Everything tastes better when you are on vacation.
Is it that someone else does the heavy lifting–the planning, foraging, prepping, cooking and clean up? Or is it the relaxed atmosphere where time is yours to burn with no schedule and zero meetings or responsibilities that makes every meal and moment that much more delectable? Perhaps it’s the indigenous ingredients of the local culture that make food more interesting and exciting? Whatever it is, I like it and want more of it.
We recently celebrated love and life with seven friends in Jamaica. The house was breathtaking, the weather supreme, the company righteous and the food sensational.
Our week was filled with sunshine, laughter, a bit of rain, backgammon, music, yoga, massages, swinging in the hammock, more laughter and three square meals a day. Much of the produce and fruit we ate was procured from the organic garden on the property which only accentuated the flavors, vitality and freshness.
Calaloo, one of the main crops in the garden, is a popular local staple and was served sauteed for breakfast every morning and then as a soup for dinner one night. For breakfast, the saute included onions, garlic, tomatoes and pepper and everyone devoured their morning greens.
This spinach-like green was served alongside a spectacular and colorful plate of ripe fruit including papaya, mangoes and watermelon, and a dish of the national fruit of Jamaica, ackee. This was a vegetarian and vegan food lover’s paradise and I was smitten.
When cooked, ackee turns out to be the best vegan scrambled eggs I have ever had. Traditionally, it is made with salted fish, but I like this version much better.
The Chef’s Creations
The chef also resourcefully turned ackee into a dip, which reminded me a lot of hummus. Below, Chef Jerome poses in front of the organic garden he treasures and where he gets his inspiration for healthy food.
Because tropical climates require plenty of cold or room temperature foods, Jerome got everyone’s taste buds talking when he dressed the dining table with creative salads made with lettuce from the garden and his super spectacular Chardonnay Dijon vinaigrette. This vinaigrette is everything and only requires four ingredients, a few herbs and spices, a lidded jar and some vigorous shaking.
Making this Chardonnay Dijon vinaigrette was one of the first things I did when I returned home, hoping to recreate the experience and it worked. Jerome mentioned he used French’s Dijon Chardonnay mustard (which I eventually found at Target). This mustard, combined with equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil, makes for a thick and creamy vinaigrette. Adding a touch of honey balances the tang, while the addition of dried basil and Herbes de Provence round out the flavors to make a sensational salad dressing that will have you craving salads. And isn’t that a good thing?
Chardonnay Dijon Vinaigrette
This vinaigrette stole the show and Chef Jerome generously shared his recipe with me so I can share it with you. Drizzle it on salads, roasted vegetables or use it as a dip for raw veggies. I promise this vinaigrette is going to change your relationship with salads in a big way.
- 1/4 cup French's Dijon with Chardonnay mustard
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into a lidded jar, screw on the lid and shake, shake, shake! Everything will be beautifully emulsified after a good shaking.
Dress your favorite salad with this vinaigrette, use it to drizzle over roasted vegetables and use it as a dip for raw vegetables.
Refrigerate vinaigrette and shake, shake, shake before using.