Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Second Day of the Jamaica North Coast Birthday Bash

The first day of the Birthday Bash was awesome in its own right but the second day dialed it all the way up to 12. We did not return directly to the house after leaving Mongoose in the wee hours of the morning. Paul claimed hunger so we drove further east into the Pineapple Place section of Ocho Rios to a late-night establishment called Remicki's Gun Court. This place is the "holeyest" of holes-in-the wall and older than Methuselah. It opens its doors for business when other god-fearing establishments are closing theirs. When hole-in-the-wall restaurants get together, they speak about this place in hushed tones.

At Gun Court, the patrons are separated from the staff by iron bars and steel wires and transactions are conducted through a small opening in this barrier. The place was bereft of customers at that hour in the morning and most of the menu items had long been dispatched. We purchased from what they had available and groggily consumed it. I cannot tell you what I ate or how it tasted. It was time to go to bed.

Paul and Debbie had mumbled something about walking when we woke up but I did not think it would happen. I knocked on their bedroom door at 7:15 and they did get up. Miracle of miracles. We walked for an hour and fifteen minutes and then came back to the house and had breakfast (Paul normally hires two local "chefs" to prepare the meals that we eat at the house.). After breakfast we went to the pool to pass the time until our early evening dinner at Half Moon's Sugar Mill Restaurant in Rose Hall.

We spent about three or so hours at the pool drinking, listening to music, dancing, swimming, laughing. You know, having fun. Then it was time to head back to the ranch to prepare for the evening's festivities.

The objective of the weekend was the celebration of Joy's birthday. Joy was born in Kingston but now lives in White Plains, NY. Her initial thoughts were to host the celebration in Las Vegas but, after some discussion, she changed it to The Rock. The high point of the weekend was supposed to be dinner at Sugar Mill Restaurant, selected because it was thought by many to be the finest pure restaurant on Jamaica's North Coast. A total of 16 people were participants in the core celebrations with larger numbers attending the informal gatherings at our base of operations. Because the hotel was 45 minutes away, and the group so large, Paul had arranged for a bus to transport us to and fro. Six of us were staying at the house with the remainder at neighboring hotels. Those who were staying off-property were expected to meet us at the base at 5:00 pm so that we could comfortably make our 6:00 pm dinner reservation.

Half Moon, named for the crescent-shaped, two-mile-long beach that serves as the interface between the property and the Caribbean Sea, is one of the world's leading resorts, providing, as it has been since its founding in 1954, high-quality amenities and services to its guests. I have stayed at the property in the past and have taken advantage of its immaculate golf facility and on-property Italian restaurant. I have not, however, ever eaten at its Sugar Mill Restaurant which is located across the street and east of the main property, proximate to the golf clubhouse. I was looking forward to seeing what this restaurant had to offer.

All of the expected riders did not show up on time and after milling around for a while we decided that they would have to find their own way to the restaurant. We were on our way.

After a 45-minute ride, we arrived -- mellowed-out, yet fortified, by the two bottles of Champagne we had consumed along the way -- at the sign indicating the entry to Sugar Mill. We drove past the clubhouse on the right and on up the hill to the restaurant. The initial vista was stunning. A water-wheel to the right of the restaurant instructed as to the origin of it's name. The restaurant was arrayed to the left of the water wheel with an expansive outdoor seating area strikingly positioned to its left. Stepping through the main entrance of the restaurant, we entered a foyer with a bar hanging off to its left and a wine cellar to its right. We passed through a second doorway into a larger dining hall which itself debouched into additional dining areas to its left and right. The left entryway led to the outside dining area that was our final destination.

Joy (birthday girl) and Noel (hubby)

I will pick up the narrative of the actual restaurant experience in my next post as this one is already longer than I would like.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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