Irish meets the Islands

Another highlight of the meals at Camana Bay during the Cayman Cookout was Rachel Allen’s Celtic-Caribbean fusion dinner at Abacus, which carried several surprises for the taste buds.

Who would have thought of combining black pudding with bananas, or potato soup with coconut, or smoked salmon with yams?

The unique menu was drawn up over two months by Allen and her partner in crime in the Abacus kitchen, Ron Jacobson, with the intention of bringing some tastes from Ireland and combining them with Caribbean flavours.

During Saturday night’s dinner, Chef Ron took care of the kitchen while a relaxed and chatty Allen met and mingled with all the guests and played the friendly and lively hostess.

The celebrity chef of the TV show, Rachel Allen: Bake! is a member of an Irish cooking family dynasty who run the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork. She visited Cayman for the cookout with her two children, parents and husband Isaac, who is the son of Darina Allen and grandson of Myrtle Allen – two names Irish readers and anyone who has ever attended a cooking class in Ireland will be familiar with.

Melt in the mouth

This meal was a long way from the meat and two veg of the typical Irish cooking of old. And it all worked beautifully.

The sweetness and soft texture of the bananas were a wonderful accompaniment to the blood pudding, the coconut milk in the soup lent a wonderful Caribbean flavour to a very traditional soup and the yam and salmon cake, topped with melted and crispy Dubliner cheese (which incidentally actually comes from County Cork, not Dublin), was a melt-in-the-mouth success.

Oysters in Guinness batter were partnered by a sweet and tangy ginger mayonnaise, while another traditional dish of loin of bacon with sausages with mashed potato was given a Caribbean flavour with dasheen, or taro, leaf, instead of the usual green cabbage, and stewed pineapples.

For those who still had room, a selection of Irish cheeses and brown soda scones, followed by Bailey’s ice cream with rum-soaked raisins finished off a truly memorable meal, which was accompanied by wine, or Guinness, or Black Velvet – a cocktail of Guinness and champagne – so that each course could be properly toasted with a “Sláinte!”.