AN EPICUREAN EPICENTER | Cayman the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean

Published in Good Taste Magazine

By Alisa Bowen

Photography by David Wolfe

cayman1A leisurely metamorphosis and culinary evolution has transformed Cayman into a globally recognized international culinary capital of the Caribbean—and the world! This doesn’t happen overnight. It has been, true to our nature, cleverly evolving on “island-time” and through a rather organic process, which has gingerly altered our epicurean landscape. Any exceptional chef understands and appreciates that ‘you cannot rush a good thing’—successful recipes require a perfectly timed simmer or sauté to develop the ideal blend of flavors. And so it is, after a long artful simmer, Cayman has officially arrived as a global hot-spot attracting the world’s top chefs, sommeliers and gourmands-alike from all corners of the globe.

Cayman has grown from a humble population of 8,000 residents in 1969 to over 50,000 today. Tourism has flourished to our tropical isle; this past year Cayman welcomed almost two million tourists. The Caribbean Club was the first high-end restaurant to open in 1966 and was a culinary revolution at that time. Graced with an all European staff, ice carvings and a fresh produce flown in one a week on a DC3–it was the place to be. The arrival of five-star hotels The Ritz-Carlton and The Westin, presented an entirely new level in cuisine and instantly raised the bar. Today, approximately 200 restaurants offer a gastronomic array of cuisines, and Cayman boasts two AAA four star restaurants and one five-star restaurant which will delight any Parisian or New Yorker.

International Top Chef Eric Ripert opened the Caribbean’s only AAA five-star restaurant Blue by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton; he also hosts the international annual Cayman Cookout—the Caribbean’s premier epicurean event which lures top chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Charlie Trotter, Rachel Allen and Susur Lee. Indisputably, it is the Caribbean’s premier foodie and wine enthusiast event, the guests are beguiled with Cayman’s barefoot elegance and epicurean artistry.

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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one hasn’t eaten well.” -Virginia Woolf

Cayman has one of the highest standards of living in the world; chefs and restaurants have learned to evolve their menus competitively to satisfy their discerning clientele. Some establishments offer local, organic ‘farm-to-table’ ingredients while others will import from all over the world to complete their innovative recipes.

With over 106 nationalities living on Cayman, the cuisines are reflective of the diversity of its patrons and culture. From local Caymanian cuisine to Brazilian, French, Italian, Asian, Indian, and contemporary fusion—Cayman has it all!

Local cuisines still takes center stage, with a spotlight on the seafood and local fish, as many restaurants embrace our Caymanian heritage dishes: conch, turtle stew, jerk chicken and fish, cassava cake, curried goat, ackee, breadfruit, festival, codfish, fish rundown, whelk, escovitch, callalloo and oxtail. If you tend to be a bit squeamish trying new cuisines, see the glossary at the end of the magazine for an understanding of some of these local delights.

Oenophiles and wine connoisseurs are oft baffled with the impressive wine lists and cellars adorning the island like rare jewel boxes. Cayman imports spectacular wines from extraordinary vineyards all over the globe, and numerous restaurants pair wines in either a special menu or tasting menu to compliment the cultivated palette. One third of all restaurants with award-winning wine lists in the Caribbean are located in Cayman. This year top-tier vintners Dennis Cakebread and Bo Barrett graced Cayman from the Napa Valley, led four-day journeys all over Grand Cayman with demonstrations and tastings. Cayman will welcomes this year Ray Isle the Wine Editor of Food & Wine Magazine; Aldo Sohm the“2008 Best Sommelier in the World” from La Bernardin; Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson; Winemaker Piero Incisa Rocchetta from Sassicaia one of the most renowned Italian wineries; Wine Maker Nicolas Morlet of Champagne Pierre Morlet & Fils in Avenay Val d’Or; Vintner Gerhard Kracher of the Austrian family winery and Michael Moosbrugger of Schloss Gobelsburg Austrian winery. Participating wineries for this year’s Cayman Cookout are: Tuscany’s Sassicaia; Napa Valley’s Silver oak; Sonoma Valley’s Vérité; Washington State’s Columbia Valley’s Chateau Ste. Michelle; and France’s Moët & Chandon Champagne.

Cayman is also rich with a vibrant bar dining scene, which has also grown over the years. Options range from the uber-chic martini bars which would impress any Manhattanite, nightclubs rigged with the latest light and sound displays, relaxed sports bars, lively beach tiki bars, and more traditional pubs which can make any Dubliner feel at home.

Fine cigars are synonymous with the Caribbean, and Cayman offers some of the world’s best hand-rolled cigars to finish the flavors of a delectable meal. Many restaurants and bars offer their own private humidors and cigar-rollers make the freshest smoke on-site to compliment the after-dinner experience.

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Coffee bars, European-style cafés and bustling bistros have all found their way onto the dynamic Cayman scene as well. Even the discriminating Parisian will be pleased to find a fresh croissant au chocolat.

Virginia Woolf once said “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one hasn’t eaten well.” Whether living on Cayman or just visiting on holiday, the veritable plethora of culinary options excites and delights. Foodies craving a casual meal, tourists seeking the ideal dinner spot or picky gourmands will all discover Good Taste Magazine’s glossy pages are filled with restaurants for every taste, budget and location on-Island. With so many options, the real question will be “Where to go?”

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Comments
One Response to “AN EPICUREAN EPICENTER | Cayman the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean”
  1. Truly a nice post! I like every word in your post. I want to go to this heaven, I mean to cayman, surely I will go one day, I want to know more about the food places and water sports there.

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  • © 2012-2013 Alisa Marie Coccari All Rights Reserved

    All writing is copyright of AlisaCoccari.com Permission to use any such content will be both requested/granted in writing. Photography will only be used with written permission from the photographer and/or source. Alisa Marie Coccari has also been published under the nom de plume, Alisa Bowen.
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