Real Caribbean Right Here in East Hampton

Rena Hewie Stoutt, seen here with her granddaughter, Alayah Hewie, holds some of her island goodies that are available at her new North Main Street store, Jamaican Specialties. Durell Godfrey

    Those with a hankering for jerk chicken or curried goat need look no farther than North Main Street in East Hampton to satisfy those island cravings. Thanks to Rena Hewie Stoutt, a long-time East Hampton resident originally from Hanover Parish, Jamaica, these Caribbean prizes, along with a large selection of dry goods, can be found at Jamaica Specialties, a store that opened last weekend.
    “It’s always been a dream of hers to open a store,” said Mrs. Stoutt’s granddaughter, Alayah Hewie, who was managing the shop on Monday. “She’s been cooking Jamaican food all her life. This was a brave move.”
    Some of Mrs. Stoutt’s other dishes include oxtail, rice and peas, plantains, cabbage, and the can’t-keep-them-in-the-store-long-enough Jamaican beef patties.
    But, said Ms. Hewie, many of the store’s first customers were also interested in the jerk spices and seasonings offered on the shelves.
    “People seemed interested in buying the ingredients and making their own jerk sauce at home,” she said.
    Other exotic offerings include coconut and ginger biscuits, tamarind balls and other island candies, and Jamaican soft drinks, including the popular Ting soda.
    “One guy bought eight bottles last weekend,” said Ms. Hewie. “He was so excited we have it in stock.”
    The store, which is nestled in at 110 North Main Street, is still working out the kinks, but is open and ready to serve customers. Mrs. Stoutt will offer her hot dishes on the weekends only, for now.
    “Before, people had to go up to Hempstead, or even Brooklyn, to get authentic Jamaican cuisine,” said Ms. Hewie. “Our customers have said they’re all really happy to have real Caribbean food right here in East Hampton.”