The Cayman Islands has been developing a reputation as a classy culinary destination, with a multinational flavour profile ranging from gorgeous jerk chicken to high-end fine dining.
To celebrate this breadth of epicurean magic, January has been designated Culinary Month, and there are a host of events taking place to tickle the taste buds. Join in the super-delectable journey through the world’s best wines and foods in the company of chefs, including Eric Ripert at Cayman Cookout, to the brilliant showcase of Cayman’s culinary talent at the Culinary Month Taste of Cayman festival. Also, with charity events, rum adventures, lionfish dinners and dinner cruises, Culinary Month 2011 looks set to be the best ever.
So while the Christmas holidays might be notable for a turkey being roasted, stewed, curried, fricasseed, brought to work as sandwiches for lunches and finally sent to the freezer as stock, remember that every mouthful of seasonal poultry brings you closer to a month wherein flavour is key. We’re hungry already; bring on 2011.
Breezes by the Bay Rhum Filled Adventure
6 January, 2011
Breezes by the Bay
A rum-filled adventure under the twinkling lights of downtown George Town with a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea. Escape with rum-inspired appetisers, sweets and mojito madness. Indulge in several Cayman Islands speciality mojito varieties, plus of course, the timeless classic.
Caribbean Food & Art Festival
7, 8 & 9 January
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort
Join the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort at Balboa for a feast for the eyes as well as the palate while enjoying the work of local artist Al Ebanks. Executive Chef Anthony Le Pape will create a menu from local ingredients to showcase Cayman’s skills with food, as well as the inspirational art of a talented local legend, both inside and al fresco.
14 to 16 January
Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Cost varies by event
Join Chef Eric Ripert for a weekend celebrating food, wine and the natural beauty of the Caribbean. An incomparable roster of world famous chefs, sommeliers and spirits blenders will offer tastings, demonstrations, tours and dinners that celebrate the barefoot elegance that only the Cayman Islands can deliver. Chef Ripert said his contemporaries are all keen to come to the event, which is gathering a great reputation for its food and drink. Some notables include Charlie Trotter, Susur Lee, Rachel Allen, Cindy Hutson, Dean Max, Jennifer Carroll and regulars José Andrés and the ever-engaging Anthony Bourdain.
It’s not only magnificent culinary arts – the Cookout also has a very strong emphasis on the place of wine with food, how to construct the perfect pairing and the introduction of various grapes, wines and blends to attendees.
“There is no such thing as a good dinner without wine,” said Ripert, who filmed an episode of his show Avec Eric here last year.
The talented and award-winning French chef added that he never gets tired of visiting Cayman’s attractions, including his personal favourite, Stingray City. Tickets for the Gala Dinner on Sunday, 16 January, are in high demand as a seven-course dinner will be prepared by chefs Ripert, Allen, Andrés, Lee Schwartz and Trotter. It could just be the meal of your life in a highlight among highlights of the weekend.
Lionfish Hunt & Cookout
20 and 27 January
Cobalt Coast Dive Resort/Divetech
Join Cobalt Coast and DiveTech as they combine the Cayman’s premier sport with a tasty cookout. Divers are invited to be a part of an educational briefing about lionfish, a one-tank dive to catch lionfish, a cooking demonstration and the tasting of lionfish appetisers paired with Sauvignon Blanc. Not only will attendees get to scuba dive and experience an exotic tasty dinner, but they will also be involved in a valuable environmental project that helps to remove an invasive species from Cayman’s waters. Participants must be open-water certified scuba divers to participate.
Rum Infusion Dinner
Rum Point 6-10pm
Ferry leaves Safehaven Dock at 6pm, returns approximately 11pm
Set sail with Red Sail in this exciting rum-soaked event at the Rum Point Restaurant. Participants will enjoy a feast of flavours that features the signature drink of the Caribbean – rum.
CITA 3rd Annual Charity Wine Dinner & Auction
Ortanique, Camana Bay
7pm for Welcome Wine
The Charity Wine Dinner will be held at the new Ortanique restaurant in Camana Bay and will feature the wines of PlumpJack and Cade wineries of Napa Valley and Howell Mountain. This exceptional wine pairing experience is a great way to enjoy the cooking of celebrity chef Cindy Hutson. Silent and live auction items will be available for bidding at the end of the dinner, with all proceeds going to support the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and their charitable efforts here. Event sponsored by Blackbeard’s Fine Wines and Spirits.
Taste of Sparkling Elusion
29 January 4pm to 6pm
On board the Cayman Elusion
Cost: $105 per person, maximum 14 adults
Imagine the most exclusive way to experience the Taste of Cayman… on board your own private luxury yacht with what could well be the ultimate pre-party package. Imagine arriving at Camana Bay by yacht after a two-hour sunset charter and unlimited glasses of sparkling Prosecco. You are then free to experience the incredible tastes, sights and sounds of Taste of Cayman (ticket included in price).
Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival
Camana Bay Waterfront
Cost: $30 for adults ($40 at the gate), $15 for kids ages 6 to 12, ages 5 and under are free.
This 23rd installment of the annual showcase of Caymanian culinary talent is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, smells and tastes. With a record number of restaurants from the Cayman Islands already signed up, there will be food and drink for everyone. Feast on culinary creations from restaurants of all types, enjoy the famed mudslide or locally crafted brews and spirits, dance the night away in one of the themed lounges and enjoy live music and Caymanian culture at its best.
Organisers say Taste of Cayman is one of the largest epicurean festivals in the Caribbean – and one of the best. We agree. Look out this year for a waterfront theme, oodles of stuff for the kids to do, more restaurants than ever before and lounges dedicated to champagne and mojitos.
Among the magnificent prizes on offer is the grand raffle prize of a trip for two to Chile, with six nights’ stay at the Marriott Santiago resort in the Las Condes district with easy access to all of Santiago and minutes from popular ski centres. Recognised as the 2010 Expedia Insider’s Select Hotel, the Marriott is among the best hotels in Santiago. Enjoy a wine tour, dinner and $500 spending money, too.
Weekender will be speaking with the epicurian heroes involved with all events in the run-up to Culinary Month, so check the Caymanian Compass and www.caycompass.com for much more information.
Compass writer Alan Markoff contributed to this report.