A quick jaunt to Colorado on Amtrak helped me remember that trains are an awesome way to travel. Everyone is relaxed, friendly, unparanoid, and relatively diverse. The leg room in coach is luxurious and the small stations have free long term parking. Perhaps it’s time you consider an Amtrak adventure?
A sun rising over Nebraska was enjoyed by a few of us in the observation lounge. There wasn’t much talking in that pre-dawn reverie but the appreciation was palpable as we waited for the downstairs cafe car to open.
Union Station in Denver—what a magnificent place to land! I enjoyed an early morning cup of hearty coffee from the Pigtrain Coffeeshop while sitting in the central common space next to Aussies who immediately asked me with great curiosity about the goings on of our nation’s politics. It was a good thing I’d ordered a large coffee.
Here’s an exciting little tip for the gluten free diners…while waiting for my return train to arrive I had a bite to eat at Next Door Eatery in Union Station. On most days their fryers are gluten free so I gleefully ordered the Calamari Frito Misto—lightly battered (with corn starch) zucchini, calamari, lemon pieces, and pepperoncini served with a sriracha aioli—totally yum! Especially the lemon bits. It’s so rare to find a safe fryer that I couldn’t resist.
Next Door also partners with The Kitchen Community, a non-profit organization that builds outdoor Learning Gardens classrooms in schools across America. Eat at Next Door on Monday nights and 50% of their sales go to a local participating school.
And somehow this segues into Avocados…
I catered a graduation reception last weekend and needed an interesting dip. The lusciousness of avocado mixed with a lively jerk paste scooped onto the end of plantain chip seemed like a good way for someone to celebrate the end of college and the beginning of a new life, so Jerk Guac was added to the menu. There is no end to the ways an avocado can be eaten!
This isn’t so much a recipe as an idea. One jerk paste is not the same as another so you’ll have to taste and adjust as you go. I decided to order the jerk paste instead of doing it myself—I’ve made it before, but I’ve been so busy lately it seemed like a brilliant idea to find someone else for the task, and no one knows jerk paste better than Jamaicans. Many people recommended the Walkerswood Jerk Paste made in rural Jamaica, and with good reason—it’s intense, tangy and spicy (but not too spicy)—a totally tasty find.
Jerk is a Jamaican style of cooking meats with dry rub seasonings or paste. They say the word comes from the Spanish derision of the Peruvian Quechua word charqui, meaning dried strips of meat, and is probably also the origins of our word jerky. Today the term refers to both the style of cooking meats and the seasonings or paste.
Many jerk-seasoned meats served at ‘jerk stands‘ in the Caribbean are smoked (in modified oil barrels), some cooked slowly in a BBQ style, others dried on wood lattice over fire like the more traditional method of the Arawak natives. Read more about the origins of Jerk—from the Arawak to Maroons—on the Kitchen Project.
Jerk paste is always is made with the fiery scotch bonnet peppers, thyme and allspice (called pimento in Jamaica), and often garlic, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar, green onion, ginger, vinegar, and cinnamon are added. A serious concentration of savor!
This piquant guacamole goes well with the mild sweetness of fried plantain or Plantain Cracker-Chips. I think a Jamaican-style taco might be a good idea sometime in the near future, slathered with jerk guac and lime. Yep.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Mash in a bowl and mix together:
2 ripe Avocados
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons Jerk Paste
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Lime juice
1 Tablespoon Chives or Green Onions, minced
Optional: fresh Thyme, minced, to taste
Taste and adjust.
Serve with Plantain Chips or in a Jerk Chicken Taco.
This is probably the better way to view these historic stations…