Hudut in the City

Hudut in the City

Most might associate the traditional Garifuna dish of Hudut with Southern Belize… Dangriga and Hopkins to be more precise… and perhaps you wouldn’t be wrong; besides, it is what I think as well. For someone who grew up and lived in Dangriga most of my life, I have had the absolute pleasure of tasting what I believe to be some of the best tasting Hudut Belize has to offer. Some from restaurants and some from the kitchens of friends. After moving to the city for a few years now, I only get to have this delicacy once a year when heading to Griga (Dangriga) for 19th but lately, I just couldn’t wait for that trip. My tastebuds were craving Hudut. So… I asked on my Facebook page for suggestions on where in the city I could find something worthy for my tastebuds. No sooner had I posted the question did a friend hit me back with “Thelma’s Kitchen on Caesar Ridge Road, every Thursday” followed by another endorsement by another friend who said “And it is awesome.. oooiii!”. With answers like those, I had to try it! I whipped out my phone and made an appointment in my calendar: “Thursday, check out Hudut from Thelma’s Kitchen, Caesar Ridge Road.”

Thursday couldn’t come soon enough! I woke up that morning with a smile because Hudut was on the menu for lunch. My phone had a reminder to leave early from work to go find Thelma’s Kitchen because I wasn’t sure where on Ceasar Ridge road the restaurant was. Beep beep. There goes the reminder. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Peace out! I am off to get some lunch.

Thelma's KitchenFinding Thelma’s was easy. When going up Caesar Ridge Road, in the direction of going to Port, the restaurant is on the left, just after the park (which is on your right). Can’t miss the spot. Painted a bright green with red trimming and in bright yellow letters “Welcome to Thelma’s Kitchen”. You have two options… either order from the window outside for takeout, or go inside and up to the counter to order either for takeout or to have in the restaurant. I chose inside :).

It only took a few seconds to figure out who Thelma was because everyone was calling her name to get her attention. She is the one in charge, no doubt. She handles the money and serves as well. Be nice though, because she will put you in check if you raise your voice too much as one guy found out when hassling her with his order. I simply waited in line for my turn and watched as containers of Hudut were dished out, packaged and sold. And another, sold. And the next… and four more… and three more. A lady came in after me and must have known someone there because she got hers ahead of me. No worries though… I was next… and that is a huge pot, so… I am good. Panic quickly set in when I ordered and Ms. Themla looked at me with her old experienced eyes and said, “no mo no deh.” What?! No more?! No man! I been waiting all week for today. Patiently waited in line for 8 minutes while smelling all this goodness… it can’t be done. I had to flash my smile and chat up Ms. Thelma, letting her know her place was highly recommended and so I just had to try this Hudut. I told her, scrape the pot, I don’t care, but Hudut I must have. Maybe it was my soothing voice or the smiles I gave her, but there was one serving left that seemed to have been put aside for someone else. She asked out loud, “who dis fa?!” Nobody answered… SOLD! I got my Hudut!

I went to a table, sat down and open the container. Oh the aroma! Mmmm. I poured the lasus (soup) along with a nice piece of king fish and pieces of okra into a big bowl, quickly opened the container that had the hudut (beaten plantain) to scoop up some and put in the bowl. (Side note. Hudut is actually the beaten plantain and the soup is called lasus or sere lasus. The entire dish is also called hudut). Snap, snap.. couple pics for later… and with mouth watering, brought my first spoonful to my lips. Tastebuds lit up! My brain translating all this taste… taste so wonderful it triggered memories and in an instant, I was back in my friends kitchen, enjoying some home made Hudut. With eyes closed, I savored the taste of coconut milk in the sere and swallowed with a distinct sound of mmmm. Up came another spoonful, this time with hudut and with my other hand, I picked off a piece of fry fish. Fish first, followed by spoonful of amazingness and again… I pause as tastes run about my mouth and I can feel the distinct sensation of home. Mmmmm. and… repeat.

I thoroughly enjoyed that Hudut, even tilted the bowl to get the last of the lasus. Sometime during the eating, I had ditched all etiquette and was licking my fingers, making sure i had gotten all of the plantain. I leaned back into my chair and exhaled with satisfaction. I had calmed my cravings and pleased my tastebuds with what has got to be, the best tasting hudut in the City.

See you soon Thelma, see you soon.

