Last Friday night. A Swedish friend of mine, Annika, has invited me and her friend Sarah, who is visiting from Aberystwyth, for a meal. We agree to go to one of my favourite places in town, a Jamaican restaurant Coyaba in Edinburgh Southside. Since I first went there for the departmental Xmas lunch in December 2004, I've been back pretty much every month. I'm literally looking for excuses to go there - a celebration of one kind or another, a visiting friend, meal out with colleagues - anything will do. The place is atmospheric, food tasty and different from my everyday fare. Granted, the service can occasionally be somewhat on the relaxed side, but it is only part of the Jamaican experience.
The menu is tempting, the reviews positively raving. And yet, all but once I've had exactly the same main dish: Chicken Ku-ya, described on the menu simply as "Stewed until 'oh so tender' in a rich brown tomato, onion and garlic gravy". The one time I didn't, I ordered Jah Bless Tofu (seasoned tofu, sweet pepper and mushrooms cooked with coconut milk), which was tasty (though how come I ordered a tofu dish at a Jamaican place is a bit unclear). I've had various bites off the plates of kind friends, and can testify that Escoveitch Fish (fresh catch of the day marinated in chef's special spices, pan - fried and served with a tomato, honey, and scotch bonnet pepper escoveitch sauce) is flavoursome and crispy, Jerk Chicken (marinated in special jerk sauce with pimento and thyme. Authentic Jamaican fare) kickingly hot, Traditional Curry Goat (goat cooked slowly until tender, rich and spicy - one of our favourites) indeed rich and spicy. The starters I've had - Festival & Callaloo (truly Jamaican special light bread with spicy Ital greens) and Ackee & Saltfish (Jamaica's national dish cooked in olive oil with tomato and served with a light corn dumpling) - especially the latter, are substantially filling and heartily recommended. I cannot comment on the puds, as I've never had any space for one left. And I'm definitely a pudding girl..
All these dishes have been absolutely delicious. Yet, as I said, I've had the same chicken dish every single time (but once). Each time before going to Coyaba, I decide to behave as appropriate to a true foodie and order something new from the menu. Use the opportunity to broaden my culinary horizon*, to tiltillate my tastebuds with something different.
Last Friday was no different. I promised to myself before leaving my place that I'll have something new.
After a five minute brisk walk across the Meadows, I am seated in the intensely deep red dining room, listening to the reggae soundtrack. The place is buzzing with satisfied diners. I nibble on the plantain crisps, sip my glass of Ruby Cabernet and glance at the menu, avoiding looking at any items containing poultry. Yep, this time I'm gonna be different and decide to go for the Fenky Fenky fish (fresh catch of the day - seabass on Friday - lightly poached in coconut milk with okra and sweet peppers and a little chilli). My friends opt for Jerk chicken and Escoveitch Fish. I'm pleased with myself. I'm gonna try something new.
So how, oh how, I end up ordering Chicken Ku-ya just 2 minutes later? Again? For the 10th time? Within one year?
I admit defeat..
* Maybe it's not my fault. My gastrological statement clearly reads that "a large proportion [of Taureans] have a particular resistance to trying anything unfamiliar."
113 Buccleuch Street
Edinburgh EH8 9NG
Phone: 0131 662 9111
Valik jamaika retsepte