Jim Murphy, co-owner and chef at Kingfisher, in Tucson has been a part of the local culinary scene since the early 1980’s. His input for ‘Lost Restaurants of Tucson’ was invaluable. He was the person who suggested I add Lloyd’s Mexican Restaurant and he was a connection to The Iron Mask as well as his stories of his time at Jerome’s, one of Tucson’s original seafood restaurants. The stories weren’t just facts, but unique bits and pieces to the history of several of the Lost Restaurants, They were colorful and interesting and totally Murph.
On Saturday, Murph brought his talents – cooking and storytelling to name a few –to The Carriage House to teach a class on Jamaican cooking. As he pointed out more than once, the food he made was his take on traditional dishes. He demonstrated how to make Jamaican run down sea bass stew, Jamaican cornmeal pudding, Kingfisher’s jerked banana rice, which used Kingfisher’s jerk spice that Murph made fresh.
As he worked his way through the dishes, he told stories of his past, bantered with Janos, gave little kitchen tips (certain spices are water soluble while others work best in oil) and answered every question the small group asked.
The food was fabulous. The fish in the stew was perfectly cooked; tender but firm. It sat on a bed of the jerked banana rice that was both spicy and sweet. The Red Stripe Beer was the perfect pairing. And the pudding, which was topped by a coconut milk custard complemented the spicy stew with a light sweetness.
The classes at The Carriage House are intimate and allow for a lot of up close and personal touches. No one minds if you get up and take a few photos. Aromas arising from the pots and pans fill the senses. You feel a part of everything that is going on. You take home the recipes. Plus, when it’s all done you get to eat the food.
Saturday’s class was no exception and thanks to Murph there were good laughs, lessons learned and inspiration to try the dishes at home.
Upcoming classes will be taught by chefs from all over town. Check out the schedule on The Carriage House website.