PRO TIP:

  1. Order ahead AND, go early to pick it up. 11:30 if you can. Do NOT expect to go 12:00 and get Hudut.
  2. Eat in, don’t take out. The restaurant has a life of its own. It is great to sit, eat and watch.
  3. The order of Hudut came with Pig Tail; so, if you don’t eat pork or fancy it, make sure when you order to tell them NOT to add the pig tail.
  4. When eating in, go up to the counter and order. Don’t wait to be served because you might miss out on the food when it is all gone.
  5. Order a fresh juice and get a small because the large is just that.. LARGE.
  6. Tell Thelma you enjoyed her food, she will appreciate it and yes, you can call her Thelma, everyone else does.
  7. Thelma’s Kitchen does Boil Up on Fridays.

RESTAURANT: Thelma’s Kitchen
CONTACT: 207-0340
LOCATION: Caesar Ridge Road, Belize City

REFERENCES:
  1. Want to know more about Hudut and how it is made? Check out this article: How to make Hudut

post by: JC Cuellar

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Elvi’s Coconut Curry Shrimp – do it!

Elvi’s Coconut Curry Shrimp – do it!

Simply saying “Coconut Curry Shrimp” makes my mouth water all over again for this perfectly balanced dish. Elvi’s Kitchen on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, serves up this delish delight and is one of their most requested off the menu. I had to find out why and woah… I got my answer loud and clear!

Elvi’s Kitchen is located on Pescador Drive in the heart of San Pedro. Their sandy floors and hardwood interior gives such a natural feel when visiting the restaurant. Also, there is art and I mean, wicked art! A section of their restaurant showcases some of the best talent on the island and in Belize. There are breathtaking pieces of different styles and all the art on sale should you realize you cannot walk away from one of them. Elvi’s secret weapon though is in the kitchen and her name is Chef Jennie Staines. Chef Jennie has been trained regionally as well as in the USA. Her focus is on Maya cooking and the menu at Elvi’s Kitchen reflects that well. Chef Jennie has traveled far and wide representing Belize taking her unique taste of home for others to share and envy. Hi-five for having her here where we can get to taste her food!

When I got to Elvi’s Kitchen for lunch, I was undecided about what to get from the menu. I had only tried a couple dishes before and those tasted great so I wanted to work my my way through the menu. Luckily the guy attending to my table suggested the Coconut Curry. So, that is what I went with and was I glad!

Presentation is key when serving up food for me. I feast with my eyes before I get to eat and when the food was brought to my table, it looked lovely. I just had to take a few photos and was quick with it as I could smell the curry. My first fork full had me pause with delight as all the tastes ran through me. What a wonderful blend of curry and coconut while tossing in some perfectly cooked shrimp and pieces of ripe plantain. Was that a raisin?! Yes please! All of this tossed around with some cooked veggies in a curry sauce. In the middle of this sea of tastiness, a column of coconut white rice to add to the array of yuminess on the plate.

Usually, I have proper manners when eating out but at the end of my meal, I couldn’t resist taking my finger and sliding up the side of the plate the last of that coconut curry flavor. Mmmm, so good.

PRO TIP:
Ask for the chef and tell her you came just for her cooking. Never know, she may send a treat to your table for the compliment ;).

RESTAURANT: Elvi’s Kitchen
CONTACT: 226-2176
LOCATION: Pescador Drive, San Pedro

post by: JC Cuellar

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Spoonaz Smoked Ribs

Spoonaz Smoked Ribs

Holy Buckets! This is nom nom nom nom (wipes sauce from corner of mouth), nom nom nom.

Spoonaz Facebook page has been taunting me for weeks! Weeks I tell you! Every time they posts that they are doing smoked ribs and that it sells out. I hear friends talking about it and every week, something keeps coming up that prevents me from making that visit to this lovely photo cafe bar & bar. Finally I clear my schedule for a Saturday, double check that smoked ribs are on the menu for the day and immediately I feel the grumbling wants from my tummy.

