The recent March storms blanketed Southeast Colorado Springs with snow and frigid temperatures. If you’re looking for some delicious island flavors to melt away that cold, J’s Jamaican Flava (3016 South Academy Blvd.) has got you covered.
The menu features Jamaican staples like jerk chicken and pork, as well as oxtails, goat and fish offerings. For $13.50, I tried the lunch special: oxtails, served with rice and peas (red beans). I also ordered fried ripe plantain, with a beef patty on the side.
Oxtails are a traditional Jamaican dish, served throughout the Caribbean. The tail of an ox, or cow, is rich in gelatin. When cooked slowly, it creates a thick, flavorful and savory stew with potatoes and spices. The meat is soft and tender — practically falling off the bone — which is a distinctive part of the dish.
The savory stew pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the fried plantain. Plantains are the starchy relative of the banana, and are common in many Caribbean, South American and African dishes. The plant originated in Southeast Asia and has been consumed for thousands of years. It was brought to Africa and then the Caribbean. When fried, the starches in the plantain turn into sugars, caramelize and form a sweet, crispy crust.
The stew also blends well with the rice and peas. Jamaican rice is often cooked with coconut milk, which makes it slightly stickier and more flavorful, pairing nicely with the beans and spices. The “peas” in Jamaican rice-and-peas traditionally refer to pigeon peas, a staple food that originated in India and spread throughout Asia and Africa. Though commonly substituted with kidney beans, the name remains.
Jamaican patties are a kind of a meat pie, a pastry with a savory, spiced meat filling. The patties at J’s Jamaican Flava are fried, and the crispy, flaky pastry compliments the tender beef inside.
This Southeast staple is definitely worth a visit.