The dinner at I Sodi was one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in years. A storefront location on Christopher Street, tiny room, room of what seemed to be regulars, bartender with sleeves, and a focused menu with about a half dozen each of appetizers, pasta dishes that could be ordered in half portions, and entrees. Great wine list of real deals.
Everything was delicious. It helps to realize as a kitchen what you’re good at, what you like doing, and what can get to the table in time. There’s not a single place 250 miles north that is half as good, and it’s funny, in a way, because Italian food, when done properly, is often elevated and consistent home cooking.
The next day we’re talking Russ & Daughters, of course, for plane picnics: Poppy, everything, belly, Nova. Perfect, and, again, achievable with extreme focus.
When the plane landed in Kingston, I’d finished, “Dr. No,” the first Ian Fleming I’d ever read, and it was delightful and so well-written, ideal for arrival in Jamaica. Written in 1958, the book captured many elements of both the island and its unique population as well as the skewed and sad perspectives of an imperial operative.
After checking into Pegasus, a Mr. Henry was called by the hotel and we drove a few miles to Scotchie’s. This is the third branch of the original Ocho Rios jerk chicken establishment. You order at a window, wait at an open grilling area, and pick up the food. Long and green wood laid flat in rows had held the chicken over smoldering coals all day. Finding a place then in one of several little thatched areas with tables, you can dig in: The meal fell off the bone, moist and peppery, skin crispy, and served with choices of sides–we had yam and rice & beans–it was very tasty, and unlike the sugary and saucy jerk served stateside. This was the real thing.