5 Jan, 2022 05:00 AM4 minutes to read
John Paul Porteous says he will use his Nanny’s Eatery in Kingsland to help promote the Jamaican and Caribbean culture. Photo / Jason Oxenham
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Herald reporter and foodie Lincoln Tan takes you to some of Auckland’s eating places that make you feel like you’re in another country.
After such a tough couple of years, who doesn’t need a Caribbean holiday.
While Auckland was still in lockdown, one eatery and bar opened in Kingsland – and with a little bit of imagination – could teleport you to being at a diner on one of Treasure Beach’s coves on Jamaica’s south coast.
A common problem many tourists have when visiting Jamaica is figuring where to find the best versions of different Jamaican dishes, because every eatery owner on the island claim their version is the greatest.
There is no such issue here because, as Nanny Eatery’s co-owner John Paul Porteous, 36, puts it: “We are the only Jamaican restaurant and bar around”.
Mention Jamaican food and what would almost certainly come to mind is jerk chicken.
Today jerk meals are served at some of the poshest restaurants in Jamaica but are also readily available on street corners.
A Caribbean speciality, this dish originated in Jamaica and can be traced to when Spanish-owned African slaves escaped into the mountains and joined with the local Taino population.
Through a combination of indigenous ingredients and traditional recipes, the jerk chicken dish was born.
Jerk spices consist of a long list of ingredients which include ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, scotch bonnet pepper and pimento.
“Actually, the spices were originally created by the slaves to preserve meat,” Porteous said.
The Jamaican fiery rub used at Nanny’s Eatery is based on a family recipe, which Porteous said can be very addictive.
“You eat it once, you’re gonna be back for your second, then third … and I’m hoping that’ll be my ticket to making the big money,” he joked.
He applies the blend liberally to the chicken, rubbed thoroughly into the skin which is then left to marinate for a few hours before grilling the bird.
Jerk meals are incredibly popular in Jamaica and across the globe, and other offerings on the menu at Nanny’s also include jerk salmon salad and jerk pork belly.
There are three levels of spice heat of these tongue-tingling dishes for customers to choose from – spicy, super spicy or ediot (a deliberate misspelling of idiot).
Porteous first moved to New Zealand as a 15-year-old in 2001 with his parents but spent a few years in Denmark working as a chef after finishing school.
He returned in 2012 with a “burning desire” of wanting to bring Jamaican food and culture to New Zealand after having seen its popularity overseas.
Porteous was based in Lower Hutt, Wellington, at the time and first operated a food truck before collaborating with a restaurant there to put Nanny’s Eatery food on the menu.
Then when the opportunity came, he and partner Angela Clarke opened their first restaurant here in Kingsland.
Besides his own food, Porteous also sells Jamaican patties and Jamaican cakes made by others in the community at the eatery.
“Two things I want to achieve, one is to bring the best of what the Caribbean has to offer to Kiwis and the other is to promote our culture in any way I can,” Porteous said.
“With Jamaican food, I’m certain everyone can find something that resonates with not just their palate, but also their soul.”
The name of the eatery Nanny is derived from Queen Nanny, one of Jamaica’s seven national heroes.
She was a powerful female warrior leader in the 18th Century with the Jamaican Maroons, slaves who escaped the plantations and formed their own communities in the dense forest.
“Nanny is the mother of our nation, Jamaica’s first hero and represents something ‘Creole’ a mixture of different cultures which is what we see in our style of cooking,” Porteous said.
“Naming the business after Nanny is also our way of honouring her and the spirit she represents and our shared passion for empowering females. We want to let the world know about the great mother of Jamaica.”
For a perfect way to spend an afternoon have a cold Royal Jamaican ginger beer and a glass of Wray & Nephew white overproof rum while people-watching and eating mouthfuls of fiery jerk meats sitting at Nanny’s outdoor dining area.
But for fans of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh and other reggae stars, Porteous says he is aiming to make “every night a party” at Nanny’s.
“It’s the Jamaican way. We can be the most relaxed people in the world, but we sure do know how to party,” Porteous added.
* Nanny’s Eatery is at 492 New North Road, Kingsland.