Taste of Cayman takes place at Camana Bay this Saturday and it features live music, a kids’ corner, VIP courtyards, mojito lounge and arts and crafts as well as of course samples of food and drink from the diverse restaurants of Cayman.
A thousand parking spaces ensure that there are as many spaces as there were for Jazz Fest and shuttle buses will be running between the car park and the site around every fifteen minutes.
It is the twenty-second year of the event and it is the second year that it has been hosted by Camana Bay. The new town itself is rapidly-growing, making more space available this year including the Crescent, which hosts Wines on the Water. The event is able to spread out more than ever before as a result.
On entry with a ticket, patrons will be given fourteen food tickets which can be exchanged for various-sized portions inside the enclosed site. For beverages and alcoholic drinks there will be additional ticket booths selling different special tokens with which drinks can be bought. This system is designed to alleviate some of the long queues that can develop later in the evening.
Camana Bay has a town centre that slots in well with Taste of Cayman and although it was not designed to be event-specific as such, it is a space that works well, said Kathy Jackson of Atwater Consulting, representing Camana Bay.
‘It was definitely designed with the thought in mind that the different spaces lend themselves to different activities.
‘Different people are drawn to different spaces so the overall feeling is that there’s a space at Camana Bay which works for almost anybody and almost anything,’ she said.
Something like the Courtyard works well for arts and crafts, Ms Jackson explained, and as The Crescent develops it will be a gathering space in line with new urbanism principles that design community spaces to place all facilities within close walking distance.
New urbanism is, effectively, about people and community. Food and drink have been the twin tenets of Taste of Cayman since the outset and there are few powerful ways to meet up with new friends and bring people together.
Art, mojitos and champagne
Art at the Coffeehouse (Gardenia Court) is promised, featuring such luminaries as Jessica Wallace, Chris Christian, Randy Chollette and Meegan Ringersen. Randy explained that he will also be performing percussion on the Cuban congos and a Jamaican-made African kettle drum.
‘It’s African-Caymanian drumming; Cuba has their way of playing and Jamaica has their way of playing. I developed it from Cuban, Jamaican and African way of playing,’ said Randy.
Cassia Court hosts the Bacardi mojito lounge, an area that was incredibly popular last year. Matt Bishop, general manager of Cayman Distributors, explained that it is likely to be one of the livelier spaces on show.
‘It’s going to be the most upbeat area within the site – Spin FM will be providing great tunes on the decks, there’ll be a party atmosphere and great mojitos from Bacardi.’
The VIP area at Fountain Court is called Luna del Mar and is open 5-11.45 ($150, all inclusive) features food and service from Kaibo. Claire Pettinati, events manager at Kaibo, said that
‘We’re thrilled to be asked back after last year’s success. People can expect the Luna del Mar vibe which is chill out to start then a progressive build-up. It will be an extension of the Luna Del Mar evenings hosted by Kaibo once a month on the Friday closest to the full moon.’
Island Companies have teamed up with Champagne makers Veuve Cliquot to offer refreshment of a classy kind. Hugh Treadwell of Island Companies said that it will be an exciting occasion.
‘Veuve Cliquot master winemaker Pierre Casenave is going to be with us which is really prestigious; we’re really excited to have such tremendous support present. It really is the culmination of the whole promotion we have and we’ll be giving away a trip for two to France’s Champagne region with Veuve Cliquot on the night.’
Wines on the Water, at the Crescent, promises 150 wines to taste and representatives from Blackbeard’s will be there to guide you through the process. It’s open til 11pm.
Another important part of Taste of Cayman is that its charity side – the organisation behind the event, Cayman Islands Tourism Association, is a non-profit outfit and they work closely with a number of charities including the Lighthouse School, explained Ms Jackson.
‘It’s a fund-raiser for CITA and the charity projects that they support so from a purely corporate citizen point of view that was one of the things that really drew us to it.
‘It allowed us to do something to do what the community loves and embraces. It’s a great way to see people you don’t always see, to taste good food and to hang out, as well as the sense of being able to support something that is bigger than the community,’ she said.
Cayman is placing itself as a culinary destination and the whole gamut of foods from tasty local-based chicken dishes to complex international flavours are represented at Taste of Cayman. The diversity of cultures represented on-island is truly reflected in the culinary culture, making Cayman unique in the Caribbean. One event can therefore shout about a wide range of culinary cultures on a small island, including new twists on local favourites, notes Ms Jackson.
‘If you take Abacus as an example they take oxtail which is a really roots flavour and make it into a spring roll. That’s creating a really interesting twist on a local dish. People are sometimes more willing to taste it in that form.
‘Restaurants try and embrace dishes that have roots in local cuisine. Caymanians know and love the flavour of oxtail, for example, but this allows residents and visitors who haven’t been exposed to it to experience local flavours in a more accessible way.’
It’s also a great opportunity for kids to try different foods – the taste-sized portions make it an interesting way to widen horizons in a family setting and for the youngsters to learn a little about different food techniques whilst they’re at it.
Arts & Crafts
Any taste of Cayman must inevitably include a taste of the local arts and crafts. Once you’ve eaten, the experience of the evening is enhanced by access to local vendors displaying their wares in artistic disciplines, from scent to salt.
Camana Bay’s location near Seven Mile Beach makes it an easier location for visitors to dip into the water of local culture once they’ve swum in the Caribbean Sea. It’s a concentration of experiences from a small population with much more going on than tourists and even some ex-pats get to see whilst on the island.
Taste of Cayman brings local culture to a wider world and reminds people in an accessible way that there is plenty to be discovered here. As the stalls and vendors are all locally-based businesses, relationships forged with local producers and products at Taste will continue beyond the event.
Camana Bay’s three-year relationship with CITA and Taste of Cayman is in year 2 and with the growth of the town centre a destination is growing which offers a different experience. The sun nearly always shines on Cayman, but not every day.
There will be a fireworks display at 8.30PM and the much-anticipated raffle draw at 10.30PM where one lucky winner will drive home in a brand new red Camaro.
Don’t forget to vote for the people’s choice award. The title of Cayman’s Favourite Restaurant will be awarded to the restaurant which receives the most votes in the text-to-win poll.
Text the name of the restaurant you choose to 4868, as provided by Digicel. Each text costs CI$1 with all proceeds going to the Lighthouse School.
Taste of Cayman starts at 5pm on Saturday, 16 January with the entrance/exit next to Books & Books at the end of The Paseo. More details are here: http://tasteofcayman.com.ky/