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Jamaica - The Gleaner - Thursday, November 27, 1997

Tired of the imported fast food parade? You are not alone. The North American gourmet glut is not always ‘easy to stomach’, as some Jamaicans would say.

For those who are fed up (pardon the pun), it’s a fairly short journey from the French fried nausea to a deep nostalgia for the "home cooked", plateful.

People are yearning for our traditional dishes and the yearning, for some , is strong enough to send them on trips deep into the heart of the country for roasted yam and fish, boiled and peppered shrimp, fried, escoveitched fish and bammy, spit-roasted chicken and jerked pork to break the monotony. Their favorite destinations are the eating hideaways where the food is combined with a superior location and a clean atmosphere.

Little Ochi, in the out-of-the way district of Alligator Pond, is one of these. Miles from the nearest town of Mandeville, it is, nevertheless, the spot where the who’s who of Manchester and St. Elizabeth go to eat seafood – a la Jamaique – and let their hair down in the strong winds that harass that area of the South coast.

As the proprietor of the venue, Everald ‘Blackie’ Christian, puts it like this: "People come here because Little Ochi is in a class by itself. The air that comes off the sea is just enough", he boasts.

The lumber and thatched structures of his restaurant hug a silver sand beach where the sea breaks with playful ferocity along the shore . But ‘Blackie’ warns: ‘This no white tablecloth and black tie service’, as the men he employs finish scrubbing great and shining ‘pudding pans’ under a gushing pipe outside.

Inside the main building – a wooden bungalow- four chefs are at work around the ‘Operation Base’, the kitchen and the heart of the business. The chefs are all men with years of experience in working magic with a blazing pimento-wood fire and a large skillet. ‘The pimento wood seasons the pot from the bottom up,’ ‘Blackie’ reveals.

All together, they turn out a seemingly endless supply of fish and other seafood, prepared in the way the customers request, after pointing out what they want from the freezers conspicuously set in the dining area.

They may have their fish roasted over an open flame, baked in foil wrappings, steamed, or escoveitched. Lobster is prepared in garlic butter sauce, or curried, roasted, barbequed or simply boiled and served with fresh vegetables and lime juice.

The restaurant’s menu is completed with conch and octopus prepared as stew , a curry dish, or barbequed, brown stewed or fried. Bammy or festivals is offered as accompaniments to all dishes.