The desert island trope is dismal: a poor stranded soul, rag-clad and starving, unrelenting sun above, a pithy ironic caption below. Humor as dry as the unshaded sand. Marooned pirates, shipwrecked castaways — no one washes ashore by choice. At least, that’s what cartoonists and clever Caribbean tourist bureaus want you to think. “Nothing to see here, folks — keep sailing.” But here’s a secret map to paradise. Because for those in the know, those with properly sun-baked brains, those who talk to parrots and volleyballs, those, in other words, a little island-mad, these beaches bask in abundance. Here’s a hidden harbor where drinks are large and over-garnished, naps luxuriously long, soups slow-simmered, sauces spicy, and everything is zested in lime. The treasure is yours: Horde it close, and don’t tell any landlubbers.
Coconut Jerky // Foreal Foods // Brooklyn, NY
Every once and awhile we taste a product that shakes our steadfast beliefs to their core. We were firmly in the “Jerky in all it’s meaty goodness is perfect and can never be iterated on” camp until Foreal Foods came along and pulled us out of the man cave and into the future. 100% Plant-Based, Umami laced and packing the serious well, meaty-ness of real jerky this is a way better use for coconuts than all that water stuff. It’s Keto, Paleo, Gluten-Free and most importantly just a rad company that’s helping the planet:
From the Maker:
“We value the people we work with, beyond just a buyer/seller relationship, and seek to mitigate the impact of deeply rooted systemic poverty in the regions in which we manufacture and produce.”
Need more convincing? Hey, it worked for this dude…
Bird’s Eye Chili Rich Simple Syrup // Blank Slate Kitchen // Brooklyn, NY
It is no surprise that this chef driven company delivers an exotic array of products inspired by global travel. Alex the owner/chef has worked and lived everywhere from France to Rwanda and Borneo. His roster of provisions is impressive, from mouth tingling, wok-ready Sichuan Chili Oil to creative Simple Syrups Blank Slate a one-stop shop for making food taste much less boring. With this Bird’s Eye Chili Syrup Alex hit the bullseye on the perfect level of heat to kick up a spicy marg or sweet spice to glaze some pineapple for fried rice.
Rub A Dub Jamaican Jerk // Southern Soul Barbeque // St Simons, GA
Every state’s barbecue has its secret touch, from Kansas City’s sweet sauces to Texas’s slow-cooked brisket. Most, unfortunately, stay that way: tight-lipped pitmasters keep their tricks close to the vest. Not here. This gas-station-turned-grill is a mecca for Georgia’s famous dry-rubbed ‘cue, and lucky for you, happy to share. Their rubs make a perfect marinade, a lip-tingling replacement for the salt on your cocktail glass, or, if you’re crazy, both. Soak shrimp in olive oil and Rub-A-Dub-Rub for twenty minutes and grill; then layer into a pillowy bun with some jerk mayo (mix Rub-A-Dub-Rub & Mayo) for a killer island shrimp roll.
Launched in 2006 and decorated with Scovie Awards (think Oscars of Hot Sauce) Char Man is one of the great hot sauce brands in the nation. Whether you go OG Sauce, Verde or this Caribbean Queen it all just burns so good.
From the Maker:
“We use spices found in island cuisine and blend them with mangos, pineapple juice and hot peppers such as manzanos, guerros and habaneros. This sauce is great on all types of food but especially shines with seafood and poultry. Try it with fish tacos, brush it on grilled shrimp or chicken.”
Stir Fry (Glug a couple of splashes in when you heat up the oil).
Toss with Buffalo wings...
Add a bit of bang to a chicken burger.
Melt with butter and toss with your movie popcorn.
Sweet Soppressata // Brooklyn Cured // Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Cured has been slinging world class sausage and salami since 2010. A Good Food Award Winner, with high praise from the New York Times and Esquire Scott and his team sell the sausage, not the sizzle with honest, ingredient lead goodness. No antibiotics, no filler, just the straight goods.
Owner Scott Says:
“At Brooklyn Cured, we make sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ham, pastrami, and salumi using meat that’s antibiotic free, nitrate free, pasture raised, and grass fed.”
“This mild pork salami has an authentic flavor inspired by the salami that hang from the ceilings of the great Italian pork stores in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The flavor profile is sweet and classic: black pepper, white wine, and a hint of garlic.”
PS: Their Hot Dogs are easily one of the best in the nation...
3. Sweat down with garlic, EVOO and chili for an easy, fresh spaghetti sauce.
Plantain Chips // Amazi Foods // Washington, DC
Barbecue was born on the beach — the word’s Caribbean, in fact — and it makes sense: with weather like that, why hover all night over an indoor stove? Island grillers are some of the best, especially when it comes to the accoutrements, from jerk sauces and rum cocktails to simple snacks like these.
As Amazi says:
"Dried and roasted, never fried. Hearty crunch, bold flavor, delightfully versatile."
Versatile indeed , chomp on them with a cold beer or use them to add a nice crunch to quick fried dishes like this pineapple fried rice. Amazi has ditched the oily, overly salted plantain chip to deliver a crispy, healthy handful of greatness that has quickly become one of our favorite snacks.