Caribbean Restaurant Week — June 22 – 28 is happening! A great way of culminating Caribbean Heritage Month and celebrating the diversity and tastiness of Caribbean food boasts its organizer, Jean Alexander of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA).
Bajan, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Cuban, Haitian and Pan-Caribbean are some of the eats from 35 participating restaurants that one can sample or indulge in at eat-in or take-out restaurants and even supper clubs with live music. Callaloo, griot, roti, stewed or jerk meats, doubles, Trini-Chinese and Caribbean fruit punches are among the bold and bright, savory and spicy, nuanced flavors that make up the many cultures and cuisines in the world of Caribbeans in New York. For the non-red meat eaters, some restaurants offer fresh oysters, Caribbean-style vegan, veggie burgers, jerk seitan, aloe pies and pepper shrimp.
WIADCA consulted with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and a team of four from WIADCA pulled together the first citywide focus on Caribbean eats. Ms. Alexander cites one of the main goals, “We want to give a boost to small Caribbean-owned restaurants; most are mom and pop.”
The BCC was experienced with two other successful “restaurant weeks” this year – Italian and Kosher – so BCC was the perfect partner, even as the event extended beyond Brooklyn boundaries.
“We did it in one month. We identified and invited 100 restaurants to participate and over 40 responded,” says Ms. Alexander. (Some saying they will do it next year.) The use of social media and e-mail blasts were used extensively to get the word out, including the Caribbean Restaurant Week New York Facebook page.
This year, the bulk of the restaurants are in Brooklyn with two in Queens, and two in Manhattan. Next year, Ms. Alexander is sure to find participation from the other boroughs. The sit-in restaurants are offering lunches from $8-$18, dinners from $15-$35. The take-out restaurants have fare from $5-$15. Some of the eateries have Caribbean-week new recipes or added specials, free fruit punch or all-day specials.
Last Friday on a glorious early summer evening, organizers, supporters, and local politicians munched on fresh fruit kabobs, mango and pineapple chow (chutney), and spicy shrimp for the festive Caribbean Restaurant Week kick-off in the back yard at Brooklyn’s D’Savannah, one of the participating restaurants. For a full list of restaurants: wiadcacarnival.org/2014/06/caribbean-restaurant-week-new-york/
Says Natasha Andrews of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, “I am so thrilled this many restaurants are participating and there is this much interest in the foods of the Caribbean.”