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Jamaican Me Hungry, Part 2: Jack Sprat and Treasure Beach

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Located on the southern shore of Jamaica, about 4 hours west of Kingston, Treasure Beach remains a sleepy, relatively undiscovered fishing village. If you relish a quiet getaway that, in July and August at least, is barely tainted by tourists, this is where you want to be. And the best place to stay is Irie Rest Guest House, a minutes walk to the beach and very affordably priced ($40 to $50 for a double room). Lennie Buchanan, born here, owns the place; his parents, who passed the property to him, now live in Ft. Lauderdale. If for some reasoie Lennie is all booked, try the new Mer's Perch, up on the hill, which offers the vista pictured above.

Miss Pauline was Irie's cook. Each morning we'd ask her to prepare us ackee and saltfish for breakfast. We grabbed a couple of dinners at Irie too -- like this turbit (turbot) in brown sauce:

Jerk chicken was the favorite Jamaican food of our family (with patties a close second), and the best we encountered came from a guy with a rusty old smoker just around the block from Irie. We'd go there and take out his stuff at all hours, along with chilled Red Stripes that he'd pluck from a cooler of ice. He claimed to jerk pork as well, but there was never any around when we arrived. We were so comfortable in Treasure Beach that we didn't make it to Boston Beach, the jerk capital of the world (not to be confused with South Beach, which ranks as a different sort of jerk capital of the world).

There isn't a downtown Treasure Beach to speak of, but a smattering of restaurants and clubs are clustered near one another at Frenchman's Beach, a few miles from Irie. Jack Sprat is the most commercially viable of these places, with outdoor seats spread along the waters' edge and very fresh seafood dishes. The snapper was great, both in escoveitch form and with brown sauce. The tortilla-looking triangles on the plate are bammy, a fried cassava bread traditionally served with fried fish.

What Jack Sprat made better than anyone else was rum punch;   a smooth, velvet glove to the head. And also the finest conch soup we tried -- the shellfish meltingly tender, with a delicious pumpkin soup base sweetened with carrots and coconut:

Tomorrow: Lunch at Little Ochi, reputedly the best restaurant on Jamaica's south side.

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