of chefs on the island and abroad, yuh cyaa miss the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival.

Restaurant Week | Early November

Restaurant Week in Jamaica is full ah nuff vibes! Select restaurants across the island offer prix fixe menus with familiar fan favourites or specialty Restaurant Week-exclusive items. If you’re looking to experience a specific kind of taste, Restaurant Week divides up participating restaurants into flavours that ignite various parts of your palate, like ‘Delectable,’ ‘Savoury,’ or ‘Morning Bites.’ Encouraging attendees to reacquaint themselves with cuisine they know or discover new dishes to enjoy (including my personal favourites), Restaurant Week is a foodies’ dream and the perfect cap to end a year of food festivals.

Sharine Taylor is a Toronto-based music and culture writer, and Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of BASHY Magazine

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