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Take what you know about grocery story deli offerings and toss them because what became the norm - rotisserie chicken, peas and rice, steamed chicken, BBQ ribs and the like - simply does not cut it at the country's newest store deli.
At the Solomon's Fresh Market in the Old Fort Bay Town Centre in western New Providence, it's a place where you can allow your taste buds and adventure for food to go wild - think compressed watermelon and tomato salad with feta cheese and sunflower sprouts; seared rib eye steaks; six-bean salad; feta, cured ham and spiral pasta salad sans mayonnaise; clam and wheat quinoa pasta salads; Italian tartine (open-faced sandwich); couscous with sundried tomatoes; duck confit... you get the picture. There are even food items for people that follow a macrobiotic (raw) diet, and who only eat foods that are cooked to temperatures at or below 98.7 degrees F. And of course for those people looking for a less adventurous meal, you can get that too.
"We don't really treat it as if we're cooking for a deli, and I think that's where the difference is," said Fresh Market food services manager, Chef Simeon Hall Jr. "You can take any one of the items we have in our showcase and plate it for service in a restaurant."
And the variety is almost never-ending with a menu that changes daily. There's always something new. On the day I visited, the hot food showcased oven-roasted broccoflower, sauted red bliss potatoes with onion and bacon, New Orleans dirty rice, thyme roasted French beans, brown sugar yams, seared rib-eye steaks, London broil tri-tip, steamed basmati rice, lemon and pepper chicken, garlic chicken and BBQ chicken. The soup display offered up split peas and ham soup, turkey chili with beans, tomato bisque and broccoli cheddar soups. There's even a Mediterranean olive bar offering a dizzying array of olives - blue cheese stuffed, marinated, garlic stuffed, kalamata and piccholine olives. And whoever thought of eating a pickled garlic, but that too is to be had, along with elephant garlic confit, ingredients that can do wonders to most meals.
The chef said variety is always key because they do not want to get stale.
"We have to continuously challenge ourselves with updating the menu so that customer expectation is always exceeded. We tell people they're probably going to get a favorite dish here maybe once a week."
With people moving away from uninspired food, the chef said people are interested in trying something new. But there is one salad that they do offer quite often, and that's a caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella) which sells really well.
"We walk the store every day and make a selection based on what it is we want to do. We are governed only by our creativity," said Chef Hall. "We are inspired by working around so many ingredients and we only use what's in store. Our goal now is to inspire people to create more."
Ensuring that they feed everybody, Chef Hall said that macrobiotic cooking - which is keeping everything under 98.7 degrees for the raw food diet set is important. On the day of my visit, a mushroom salad with tomatoes, Asian salad with broccolini, oyster mushrooms, sprouts, sesame seed and ginger dressing and an asparagus salad were to be had.
There are always grains, whether it is basmati rice, quinoa, couscous or pasta. And the antipasti selection is huge with about 24 different offerings. And there's no worry if antipasti is left over because the olive oil marinated antipasti always taste better the next day. But the Fresh Market rarely has any left over.
With spring officially here, Chef Hall and his staff are beginning to showcase foods that display the best of spring produce. Expect to see lots of items with tomato, corn, pumpkin, sprouts, vegetables and fruits like mango and avocado. He said because he works in the market, the possibilities are endless. And he enjoys working with the local and organic products from which he gets to choose.
"A large percentage, especially of our produce is organic in nature. If not organic, it's local. And as a chef, I prefer to work with ingredients that are local over something that's organic from California because I can go to the farm and check it out. I can't check out the California farm, whereas I can go to the Lucayan farm and check it out and see what it is, so it's just as good to me or even better," he said.
To welcome in spring, one of the first lighter deli offerings was on the antipasti side, a compressed Andros watermelon, Lucayan spring tomatoes, feta cheese, sunflower sprouts and basil salad with a drizzle of strawberry balsamic glaze topped with day-old French baguette that had been made into croutons. It's a dish that showcased local ingredients with global techniques.
"Back in the day, we were taught we had to have 87 different flavors on one plate, but my whole thought process behind this dish, besides spring, was keeping everything basically red, but still contrasting it with colors. Compressing the watermelon removed some of the water from it for a textural change, and infused the melon with the lemon and basil flavors and scent. The salad can be made without compressing the watermelon.
The Fresh Market opened its doors to the public in November 20 and Chef Hall said while his staff offers store-driven foods in the deli, he said they also said educating their customers is high on their agenda as well. It's not uncommon Chef Hall said to find he or a member of his staff making suggestions to customers.
The Fresh Market deli is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on some Saturdays a pop-up omelette station may just be set up. Hot food is served from at 11 a.m. through 4 p.m.
Watermelon and tomato salad
Recipe: Chef Simeon Hall Jr.
