Getting Jamaican at Ripe

June 20, 2008 12:08:51 PM PDT
We're spicing things up this edition of Neighborhood Eats.Let's ditch the winter cold for a taste of the Caribbean.

We headed out to Ripe Kitchen & Bar, located at 151 West Sandford Boulevard in Mount Vernon.

They specialize in jerk chicken and other jerk meat.

And that's exactly how Nigel Spence got into the food world. When he was in his 20s, he set up sort of illegal roadside stand making jerk.

At college, he studied radiology. But instead of taking X-rays of ribs, he decided he'd rather cook them. So he enrolled in cooking school.

He's since appeared opposite Chef Bobby Flay on TV. He also opened Ripe Restaurant.

On the menu, aside from jerk, are muscles, which Nigel cooks with Jamaican flavors. The recipe includes Red Stripe beer.

You take about half a Red Stripe and two cups of water to steam the muscles. In goes some coconut milk, garlic, a version of cilantro, super hot scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, salt and pepper. It's like Jamaica in a bowl, served up at Ripe.


This dish makes for a great summer appetizer, and is quite easy to prepare a large batch. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to clams, oysters or other shellfish.

If you can't source Red Stripe beer, try any lager beer instead. The mussels are fun to eat, and the broth left over is the real treat to dip fresh bread in.

You can get more elaborate by adding the mussels to already cooked yellow rice with some of the broth, for a beautiful and impressive seafood rice. Add some cooked shrimp, sprinkle some chopped parsley, and your guests will think you're a master chef, when it only took you a few minutes from kitchen to table!


  • 1 pound fresh unopened mussels (discard if already opened)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 1/2 Cups Red Stripe Beer
  • 1 (12 oz) can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chopped scotch bonnet pepper
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat

  • Add garlic and sweat for 30 seconds until you smell the garlic

  • Add all other ingredients EXCEPT mussels, turn up the heat and bring to a boil

  • Lower the heat to a simmer, add the mussels

  • Cook till all mussels are opened, about 6-8 minutes


    Serve with your favorite bread, such as a toasted hardough bread, to sop up all that tasty broth after the mussels are done.