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Friday, May 27, 2022

AA’s Caribbean restaurant review: ‘The food is spicy without blow-your-head-off hot’

Last July, before the return of indoor dining, I went to a secret address in Liberties to pick up an order of Trinidadian food handed to me through the window of a ground floor apartment. I do miss some of the thrill of eating during various lockdowns and restrictions, though at least the indelible turmeric stain on the front seat of my car has a lasting reminder of this special.

By the way, before I even have a chance to write about excellent food—including the coconut-marinated pork belly roulade with wonderful crackling, I wish I could repeat—Eamon de Freitas’ Aunt Anne (as It was recalled, before they realized the name had already been taken and changed to AA, which suddenly sounds like Trinidadian ‘aye ay’, an expression of surprise or excitement) that led to the operation. was suspended. De Freitas went to Trinidad to visit his family for the first time in a few years. I saw from their social media that they had plans for a brick-and-mortar campus and were taking advantage of the on-the-ground research opportunity.

De Freitas grew up in Trinidad as a family of four children with an Irish mother and a Trinidadian father. His parents met when his father and his brother were sent to boarding school at Presentation College Bray in the 1970s. (“There were a lot of Irish priests in Trinidad at the time,” de Freitas tells me, “and I think one of them told my grandparents that this place would settle their innocent sons.”) De Freitas Canada I went to college. , where he met his wife, and the two – “brought up on monotonous love stories” – decided to give Ireland a try.

Until last January, de Freitas had a well-paying job in tech, but he didn’t enjoy working from home. “I am a folk person,” he says. He was always interested in food, helping his mother in the kitchen as a child, and became addicted to cooking videos during the pandemic. So she quit her day job and started making Jamaican patties for friends and family, giving her an excuse to chat at the window. Orders piled up, menus expanded, chefs came and said nice things. “I thought I was definitely onto something,” he says.

While he waits to find the perfect spot, he has gone the food-truck route. Patrick’s Day, he stood at Harold’s Cross, and he remained there from Thursday to Sunday at lunchtime. AA’s have a habit of selling.

I’m with a friend for a 12-week course from L.A. en route to Ballymalo. He grew up as a disciple of Jonathan Gould, who was a critic of the late LA Timescity ​​high-low priests and culinary geographers, and subjects City of Gold document. They’re the perfect companions for this mission, though I’ll admit that the trip from the city center to Harold’s Cross doesn’t equate to one of gold-deepening expeditions into the canyon in search of strip-mall gems.

Trinidad experienced longer indentured slavery than slavery, and its population is evenly divided between African and East Indian heritage, as well as a significant number of people of Chinese, Venezuelan and white European descent. Influences on its cuisine from India, France, Spain and England as well as its Caribbean neighbors are numerous. The flavors are full of flavors, with a base of ginger, garlic and chili the foundation of many dishes, and a hint of sweetness running through everything.

We sit at a picnic table and eat delicious Jamaican beef patties (€6) minced beef with butter, curry-flavored pastries, various spices. Potato Pie with Chickpeas – Curry Chickpeas – (€8.50) Topped with sweet tamarind and a green herb sauce, the simple pastry (just water, flour, yeast and sugar) is crisp, delicious and surprisingly vegetarian. The jerk pork in a satisfying lunch box (€12.50), consisting of chickpeas, rice and a pineapple salad/salsa, is more stew than the burnt jerky I eat in Jamaica – de Freitas says it’s traditional No, but it has the advantage of making very good gravy. (It’s true.) A flame-grilled version is in the works.

AA’s food is spicy without blow-your-head-off hot, though de Freitas says he’s not pulling any punches for Irish funky. The only sweet options are the chocolate-chip and sea salt cookies (€5) which are sumptuous, but not exuberant. AA may have sourdough brioche buns with coconut jam in the near future, which I love.

AA has had a good start at Harold Cross, where de Freitas plans to stay until at least the end of the summer and where he should now be open for dinner as well. With two bottles of water, we spend just shy of €50.

The spiced beef patty is €6.

If you split the beef patty and the jerk pork potato pie, and each has a box, with a shared packet of cookies to finish off, you’ll spend €47.50 between the two.

8/10 Meals
8/10 Ambiente
8/10 value

AA’s Caribbean, 348 Harolds Cross Road, Dublin 6. Instagram @aacaribbeandublin

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