Tuesday 24th May 2016
Ever been to a restaurant and regretted choosing that particular spot? Or maybe you love the food so much that you wonder why you haven't heard of it before? Or why you didn't try it sooner?
Enter What the Forkk?, a local Restaurant Review Page run by Saeed Hamid. Saeed is a proud Guyanese and Foodie and started his page to document his experience at various restaurants in Guyana. We visited Saeed to talk about his page, his love for food, his vision for the future, to play a new game we came up with, and of course, to eat. Definitely a mouthful (pun not intended! Ok, maybe a little intended).
Right now, he's pursuing a his LEC Legal Education Certificate at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad, and has been enjoying classic T&T cuisine – doubles, pulao, and chow. While he raves about his love for the Tunapuna Market, Saeed is quick to point out that there's no place like home and nothing like Guyanese food. His family wholeheartedly supports his love for food – his mom packs her carry-on with tennis rolls when she's visiting him and cooks when she's there, and when he's back home in Guyana, he cooks and helps out at home. Saeed wants to raise the level of restaurant quality in Guyana, and in fact, hopes to own his own restaurant one day.
What got him started with What the Forkk? His friends, actually. He was at lunch with friends one day and was disappointed when the meal that he ordered arrived. The topic of a review page came up, and his friends ran with it. He describes Priyanka as the mastermind of the operation, and points to his friend Anuradha who set up the site, password and all the technical stuff and handed him all the required information. And just like that, What the Forkk was born!
So how does it work? Very simple. Saeed doesn't review to be rude or negative, but tries to reflect his dining experience in the hopes that he can help the general public get a sense of what a restaurant is like from an unbiased party. On a broader scale, Saeed hopes that his reviews will start and contribute to a conversation about restaurant quality in Guyana and on the whole, will raise the standard that we experience when we go out to dine.
Apart from the essentials, Saeed pairs his reviews with comments on food, service, decor and layout, along with any other details that will give you an overall idea of the experience. He also infuses humour and a clear enthusiasm for what he does into each review. While he doesn't have an exact pattern, Saeed tends to order meals that he thinks would be popular menu item. He doesn't always go to every review with the same group either.
What the Forkk? recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and it has certainly been an experience for him. Overall, the response has been good – he's yet to experience an angry restaurant owner. In fact, he says that more often than not, managers or owners contact him to find out how they can improve, which is certainly a positive indication that the local restaurant standard is on the rise.
We look forward to seeing more of What the Forkk? in the future. In the meantime, check out the video below - We played Twenty Questions, Hotspotgy Food style! When you're done, check out his recipe and his page on Facebook!
It is evident that Saeed himself is a great cook with a range of skills. He made us Cheese & Spinach stuffed Chicken wrapped in Turkey Bacon with a side of roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes (Recipe below!) while talking about his dream meal experience (which needs to be anything that includes a bush cook or steak, solitude, and the outdoors). If you visit him for a dinner party, he'll put on soft instrumental music in the background because the conversation and food should dominate the meal...but soca must be played right after. So if you're planning on treating yourself and cooking something great soon, check out the recipe below and share your pictures with us!
Roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes
3 medium sized Potatoes (scrubbed, cleaned and cut into quartets)
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
Herbs: Rosemary, Basil, thyme
Black Pepper & Salt (to taste)
1 large onion, cut into rings.
1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a pan or spray with non-stick.
3. In a bowl, toss all ingredients together, evenly coating them.
4. Place into oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.
For a moister, buttery flavor, add a tbsp. of butter and garlic, and toss until evenly coated before serving.
Bacon-wrapped Chicken stuffed with Cream of Spinach
4 Chicken Breasts halved
8 – 10 slices of Bacon
2 cups of Spinach, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 4oz Package of cream cheese
2 cloves of garlic minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 onion, minced
Jalapenos, minced (optional)
Your favorite BBQ Sauce
1 tsp Rosemary
1 tsp Thyme
2 tbsp Milk
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
2. Prepare the chicken breast by seasoning with black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary and thyme, and allow to marinate. Cut pockets into each cutlet to insert the filling. This is the safest means of preventing it from spilling out when baking. However, it is easier to butterfly cut the breast. (“Easier” – euphemism for being too lazy)
3. Place the spinach in a skillet on low heat for a few minutes and allow to wilt, without burning. As soon, as wilted sufficiently remove from the heat and place in a colander so as to prevent the strong spinach wilted taste from overpowering the chicken.
4. In a sauce pan, heat the oil, garlic and onion, then place the spinach in along with the jalapenos, cream cheese and parmesan/mozzarella. Add the milk slowly to prevent it from seizing up, but careful not to make it runny.
5. Remove from heat and spoon the filling into the pockets cut into the breast. If you are working with butterfly cuts of breast, spoon it on one end of the cut and fold over carefully. (Do not overfill them – Yes, if you can’t fold it to seal properly, you probably overfilled it)
6. Carefully roll each cut with slices of bacon, as much as you desire because everything is better with bacon.
7. Use toothpicks to secure each cut of breast, and brush with BBQ sauce.
8. Pop into the oven for a good 35-40 minutes. Keep an eye on them because chicken breast tends to get really dry when overcooked.