Sun | Jun 16, 2024

La Fiesta provides festive cultural, culinary experience

‘Calendar of events’ planned for JFDK

Published:Thursday | May 9, 2024 | 12:11 AMShanel Lemmie/Staff Reporter
The Ghostly Heat Margarita
The Ghostly Heat Margarita
Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Juan González Mijares starting the night with a shot of Cava de Oro Extra Anejo Black Tequila.
Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Juan González Mijares starting the night with a shot of Cava de Oro Extra Anejo Black Tequila.
Honey Chipotle crispy fish with  jalapeño creamed corn.
Honey Chipotle crispy fish with jalapeño creamed corn.
The Mexican rice bowl with tequila lime shrimp, plantain and cilantro chimichurri was one of the night’s most popular offerings.
The Mexican rice bowl with tequila lime shrimp, plantain and cilantro chimichurri was one of the night’s most popular offerings.
Pork empanadas with chilli garlic sauce.
Pork empanadas with chilli garlic sauce.
This Scotch bonnet tomato salsa is the best addition to any meal.
This Scotch bonnet tomato salsa is the best addition to any meal.
Mixologist Jermaine Mittoo poses with a freshly made Caribbean Citrus Burst Mule.
Mixologist Jermaine Mittoo poses with a freshly made Caribbean Citrus Burst Mule.
Espresso Orange Chocolate Margarita mixes the sting of tequila with the soothing sweetness of chocolate and coffee.
Espresso Orange Chocolate Margarita mixes the sting of tequila with the soothing sweetness of chocolate and coffee.
 Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Juan González Mijares (left) and Nadine Pandohie, managing director of Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen, toast to a beautiful showcase of Mexican culture.
Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Juan González Mijares (left) and Nadine Pandohie, managing director of Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen, toast to a beautiful showcase of Mexican culture.
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Last weekend Kingston’s Latin and Latin-loving community came alive to relish in Cinco De Mayo celebrations. Likewise, Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen (JFDK) on Friday had their second staging of La Fiesta, a street food festival commemorating the Mexican celebration.

Though the holiday provided a backdrop for this type of celebration, JFDK Managing Director Nicole Pandohie says for the Kingston hotspot, their events are for so much more than tapping into a trendy theme.

“It’s not just Cinco De Mayo, we have a whole calendar of activities for the entire year that we plan the year before. So every four to six weeks we have major events. Coming up we have Mother’s Day, we’re doing this amazing boozy tea party, it’s gonna be fantastic. We have beer fest in June, we have Father’s Day. We have a whole line-up. We’ve been open [for] two years. We try to remain on the cutting edge [with the] types of events that you can find in Jamaica. So we’re really adding value to the Kingston attraction landscape and the food and culinary landscape.”

She went on, “I think it’s more than just the what. It’s the fact that we have created a space where people can come and have great food, great drinks, be safe, enjoy themselves and have a completely different experience every time they come. Like, tomorrow we have a kids cooking class, the experience is always so different every day that you come, and that the beauty of this space, that it lends itself to anything that you could fit in the culinary entertainment space.”

Creating a particular kind of culinary experience, the fiesta boasted meals like the quintessential beef quesadilla, topped with a sweet and spicy pineapple and jalapeño salsa; empanadas with a chilli garlic sauce; a variety of black and other bean dips; a Mexican rice bowl with shrimp and tequila lime shrimp, plantain and a cilantro chimichurri drizzle. With no shortage of savoury, the sweeter side of things offered a spicy chocolate gnash and dulce de leche, both Mexican specialities.

Though food took centre stage, Mexican Ambassador to Jamaica Juan González Mijares told Food that on occasions like this, it is always important to bolster a huge supporter of the Mexican economy: tequila.

Briefly explaining that though Cinco De Mayo is celebrated by Mexicans, the holiday largely lives in America due to the migration of Mexicans to the United States.

“Jamaica follows the tradition of America, and as I said, we like to party but this is also an opportunity to present tequila; tequila [is] like a national beverage of Mexico. We have all these tequilas coming from Mexico directly and in association with Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen has proved very, very fruitful for all. I am so glad to be here promoting tequila and promoting the culture of Mexico.”

Explaining the now commercialised holiday, he said, “For Cinco De Mayo, in Mexico we commemorate battle, a battle against the French intervention. This became a symbol of resilience, a symbol of sovereignty, reaffirmation. In Jamaica you have the Tallawahs, well those were the Tawallahs of Mexico. But now in the Unites States, the appropriation of Cinco De Mayo has to do with the Mexican community.”

Lauding the experience, Shanae Grant, who also attended the event last year, says she is grateful for the opportunity to immerse herself into new things through the JFDK.

Looking back at her experience last year, she said, “It was really great, we got to try like all different types of tequilas and stuff. We actually learned how to like drink Mexican tequila, not just take it like a shot. So that was interesting and the food was excellent too.”

shanel.lemmie@gleanerjm.com