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Patio Parties

Contributed by: News Canada

Take your barbecue from hum-drum to a Caribbean festival.

(NC) - Throwing burgers or pork chops on the grill is fine for every day barbecues, but when guests arrive in the summertime, it's going to be far more memorable if you spice things up. And if you really want your patio party to be an escape from the ordinary, just ask our Canadian-Caribbean community for some tropical advice:

Accessorize:

Granted, a Canadian summer may not offer swaying palm trees and the whisper of surf, but it is a promise of long, sultry, sunny days with swimming pools, lakefronts, and an opportunity to kick back until well after sunset. Bring a touch of the tropics to your picnic table with locally purchased orchids or tiger lilies, tie-dye napkins, floating candles, seashells and bamboo accessories.

Cool Down:

Cold ales or fruit juices mixed with soda or tonic water, make refreshing summertime drinks - and for a bit more of a kick, add Rémy Red to the bar. This red-berry liqueur is a great favourite within the Canadian-Caribbean community. It comes from the family of Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac - and while it is refreshing as a cocktail (when served chilled with orange juice, tonic or soda, or in a flute glass mixed with sparkling wine) it is also just fine (say the guys) if you serve this robust red berry liqueur simply splashed over ice.

Grill:

According to Jamaican-Canadians, a tropical barbecue will never make the grade unless meats like pork and chicken are seasoned with jerk. Jerk is a tongue-tingling marinade made from allspice, searing hot chillies, thyme, onions, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings that are rubbed into meats and poultry before slow cooking them over a smoky fire. While cooks custom blend the seasonings, it appears two ingredients are essential: allspice, and fiery Scotch bonnet chilli peppers. A typical island menu could also include squash fritters, pepperpot salsa, callaloo soup, curried goat, a mango-papaya-cucumber salad - and rum cake.

Shake Your Bootie:

Music could be the single most important aspect of transforming a simple backyard pool party into a tropical paradise event. If you do nothing else, get the right music - at least one CD of steel band reggae, calypso or a Creole mix of meringue and salsa. Highly recommended (from those-in-the-know) is the compilation "From East Memphis to Kingston", available in leading music stores.


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