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A spicy touch at Gail's Caribbean Cuisine

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-16 07:30

A spicy touch at Gail's Caribbean Cuisine

Trinidad chicken curry with coconut milk is a crowd favorite. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A culinary entrepreneur taps her Trinidad roots to bring new flavors to Beijing's food scene, Mike Peters reports.

Jerk chicken lovers in Beijing, rejoice!

While the Chinese capital has developed an international restaurant scene fairly quickly, especially since winning the 2008 Olympics, some flavors have remained elusive. Latin and African eateries, for example, have often struggled to find authenticity, an audience and staying power.

Both of those food cultures come together in the Caribbean, a regional cuisine that has been particularly hard to come by in China. That makes Gail's Caribbean Cuisine, a catering venture taking a giant step to a formal restaurant, particularly welcome.

Canadian-born Gail Ramroop grew up in a kitchen afloat in the spicy aromas of Trinidad and Tobago, where her parents are from.

"It's what I grew up on, and what I will die eating," she says after her recent opening party at The Hatchery, the Beijing restaurant incubator where she's set up shop until mid-January. Prior to this, she's been doing home delivery of her home-style cooking from a small kitchen for several months, as well as several pop-ups.

Among the challenges has been finding the ingredients behind the flavors she loves.

"Our curry is very different from the way it's made in other places," she says. "I've tried to adapt with spices used in India and Thailand, for example, but the results is just not the same." Luckily, there are Caribbean grocery stores in Canada, so she stocks up on trips home and sweet-talks her parents to send a box of spices like Scotch bonnet peppers as needed. Friends traveling from the Caribbean tote back care packages, too.

If you know your chilies, your senses may be on high alert at the mention of Scotch bonnet peppers. They are rated among the world's hottest, but Ramroop assures me that her jerk chicken and Trinidad curry chicken are not going to scorch the roof of my mouth.

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