A taste of a Taste of Cayman

Mystery restaurant tour heralds return of culinary festival

1981 Brewing Company’s brewmaster Jordan MacNevin introduces some of his craft ales. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

The return of Taste of Cayman was announced Wednesday during an islandwide restaurant tour that provided a preview of the main event.

The renowned food and drink festival is scheduled for Jan. 26 at Camana Bay and is expected to feature more than 40 local restaurants and bars serving their signature dishes and drinks to thousands of festivalgoers.

To promote the festival, this week the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and Tower Marketing held a “magical mystery bus tour” of some of the event’s featured venues. Journalists were treated to a taste of Taste of Cayman in a mini-tour that served as an appetizer to January’s main event.

At Bandidos Cantina in Seven Mile Shops, the first stop, owner Jason Moir served Mexican street corn along with the restaurant’s famous guacamole and tortilla chips.

Mixing drinks in front of shelves filled with different varieties of tequila, he said the restaurant was looking forward to taking part in the festival for the second year since its opening.

Mr. Moir, who has been involved in the festival with other establishments in the past, said the event was going from strength to strength and he plans to serve up his famous corn along with a mystery “sweet treat” next year.

At Agua restaurant in Camana Bay, Cristiano Vincentini served conch, Scotch bonnet and seasonal pepper pasta, washed down with a Mediterranean Essence cocktail.

He said the restaurant was thriving since its move to the town center. Along with sister restaurant Catch, in West Bay, he said Agua sought to stand out from the crowd through its commitment to using the best ingredients and hiring the best sommeliers, mixologists and chefs on the island.

Next stop on the tour was the 1981 Brewing Company, a new venue in George Town’s industrial estate, and a first-time participant in Taste of Cayman.

Brewmaster Jordan MacNevin introduced the gathering to a sampler of four of the venue’s craft ales, including a Cayman Blonde and a Tropical IPA.

Mr. MacNevin already offers a literal taste of Cayman with his seasonal beers. Local farmers have helped him make a mango beer, a guinep beer and a soon-to-be-released Christmas sorrel beer.

He said he has an idea in mind for a special ale for the Taste of Cayman festival.

Next stop on the tour was the Brasserie, one of the winners at last year’s event.

With its own beehives, vegetable garden, laying hens and buy-local philosophy, the Brasserie was among the pioneers of the farm- and sea-to-table movement in Cayman, said manager Corey Blohm.

“The conch you are having today was delivered from one of our boats to the back door this morning,” he said.

After tasting success last year, Mr. Blohm said, the Brasserie was hungry for more.

“We are going to try and top it this year,” he said of last year’s winning sliders entry. “We have got an idea but it is not set in stone yet.”

The tour wrapped up at the Westin, where Cayman Islands Tourism Association officials gave details of what is in store for this year’s festival.

More than 40 venues will serve up their favorite drinks and dishes at Camana Bay’s Festival Green as they compete for the coveted title of Cayman’s favorite restaurant, as voted by festivalgoers on the night.

The All Things Cayman area will provide a snapshot of cultural and traditional elements of Cayman’s culinary scene, including a heavy cake competition, amateur chef cook-off and Seven Fathoms mixology competition.

Further demonstrations, including a lionfish and iguana cooking demo, will be held in the experience room. Details of the entertainment, including bands and DJs, will be announced at a later date.

Tiffany Dixon-Ebanks, executive director of CITA, said, “After the enormous success of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Taste of Cayman in 2018, we’re looking forward to continuing the island’s fabulous and longest running food and drink festival in January.

“Grand Cayman is renowned for not only its amazing local cuisine, but for the diverse food and drink offerings we are lucky enough to have here. Taste of Cayman brings together locals and visitors for one amazing night under the stars to celebrate everything we love about island life.”

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