A Question of Taste

The Journal continues its series on quizzing those with a passion for food and wine about their own particular tastes. This month it’s the turn of Monique Hamaty-Simmonds, Assistant Managing Director of Tortuga Rum Company, whose eclectic tastes were born from her Middle Eastern and Jamaican roots.

Where do you like to eat on the island?

Casanova in George Town

What’s your favorite dish?

A special which I’m told is the recipe of Tony’s (the owner’s) mother….Lobster Crepes. It is fantastic! – Bellissimo!

What do you like to drink with it?

Chianti- Castello De Brolio

Do you like to cook?

Yes when I have the time, with three kids and all their activities and add work to that, there’s not much time to make the speciality dishes but one of my favourite things to do is try new recipes. Barbara Currie-Dailey’s Book Rum Fever is always a great source for me.

If so, what’s your signature dish?

Oh my Jamaican rice and peas with Chinese roast chicken. My grandmother in-law the late Edith Simmonds had this secret to her rice and peas and I watched her one day make it, and although I’ve never perfected it, my husband tells me it is close.

Who would be your dream dinner date or dates?

Well my husband of course, but aside from him Kenny Rogers would do just fine for me. He has an unbelievable voice and actually I have a connection to him in a very distant way. In 1980 my grandfather, the late Munair Hamaty, bought a car from him and to this day the car is polished and looks exactly the same as he sold it to my grandfather. My father (Robert Hamaty) stores the car in Miami and attends to it with great care. So I think we might have a lot to talk about.

What’s your most favourite place in the world to eat?

New York City. Wow, talk about food. The food in this city is almost as authentic as going to the different regions in the world. From Dim Sum at Ruby Foos to good old Irish food at The Spotted Pig (West Village) – it’s all there and it’s fantastic!

What is your favourite restaurant anywhere in the world and why?

I have not traveled as much as I would like to, but in time I know my exposure to more wonderful restaurants will be endless. My Middle Eastern roots brings me back to this type of food always.

In London I ate at a lovely restaurant called Maroosh and I have never forgotten it. I’ve been there twice and both times it reminded me of dinner at my grandmother’s. The food just kept coming: hummus, Kibe, Kafta, grape leaves, Baba Ghanoush, Riz bi djeij (which is rice with chicken), shish kebab and to top that meal off with some dessert Baklawa or maamoul. It is all delicious!

Formal dinner party or BBQ round the pool?

My favourite part of any dinner party is cocktails and hors d’ oeurves, to be specific, a Tortuga rum and Coke and all the exotic mouthfuls of hors d’oeurves.

By the pool, jerk burgers, plantain chip with some old fashion lemonade made with brown sugar is my favourite, but I must say my husband makes some nice BBQ chicken on the grill. Of course the best treat at a BBQ or any occasion is Tortuga Rum cake!

Any food you cannot stand?

I’m not a fan of soy burgers – if I’m going to have a burger, I prefer to have an old fashioned meaty hamburger with melted cheese! Ummm so good!