Fried Chicken Fancy

Make no mistake, Fried Chicken is a beautiful thing. 
Though it may not be the healthiest of preparations, frying chicken certainly is one of the more delicious. The most epicurean of palates can appreciate the delights of chicken achieved in a way which could only come from being cooked submersed in fat. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, some like it spicy and well battered, some prefer no batter at all, well seasoned and super crispy. Whatever the preference, it is beloved by Trinbagonians.

Trinidad Fried Chicken with Local Seasonings
Saying we love Fried Chicken would be an understatement. We consume it in large quantities; home-made, Chinese-style, from street vendors, from mega international fast food chains or our local brands. Chicken with fries is a staple here, and while we acknowledge its high caloric count and health issues if overindulged, the pleasures some recipes give must be termed as addictive. 

The Royal Castle Local Brand of Fried Chicken
is well known and liked on the islands
The Good, (which may also be the Bad, but never the Ugly): 
In keeping with the goal of this blog and presenting to you the best, I can't detail all the good places - tried and tested like Anne's Chicken at the old Piarco Airport concession stands, Georges (Chinese Style) in Tunapuna and Piarco, (their peppery version) or Royal Castle with outlets nationwide with its aromatic pepper sauce, crinkle cut fries and loyal following. 
Bar hoping around the country, to the neighborhood watering holes along the roadsides you stumble upon some great recipes which are perfectly matched with sunny weather, cold local beer and high spirited conversation. But a commercial giant has put a twist to their recipe making it the best in the land and unique to our islands: KFC and their Spicy Crispy.

Closeup of KFC's Spicy Crispy Coating
Peeping out of the KFC Box
I don't know for sure what is in the recipe that makes ours different (can't quite put my finger on it, and I have asked KFC employees, with no joy), it just is. Crispier, tastier and crunchier. It remains a phenomenon which fascinates me to this day, seeing visiting rational, health conscious professionals 'get down' on a Two Piece with Fries, while donning suit and tie after getting their first taste. Witnessing Caribbean Heads of State (yes more than one), when coming to Trinidad, have their staff purchase buckets of the stuff for them at the Airport outlet when leaving, though the KFC franchise exists in their own countries. I also did a great deal of leg work myself (awful, torturous stuff) testing KFC Spicy/Crispy in countries I visited around the world, UK, Germany, Singapore, Costa Rica, Guyana, US and Canada to name a few, revealing none is as good as ours!

Spicy and Original - And they Deliver Nationwide
Crunchy on the Outside and Juicy on the Inside
Referred to as 'Chicken and Chips', 'Fowl and Potato' or my personal favorite a 'Box of Dead' (as dubbed by the seriously vegetarian Rastafarians) two pieces with a side will cost you $25 TT (about $4 US) and a twenty one piece bucket $170 TT (or around $27 US). The well battered coating has an audible crunch and the spiciness brings a heat that is not so much a burn as it is a warming of the senses accompanying moist, succulent meat when you bite into it. Delicious!

Japs: Local Seasonings you can See and Taste
Japs' Menu at St. Helena Branch.
Love the Fried Chicken Border :-)
With a KFC Facebook page of over fifty-five thousand fans and many more bordering on the fanatical, loyal to and patronizing 52 outlets nationwide its hard to not say they are The Best (I may be lynched). Honorable mention must be made though to a growing brand Japs, which is slowly eating into the market share. With six branches in St. Helena, San Grande, Valencia and Rio Claro, Japs brings a few good things to the Fried Chicken fight on the local front: seasoned with our traditional 'Green Seasoning' (a ground up blend of herbs like chives, thyme, celery and garlic in vinegar or lime) and always large pieces of meat, their fried chicken has a home made, fresh familiar flavor. In addition, they manage to sell for less, a two piece with fries for $22 TT (always a crowd pleaser).

