From the garden to the bar

In a world where sustainability is
becoming the buzzword du jour, food provenance is increasingly important.

The Cayman Islands may still lean
on imported foods, but the success of the Market at the Grounds and an
increasing awareness of the quality product available here is starting to
change the face of Cayman’s culinary offering.

The Brasserie’s own organic garden
provides a good percentage of their menu – vegetables don’t get fresher than
when you’re talking not food miles but food feet – and the restaurant is a
regular buyer from farmers on the island. That farm-to-table concept also
extends to the cocktail menu, explained sommelier and general manager Kyle
Kennedy.

“I use the same farmers that chef
Brad uses, such as Joel Walton who helped us build the garden. I seek advice
about what’s coming in season and he’ll let me know that, say, passion fruit is
coming up but it’s only available for a month.

“We had jaboticaba, the Brazilian
grape tree, which takes 20 years to bear any fruit – Joel was the only one
on-island to have the tree, so I got his whole supply and worked with the
kitchen to make a vanilla, cardamom and lavender syrup with the grape, which we
made a cocktail out of.”

Jaboticaba may be a rare treat, but
the concept is as ingenious as it is delicious. When you consider that the
lemongrass syrup, local mango puree and passion fruit are all local, organic
and have barely seen the inside of a car, let alone an aeroplane or a shipping
container, things have just stepped up a few notches. Basil, mint, rosemary and
Cuban oregano are just some of the Brasserie garden herbs that the mixologist
uses to create his carefully-constructed cocktails, too – the flavours are stunning.

True to form, on the menu is a
Weekly Feature – the equivalent of the chef’s special and dependent on what’s
available at that time.

“Right now we’re harvesting
watermelons from the garden, so there’s a watermelon cocktail and we’ve a
seasonal Caribbean rum punch which uses incredible papaya, guava so aromatic
you can smell it when it’s not even cut. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

 

Extraordinary experience

The passion fruit mojito comes in
with a punch of passion fruit which then steps aside to showcase the sweetness
of the white and dark rum, before the lime, garden mint and citrus-sour after
whisper of the passion fruit dances and lingers, preparing taste buds for
another sip. Also on the menu is a spicy mango martini, which uses local mango puree
and – brilliantly – scotch bonnet, seasoning peppers and banana peppers from
the garden. The ensuing spicy sweetness is popular, Mr. Kennedy said, although
the cocktail is seasonal, so quantities are limited.

“We work with the kitchen a lot and
have fun experimenting; all that preparation is just like a prep cook.
Sugarcane is not easy to work with; we make all our own purees and syrups,
including our own Grenadine. It’s often cherry but is meant to be a pomegranate
base, so we do that.

“… Just as a server would come
and tell you the daily specials, they’ll tell you the cocktail feature. It’s
not common worldwide and only works in an establishment where people understand
that if they expect a quality product, they’ll have to wait a little bit of time.
… These drinks take time, and they take money too, but it’s definitely worth
it, and we think it pays off in the end.”

FEATGardentobarSTORY

Mixologist Kyle Kennedy and three of his frothy creations.
Photo: Joe Shooman

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