Breakfast and lunch reach a photo finish in The Last Bite’s opening feature. With a title like ‘quarantea’, you may be wondering, why leave home just to basically go … home? Well, keep reading for more irony, one truly satisfying experience and two new tracks for your February playlist.
Tea Tree Crêperie༽ .
The original name proposed for Tea Tree Crêperie back in 2011 was ‘entre nous’, a French phrase meaning ‘among each other’. Fast forward to their ten-year anniversary with the world in the throes of a pandemic, all advice, and protocols to the contrary — irony much? Quizzical facts aside, however, drifting through the graffitied glass doors of this quaint Kingston eatery is like an eye in the COVID storm.
Imagine if you could check-in for coffee and find your new favorite food all while chatting up with someone friendly and helpful. That’s as social as it gets by today’s standards, and it’s available every day between 8 am and 8 pm in Kingston, JA. Say hello to Tea Tree Crêperie.
The owners pride themselves on stimulating their customer’s senses with more than just bomb double espressos and chai. Can you blame them for thinking they’re hot stuff though? The writing is on the wall—literally.
Owned by mother/daughter duo Carrie ‘Quizz’ Sigurdson (Marketing Manager) and Maree Sirgurdson (Executive Chef), Tea Tree Crêperie has been buzzing since opening for business on the LMR complex at 80 Lady Musgrave Road.
Their cup of tea? Serving up an original “French Fusion”, Cordon Bleu-style menu with plenty of local twists and tidbits. This novelty cafe has a strong following and a sweet formula for creating repeat customers. The food is awesome. The service is top-notch. The ambiance is equal parts fun and relaxing. Their mixed bag of palate pleasers is tagged under Breakfast, Bits & Bites, Savory Crêpes, Sweet Crêpes, Desserts, and Sips.
With its inviting atmosphere, this seemed a good place to ring in The Last Bite’s birthday, an effort spawned in quarantine from hungry beginnings. It somehow seemed fitting that the first stop for the column be close to the new normal I’ve so patently embraced — zooming past dim forecasts in drawstring pants. Lockdown is in my bones, so forgive me if it feels like we’re on autopilot.
At this point, I’m a full-fledged member of Remotely R Us – my kitchen, hallway, living room floor, etc all having an ascribed ‘office corner’. Luckily, pursuing the elevated version of my quarantine breakfast repertoire (midday, mini buffet, mint tea) led to an amazing dining experience.
I decided on the Chicken Parmesan Crêpe and a French Press of Moroccan Mint tea for its intense, spearmint profile (yes, I loove a good cup of tea.)
That would do, I thought. And then, hummus happened.
The Bits & Bites listing (Hummus & Pesto Pita Chips) jumped out at me as I flipped through the enticing menu, just one page shy of where their 5x Trip Advisor certification is neatly printed.
The hummus was the last thing I expected given the French leanings, but whether it was luck or a subconscious Mediterranean craving, I happily went slightly off plan for a serving.
Light as a spring roll wrapper, a crêpe is essentially a thin pancake filled and folded to serve. Any way you dish them, savory or sweet, a crêpe is the perfect vessel for an array of other flavors (meats, sweets, spreads).
These egg-based morsels are enjoyed around the world — in Italy, mushroom and cheese-filled crespella are finished off in the oven, while the many tantalizing Greek versions include potato and spinach stuffed krépa topped with tomato relish.
Over on the sunny side in Jamaica, the Crêperie’s imaginative menu includes hearty house faves like the Big Blue Crêpe, Crêpe Mex, and Smoked Marlin Crêpe. There’s also the classic sweet versions such as Nutella & Banana, and jazzed up newbies like the Crêpe Crème Brûlée. Tea lovers can look out for dandy blends such as Shagadelic English Breakfast and Mile High Chai, titles that only add to the bistro’s hipster swag.
My breakfast consisted of poached chicken breast, parmesan and pesto folded Suzette style. Tart marinara sauce swirled between the delicate layers. I’m convinced crêpes are magic, fulfilling in a way that toast or even the best bagel just isn’t; they start off fork-tender before dissolving delightfully on your tongue.
This pillowy package, I learned, is an explosive contrast to crispy, snackable pesto chips. The café found a winning formula with these extra-crunchy chips and creamy dip, amping up the flavor with a light kick of scotch bonnet pepper.
But really, it was the zesty mouthfuls of Moroccan mint for me. Health is wealth in these trying times and while antioxidants are awesome, chilling with hot, tasty sips of your favorite brew is its own reward.
The overall experience was a terrific treat, a compelling bid to not rock the boat on my ambiguous (ahem, out of whack) daily routine.
So there you have it, a buttery review of Kingston’s first and only crêperie where they skimp on nothing: portions, charm, customer service (Michael is the best!).
Just like food, music for me is about relishing small portions of substance to keep you in motion.
Two of the soundbites I’ve been chewing over since January are Nordia Mothersille’s “Sorry”, and “New Love” by Ellie Goulding feat. Sin City. On paper, the two couldn’t be less alike. Nordia is a nascent Jamaican talent under the management of dancehall’s ‘Kyng Midas’, music producer NotNice. Ellie, a long-established act, teamed up with her megastar pals Mark Ronson and Diplo who moonlight as the production duo, Sin City.
Both cuts however are ballads about letting go and scrapping one’s source of pain, be it anxiety from tumultuous 2020 or your own inner critic. “Didn’t always like myself, didn’t always get it right,” Goulding confesses, while Mothersille moans “Not you again,” to a persistent old flame. Each lends their slinky soprano to invoking an unapologetic vibe, like two sides of the same coin.
“It seemed only right to make a tune at a time where we all need to dance and be free, even if just in our kitchens,” Goulding told Billboard of her song’s timely ethos.
If only flattening the curve were as snappy and effortless as these two tracks.
Don’t be surprised when the simple choruses take over your thoughts, these and that other thing which plagues a foodie relentlessly: ‘Where should I eat next?’
Sasha Lee is a Jamaican writer who has too many interests, and credits in both journalism and fiction. Her work has appeared in DancehallMag.com, Ellipsis Zine, Sublunary Review and LEON Literary Review, among others. Among her creative endeavors is a monthly column entitled “The Last Bite” – where she shares a slice of paradise in food and music reviews – for MixedMag.co. She can be found on Twitter @ohsashalee.