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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ya' Man!

I grew up in Miami where the influence of Caribbean cuisine could be found in many areas of the downtown, Little Haiti, Little Havana and Wynwood communities. Those pockets of immigrant settlements were the cornerstone of creole and curry, something my palate has not quite savored since I left Miami 11 years ago.

At a previous place of employment, in North Miami Beach, my co-worker and best friend was Jamaican. I loved it when he used to bring ‘extra’ leftovers to share (yes I begged him to, don’t judge me).
I can remember the one time he brought a few Jamaican sodas with him and offered one up.

“What’s this?” I asked.
“Ting,” he said in his thick Jamaican accent.
“Yeah what is this thing?” I asked again.
“Ting man, it’s called Ting,” he replied.
“This thing is called Ting, seriously?”
“Ya man,” he said before turning away obviously annoyed. “Take ya sip woman.”

To this day I’m not sure if he turned away because I had annoyed him or to secretly laugh at me knowing the drink was an acquired taste. Something like drinking a tart grapefruit with a sugary after taste, at least for me. I’m pretty sure the face I made was the kind you see when someone sucks on a lime.

“Good ya? tis tart,” he said now looking at me with a grin.
“Um dude is that curry goat you got?” I asked trying not to give him the satisfaction of knowing he got me.
“Ya man,” he replied laughing.
“Now you’re talking, I’ll swap you my Ting for some if that,” I said giving in.

His wife’s curry goat, curry chicken, ox tail, ackee and salt fish was some of the best I’ve tasted. After all they both grew up in Jamaica and had the recipes passed down from family member to family member.
It had been more than a decade since I had an authentic Jamaican curry, or jerk dish. Sure I’ve had what some folks call jerk chicken here and there but not the real deal – until last week.

I often drive along E.G. Miles and had spotted a place called Good 2 Go. For years the thought of walking in and sampling the menu had not crossed my mind, not sure why.
But there was a time I attended the free SCAD Alumni Concert that was held at Forsyth Park. Maybe about three years ago. The show’s headlining band – The Wailers.

As in Bob Marley and the Wailers; as in the same boys that have kept Marley’s Reggae brand of music alive; as in FREE SHOW with a kicking nationally known band.
Since that night the lyrics of “One Love” have been floating in my head and the desire for curry goat whetted my appetite.
That band whetted my taste buds and after a much to long delay I made my first stop at Good 2 Go. I can tell you now that it won’t be my last.

The interior walls were brightly painted in the colors of the Jamaican Flag. Several pictures of Bob Marley adorn the wall immediately activating my internal Pandora Radio and taking me right back to the concert. Now with the music setting the rhythm in my head it was time to see if the food would hit the right notes with my taste buds and tummy.

Being my first time I quickly glanced at the white erase board with the meals listed on it. They had all the classics and then some. Third down from the list was what I craved and walked up to the counter where Liz Cochen patiently waited for me to place my order.

“Curry goat,” I said adding that I wanted it served with the rice and peas and side of fried plantains.
“Small or large?” Cochen asked.
Now much like the rest of America, I too am trying to watch my waistline, which has grown substantially in the past year since an injury sidelined my physical fitness activities a bit. But come on now, an opportunity to eat curry goat, the first time in almost a decade – YES I CAVED.
“Large and thank you for pointing that out,” I said.

I sat down and within minutes my plate of goodness was placed before me.
I could smell the curry as the steam wafted its way towards me activating the salivary glands. The plantains are what we Cubans call ‘maduros,’ meaning they are fried but soft and sweet. The plantains are allowed to ripen to nearly full brown before peeling, slicing and frying them in a shallow pan with oil.
Just like my mother still makes when I go for a visit.

The curry sauce had that wondrous yellow hue and the goat was stewed the way it should be, cut into bite size chunks, bone still attached.
That signaled good times ahead and I savored sucking all the meat and juices off the bone, as lady like (picture the cookie monster eating his favorite cookie, got it…OK proceed) as possible so as to not draw too much attention to myself.
It was Jamaican perfection. I think I even saw Bob Marley’s picture nod his head in approval. Spicy but not over powering, the look of contentment must have been obvious on my face.

“First time here?” Cochen asked as she brought me a meat patty I also ordered (which was later devoured in much the same way for dinner).
“Yes,” I answered and somehow I knew she understood I would be back for more. After all they had ackee and salt fish, curry shrimp, snapper stew and the real jerk chicken yet to try.

I looked around and saw a customer reading a piece of paper, folding it back up and placing it on the counter. Curious, I stood up walked over to the counter and opened the paper. It was a list of foods.
“We cater and we deliver,” Cochen said as she handed another customer a bottle of Ting.
I smiled.

“One love, One Heart. Let’s get together and feel all right,” was all I could hear from then on.
About Good 2 Go

This Jamaican eatery has been in Hinesville for years and quickly earned rave reviews on Trip Advisor when Dwayne Smith and his wife Glennis Smith, of Jamaica and Antigua, bought the place from the previous owner.

They are reasonably priced, carry a barrage of Jamaican snacks and goodies in addition to their menu items and the folks are friendly. The atmosphere is casual and as the Jamaican’s say – irie.
They are located at 812 E.G. Miles Parkway in Hinesville and typically open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. They accept all major credit cards. For more information call (912) 369-3933.

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