Cooking a good meal

Laxen, Jacob. Fort Collins Coloradoan [Fort Collins, Colo] 09 Mar 2016: C.5.

Reggae music plays in the background as Angela Ramdass lightly flours pieces of shark meat.”Very lightly,” she stresses.The breadedshark meat is then deep fried, floating to the top when fully cooked after about four minutes. The pieces go into the center of a split fry bread called “bake” and are topped with a seasoned cabbage Ramdass calls “Chow Slaw.”The sandwich is famously known as the Bake ‘N Shark — a delicacy in Ramdass’ native Trinidad and Tobago.It’s served at her Caribbean Food Shack restaurant in Old Town’s Oak Street Mall, 140 W. Oak St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday.”There’s so many flavors in the shark sandwich,” describes Jim Kincaid, a longtime Fort Collins resident and frequent Caribbean Food Shack customer.”It’s a taste bud delight. I tell all my friends about this place.”

Ramdass said the ocean-caught Mako shark meat is shipped fresh on ice in large chunks. She butchers off skin and the bloodline — trimming down about a third of the chunk — before marinating pieces in salt, black pepper, garlic, cilantro and ginger.

The shark meat is never frozen, a detail Ramdass swears improves taste, texture and color. Along with the Bake ‘N Shark sandwich, Caribbean Food Shack sells a different fried shark sandwich on a flatbread known as “roti,” and a fried shark plate that comes with sauteed pumpkin, curried potatoes and chickpeas.

“I say shark (tastes like) a swordfish steak,” Ramdass said. “It doesn’t taste fishy or anything. You can find it all over the island (in Trinidad and Tobago).”

While Ramdass gets her shark meat through a U.S. seafood distributor, the rest of her ingredients — from spices to noodles to peppers to pumpkins — are imported from Trinidad and Tobago. She drives to Denver frequently to pick up her orders.

Ramdass moved from Trinidad and Tobago to New York City when she turned 18. She often took subways into Brooklyn to dine at Trinidad and Tobago-themed restaurants.

She returns home to visit family annually. Caribbean Food Shack will briefly close from March 22 to April 5 as she returns to Trinidad and Tobago to celebrate Easter. Her full service schedule is posted at www.shacksauces.com.

Ramdass’ first stop upon arriving back home is always to grab a Carib brand beer and pair it with a curried chickpeas snack known as “doubles.”

“I appreciate (Trinidad and Tobago) now more,” Ramdass said. “What I miss most is when you are driving, you can feel that sea breeze or see an ocean.”

Ramdass moved to Colorado in 1999 with her late husband Jerry.

They opened Caribbean Food Shack in 2007 on the corner of Lemay Avenue and Drake Road. The establishment moved to Elizabeth Street before briefly closing in 2010. Caribbean Food Shack reopened two years ago in its current spot.

Ramdass makes Caribbean sauces that are sold online, and she’s also an accountant. Other popular dishes at the restaurant include jerk chicken, a Cuban sandwich and a curried chicken. There are also vegetarian options.

“My wife and I have traveled throughout the Caribbean, and this is really authentic,” said Kincaid, who learned about the restaurant from his son. “In my opinion, it’s all in her spicing. You can’t find anything else around here like it.”