Cayman Classic cooks up delectable pleasures

The third annual Cayman Classic Food and Wine Weekend saw a host of tasty dishes and treats cooked up for the four-day food and wine extravaganza, a culinary delight for all lovers of fine food and wine.

Bruce Sherman

Bruce Sherman shows off his culinary skills at the celebrity chef cook-off held Sunday. Photos: Courtney Platt

The event attracted a wide range of ‘foodies’ keen to enjoy a weekend of food and wine indulgence, ranging from simple delights to elaborate creations, all equally enjoyable and delectable.

Organised by the Department of Tourism and Food & Wine Magazine, the event was kicked off by a welcome reception, held Thursday evening at Sea Grape Café.

Guests were able to enjoy a wide range of traditional Caribbean fair and signature Caymanian culinary creations, from flavoursome Cayman style stewed beef, hearty conch fritters, jerk pork, heavy cakes in a wide range of flavours, coconut candies and sumptuous grape-nut ice cream, washed down with a selection of fine wines and champagne.

Tables were beautifully set, setting the tone for a night of fine dining, while guests were each presented with recipes for some of Cayman’s most popular dishes and drinks, including Cassava Cake, Tamarind Drink and Conch Fritters.

Friday and Saturday’s events included an informative range of food and wine demonstrations held at the Marriott Beach Resort.

A host of celebrity chefs, including Bruce Sherman of Chicago’s North Pond Restaurant and Aaron Sanchez, of Manhattan’s Paladar and Centrico restaurants, demonstrated culinary dishes from Latin recipes to more tropical fare.

Wine connoisseur Joshua Wesson of Best Cellars also gave a demonstration on cheese and wine pairing, teaching participants how to match wine with any type of food, from jerk chicken to fisherman’s pie.

Local wine enthusiast and owner of Estancia Piedra winery, Grant Stein, also led a wine demonstration on the range of wines from this vineyard in Toro, Spain.

Local chefs included Bergman Ebanks and Denise Bodden who shared with guests traditional Caymanian recipes, handed down through their families.

Mr. Ebanks showed how to cook Snapper Cayman Style, a traditional Caymanian meal, during Friday’s event.

Denise Bodden demonstrated a traditional Cayman Fried Crab on the Saturday, using land crabs sourced from Honduras as they are out of season in Cayman.

Miss Bodden showed the cooking process, while also taking the opportunity to express her concern over the current dwindling numbers of land crabs in Cayman and how farming could be a viable option.

The Cayman Classic culminated with a no-holds-barred celebrity chef cook-off and champagne brunch at the Marriott Beach Resort’s Solana Restaurant, Sunday.

Chefs Aaron Sanchez and Bruce Sherman squared-off in a light-hearted culinary battle on presentation of a surprise box of ingredients, which included dolphin fillet, local pumpkin, green bananas and scallion.

Aaron finished with pan fired dolphin fillet on a bed of fried green bananas, side salad of cho cho, red onion and pumpkin and a red bean, pumpkin and scallion soup.

Bruce Sherman created a cinnamon dusted fried dolphin fillet atop a red bean and fried green banana crepe, served with blanched diced carrots and cilantro and cream drizzle.

Tamarind Drink

Submitted by Frankie Smith

(Frankie’s Fresh Juices)

Tamarinds

Water

Sweetener

Shell tamarinds and put in hot water to soften the flesh of the tamarind. Once softened, rub off the flesh through a sieve to separate from the seeds. Put pulp in the blender to remove the outer coat of flesh. Remove and strain. Add water and sweetener to taste

Conch Fritters

Submitted by Courtyard Marriot

1lb fresh conch

1 diced onion

1 diced bell pepper

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of Pickapepper Sauce

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

6 eggs

¼ cup flour

1-1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together to the consistency of meatballs. Add salt and pepper to taste and shape into round balls. Heat oil and deep fry fritters until golden brown.

Cassava Cake

Submitted by Cayman Traditional Arts

3 cups of water

7 ½ pounds of cassava

3-4 coconuts with milk inside

3 tablespoons all spice

4 tablespoons cinnamon

1 whole grated nutmeg or 2 teaspoons

6 cups brown sugar

3 teaspoons of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grate cassava with a fine grater, pick out chunks that remain and squeeze liquid out of cassava.

Prepare coconut milk: Cut open and blend together raw coconut and coconut milk and add 3 cups of water. Strain coconut chunks and squeeze out remaining milk.

Brink to boil 1 cup of brown sugar with coconut milk, and simmer for about 30 minutes. The mixture should change to a brownish colour.

Add seasonings to the grated cassava and mix thoroughly, picking out any chunks seen.

Skim off the top one cup of coconut milk mixture for basting the cake and set aside.

Add remainder of coconut mixture one cup at a time stirring each cup up ot a minute. Add only enough coconut mixture to bring the cassava mixture to a loose oatmeal consistency. FI more moisture is needed boil 1-2 cups and add as necessary. Remove any chunks of cassava as they float to the top.

Add all spice and cinnamon to taste.

Baste a large 13.24ince pan with cup of the coconut mixture, then pour cassava mixture into the pan. Bake for 3 hour, checking every 15-20 minutes after 2 hours. Baste with remainder of coconut juice throughout the last hour of baking.