Slow Food enjoys art of dining

Grand Cayman’s Slow Food organisation had an artistic dining experience when 59 of its members and guests circumnavigated the globe with food, music and the artwork of renowned Caymanian painter Bendel Hydes. 

The recently opened National Gallery of the Cayman Islands has touted itself as a venue for community events and Cayman’s Slow Food group was the first to put it to the test on a large scale. 

The event started with a cocktail reception during which guests had an opportunity to view Bendel’s extraordinary 12-painting exhibition called Circumnavigating the Globe. Each painting in the series represents 30 degrees of longitude, beginning at 90-60 degrees West and then travelling eastward in the direction of the earth’s rotation. Bendel then chose an area of interest in the span of longitude – north or south of the meridian – as the inspiration for his art. 

After the cocktail reception, the guests sat down among the paintings at long, colourfully set tables. 

Eric Steele, the Chef de Cuisine of Dine by Design, the caterers for the event, created a menu that not only supported the theme of circumnavigating the globe, but that also reflected on the plate Bendel’s masterful use of colour. Chef Eric also named his dishes the same of some of Bendel’s paintings.  

The amuse bouche, ‘Sargasso’, was a colourful sea scallop tartar topped with mango caviar in scallop shell resting on a bed of sea salt.  

‘Baltic Blossom’ featured Mulard duck prosciutto and a young rocket salad with pomegranate reduction.  

Chef Eric also went to lengths to support Slow Food’s theme of using local ingredients, particularly in the main course called ‘Complexity’. The course featured yellow fin tuna, butter-poached lobster and pepper pork belly, accompanied by green beans and assorted Cayman breadkind. 

For dessert, the appropriately-named ‘Baudrillard’s Dilemma’ gave guests two completely different tastes and textures with a dense, rich, dark chocolate pate topped with a fresh raspberry and a light and fluffy coconut pavlova with passion fruit Chantilly creme. 

In keeping with the dinner’s theme. BlackBeard’s provided a variety of beverages from around the world – Bacardi rum and Canton ginger liqueur from France for the welcome cocktail; Louis Jadot Macon Blanc Villages Chardonnay from France; Wild Rock ‘Cupid’s Arrow’ Pinot Noir from New Zealand; and finally Ron Abuelo 12-year-old rum from Panama with dessert. 

To further support the event’s theme, melodic music from meditative traditions from around the world was played on the Gallery’s sound system throughout the evening. 

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The art on the plate often mimicked artist Bendel Hydes’ colourful paintings.

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Slow Food members and guests enjoyed an artful dinner while seated among Bendel Hydes’ painting series called ‘Circumnavigating the Globe’. – Photos: Alan Markoff

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Dine by Design chefs put the finishing touches on ‘Baltic Blossom’, a course in the meal that featured duck prosciutto and rocket sprouts with pomegranate reduction.