Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On the road again: Cayman Cookout,
Grand Cayman, day 1

Two hours of sleep--twice interrupted sleep at that--is simply not enough, even for me, so I awoke utterly exhausted at 4:30 a.m. this morning. (I normally am crawling into bed about that time or a bit later.) After a shower that wasn't enough to wake me fully, I headed for the airport.

All whining about today, however, is unacceptable in the face of a single fact: I'm on Grand Cayman island to attend one of the coolest foodie events there is, the Cayman Cookout.

The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is about as nice as a resort hotel can get, which I am here to tell you is pretty darn nice. After a late poolside lunch, I worked, rested a bit, and then caught this view of sunset from my oceanfront room.

My iPhone's camera doesn't do justice to the magnificent view, but you get the idea.

As I said, whining is simply not acceptable when you have this to look at.

And this pool view, from looking down from the room at about the same time.

So, yeah: no whining.

Dinner was late and at Blue, the local restaurant of legendary chef, New York restaurateur, and Cayman Cookout host, Eric Ripert. I was particularly interested in this restaurant because I've never eaten at Ripert's Le Bernardin restaurant in New York; in fact, I've never eaten his food before. I'm not the biggest seafood fan, so I've never pushed his restaurants to the top of my must-eat list.

I will now. The meal, which was almost entirely seafood, was magnificent. Every bite of every course was spot on. In each dish he managed to fuse his French heritage, his love of seafood, and tastes reminiscent of this island and the Caribbean in general.

To pick but one, the opening listed dish (after the amuse), was this lovely tuna carpaccio with foie gras.

It's so easy for foie to take over in any dish in which it's present, so that was a real concern here. As I hope you can see, they pounded the tuna until it was very thin, so I was doubly worried that the foie would drown it out.

I had no cause for concern. The balance of the flavors was perfectly tuned to keep the tuna the star but let the richness of the foie enhance that flavor. I ate it as slowly as I could.

Now, I am even more excited about learning from him and eating more of his food at the Cayman Cookout this weekend!

I will, of course, report back as the event unfolds.


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