Spoonaz Photo & Cafe and Bar is located on North Front Street in Belize City and their deck overlooks the historical Haulover Creek. Their Facebook page describes themselves as “A place for locals and visitors to relax and enjoy the warmth of Belizean hospitality.” The “chef” responsible for their smoked ribs is no other than Jeremy Spooner who some may know as “da white man weh tek picha”. Jeremy has been taking photos for years in Belize from the 1hr Mini Lab and I am not sure how framing shots spilled over to tinkering around in the kitchen but I am most certainly glad it did. After a complete overhaul of the 1hr mini lab, The Photo Cafe & Bar was born. The cafe is a delightful getaway from the bustle of North Front street and their menu has a simple yet tasty range of food, from meat pies to home made quiche (oh, believe me, that quiche deserves its own blog post). Love coffee? Then stop in and pick up a hot cup, always served fresh. They have a great bean selection, both local and abroad, to satisfy everyone’s taste. Not feeling for coffee but prefer a cold Belikin Beer? That is fine too because they serve up the entire line of beers from Belikin.

While I have dropped by on many occasions to grab some grub and a hot cup of coffee, my agenda for Saturday was strictly for their smoked ribs. After much testing and experimenting, Jeremy has perfected the seasoning and smoking of the ribs. They are served up with red kidney beans cooked with pigtail to give that signature Belizean taste along with cole slaw and a big fresh flour tortilla. While the trimmings on this plate were tasty, I was all about making sure I got full off of ribs. Before I could even indulge in the taste, the aroma kicked my hunger into high gear as the smokey smell of the ribs rose up from my plate. The meat was so tender and I didn’t have to fight with the bone to get off the meat because the meat just slipped right off. I have no clue where Spoonaz gets his ribs but they are meaty! Sure there is some fat but only enough to lend itself to the taste. His seasoning or rub has the perfect balance of heat. I am not much for pepper and found the heat level on the ribs just right to give that sensation on your tongue and lips. There is a pepper sauce on the table if you need to amp up the heat but I thought that would mess with the taste profile of the ribs. The smokey taste is just so right. Jeremy keeps them in the smoker for hours to give them that signature taste that everyone buzzes about.

Wait, what?! Ribs again this Saturday! (October 17th, 2015). Oh yeah!

PRO TIP:

  1. Stalk out their Facebook Page for updates on their menu and when they are doing their ribs and then email them to reserve your order.
  2. Don’t get takeout. Go to the back on the deck and get a seat overlooking Haulover Creek to take in the view and cool breeze.
  3. If you see Jeremy, chat with him. He is always up for a good conversation about anything, food, politics, photography 😉

View

 

RESTAURANT: Spoonaz Cafe and Photo Bar
CONTACT: 223-1043
LOCATION: 89 North Front Street

post by: JC Cuellar

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As Belizean as Rice and Beans

As Belizean as Rice and Beans

There are so many things that are so Belizean to many of us. With such diversity in our country, we all have our own views of what makes Belize, so Belize-like. One dish that we all seem to share and agree on is Rice and Beans or as it is sometimes called, 1, 2 3.
Let me break that down for you:

  1. Rice and Beans
  2. Chicken
  3. and Salad. Now, on this point, there are the purist who say salad MUST be Potato Salad and there are those that quite fine if they got Cole Slaw.

 

My preference is Potato Salad, however I don’t mind a nice Slaw should it come with the food. My focus is primarily on what else is on the plate. Everywhere pretty much offers Rice and Beans. You can find it on any random day at just about any side food place or restaurant. My most recent road trip had me in the absolutely lovely land of Punta Gorda and I had heard about Joycelyn’s Place located right at the seaside. I had to check it out.

Their menu is to the point. They usually have BBQ, Rice and Beans with chicken or pork and of course, jerk chicken Today however, after a nice bike ride through the town, I wanted to try out the staple, 1, 2, 3.

Joycelyn’s is a small wooden building located at the beginning of Front Street under a huge “Hammans” (Almond) Tree. At first glance, you may overlook this little gem of a place but I assure you, go up the creaky steps and make your order. Joycelyn will not disappoint. Her 1, 2, 3 is delish! Perfectly moist Rice and Beans (cause who likes it dry?) with a well seasoned chicken, balanced with Cole Slaw and of course, plantain. Cost? 7 bucks. No frills here at Joycelyn’s. Just a smiling face and good food.

PRO TIP:
Don’t get food to go. Have it there and go to the “back” on their porch. Find a seat in their small space that looks out to the sea and enjoy their food with a calming view. Also, ask for their homemade pepper sauce. It adds the perfect heat to their tasty food.

RESTAURANT: Joycelyn’s
CONTACT: 661-9267
LOCATION: #1 Front Street, Punta Gorda, Toledo

 

post by: JC Cuellar

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