Gerry Glynn of EatDrinkJax.com interviews Trevor Davis and Avis Davis about Taste of the Islands.
Jerk Wings and Fries
8. What’s Mojo Pork?
We used to live in Southern Florida and during the holidays it was a big thing to roast a whole pig. There’s something called a caja china, also known as a Cuban microwave. It’s a wooden box framed with metal. You put coals on top and the pork inside - you can use the whole pig or choice parts. To make our Mojo Pork we use a boneless Boston butt that we marinate in garlic, oregano, sour orange, onion and a lot of spice before it’s put into the caja china for hours until it’s falling off the bone. When the pork is ready it’s mixed with our own homemade sauce and served with yellow rice, black beans and fried sweet plantains or fried tostones.
Trevor: our black bean recipe comes from an older Cuban restaurateur. He gave me that recipe after I did some work on his boat. I’ve stuck with that black bean recipe for over 15 years and it’s been very successful for me. The whole combination is really, really good.
9. Are there any hidden Island gems that you’d recommend?
There are at least two. One is the Curried Goat. A lot of people are intimidated when they hear the word “goat,” but they shouldn’t be. Goat tastes similar to venison or lamb but a little more intense. Once we add the spices it’s to die for. We use peppers with our curry sauce so the goat comes with a little heat. The trick is to make the goat nice and tender and then to serve it over white rice. In Jamaica, every party has curried goat and white rice. The same is true in the Bahamas. The one dish that’s probably most in common between Jamaica and the Bahamas is the curried goat. It’s a staple in both those islands, and in Trinidad too. We don’t have the Curried Goat all the time in the truck because it’s something that people need to get used to. We make sure it’s available during our Culture Groove events though.
The other thing is our Cracked Conch which has a taste that’s similar to calamari. We dip it in egg and flour before deep frying. In the Islands the Conch is eaten with french fries and is smothered in ketchup, hot sauce and onions. It’s a staple for people coming from the clubs or as a treat on the weekends. Something like that would be perfect if you want to explore a little.
Cracked Conch and Fries
10. What’s Hard Dough Bread?
It’s a regular loaf of bread but it’s more doughy and dense. It’s closer to a bagel in density but in a loaf. It’s very common in Jamaica. It can be used for a jerk chicken sandwich or served with bone-in jerk chicken.
11. Can you tell us about your Ox Tail with rice and peas?
Ox tail is like a very flavorful stewed beef. It’s braised and served over rice in a bouillabaisse stew with carrots. We serve it with Spinners, which are little dumplings made from a long, cylindrical piece of rolled dough.
Ox tails are more familiar in the Southern culture so it hasn’t been a big learning curve for many of our customers. People who know about it really like it. One Friday we served it from the truck to a medical audience and after they tried it they started sending people back to the truck to get some more. We eventually ran out and it almost caused a fight - but in a good way! It’s going over very well. We will always try to serve Ox Tail at Culture Groove.
Oxtail with rice and peas, steamed cabbge and plantains
12. What other things from the Islands do you feature?
We pair up a lot of the meals with Island sodas, which are very unique. We have Cola Champagne, Cream Soda, Pineapple Soda and Ginger Beer. Ginger Beer isn’t an alcoholic beer but it’s a soda made with ginger root. It’s got a great zing to it. Drinking the sodas adds to the full Island experience.
13. Trevor, how’d you learn to cook?
Trevor: I’ve had a lot of great cooking experiences. I was basically trailing around behind my mother from 12 years of age. I learned a lot from watching her. I learned from my mother in law about the Jamaican style of cooking. At a church I belonged to I was the personal chef to the Bishop and his family for 3 or 4 years. My brother in law is also a chef in Atlanta. I got to understudy with him to learn more about cooking and catering. Even now I run things by him for his advice. I’ve also spent a lot of time in the kitchen learning how to operate the machinery and how to cook for larger crowds.
14. Do you offer catering through the truck?
Yes! We cater at office parties and for lunches. When we arrived in Jacksonville we were catering, even before we got the truck.
15. What attracted you to a food truck as a business?
Trevor: I came out of the mechanical field where I was a diesel mechanic for about twenty years. It was a great living but every day I’d go to work and I was more passionate about cooking then I was about mechanics. I set up a catering business in South Florida but it always had to be second place to my regular job. When I saw the food trucks I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I loved the idea of being mobile and having a restaurant on wheels. To have a successful restaurant you need good food and a good location. I knew I could serve great food and being mobile let me have my pick of locations. A food truck was also a much easier endeavor finance-wise.
16. Avis, do you work on the truck?
Avis: I get to count the money, that’s my forte! I do help on the truck with the planning and setting up but I still have a career in the nursing field as a Vice President at a Medical Services company.
17. When did Taste of the Islands launch?
We launched in November  but it’s been a loooong journey!
18. Why did it take so long?
Avis: we wanted to launch the truck when Trevor was able to do it full time. That meant doing our research and being in the right place financially so that we could pursue this dream in our own way.
19. Do you have regular locations yet?
Some. We’re doing the Baptist Outpatient location in San Marco on Tuesdays. We’re also doing Hemming Plaza on a rotation every other Thursday. Our “home” is at the Airport Industrial Park (map). Most of the days when we’re not booked somewhere else we’ll be at the Park. Then we have the Culture Groove every 4th Saturday of a month. That’s more of a late afternoon and early evening event.