Popular Jamaican Food Truck’s New Place to Sit Makes a Loud Roar | Food drink


Throwing a Stone in Colorado Springs and you are bound to hit a food truck. They were proliferating long before the pandemic, and last year has only added new faces to the mobile scene. But almost a decade ago, we could count everyone we knew on just a few hands. One of the first to hit the market, in 2013, was High Grade Foods, a Jamaican truck with a slick rasta-colored banner with a growling lion head. Bites of badass, extremely tasty with island spices, matched the roar. Truck owner Everton Cameron had stepped out of a four star hotel in Jamaica and brought a level of professionalism quickly evident to his service.

The truck, often driven by his wife, stays on the road with a busy weekly schedule, but by the end of 2017 Cameron had purchased a physical location on South Tejon Street, which was originally slated to open by summer 2018. End of year May 2021, it finally held its inauguration.

He rolls his eyes dramatically, displaying a shy smile and a facial gesture of circumstantial abandonment, laughing at the never-ending delay when I ask him the question as I pass for a takeout order. What happened? There were the usual permit issues regarding renovations and other common hurdles, and of course the pandemic, which wisely delayed the launch. During the delay, Cameron did a sleek redesign, applying a gloss epoxy floor treatment and epoxy casting to the top of the bar, as well as the vinyl and vintage reggae CDs and album covers under a lacquer. transparent. The walls are now a shade of yellow, green, and red, and the dining room tables feature giant photos of island fruits, kitchen implements, and Jamaican street scenes under glass trays. High Grade has also acquired a liquor license and sells a few wines, a mix of Red Stripe and Pikes Peak Brewing beers, a bunch of non-alcoholic sweet Jamaican sodas, as well as a small selection of spirits dominated by Jamaican rums. . A cocktail menu is still in preparation.

While I wait for my order I chat with Cameron’s sister-in-law who works up front and request a personalized mini rum flight of four Jamaican labels (which I pay the fair equivalent for) as it’s slow before the rush and she seems really curious to know which ones I’m going to favor. From Appleton Estate, there is a Reserve Blend, 12 Year Old Rum Blend and a single signature estate. The latter’s label highlights aromas of apricot and peach and an element of sweet molasses. The reserve mixes 20 different rums, asserting everything from baking spices to the characteristics of tobacco and honey. The 12-year-old talks about brown sugar, the smell of nuts and orange peel. The online descriptors for Wray & Nephew overproof unaged (white) rum speak as much about the cultural significance of this essential rum punch ingredient as about its mild and somewhat neutral flavor. From my own tasting notes, I find the 12 year old most influenced by wood, with a smoother finish. The reserve is the sweetest for me; signature indeed molasses-y, and overproof much like a white dog, essentially begging to be mixed up – Cameron’s sister-in-law likes it in ginger beer or coconut water . That I want to come back if / when it’s available.

On the way home, the smells of my take out bag force me to pierce the curry shrimp and crab wontons, five crispy fried dough wrappers with the fish filling and placed on a coconut cream sauce sweet and sweet. Holy shit! They don’t go past downtown and I’m almost ashamed of how quickly they disappear into my mouth, the aromatic curry sauce itself being intoxicating. (Curry entrees include variations of tofu, lamb, and chicken.)

I intentionally skip the character Jamaican favorites like ackee and saltfish focus on other newly added items in this seating area. One is a twist on the popular fried mac and cheese side of the truck, placing the cooked mac and cheese instead under the barbecue jerk pork ribs. I replace it with healthier coconut white rice (fabulous with just the right hint of coconut essence), and I also get steamed cabbage. Cameron cooks the cabbage in butter with just yellow and green onions and thyme; simple and perfect. The ribs, which cling a bit to the bone and chew well under a soft black bark, are stunning. It’s thanks to a homemade jerk marinade and jerk barbecue sauce that’s sweet molasses and SPICY Scotch Bonnet, like in I’m blushing a little and I’m almost sweating my brows, my fingers happily sticky.

The rasta atmosphere is now stationary.

Next is the brown stew chicken with mashed plantain potatoes, which I would present almost in reverse order because the potatoes are so good. You always know when you eat bullshit powdered potatoes versus the real thing, and here the real thing is not just an ideally creamy and fresh mash, but the small amount of plantain just adds a slight fruity flavor. which amplifies the inherent starchy sweetness. Chicken is also not an afterthought. Some Jamaican places use the commercial jars of pre-made brown sauces which are usually cloying from preservatives and dyes etc. to balance the sweetness. Boneless chicken pieces are tender and juicy, not spicy but spicy.

Finally, the High Grade escovitch red snapper – presented whole fish, frontally, for a $ 20 menu – starts with a generous salt and pepper of the snapper before frying it crisp (which makes the skin a treat. full-fledged). Traditional escovitch pickling sauces vary, but Cameron cooks white and green onions with lemon juice and vinegar and a little olive oil, with a few Scotch Bonnets adding a touch of heat. It’s a dish that takes a bit of patience to eat, working around the spine and bones, but the delicate white meat is worth it, oily on its own and flavorful enough fresh with the citrus treatment.

I have no excuse other than everything I eat for this job that has kept me from researching High Grade in its mobile form recently. But this meal changes my intention for that, especially since the brick and mortar is a stable and easily accessible place. I can’t say if High Grade has always tasted this good and if I’m just getting to know myself or a bigger kitchen from which to cook food is the difference that makes it so much better. But I know Cameron has cemented his reputation for more than just a mobile kitchen in the hustle and bustle – a true business run by a chef who is a cut above.

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