Chicken and Chips
This Carnival as with the Carnivals before in recent history, this great tasting and easily portable favorite will be on the lips and in the bellies of hundreds of thousands, I hope there is enough fowl to go around. :-)

For KFC Nationwide info visit: http://www.facebook.com/kfctt

For Japs info visit: their FacebookPage

For more pictures and food details check out the Belly in Hand Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/bellyinhand 


Traveling To and From Trinidad and Tobago - Airport Fare

On the move again.

Stop, before you unsubscribe to this site and curse its name, I concur; Airport food is generally not a good thing. But having the experience of working in the Airline industry for a very long time (way too long to divulge) Airport staff  and Airline employees let you in on finding the good stuff, road tested: which restaurants/vendors, what items on their menu and even what time of day or week to buy.

En Route
Airport food is very much like airport culture itself, an ever moving collection of the mainly unwashed, weird and bizarre, in a place that is neither here nor there, where it matters not who you really are (only what security profiles make of you). Its one of those places where almost anything can happen: transit points - Twilight Zones. The larger the Airport may mean only much more of the nutritionally bankrupt, overpriced, mass produced and the watered down. But once in a while, particularly when its new, in the International Terminals you get a gem or two.

Brass Artwork Embedded into the Floor
of Miami Airport Concourse
The new and improved Miami International Airport Terminal is impressive, down to the brass detailing in the floor. Functional but not yet fully complete, the long departure gate lined corridors are filled with beautiful shops, food stands and restaurants of all kinds, spankingly new. Two places to eat and drink, to date stand out: Sushi Maki and Beaudevin on Concourse D. Sushi Maki, with twelve locations in Florida and Beaudevin Internationally (I visited the one in Brussels Int'l Airport - Fab!) they offer what I call a great way to kill a few hours - good sushi and good wine.

Inside the Beaudevin Wine Bar/Lounge on Concourse D
Wine Dispensers at Beaudevin
At Beaudevin you may order Wine by the glass, bottle or credit a wine card with cash and sample what is on the dispensing machines. Menu items are fast and designed to complement wine (except for the breakfast items) all Tapas like stuff. The wine selection is large and the staff knowledgeable and helpful (hope this is not only because they are new). This can be a stimulating experience for those now learning and interested in wine.

Sushi Maki's Commitment to Quality and
Sheer Volume Turned Over Daily at MIA Guarantee Fresh Product
Sushi Maki Decor
Sushi Maki, yes, they do have the pre-prepared/pre-packaged, typical rolls you can pick up and run with in the take-away section up front, California, JB and Spicy Tuna Rolls etc.  But even if you are not eating in, order off the menu some of their cooked or raw rolls to take on your flight. Their Volcano Roll: Smoked Salmon, Kanikama Crab, Cream Cheese and Scallions topped with Spicy Lava Sauce. Seven Seas: with three varieties of Whitefish and Tobiko Wasabi and a roll called The Beast: BBQ Eel and Avocado filled. All delicious and slightly larger in portions than what you usually see, portable and satisfying.

My 6:30am Breakfast: Miso w/Tofu
Traveling to and from Trinidad and Tobago, your year round international connection hubs are limited - Miami (MIA) or New York (JFK) and if you travel often its good to know where you can get a good or even exciting taste experience. 

Miami International Airport's Concourse D
More pics and insight on food adventures on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BellyinHand


Taste the Possibilities

An amazing year indeed! With so many more high points than low, I must say 2010 was stellar. What made it so delicious was how unplanned and organic most events and milestones were (this from the quintessential project manager, slightly OCD'ed natural organizer) :-) This blog being a major highlight and joy in 2010, though only 'live' for the last three months, the positive feedback, growing following and requests dictates only good things for 2011.
Resolutions 2011
Without returning to over-planning and detailing every breath, distinct stories must be told, certain trips/visits made and specific fears overcome for Belly in Hand to attain its goals. To sum it all up, this is the year of perpetual improvement: we aim to eat, write and live even better in Trinidad and Tobago. To me that sounds like a great plan and I hope it does to you to and you will visit often to 'take a taste.'
Happy New Year and all the best for 2011!