Why This is Miami’s Must-Visit Caribbean Food Event

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Above: a dish at the BVI table (all photos by CJ)

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

Deb Marcano doesn’t work in Caribbean tourism. She’s not a hotelier, tour operator, restaurant owner or government official.

But the photographer, artist and self-described “lady who lunches” is an eater.

Which is why she happily smacked down $50 to enjoy today’s competition lunch at Taste of the Caribbean, the annual event that highlights the art of Caribbean cooking, bringing together the region’s top chefs and bartenders to compete for honors in food and beverage competitions at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami.

“I read about it in the New Times and knew that I had to be here,” Marcano said, as she joyfully tucked into the first of the three-courses prepared by the British Virgin Islands’ team.

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Between bites of jerk tamarind pork (tender and flavorful) and coconut curry chicken with Applewood-smoked skirt steak (every bit as yummy as it sounds), we chatted about all manner of things: Caribbean art, our favorite islands, and the life in Miami.

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But we kept coming back to our meal, which, with its complex flavors and artful presentation, demanded – indeed, deserved ¬– our full attention. We didn’t refuse as other competing countries offered samples of their meals to our table (thank you, Barbados and USVI). And when dessert was presented, it seemed way too soon for our Caribbean culinary journey to end.

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Above: Deb Marcano

As we savored spoons full of rich and creamy chocolate-coconut mousse crowned with cinnamon-infused plantain, we both agreed that the BVI’s presentation was a fine one. However, since neither of us are one of the seven distinguished judges, we couldn’t say whether the team would return home with an award on Sunday, when the final competition results will be tallied and announced.