Enter into the 21st International Culture Wine & Food Festival, and you are engulfed in a world of scrumptious hand and freshly made bites. Wow 21 years! Watch out Food Fest, now you're old enough to drink!
People came out in droves for this year’s event. From families and parents proudly cradling and strolling their newborns, to tweens with their posses, or just guys hanging out, it was a great crowd. Sunglasses were certainly in order as the Bahamian heat blazed in high temperatures. It was a family affair for me as my little sister and nephew tagged along (he really is my mini heart string).
Based on our experience, here are the event's highlights:
The layout of the Festival began with the Bahamian section, complete with approximately 30, Food/Beverage stalls and a stage. These stalls included sugar cane juice, Heineken, macaroni, assorted frozen popsicles (Soursop, sky juice, etc.) and Sky Juice (leaded/unleaded). An entertaining stall was the Chickcharney Challenge, complete with an obstacle for attendees to try: and the crowd was wowed! After a few attempts, the task of ringing/touching the cowbell at the top of the obstacle course was done and all who was nearby cheered. The ChicCharney Challenge has an upcoming event: The Zombie Run - Glow Obstacle course on November 26, 2016. If you didn’t get to sign up at the stall, you could always go to their Facebook event page.
I met up with friend and Emcee Jamarl Chea who was doing an excellent job in keeping the crowd hyped and entertained.
The festival was not without its giveaways and freebies from the various sponsors. Upon entering the Food Fest we were greeted by a young lady who presented us with a gift bag from Little Switzerland. It was very thoughtful of her as this came in handy when receiving/purchasing other items. This bag also included an invitation to be submitted to Little Switzerland for a free gift. JetBlue had representatives with free ‘Sweet & Blues’ Terra brand chips and company luggage tags. The Terra brand chips are often seen on the JetBlue flights in a variety of flavors. These individuals were pleasant and generous while handing out these gifts. JetBlue was on the scene with supervisors and agents present throughout the festival and in stalls.
There were also live band performances and events custom to our international vendors (eg. Italy was performing a custom involving flags when we arrived which was captivating! This allowed the audience a glance into another aspect of the country’s history and culture.
Special props goes to Yummy Sky Juice who not only branded their product but also provided it in a bottle! Not only was this a convenient alternative to the open cups, but it also made the drink easy to remember. Well done Yummy!
Pop Stop had a variety of popsicles but quickly ran short during the start of the evening. I had always wanted to try one and was able to purchase 2 of their only remaining flavor: Sky Juice, (unleaded) before leaving the event. This popsicle is available in a leaded version for an additional cost. This frosty treat did melt along the drive home but was still flavorful and refreshing. It had a strong and distinct coconut taste hinted with sweetness.
The Mitchell Ekedede Brain Injury Foundation, which began locally in 2014, was present to inform persons on the dangers and impact of brain injuries on the lives of Bahamians. To make a donation or learn more, visit www.mebifb.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE INTERNATIONAL FOOD & CULTURE
The main meats were chicken and pork, with few countries offering other options. Peru had a dish which was mashed potato, stuffed with seasoned ground beef, rolled into an oval and fried. This crunchy treat is topped with a spicy lime and green onion sauce which added a zest. This was a filling appetizer for $5.
From Peru, I met Yanette who moved to the Bahamas ten (10) years ago and stated the weather as one of the main reasons! She stated that in Peru the weather is cold most of the year with warmth only occurring from January – March. She shared with me a scarf made out of 100% alpaca. The texture was thick and resembled fleece. It also left a lot of fibers. Yanette was helpful and friendly to be around.
China offered more wisdom than food with a selection of free books for adults and children. Dumplings and Chinese decorations were also available.
Haiti displayed their pride and strength with many aspects of their culture and history for all to see. This included Flags, local rum and limeade, local wooden sculptures and crafts. There was also a painting of Toussaint Louvertue, who was one of the slaves who fought for Haiti to be independent. Jimmy Pascal who represented this proud country mentioned that the painting was not for sale, however its presence spoke volumes.
With a name like Vell Monkey Foot, one would be easily intrigued by what this eatery has to offer. I ordered the shredded pork tacos (3 per order), and it was a four layered bite of shredded pork, slaw, banana peppers and crushed pineapples, wrapped in a soft tortilla. The mix of textures (crunchy, soft and moist) and the freshness of ingredients made each taste scrumptious.
A duo of chicken samosas was the Indian order of the day. As is tradition in Indian cooking it was spicy, well-seasoned and offered chunks of meat. Most importantly: no sauce necessary!
Cuba was certainly the liveliest of the stalls with traditional music, tables of crafts and jewellery and of course tantalizing food. It was impossible to miss the Cuban flair, rhythm and energetic dancing with such passion. Even the server entertained us with a few steps as we were being served. The roasted pork and black bean rice with spicy sauce was authentic to its name with a roasted aroma and savoury taste which paired well with the rice.
Canada also kept it interesting by offering a prize for those who were able to answer the three (3) trivia questions correctly and would win a hockey stick as a prize. My suggestion: Google in advance.
Cool traditional beers and sips were offered by Australia, Dominican Republic and Peru. My hubby was always a fan of El Presidente which is local to the Dominican Republic, and was paired with the International Food Sampler (a combination of the Indian, Peruvian and Cuban foods that I purchased).
I was disappointed that Greece, Zimbabwe and Egypt were not present as advertised, but I was able to explore the various international stalls which presented a plateau of food.
Other stalls included Jamaica, Guyana, Poland, Italy, Mexico and the Philippines. A twist which soon became problematic was the purchasing of Festival Bucks which were the only currency accepted by vendors. These bucks were supplied by Bank of the Bahamas, and with few stalls there came long lines and delays in enjoying the festival. We were very grateful to be given this advantage when we arrived.
What were your highlights from the Festival? Which food/beers did you try? Which were your favourites?