Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dining and wining in Helsinki: Jamaican Mamas

Sunshine.Light. Colours. Reggae. Helsinki might not seem like the place for those, but they're there if you know where to look for!

The quality of this food blogger's life has been shaken to the core. First my oven broke down and then the computer died. As all bad things come in threes, I've decided it's best to stay away from the camera for now. In case that too broke down... I'd seriously have to reconsider my career choices.

So, while I've been waiting for the new oven (and the estimate on the computer repair people) I've been relying on food cooked by others. This lady has been lunching at Hodari & Hummeri, Zaafran Deli and Twisted Street Kitchen. As street food is proving to be the biggest foodie trend around (you have heard about Streat Helsinki- food festival, right?), I also tried Jamaican Mama's, a Jamaican restaurant that, after months of work in progress, finally opened in the Hämeentie district in Helsinki - centre for all things ethnic. Their Facebook page has somehow managed to amass more than 17 000 followers!

The restaurant, brain child of Hazel, who's made her name with her cooking classes serves Caribbean street food / home cooked meals including classics such as saltfish and goat curry - both of which I absolutely must try!

 The atmosphere and decor are as fuss-free as the food. And the service - at least as sunny. This is a place where food is made and served with love.

Luckily I had The Boy Next Door in tow - otherwise I might have come across all... greedy as of course I just had to try just about everything. First we had dumplings that came with the jerk sauce they make from scratch. It wasn't as spicy as I expected, but so good I'm dying to know when they'll start bottling it and selling it.Yummee!

I myself haven't really had much experience of Jamaican produce in, you know, culinary sense, but even I had heard about the patties. The crust is clearly home-made, though a bit dry. The filling was beef - seasoned to perfection.

For main I went for Jerk Chicken wrap. I would have loved for the wrap to be home-made too as I just can't stand the plastic tatse of the store-bought ones. The chicken too could have been a bit spicier for my taste, but the date liked it. And let's face it: that little paper parasol did put a smile on my face in the middle of all the gray sleetiness!

The Boy had Reggae Chicken with traditionally cooked rice (with coconut milk and beans), but regular rice is available too. This had taste. We liked it.

The restaurant doesn't have a liquor licence, but their home-made ginger beer has become a hit. Unfortunately that meant it was sold out and the next batch was brewing. The alternative (something with ginger, too) was delicious though. The desserts are baked by Hazel's friend. There wasn't really any room for one but... just look at that gooey chocolateyness!

Less would have sufficed, I'm sure - the total came to about €50. Since we're both only familiar with Caribbean... herbs (!) I can't really pass any judgement on the authenticity- But it's always good not to have to limit the culinary travels to greasy neighbourhood Chinese or pizza-pasta-burger-kebab- places. Way to go, Mama Hazel!

The restaurant also sells a cookery book Hazel has put together, illustrated with wonderful photos so you can keep the Caribbean Sun shining even at home!



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