Food Gold: Trinidad Rave Up

Posted on May 19th, 2010 in Food Gold > Uncategorized by Mr. Goldbar

This past week, Food Gold assembled a wild crew and hit up Trinidad for a few days of liming, eating and partying at weird Indian clubs that played Turbo Soca and Wham. Included in our brigade were noted journalist Mr. Michael Calderone, recent Harvard grad (Phd Philosophy) and resident food photographer Sam Goldman, yours truly and our host with de most Mr. Trini Chris aka @jillionaire or that dude who is always yelling racist shit @diplo on twitter. If you need a hook up down there Chris is your dude and he will make sure you get crunk and fed.

Check out our take on some local favorites like roti, SHARK AND BAKE and doubles after de jump, you maco man!

Due to the fact that the country does not have a booming tourism industry dictating a TGI Friday’s pon every corner, Trinidad is a heaven for street food enthusiasts. Carbs and stewed meat are the name of the game here. There are many vegetarian options due to the easy availability of Rasta and Indian foods, but we (Sam and I, that is) mostly skipped those and went on an omnivore’s rampage.

Nearly everything is cheap, messy, filling and designed to make you feel mad good after you eat it—unless you act the cowboy/fool and douse your food with more than a “slight” bit of pepper, the omnipresent Scotch Bonnet-style sauce that tops most fast food dishes in Trinidad. On with the hits….

First Taste Of Trini – Street Roti from Kanhai Roti on St. James

After Sam and I were picked up from the airport around midnight by the one and only (never lonely) Trini Chris aka @jillionaire we drove through town and grabbed some rotis from two women who run a sign-less stand called Kanhai Roti on the main drag. On the way there we saw dudes with machine guns and one prostitute and briefly ran into the head of the detectives unit or something. Chris gave him a pound from the driver’s side of the car. They cool like that.

It was a very promising beginning.

After waiting a few minutes for our breads to get brushed with ghee (clarified butter) and cooked up over a small gas burner, the ladies stuffed them with some potatoes, stewed curried beef and a dash of hot sauce (“pepper”) and we were good to go.  Our travel size rotis were fist sized, pleasantly awake with spicy goodness and tasted exactly how you would imagine a roti cooked by two women who only make roti for a living would taste. It was off the chain! We went back for seconds our last night in town.

Liming By De Water With Richard’s Shark and Bake

Another popular dish is called a “bake”. You can get these in a variety of flavors but the best one is by far the Shark and Bake. It’s breaded and fried shark (usually a Nurse shark, nothing scary) stuffed inside a fried flour dough (the bake part) and covered in your choice of toppings and fixins. It’s considered to be a working man’s delicacy down there, and with good reason.

The best place to eat and enjoy a Shark and Bake is a joint called Richard’s on Maracas Beach. It’s hooked up with the most official condiment station I have ever seen in my life. They had tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, hot pepper sauce, Russian dressing, mustard, ketchup, slaw, chili oil, some sorta Tamarind sauce that was amazing, yogurt—at least a twenty item spread. One of the dudes working there gave us the “gringo warning” about the hot sauce and I’d have to say he was nice to warn us. It was strong stuff, spiked with a fruity heat that popped off and cut a bit of the Bake’s fatty fried pon fried flavor.

Richard’s Bake and Shark was easily the best fish sandwich I have had in my entire life. True story.

Doubles from George and George’s X

The morning go to food (as well as the most popular late night drunk chow) down there are doubles. Doubles are two fried flatbreads filled with a bit of curried chickpeas and topped with a variety of sauces. Even you are only having one you must refer it as a “doubles.” This is an important rule. Also, let it not go unsaid that doubles are incredibly messy to eat and somewhat difficult to savor since the contents tend to spill out of both the bara breads and the greasy papers they come wrapped in. They get all up in your madras, yo. Some of the longest running stands, like the one at the Port Of Spain airport, have water fountains next to them for washing your hands, which I thought was nice.

During our first day in town, Chris took us to George’s X, a famous local doubles stand, and told us the story of George and his Ex. Apparently they used to be in business cooking together and after they divorced, each one set up their own stand. To distinguish her’s George’s ex wife named her business “George’s X” and opened up not two blocks from George’s. I’m not sure if they are bitter rivals but they were both jammed with customers each time we visited them. Opinions were split in the group but I think the misses won out. Her cucumber garnish and bright tamarind chutney sealed the deal for me.

So yo thanks once again to Trini Chris for being an amazing fixer and to Mike C and Sam for being such good sports about me asking for annoying food porn photos.

All snaps by Sam Goldman

All doubles by George’s X

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