Fantastic Food at GoldenEye

Thursday, August 02, 2018

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GoldenEye has a new chef and Lord, have mercy, can he cook!

On Friday, July 20, Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Outpost (whose properties also include Strawberry Hill, Pantrepant and The Caves), hosted an intimate dinner party at GoldenEye. He invited Thursday Food and a few guests, including Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards judges, to the luxury property in Oracabessa, St Mary, to experience the prowess and creativity of resident chef Tim Kensett.

Kensett moved from New York City to the island with his partner Mari Karajani in December. Since then, the English-born chef has made quite a study of local produce. “It has been an exploration of flavour,” said Kensett. “Jamaica has fantastic ingredients, some that I have never seen before, and wherever I go, I make that culture a point of learning.” This credo definitely shone through his first course — Pantrepant zucchini flowers with ugli fruit, goat cheese and country pepper.

The zucchini flowers' tempura-like coating was light and non-greasy, and the creamy goat cheese filling was bright with tanginess. There was a nuanced zip of ugli fruit and the piquancy of country pepper. All these worked together to make a sensational appetiser that had some dinner guests asking for more.

Kensett is inspired by “whatever we have on the farm”. Of course, he's speaking about Blackwell's Trelawny farm (and villa) Pantrepant. “Whatever I get, that's what I cook,” he said, and he got an excess of cow's milk which he turned into ricotta. Naturally. For the second dish, the ricotta was roasted to get the perfect amount of char; its freshness balanced by the slight acidity of an eggplant caponata. Rounding out the dish with fried spearmint leaves was a deft move by Kensett, as they allowed for a pleasing finish.

Speaking about pleasing: the pimento and jasmine smoked quail with red onions, carrot and cacao nibs was delightful. The local quail (procured from one of Pantrepant's neighbours) was plump and flavourful. Sweet from the pimento and purée of carrots and fragrant with jasmine, this was a fine plate of food. The slightly pickled red onions cut through but did not interfere with the dish's lusciousness. Well done, Chef!

If you love lobster and risotto, you may want to start a fan club for Chef Kensett's local lobster risotto with Taittinger Brut Reserve, roe butter and onion crisps. Bursting with umami and ridiculously good, this dish could easily become a GoldenEye signature. When lobster is in season, of course. After this fifth course, guests definitely needed a stretch and a rest, but this was not a table of quitters.

The Pantrepant common fowl (yes, you read that correctly) in milk with cornmeal, rosemary, garlic and milk curd was, in a word, divine. The juicy, well-seasoned and perfectly tender chicken complemented the creamy polenta. The rosemary was expertly handled and there was not a single saponaceous note in sight. This modern take on roasted meat and mash was rich and delectable but did not burden the palate — an indicia of a skilled chef.

The six-course meal concluded with dark chocolate and sea salt with coffee and Blackwell Rum. A quenelle of dark chocolate mousse was topped with flakes of sea salt that seemed as if they were perfectly placed with the use of tweezers. The dish was not precious. The coffee ice cream and shot glass of Blackwell Rum rounded out the dessert and made guests sink deeply into their seats and engage in self-examination.

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