As 2016 comes to an end, I’ve been taking some time to look through my blog and the posts I’ve written this year and I'm surprised by how many of them are centered around food! Truth is, the food offering’s in Cayman are truly world class, blowing others in the region out of the water, and it's time we all took notice! Step aside Paris, there's a new cool kid in town!
Cayman’s population is hugely diverse – it’s a true melting pot of cultures all of whom seem to love great food as much as they love the sun and beaches. With over 300 café’s, delis, bars and restaurants, there's something for everyone and there's nothing the talented chefs haven’t mastered - Italian, Asian, French, Indian, Mexican, Greek and more – it’s all here from steaks to seafood and the menu's score as highly in quality as they do variety.
But what is it that puts Cayman up there among the global big hitters in food?
1. Seafood that’s actually from the sea
A chip fresh from the fryer, a tomato that’s just been picked, bread that’s still warm from the oven – nothing beats freshness and that’s never truer than in the case of seafood. Catch, Cracked Conch and Morgans, are my favorite restaurants that can serve fish almost straight from the dock it comes in at. Sushi grade cuts are made into some of the finest ceviche’s I’ve ever tasted.
Left to right: wahoo and tuna tartar at Catch, a tasting plate at Cracked Conch and fresh catch eggs benedict at Catch
2. Local Specialities
Cayman style fish prepared with tomato, onion and peppers is perhaps the islands signature dish, while locals consider themselves the conch kings of the Caribbean preparing it in a number of ways. From creamy chowders and stews to ceviche and salads, it’s a staple on these shores.
3. Culinary celebrations
Cayman’s foodie calendar allows no time for dieting as straight after Christmas the countdown is on for the Cayman Cookout with visiting celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Jose Andreas joining Eric Ripert for a long weekend of gastronomic events. Straight after that it’s the Taste of Cayman festival, now in it’s 29th year and counting! In March it’s the Agricultural show, a chance for local farmers to showcase their produce just in time for Easter, after which things calm down a bit in the summer before kicking off again October with restaurant month, cocktail week and the Out of the Kitchen dinner. The year closes with the Table Talk food awards and before you know it, it’s Christmas again!
Photos from the Anchor & Den table at the Out of the Kitchen event
4. Concern for the future
More and more restaurants are chosing organic and making an effort to source locally to ensure they have the freshiest and tastiest ingredients while encouraging healthy choices and working to reduce the island’s carbon footprint. The Brasserie paved the way for the farm to table movement a number of years ago but in the last few years places like Jessie’s Juice Bar, Vivo and Greenhouse café and even restaurants at the big hotels like Anchor & Den at the Marriott, have joined in and together these restaurants are setting the standard using the freshest ingredients in everything they do. With organic wines starting to show up on drink menus and mixologists choosing seasonal fruits for cocktail specials, Cayman is revolutionizing the way people in the Caribbean consume food. As a friend of mine commented recently, people in Cayman are more concerned here, than anywhere else, about their health and what they put in their mouth, and our culinary scene reflects that.
Above pictures: Fresh menu items at Anchor & Den
5. Culinary experiences
The food scene on the island isn't limited to eating out at a restaurant or grabbing take out - there's a number of different unique experiences to chose from including Camana Bay's Flavour tour, wine and canapé's at the Tasting Room and cooking classes at Bon Vivant to name but a few! Whether you're interested in cooking or eating or both - there's something for everyone!
Above: Sushi Making class at Bon Vivant
6. Laid back luxury
Although fine dining is popular, dress codes are not which makes the Cayman Islands one of the easiest places to eat out. Top restaurants in big cities have to be booked months in advance. Here, reservations are rarely required and you can dine out in style at the drop of the hat.
Casual dining at Morgans restaurant
Few places in the world would let you sit at the table in board shorts as you look out to the open ocean from a luxurious sun drenched deck, but it’s lack of pretentiousness that allow everybody access to great food, fuels experimentation and delivers an outstanding culinary experience to all.
Where's your favourite place to eat in Cayman?