Quesadilla Central

Quesadilla Central

I like to think of myself as a “Quesadilla Conosur” :). I seek out quesadillas at new places I go to, especially when I am not sure what to try from the menu. A lot of times, ordering the quesadilla is the litmus test I use because it is such a simple item to prepare and if the restaurant botches that up, then my expectations are set pretty low for whatever else is on the menu. Cause, really, there isn’t much to it right?!

  • tortillas
  • chicken (or beef, or shrimp or lobster)
  • cheese (oh yes, the ever tasty cheese)
  • salsa
  • sour cream (i’ll have a short rant on this, so bare with me.)

So, I ordered the chicken quesadillas from the Palapa Bar & Grill in San Pedro. It was my first time here to grab a bite during lunch. Nice spot to just grab a drink as well. Their deck is over the water and what view in San Pedro doesn’t look spectacular? So there I was, with a cold Belikin in hand and then i saw, Chicken Quesadillas, so I ordered that for lunch.

A short while later my order arrived in a basket and my first impression was.. niiiiice. 🙂 See, while the ingredients to putting together a Chicken Quesadilla are simple enough, the difference comes with HOW you put those ingredients together. The tortillas needs to be on point. Not too soft or else it falls apart but not too crisp that it crumbles. There needs to be a good balance between cheese and chicken. More cheese than chicken and you might find yourself hunting for the meat. The salsa needs to be just the right amount or else you have a soggy mess that is dripping all over the place. All those things coming together make the Chicken Quesadilla juuuust riiiight and when you get it just right, it is puuuurfect.

Needless to say, Palapa Bar & Grill got it juuuust riiiight ;). The tortillas tasted fresh and were done to perfection, even giving me just the right amount of crisp. Biting into the hot serving gave me the right portions of chicken to cheese with the perfect amount of salsa to set things off. Oh and the sour cream.. YES!! (Here goes that rant i was warning you about). REAL SOUR CREAM!! What is with places that try to cheap you out with some liquid white mess that is more like just cream?! NO MAN! Gimme sour cream! The real deal! Palapa Bar & Grill got major thumbs up from me when I noticed the real sour cream.

I was more than satisfied with lunch. It was enough food for the big eater in me and at a reasonable price along with a gorgeous view. I shall return to try something else from the menu… but I might also order the Chicken Quesadillas again because those were puuuuurfect 😉

PRO TIP:

  • go early for lunch if you can. It is a nice spot and you want to get there early before more people show up.
  • Go eat on the deck. It is beautiful.
  • Ask for a sharpie. Yes, a sharpie. You will immediately notice that all over Palapa Bar & Grill has graffiti. So leave your mark as well for prosperity 😉

RESTAURANT: Palapa Bar & Grill
CONTACT: 226-3111
LOCATION: On the beach, just ask anyone.

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Beach, View and Stuffed Fry Jacks

Beach, View and Stuffed Fry Jacks

Follow me here with this… it is quiet morning, the sun is up and the air fresh. A light breeze is blowing off the Caribbean Sea and the sand on the beach is compelling you to kick off your shoes. This is the setting at Pelican Beach Resort in beautiful Dangriga Town.

It makes one think what could possibly add to this experience… well, how about some Stuffed Fry Jacks? (thank me later ok?) Pelican offers them with a few options: chicken and cheese, fish tomato and onion, beans and cheese, egg and cheese, plain cheese and if you wanna spice things up, add jalapeños to the mix. I know what you are thinking.. how can you POSSIBLY decide which TWO to get?! Yes, that is the conundrum… an order comes with two. It is like having to choose your favorite two M&M’s or your favorite two Power Puff Girls! Oh the decisions. Whatever your combo is your tastebuds will be pleased.

Now, there is this moment… it is right after you have placed your order and when those golden brown lovelies arrive. I call this time my “oh how lucky i am to be in Griga, on the beach, feeling the sun on my face while I wait for all this deliciousness” time. During this time, just take in the scenery. Meditate. Enjoy the coffee. Sip on the freshly squeezed orange juice. Snap pics. Look for the resident squirrel (sneaky bugger). Ponder the life of the iguana that wakes up every day to the view you are looking at :).

Then the main event… Stuffed Fry Jacks are here! They come in pairs, golden brown and hot! They may seem lonely on the plate but that is because the entire party is on the inside. For the love of everything good, do NOT add ketchup! (if you do, i will find you! and i will clap you!) What you CAN do though is compliment this amazingness with Marie Sharp Pepper Sauce. Oh yes, i feel my mouth watering. Cutting into these golden beauties is like unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning. The difference is though, you get to EAT your gifts!

For those that need the warning… they are hot, so take it easy. Let them breathe… kinda like a good bottle of Merlot. Now… yes, now you can taste them and savor all those flavors. I swear I hear angels sing every time I take a bite of these stuffed fry jacks. It might be the cool breeze flowing through the coconut trees on the beach next to me but angels, yeah, let’s go with angels :).

PRO TIP:
1: As they bring your order of Stuffed Fry Jacks, ask for another order. The timing will be perfect because as you finish the second one, the new order arrives. BAZINGA!

2: Don’t get a seat in the restaurant. Go outside on the deck, way out. Get one of the farthest tables and just take in the view.

3: Can’t make it for breakfast but still want to have some sort of fry jacks? No worries, get yourself a sweet snack and ask for Belizean Beignets. Powdered sugar covered mini fry jacks. Like woah!

***UPDATE***
You can get these tasty stuffed fry jacks any time of the day!!!

 

RESTAURANT: Pelican Beach Resort
CONTACT:
522-2995
LOCATION:
1 Pen Rd, Dangriga

 

post by: JC Cuellar

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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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