For most Jamaicans, Spring is the season of bun-n-cheese. When the Easter Bunny is finished hiding eggs, it hops the border, makes a little Guinness Punch and enjoys it with some bun and cheese. This is a time when families cram West Indian markets to buy spiced bun loaves jeweled with candied cherries, raisins and currants. Traditionally, these loaves are cut into thick, 2-inch slices, lathered with butter and topped with chunks of Tastee cheese—a pasteurized, canned cheese that tastes like yellow American with a Cheddar twist. Jamaicans often refer to it as “Jamaican cheese", though it says product of New Zealand on the can.
The cheese snob in me decided to experiment with more sophisticated options—aged Gruyère, aged Muenster and Roquefort, for example. But aint nothin’ like the real thing, Baby. While each cheese possessed a sharpness that balanced the sweet spice flavors of the bun, it just didn’t taste like home. It was like the difference between listening to The Wailers sing “I Shot The Sheriff” and listening to Eric Clapton sing “I Shot The Sheriff.” These days you can buy individually wrapped bun-n-cheese sandwiches. But for tapas-swingers who cringe at the idea of serving full slabs of bun with blocks of cheese, the dish makes tasty and adorable brunch teasers. Serve with my Guinness Punch and your guests will be signing for more.
Bun-n-Cheese Brunch Teasers
- Half a loaf of spiced bun (also called Jamaican Easter bun or fruit bun)
- Busha Browne Banana Chutney
- 1 small can of Tastee cheese (You can substitute slices of your favorite cheese as well)
Directions: Cut half loaf into 1 1/2 inch slice. Cut each slice into 4 pieces. Cut 1 inch slices of cheese and cut into small cubes. Dab banana chutney on each piece of bun. Top with cheese cube.
- 12 ounces Guinness Stout
- 2 cups ice cream (coconut, rum raisin or canistel)
- 1 egg (preferably organic)
- 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup crushed ice.
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for two minutes. Pour into two beer mugs. Garnish with whipped cream, nutmeg and your favorite chocolate mini bar. Makes two servings.
Dinkinish O’Connor is an award-winning writer. Her food sojourns have taken her everywhere from the shanty town bistros of Kingston to the gnarly vineyards of Bordeaux. She has written for Wine Spectator, Condé Nast Traveler, The Miami Herald and other publications. Dinkinish received her sommelier certification and hosts innovative wine tastings. To see what’s happening in Dinkinish’s sumptuous, little world, check out, “Gourmet Squatter,” a blog that explores how to sip high on a low budget.