Culinary Month 2011 kicks off with an intrinsic Caribbean flavour this Thursday, 6 January, at Breezes by the Bay.
The Culinary Month Rhum-Filled Culinary Adventure, sponsored by Jacques Scott, starts at 6pm, costs $25 and is set to be a delicious, engaging and entertaining journey through the world of perhaps the most famous rum-based drink on the planet: the mojito.
“There will be five, unlimited mojito stations – a berry station, the original mojito itself, plus other themed ones.
“We’re using Havana Club, Appleton VX and Mount Gay. For a lot of events people worry about paying the entry fee and not getting good rum, but that’s not the case with us,” said Joanne Calma of Breezes.
There will also be a mystery rum-tasting station, plus an intriguing selection of food based around the famous spirit.
“We’ll also have rum-infused appetisers and infused sweets as well, including rum and raisin bread pudding, mojito chicken skewers and a lot of savoury and sweet dishes which will be interesting.”
Breezes by the Bay is a rum deck with 42 different rums on offer and has hosted several rum-based events over the years which have always gone down smoothly with the local audience. But what goes to make a classic mojito?
“The fresher the ingredients, the better it comes out. We like to use the Cuban rum Havana Club, fresh mint, raw sugar, fresh lime wedges and soda water. You have to get a good blend or it just tastes like water. It’s a combination of the way it’s mixed and the way it’s muddled.
“It’s important to crush the mint to get the flavour out as opposed to completely demolishing it. You can have a mojito where it’s muddled properly and then there’s the type where the mint’s crushed up and ends up floating in the drink and in your straw. To get it right, the leaves should pretty much stay whole, but you should be able to get all the flavour squeezed out of them,” she said.
A bit of history
Historically, the drink’s origins are a subject of some debate. Some believe that it evolved from an aguardiente (primitive rum-type spirit) drink favoured by Francis Drake in the 16th century, with mint, lime and sugar added to tone down the harsh taste. Others say it’s derived from sweet sugar cane-based liquor known as Guarapo. Whichever, it was made most famous by Ernest Hemingway, who spent years in Cuba and enjoyed the drink in the La Bodeguita bar. Whatever its genesis, the blend of aroma, taste, sweetness and sour notes make it a favourite of many people, particularly in this part of the world, and an ideal way to kick off a month that celebrates the flavours and ingenuity of Cayman.
“Culinary Month plays a really big part in making people aware that Cayman really does have talented chefs and restaurateurs down here. It also has great ingredients and local items that can be utilised in the dishes as well.
“There are people who don’t want to step outside their comfort zone or try new things, so this is a good opportunity to get people out to do that. People may be comfortable with Appleton, or the rums they know, but it’s nice to be able to get people’s perspective on new items. The difference between Havana Club or a bad blend is very distinct, as are the different rums from different areas – Myers Dark Rum is not the same as Gosling’s Black Seal. You can taste the oak it was matured in, the different spices, how it was aged, for how long, the distinct flavours,” said the drinks expert.
A palate-treat is in store, then, with the tastings set to introduce more and more people to the nuances, breadth and depth of flavour of a drink – and meal ingredient – that are intrinsically linked to the history of the Caribbean and, of course, the Cayman Islands.
Breezes By The Bay Culinary Month Rhum-Filled Adventure Thursday, 6 January, 6-9pm. Cost: $25
Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s are both subsidiaries of Cayman Distributors Group. Both companies are institutions in the Cayman Island’s liquor industry, having served the islands since the early 1980’s. Big Daddy’s was founded by Cleveland Dilbert, who worked tirelessly to ensure he provided what his customers wanted – a wide selection of products, reasonable prices, and a commitment to friendly service. Big Daddy’s stores are located at Mezza on West Bay Road, Buckingham Square, The Falls, Airport Centre, and Cayman Brac.
Blackbeard’s was founded by the Baldwin family several years later and also developed an independent philosophy centered on friendly customer service and of course their famous Blackbeard’s Rum and Rum Cakes. Blackbeard’s stores are located at Grand Harbour, The Strand, Seven Mile Shops and downtown Duty Free.
“Culinary Month is an excellent opportunity to work with our partners in the bar and restaurant industries, while at the same time demonstrating our brands to the people of Cayman,” said Mat Bishop of Cayman Distributors.
“We believe Culinary Month is an excellent idea that will grow exponentially over the next few years as more and more local companies get behind it. Culinary Month attracts international attention and greatly enhances the Cayman Islands as a gastronomic tourist destination. The Cayman Islands has a wealth of amazing restaurants and we need to tell more and more people about this aspect of Cayman life. There are few other islands in the Caribbean that can claim to have what we do, and we should be shouting from the rooftops about it.
“I’m afraid my cooking skills have never matched my appetite. But I can tell you that my two young boys like nothing more than wandering around Taste of Cayman trying all the various Caribbean cuisines. They are true Caribbean kids.”