“Flava Café is a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot on 118 Ave. that shares a building with Battista’s Calzone — Flava is the green part of the building, with just a little stool and table in there. I think it’s just a two-person operation. It’s mainly a takeout spot.
“A friend of mine lives in the same building as the guy who owns it, and she knows I love Jamaican food, so she said I have to try it. And about a year ago, they had a kind of pandemic special on Friday nights: a jerk chicken box with all the sides. So I went in one Friday. And then pretty much every Friday after that.
“I have a book coming out in 2024, and Flava Café basically fueled my writing of that book basically every Friday during the deep, dark 2021 part of the pandemic. I was truly living the isolated writer’s life during that time, especially January-February of 2021, it was so cold and so dark, and everything was shut down. Usually, I would hang out at Next Act all night long, but since we couldn’t do that, this was basically my one thing that got me go into the weekends.
“As someone who loves Jamaican food, I think it’s got such a good spice profile. I have no idea where they find Scotch bonnet peppers in Edmonton at this point, but the intense heat is something that can definitely carry you through the cold Edmonton winters, but also be alright in the summer months as well. And then all the sides, like the Jamaican patties, the rice and peas — I ate so much that I was trying to recreate the recipes, and actually bought a cookbook, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Everyone’s like, you can just use a habanero pepper, but they’re not the same. So I just end up going back regularly to get that jerk spice profile.”