8 ounce seedless Andros watermelon, large dice
6 pieces Lucayan Farms cherry tomatoes
1 ounce Feta cheese
Juice of half an Andros lemon
½ ounce flavored balsamic glaze, strawberry suggested
¼ ounce sunflower sprouts
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, toss watermelon and tomato with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add the fresh lime juice and stir to make a stable emulsion. Plate the ingredients. Top with sprouts. Crumble the feta cheese generously on top. Finish salad with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and balsamic glaze.
The T-Connection band's still got it, at least if a packed house is anything to go by. Last year they played to a packed house at the St. Augustine's College class of 1971 reunion, then returned for an encore performance recently at the Crystal Ballroom at the Wyndham Nassau Resort to another packed house. It was clear that there is still an audience that appreciates the style and grace of this instrumental group.
The group T-Connection was originally formed by Theophilus "T" Coakley in 1973. The funk-fusion group put The Bahamas on the map with its unique meshing of funk, Junkanoo, pop, R&B and jazz music and became one of the country's most famous international music groups.
It was originally comprised of Coakley, who served as the group's leader, songwriter and keyboard player; bassist Kirkwood Coakley; drummer Berkley Vanbyrd and guitarist Monty Brown. In 1976 Tony "Monks" Flowers joined the band as the percussionist and in 1977 Dave Mackey was added as the second guitarist.
T-Connection officially disbanded in 1985, but like the recent concert, they get together from time-to-time to take its fans back in time and introduce a new generation to their iconic flavor.
T-Connection's fusion of funk and Bahamian sounds was a nice refresher to the modern forms of music, according to Nelson Armaly of Paragon Management.
"The era groups like this are from is over, but their sound is classic," he said.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - Shop at
Sawyer's Fresh Market on Oak Street and watch your grocery bill get lower!
Locally Owned -
Locally Operated - Earth Friendly -
Always Fresh - Smart Choice - Best Quality - Fabulous Selection
Open 7 days a week! Sundays from 8am to 1pm; Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) secured a destructive and body blow victory during the general election. Apart from a miracle from heaven the Free National Movement (FNM) is likely to be in opposition for a long time. Mind you, under the capable and steady hands of Leader of the Opposition Dr. Hubert A. Minnis (FNM-Killarney), that rump party may well emerge from the ashes of defeat in 2017, but it will need a major surgical operation.
Now that the PLP and its greatly underestimated leader have been returned to power, they will both be baptized by fire, in my humble submission. The FNM and its out of touch former leader jacked this nation right up with not the least bit of apparent shame.
Our national debt, as far as most people are aware, exceeds $4.5 billion. The so-called ongoing road works may cost us an additional $70 million to $100 million. Our schools here in New Providence and over in Grand Bahama are literally falling apart.
While Hubert "Nero" Ingraham was singing and preening, the country was being run like an out of control locomotive. The ship appears to have run aground and the shaving cream is smeared all over the fan. Governmental contracts and apparent "perks" for political hacks and cronies were, allegedly, dished out like lamb chops with mint jelly in the weeks leading up to the general election.
According to the best estimates, the PLP administration will require at least $500 million in new borrowings just to keep The Bahamas afloat this fiscal year.
Crime and the appropriate punishment are still problems and no apparent solutions are in sight. The civil service is bloated and very counter-productive, to say the least, but our politicians lack the political will to downsize it.
Our society, as we used to know it, has disintegrated right before our very eyes. Our men and women of the cloth are now wolves and bandits in sheep's clothing. Big rusty men are preying on our youth, be they male or female, and the beat goes on. Affordable housing for the masses in New Providence is but a pipe dream for the vast majority.
The PLP and its leader are now in the process of being baptized by fire. It will take a great deal of ingenuity for them to turn this economy around and to create the 40,000-odd well paying public and private sector jobs required to stabilize employment and under employment. Teenage pregnancies and rampant alleged abortions are moral blights on our collective society and ain't no one checking.
Traffic congestion and management are but figments of our imagination. The traffic police of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, headed by my "good" friend Supt. Ken Strachan, is overwhelmed, under-resourced and, apparently, clueless as to how to bring sanity back to our jacked up roads, especially during rush hours. The commissioner himself seems to have gone AWOL and is nowhere to be seen except at photo opportunities.
Our utilities, inclusive of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) are, clearly, not up to the challenges. With the smallest drop of rain or high winds, BEC has to load shed. BTC was sold with great fanfare a year or so ago and services and options have never been worse with all due respect.
Top management at BEC needs to be shuffled or even made to step back and smell the coffee. Over at BTC, Geoff Houston needs to rationalize his top-heavy management team and come up with a fresh and bold business module. What we are getting and experiencing now is unacceptable and certainly unbelievable.
