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FEAST NIGHT

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Friday nights are becoming feast nights at Olivos at the La Finca Commercial Centre. This week was no exception. Recent weeks have seen a tour of Europe - with French, Italian, Polish, Greek and Belgian nights. Last Friday we crossed the Atlantic and dropped in on the Caribbean. Again the food was scrumptious.

The scene was set effectively with a Rum Punch cocktail on arrival. The cocktail stick with an exotic bird added to the vibe but Caribbean was already on the palate with the punch. Lots of vibes there.

The thing about an evening out with Cathy, the boss, is that everything hangs together on her themed nights. The menu sheet was alive with flags of the different Caribbean countries. The tables were adorned with hygienic and colourful paper table cloths to match the theme and even matching flowers at the table to emphasise what was to come.

So with a melodious steel band on the tape deck, the soup arrived. Potato soup may not sound too special - but Caribbean Potato soup with lime, coconute milk, sweet potato, ginger and kale is not only delicious in the mouth but also mind-bending - especially after the welcoming Rum Punch on arrival. The quantity in the bowl was just right for a first course. Not only was it full of exotic tastes, excitements and flavourings, but it was full of great nourishment and textures. A hit. A palpable hit.

The soup led to a great sense of expectancy regarding the next course. That was down as Grilled Shrimp Skewer. It should have been called the Intermediate Course of the Burning Mouth with Hot Peppers. The stated ingredients were butter, garlic and paprika grilled shrimp with avocado, lime and coriander sauce. It was a joy of tastes and textures with just a sufficient portion to satisfy and leave room for what was to follow. No-one chose to mention the slivers of hot chilli hiding away among the salsa. If you like to know what you´ve been eating, you may not care for hot chilli. For those who like a burning mouth and powerful tastes, there was just sufficient chilli to make it matter. By which time the sound system had got round to ´By the Rivers of Babylon´- but not my favourite Boney M version.

My Father hated salad. He would angily say to Mum,´Blooming rabbit food´. After the heat of the previous course, we were more than ready for a salad to cool the mouth down. In many ways, I take after my Dad. I hate salad. This one was perfect. It was smooth and crunchy, cool and sweet, yet a substantial course in its own right - black-eyed peas with kale, fresh orange and pineapple, shallots and garlic. A powerful combination and an inspiring far cry from a convential British bland summer salad.

In my culinary experience, I have never given a thought to chicken wings or to Jerk Chicken. Too much skin. Far too many little fragile bones. There are now two converts to Jerk Chicken Wings. Chicken itself is a favourite. A juicy drum-stick fine. Succulent breast with a tangy sauce even better. But chicken wings with all that skin and bunches of small bones? Olivos Jerk Chicken Wings with a dipping sauce were superb. We weren´t told what was in the dipping sauce - it seemed to be a spicy but cool yoghurt or sour cream concoction. It was the ideal companion to the crunchy, tangy jerk chicken.

My regular eating companion - my food dedicated wife - and I, were beginning to wilt under the torrent of textures, flavours, colours presented to us - but there remained two courses still to come. She chickened out of the next course. I soldiered on. Her coconut beef curry stew with Jamaican rice and peas went home to be enjoyed next day. I managed half of my beef stew, the meat melting in the mouth. I was replete.

There was a choice of dessert. Having rested, my wife managed to eat her Cuban baked rum battered banana with vanilla bean ice-cream, while I looked on enviously, sipping my coffee and brandy. My bananas went home along with her Beef Curry stew.

We have debated loud and long about which of the restaurant´s country feast nights has been best. My wife chose the Greek night, possibly because she was able to wear the elegant Greek dress trimmed with gold ribbon bought on a cruise to the Greek Islands that only comes out on special occasions. My choice was the Caribbean. I was able to wear a gaudy Caribbean shirt (bought locally) to enhance my enjoyment of a splendid evening. I loved the challenge of the wealth of tastes, textures and colours. All the staff - back in the kitchen and front of house - had worked together superbly efficiently to provide a well orchestrated treat for the customers.   


With a tip, to reflect the excellent service, we paid a very reasonable 75 euros for two with wine, water and my concluding coffee and brandy.


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