Friday, January 17, 2014

On the road again: Grand Cayman, Cayman Cookout, day 2

The weather today sucked, with strong winds and occasional rainfall all day long.  Despite that fact, the place remained beautiful.  The ocean in the morning was grand.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

It was similarly stunning, though slightly darker, later in the afternoon. 

To kick off the first session I attended, Jose Andres' presentation, Andres, Eric Ripert, and Anthony Bourdain each wore huge sombreros and rode horseback down the beach as music from The Three Amigos played.  Only Bourdain looked at all comfortable in the saddle.  As always with Andres, his entrance was a hoot. 

Andres doesn't give lectures; he runs about like a madman, talking and exhorting the crowd to try to reach his own energy level.  As he talked, his team prepared a gazpacho and huge pans of fideos, which is basically a paella with pasta. 

Yeah, he sweats--and he often spills things on himself, as he did today.  His joy, energy, and enthusiasm are contagious, and this session, like the others of his that I've attended, was big fun.

Next up, after a short break, was lunch at Blue by Eric Ripert.  Here, Ripert is introducing the chefs who then demonstrated how to make Ripert's signature tuna with foie gras dish. 

I next took in the session from Martin Picard of Au Pied du Cochon.  Picard, billed here as "The Wild Chef," is famous for cooking vast quantities of foie gras.  Today, he taught both how to cook foie on its own and how to make his restaurant's most famous dish, foie gras poutine.  As he was teaching, his son and daughter served us samples of the incredibly fatty and delicious dish.

As Picard said, "The idea behind this dish is simple:  fat plus fat plus fat plus fat equals very good."

In today's final session, celebrity chef Rick Bayless taught us a lot of tricks for making Mexican-inspired ceviches. 

His food was a lovely light counterpart to Picard's dish.  I haven't followed Bayless, but after today, his restaurants are now on my must-eat-at list. 

The evening dinner activity didn't start for a couple of hours, so I caught up on work before taking the bus a short ride down the beach to the Barefoot BBQ.  At multiple stations scattered around a private beach, chefs in tents prepared small plates of various types of barbecue.  The very best was Jose Andres' Iberico pork slider. 

Anthony Bourdain handed out plates of spicy skewered meat but did not seem to be involved in the cooking; he now does not appear to cook at this event. 

Eric Ripert's team's contribution was a lovely and delicate grilled tuna with a ginger soy vinaigrette.

Two local singers entertained the large crowd as we all milled around sampling the dishes and talking. 

Did I mention the room with a twelve-foot buffet of high-end cheeses?  The open bars?  The three dessert stations?

The all-you-can-eat buffet of Jacques Torres chocolates?

Yeah, it was a lovely array of food in a gorgeous setting on a warm but windy island night.

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