Table Talk

Table Talk: October 5–11

This week: A taste of the Caribbean, Progress fall menu, vegan ice cream and some Puertorican food.

By Jorge Cespedes

Oct 05 2021 at 8 a.m.

Jerk chicken stock photo
Photo courtesy ShutterstockGet a taste of Caribbean cooking in Branson at The Jerk Spot.

A Taste of the Caribbean

I really enjoy Caribbean cuisine, and why call it Caribbean instead of something more specific like Jamaican cuisine? I guess it simplifies all of what that area can bring to the table. It’s like saying Mediterranean cuisine instead of Spanish Coast cuisine. The Islands of the Caribbean tend to share lots of flavors and ingredients, yet some of them are definitely in a league of their own and one of those is the food of Jamaica. We all know their most famous dish, Jerk Chicken, and for very good reason. It’s delicious. The Jerk Spot in Branson will offer jerk chicken and lots more such as their oxtail with shrimp, squid and pineapple, their curry goat or even the barbecue chicken served with rice and peas. So, next time you’re down in Branson, give these guys a try!

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Fall Menu at Progress

Every menu at Progress is a rollercoaster of excitement, flavor highs and small moments of happiness and smiles, and I’m totally here for it. Chef Daniel Ernce has always been one to push the envelope, disregard the status quo and take us on culinary experiences that are unique to his cooking style and palate. With the new menu, which starts today, certain items jump off the page and call my attention right away, an apples and foie gras snack; or his fried Brussels sprouts with eel sauce, togarashi, cilantro and marcona almonds. Sounds good right? Well, we’re just getting started, next there is a grilled octopus with n’duja (spicy, soft and spreadable Italian salame) vinaigrette, grilled rabe and a roasted tomato relish. And there’s a chicken-fried mushroom dish with confit lion’s man that’s crispy fried, dusted in shawarma spice and served with a cucumber-chickpea salad. I’m just dying here writing this at home and picturing how all of this tastes like.

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Vegan Ice Creams Can Be Delicious

Culture Counter is this beautiful neighborhood market on Pickwick Avenue, right next to Cherry Picker Package x Fare, and it curates fresh local produce and meats, bulk goods, meal kits, fresh juices and my favorite thing, all sorts of delicious ice creams. Some are vegan based, and some are milk based. I’ve had the opportunity to try two of their vegan options, a vegan coconut vanilla ice cream that is most likely the best coconut ice cream I’ve ever had with the most potent, explosive flavor burst. The next thing I tried was their vegan pumpkin spice ice cream that could easily pass for a dairy-based ice cream. If you’re looking for something new for the little ones or just wanting to treat yourself, check this place out.

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El Maseton Lechonera

Whole hog cookery is not an easy task and there is no doubt that some cultures have mastered a technique for doing so. The people of Puerto Rico definitely know. The El Maseton Lechonera food truck, which one day wishes to be a brick and mortar location, has been working on perfecting this old recipe learned by watching the elders of their town place a hog on a large rotisserie-style grill with hot coals and for hours after hours keep turning the hog until a perfect crispy skin and a super juicy meat has been achieved. Now, the food truck’s owners have brough this technique to town. With a couple of weeks to finish paperwork with the city, El Maseton Lechonera will soon be ready to serve as many people as they possibly can. I’ll keep you guys posted the moment they are opened so you can go delight in this cuisine.

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