The PLP clamored for another opportunity to govern our beautiful, if challenged, country and it got its wish. Now that it is in the seat of governance again, it must usher in heaven on earth in the shortest period of time. The electorate has woken up and it will no longer tolerate broken promises and pie in the sky dreams and delusions. We want it (whatever that is) and we (not necessarily Ortland H. Bodie Jr.) want it now.
Baptism by fire is not a pleasant exercise or ritual, as the PLP and its leadership cadre will soon find out. The FNM and its holographic leadership has left us in the unenviable position where we will soon be seeing "dead people" wherever two or more are gathered.
To God then, in all of these things, be the glory.
Ortland H. Bodie Jr.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn the 115 ways to catch, pen, cook and eat an Andros crab at the world famous
All Andros Crabfest which takes place
Thursday, June 7 to Sunday June 10, 2012 in Andros at the Queen's Park in Fresh Creek.
Andros is known as the land of crabs and its people are renowned for
their crab-catching expertise. One of the highlights of this cultural
event is the Crab Cultural Show, which features top Bahamian bands, solo
artists, and sweet Rake 'n' Scrape music; and the releasing of the
crabs. Take a flight with LeAir or catch the boat with Sealink!
While utility costs hurt profitability, AML Foods Limited has persevered with strong sales and new sources of revenue - a trend that's expected to continue.
The top line of the BISX-listed company has received a boost since the opening of Solomon's Fresh Market in western New Providence. The anchor retail outlet for the new Old Fort Bay Town Centre, opened in November of last year, should particularly drive revenue in 2012 and make its presence felt on the bottom line.
This store, combined with its existing businesses, resulted in sales of just under $100 million for 2011, an increase of 7 percent over 2010.
According to its financial results for the year, the company recorded a net profit of $1.2 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $1.4 million during the same period in the previous year.
Gavin Watchorn, the CEO of AML foods, expects the company to generate improved profitability in the first quarter despite a persistent struggle with power costs.
"We're working our way through the investment program to reduce it," he said. "We have a firm strategy and looking at what we can do to control it ourselves, which is looking at the lights, refrigeration and other areas. We have to look at knocking it off with our return of investment."
In fact, AML Foods is pouring at least $1 million into energy efficiency for 2012.
Utility costs, according to the company's financial results for 2011, have risen 20 percent every year. This expenditure has gone up $1.2 million since 2009, Watchorn pointed out.
However, in tandem with energy efficiency projects, the company is also poised for further expansion, and hopefully, he said, more sources of revenue.
A new Solomon's, taking over the old City market in Seahorse Shopping Center in Grand Bahama, is on schedule and ready for its summer opening, according to Watchorn.
He revealed to Guardian Business that much of the senior personnel have already been hired for the store, with significant hirings for other positions expected to be ongoing.
AML Foods is spending nearly $4 million on renovations to the property.
Watchorn added that the Solomon's should open sometime in July, with equipment now rolling in. Outfitting the location will require an investment in energy efficient products, he explained.
"The biggest culprit is refrigeration, followed by air conditioning and lighting," Watchorn said.
The new store is targeting up to $15 million in sales within 36 months.
The other expansion project on the horizon is the introduction of Carl's Jr. to the Bahamian franchise scene. AML Foods came to an agreement with the American company early this year. Guardian Business understands an announcement of the franchise's first location should be made soon.
The long-term investment for AML Foods should be in the range of $4 million, envisioning up to five Carl's Jr. outlets over the next several years.
"The attraction to this is we think it will be a profitable business in its own right," he told Guardian Business. "We have a lot of existing infrastructure in place. We have logistics and back office staff, so our learning curve is not as steep. That's a great benefit to us and a strength. We'll be able to share costs with other parts of the company, such as Domino's, and yet generate a wider sales base."
Freeport, Grand Bahama -
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island -
Sawyer's Fresh Market on Oak Street and watch your grocery bill get lower!
Locally Owned -
Locally Operated - Earth Friendly -
Always Fresh - Smart Choice - Best Quality - Fabulous Selection
Sawyer's Easter Sale: March 29th - April 9th 2012.
Click to view specials...
According to data released on Tuesday from the Ministry of Education, students sitting for the 2012 BGCSE exams received an average letter grade of D in English Language and an E+ in mathematics; moreover this is considered an improvement.
How can we be proud that the average score in two pivotal subjects is mere points away from failure?
It is absurd to know that the next generation to come into the work force will have basic skills that are below average. Though not everyone is in favor of standardized testing, tests such as the BGCSE and BJC establish a platform of comparison not subject to grade inflation. Here, education administrators can grasp the academic performance of students in specific subjects across The Bahamas, regardless of the school.
But is the system designed to facilitate failure? With nearly 50 percent of students not qualifying for a diploma they settle for a leaving certificate. Do our students view a leaving certificate as a way out, lessening the need for a diploma? Is our society accepting of leaving certificates? It certainly seems so.
