For the first time in its 21-year history, the Taste of Cayman has become a fully-fledged food and wine festival.
The gastronomic event, now re-branded as the Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival, is scheduled to be held Saturday, 1 November at Camana Bay, from 5pm.
More than 30 restaurants will showcase their signature dishes, from Cayman specialities and Caribbean favourites to Asian-inspired fare and Italian dishes at Camana Bay, who will host the event for the first time.
Catering to the young and old alike, visitors are free to wander from booth to booth sampling some of Cayman’s finest fare, from sumptuous entrees to divine desserts.
The Taste, as it is affectionately known, has become a mainstay on the yearly entertainment calendar. This year, a host of new and exciting elements have been added, ensuring the event stays fresh and exciting, notably the introduction of wine pairings from across the globe, courtesy of sponsors Blackbeard’s and Cayman Distributors.
Participating restaurants will be offered the opportunity to feature wine tastings alongside their culinary creations, offering a true gastronomic feast for foodies and wine connoisseurs.
In addition, there will be some 24 different vineyards pouring dozens of exciting wines as part of a separate tasting area in the Gardenia Court area of Camana Bay. This incredible, lush setting will also be the location for the inaugural ‘Luna del Mar Lounge at Gardenia Court’ event, where Kaibo will be recreating their popular Luna del Mar Veuve Cliquot champagne experience. The Gardenia Court Lounge will also have a Bacardi Mojito Bar with a top ‘mojito mixologist’ from Bacardi demonstrating how to create the perfect mojito.
Presiding over the whole event will be local DJ Alexi, who is always guaranteed to set the mood and ensure the party keeps going all evening.
Rounding out the event will be live musical entertainment, a fireworks display, and a Kids Corner to keep the youngsters occupied.
‘This year will mark the first of many that Camana Bay will host the annual Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival,’ said Trina Christian, executive director of Cayman Islands Tourism Association, said.
‘The Taste has truly evolved over the years from its original food festival held at Safe Haven. With the new direction of CITA has come the vision and initiative to grow this event to not only a wonderful opportunity for all those residents, locals and tourists on island to sample many great Cayman-style dishes and international cuisine, but also to increase the international culinary exposure of the Cayman Islands,’ she said.
The Taste of Cayman was founded by Mike Flowers, who has been one of the event’s primary organisers over the past 21 years.
‘I am very excited with this year’s Taste of Cayman, which undoubtedly will be one of the largest held yet and I am obviously thrilled that it will enable us to further help our local designated charities, in particular our main benefactor, the Lighthouse School.
‘The wine element is a natural progression for the Taste and will offer more variety while taking the event to the next level,’ Mr. Flowers said.
SPANISH WINE DINNER
A Spanish-themed wine dinner will mark the opening of the Taste of Cayman food and wine festival on Thursday, 30 October at 7pm.
The dinner will be held at Luca restaurant. Organisers are promising a luxurious evening of Spanish food and wine, whetting guests appetite prior to the main event the following Saturday.
Limited to just 120 guests, the exclusive dinner will include five Spanish-inspired dishes created by a team of nine chefs under the guidance of Luca head chef Feerico Destro. Each dish will be expertly paired with the finest Spanish wines.
Among the dishes in the culinary feast will be a chilled gazpacho soup, steamed lobster and cilantro emulsion paired with Bodegas Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Rosada, and roasted lamb, pork tenderloin, braised lentils and cannellini beans paired with Bodegas Roda, Roda 1 Reserva.
Wine expert, Larry Nocera of Kobrand Wines & Spirits will introduce the wines prior to the beginning of each course.
‘As we grow the Taste of Cayman into a full food and wine festival, an integral part of that growth is the development of a wine dinner,’ Hugh Treadwell, managing director of Blackbeard’s and Cayman Distributors, said.
‘We chose to host a Spanish-themed wine dinner as it is currently the apex of the culinary world and is now producing some of the most exciting wines there are on the market.
‘This will no doubt be one of the finest and most prestigious wine dinners and we certainly hope this will be come an integral part of the annual Taste of Cayman,’ he said.
In addition to the food and wine on offer, the dinner will be capped off by the Caribbean premier of an exclusive aged rum from Bacardi – Reserva Limitada, a blend of the oldest and finest rums Bacardi has ever used, including those that have been resting for four, eight, 10 and 16 years in its Cataño warehouse.
During the evening, there will also be a charity auction of an original Dready artwork commemorating the event.
Dready artwork is the creation of local artist Shane Aquart. It started out in 2004 as images featuring the fictional character ‘Dready’. It has now evolved into a style of art that doesn’t necessarily include the character but is still distinctive and easily recognisable. Dready merchandise now sells around the Caribbean under the company Dreadyworld.
Commenting on the commissioned piece that will be auctioned at the dinner, Mr. Aquart said: ‘Hugh Treadwell had an image in his head of the Picasso bullfight art and although the resulting Dready is no Picasso I did use the Picasso images as inspiration, the bullfighter with cape, banderillero with darts and picador on horseback. The end result is a triptych of scenes from a bullfight using the Dready art trademarks of vibrant colour, representational imagery and humour.’
Proceeds from the auction will be split amongst the Taste of Cayman’s designated charities, which include the Lighthouse School, the Pines Retirement Home and other local charities. Monies raised will also be used for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Scholarship Fund, which helps young Caymanians to pursue a career in the tourism industry.
‘I hope that the guests will bid nicely so that money can be raised for a worthy cause,’ Mr. Aquart added.
A TASTE OF DREADY
In addition to the commemorative artwork for the inaugural Taste of Cayman wine dinner, Mr. Aquart has also created a new logo for the Taste.
‘Hugh Treadwell of Camana Bay and Trina Christian of CITA asked me if I would work with them on images for Taste of Cayman,’ he said.
‘The final art for the Taste logo was a pretty collaborative thing. The CITA board had some ideas that they wanted to incorporate, a plate and cutlery to be exact. Hugh Treadwell had the initial idea for the whole project of matching an art logo to a font logo and Daniel Cummings over at Camana Bay did all the font work and worked with me to get the green background just right. I think the end result is pretty cool and pretty unique.’
Tickets to the Taste of Cayman are $40 in advance, $50 at the gate. Tickets are available at venues around the island, including Hurley’s Grand Harbour, Foster’s Food Fair at the Strand, Kirk’s Supermarket and Camana Bay. Ticket includes entry into the raffle. Prizes include two Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolets and vacation packages.
Tickets for the wine dinner on Thursday, 30 October, are $150, available from Luca restaurant. Call 623 4550. Limited seating available.