Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Jamaican Spice, and Plenty of It

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Jamaican Spice, and Plenty of It

Article excerpt

It's lunchtime, Friday, and Eating Companion (EC) and I are pulling into a cluster of warehouses off Ashton Road, looking for Audrey's, a little Jamaican catering service that serves lunch most afternoons. Audrey's is located right next to CrossFit Sarasota, which explains the ridiculously ripped, purpose-filled ladies and gents stepping out of their cars. We almost feel a little shameful, knowing that while they are doing box jumps and pushup variations, we'll be noshing on some serious Jamaican food next door.

Audrey's is known for rum cakes and for jerk chicken, and does a good amount of catering business around town. But Tuesday through Friday Audrey opens up for lunch until 5pm, the majority of her clientele taking it with them, though there are a handful of tables inside for dining in. Audrey herself takes care of the customers, and it's quickly made clear to us that she is one of the sweetest ladies we've ever met.

The menu is small, with a number of Caribbean and Jamaican staples present -- curried goat, oxtail, escovitch, and more. We settle on the oxtail, which I'm hoping to get EC to try, along with some of Audrey's specialty beef and chicken patties, a sort of Jamaican variation on empanadas. We also go for some curried chicken and brown stew chicken, as well as her famed jerk chicken. Lunches run anywhere from $6 to $10, with the patties coming in at $2.50.

I grab us some coconut water and ginger beers. EC cracks one open, takes a respectable swig, and proceeds to cough his brains out from the spice. He didn't see it coming. I'm on the floor, laughing. Audrey drops off our patties.

Jamaican patties are the result of English colonialism, basically a Caribbean take on the traditional savory English turnover, or Welsh pasty. They're simple, unpretentious affairs, a little lighter and more delicate than empanadas or meat pies. Audrey's are about as good as we've ever had on any of the Caribbean islands, though we've never made it to Jamaica. The hot sauce Audrey's keeps on hand is fairly intense, but not deadly.

Audrey drops off the rest of the entrees, which if they weren't explained to us would be relatively indiscernible from one another solely by appearance. …

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