A national graduation diploma is desperately needed. Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald is right to demand a level of minimum criteria to obtain a diploma. Our government and society cannot accept the current laissez faire attitude towards education. Establishing minimum criteria for graduation also helps those students gain employment when a business knows what skill levels it can expect from graduates.
Just as a business needs strategic and succession planning, The Bahamas must prepare a national development plan and invest in our future leaders. With no idea of where we are heading, how can we educate our students for a future Bahamas? At least one government department, the Ministry of Education, has put forth a worthwhile plan with perceived deadlines that will positively impact the lives of Bahamians.
It is no wonder that many well-educated Bahamians choose to remain abroad. But such loss of talent deprives The Bahamas of our future leaders and innovators. Instead our island nation struggles with a work force that lacks basic reading, writing and math skills. Should we be surprised then that businesses seek foreigners and work permits?
We place such emphasis on employing Bahamians, yet as the data reveals, many Bahamians are unemployable for white-collar jobs. Service standards are dismal, yet we are forced to pay gratuity. Do unions survive because they fear the educated overachiever who is determined to succeed?
It is crucial to have role models, figures who define excellence and aptitude, examples for our young Bahamians to look up to. Athletes often take on this role but more often than not teachers have the authoritative position to instill a passion for lifelong learning and achievement.
Teachers are professionals with the immense responsibility for educating our sons and daughters. As such they should be treated like professionals with standards, continuing education, evaluations, monetary rewards and dismissal when needed. If our teachers cannot perform how can we expect a student to perform? Is every Bahamian teaching graduate from COB going to be a good teacher? Not likely.
It is refreshing to hear the minister of education's vision for more vocational-oriented learning. We need more applied education where training leads to jobs. Such ambitions for our education department are encouraging but only time will tell.
Meanwhile, businesses will continue to struggle with hiring competent individuals. We will continue to receive government letters or documents with grammatical and spelling errors. And yet we have hope that one day, in the near future, Bahamians will not settle for the laissez faire attitude of island life but will be invigorated by the quest for higher achievement.
behalf of the Executives, Advisors and Members Organizations of the Bahamas
National Youth Council (BNYC), we would like to express our deepest sympathy to
the family of the late Charles T. Maynard, former Minister of Youth,
Sports and Culture and former Member of Parliament of the Golden Isles
Minister, Mr. Maynard was indeed a great supporter and believer in the BNYC, he
has sought to continuously meet with the executives to garner fresh ideas for
youth development which assisted in the mobilization of his ministry. He always
believed that there should be a close working relationship with BNYC and
the Ministry of Youth, which fosteredfurtherpositive progression of
our nation's youth. Furthermore, Mr. Maynard was a young leader in the former
government, a man who enjoyed Bahamian Culture and believed in the
development of all young Bahamians.
The hotly anticipated Solomon's Fresh Market in the Harbour Bay Shopping Centre has the potential to become one of the parent company's biggest producing outlets in short order, according to a top executive.
Gavin Watchorn, the CEO of AML Foods, said the new supermarket is starting to get "quite a bit of attention" of late. The hype out east, he added, has easily grown beyond the attention generated by the first Solomon's Fresh Market prior to its opening in the Old Fort Bay Town Centre.
What it adds up to, AML hopes, is a considerable jolt to the bottom line once the second supermarket opens before Christmas.
"Right now, the Solomon's SuperCenter in Nassau is our flagship store and merits the greatest volume. I think Harbour Bay could come a close second," Watchorn told Guardian Business.
The CEO reported that construction work has begun at the old City Market site. Approximately 40 Bahamans are now employed through the contractor, he noted, and once the floor and ceiling are complete, the supermarket can begin "rolling in" the equipment.
This second Solomon's Fresh Market is designed to be identical to the location out west. The new brand has proven to be a hit among Bahamians, offering considerable quality and diversity of products.
Although AML Foods knows it has stumbled upon a winning formula, Watchorn said the company plans to slow down somewhat after the Christmas opening. The BISX-listed firm recently opened a new Solomon's in Grand Bahama back in June, and it is now gearing up for the release of its first Carl's Jr. franchise.
"We would consider another Solomon's Fresh Market later on, but I think once we are successful with Harbour Bay, we really have a spread between east and west. We don't want to over-extend ourselves," he told Guardian Business.
Executives at AML are braced for a significant spike in sales following these openings. At the recent annual general meeting, the company projected $160 million in sales within the next five years.
Launching the second Solomon's Fresh Market out east just before Christmas might be a coincidence, according to Watchorn, although it should also kick off the company's drive to reach $160 million in sales.
"It's a great time of year to open. We'll work pretty hard to make sure it happens before Christmas," he said.
The company plans to invest up to $5.5 million into the Harbour Bay Centre outlet. AML will hire 85 Bahamians, putting a dent in the legions of workers let go after the demise of City Market locations.