In this Fuck, That’s Delicious special, Mr. Wonderful heads to Goldeneye, a beautiful and remote resort in Oracabessa on the northern coast of Jamaica, to check out the inaugural NyamJam Festival, a Jamaican food, culture, and music event. Jamaica is right up Action’s alley from the get-go, as he sinks his teeth into “the most incredible mango [he’s] ever tasted in [his] fucking life.”
After arriving at NyamJam and indulging in a Utopia Farms macaroon edible to get irie, Action jumps right into sampling the goods from some of the island’s best chefs.
First, he tries Caribbean pumpkin slaw, a.k.a. “calabaza slaw,” prepared by one of Puerto Rico’s greatest chefs, Jose Enrique of El Blok. The James Beard Award-nominated chef’s spicy slaw highlights calabaza pumpkin’s tender texture with a Scotch bonnet pepper and saffron vinaigrette, roasted red peppers, garlic confit, and a topping of freshly grated Parmesan and prosciutto. “It’s hot and humid out here, so that Parmesan cuts right through it and makes me feel good,” Action says, dubbing it one of his favorite dishes of the day.
Next, Action pays a visit to the “Michael Chiarello of Jamaica,” chef Pierluigi Ricci of Toscanini, a restaurant known for blending the flavors of Parma, Italy, and Jamaica onto one happy plate. Chiarello created a signature cured marlin for the festival—a recipe for which he claims, “I could tell you the recipe for the marlin, but I would have to kill you. It’s a little Italian joke”—and a sugarcane-skewered grilled shrimp with a spicy orange marinade. “How can you go wrong eating this stuff right where it came from?”Action wonders aloud.
Now that he’s tasted some of the island’s freshest seafood, it’s time for some mouthwatering curried goat and jerk pork from Lyming at Walkerswood, prepared by master chef Dwayne Deleon. “I’m not the biggest fan of goat. It’s a bit gamey for me, a bit barnyardy, but the way they flavored it, they took all of that away,” Action remarks.
But it is the legendary Jamaican pimento-smoked mokko chicken from pitmaster Gariel Ferguson that takes front and center for Mr. Wonderful. The tender chicken is smoked with crushed pimento leaves over a scorching hot grill to give it that signature jerk taste and served with a crispy pickled vegetable slaw in coco bread. “I need seven more of these,” he tells Ferguson, though he later claims he could “eat 55,000 of them.”
Action later uses the pimento briquettes given to him by Ferguson to make jerk octopus at home. But it’s the sauces of Jamaica that really excite his palate.
After tasting some of Belcour Preserves’ spicy sauces, Action says, “If you like sauces, jerk marinades, different little accoutrements to serve on the side and flavor your dishes, Jamaica is the place for you.”
Lisa Binns, co-owner of Stush in the Bush, serves Action samples of fyah pepper sauce, their vegan chocolate cake, and their unique passionfruit butter to end the day. Her fellow co-owner Christopher Binns explains that the brand got its name because “we live in the bush, we’re exciting, we’re sexy, we’re full of flavor.”
“Not one thing has been bad,” Action says. “The flavors have been bursting all over the place. I’m here forever. I’m not leaving.”