Saturday, January 18, 2014

On the road again: Grand Cayman, Cayman Cookout, day 3

Today was supposed to begin early, with a catamaran ride to Stingray Island, some time in the water feeding and playing with the stingrays, and then a trip to Rum Point for Burgers in Paradise.  At the time the organizers had to make the final call on this trip, however, the weather was too dicey and the water too rough for the boats, so they moved the event to the hotel's beach.

The water was indeed rougher than usual, but not rough enough that we all wouldn't have been fine on it.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

By this point, though, they'd set up the huge tent on the hotel's beach, so we had to do the event here.  Poor us.

Seriously, it's impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you're walking on the beach here, the weather gorgeous, the ocean amazing, and fine chefs are serving you burgers of all sorts.  Just the beach alone makes self-pity impossible.

As you can probably tell from this picture, the folks at the event were indeed managing to have a good time.

The afternoon offered only two sessions.  My first was a presentation by "Mr. Chocolate," Jacques Torres, on techniques for making chocolate cups and chocolate mousse, as well as how to cook salmon with chocolate.  Joking and talking constantly as he expertly handled the chocolate in the windy, warm weather, Torres was an engaging speaker whom I'd watch again.

Next up was a Cayman Cookout standard, an hour-plus talk by Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain.  They told stories, showed video clips of a recent show they'd done together, and answered questions.  Both thoughtful and funny, with very different personalities and yet a common love of great food, the two friends are wonderful to watch in action.

The sky as the sun was setting suggested a storm might be coming in, but it was still lovely.  

The evening brought a cocktail time at Camana Bay,

and a presentation on how to cook lionfish, a fish that is invading the Caribbean and the Atlantic and killing off vast quantities of indigenous fish. 

For tonight's dinner, attendees had to sign up for one of four local restaurants, at each of which one of the guest chefs was working with the house chef and staff to prepare a multi-course meal.  I chose Mizu, because its guest chef was Daniel Boulud, a famous chef whose food I have never tried and whose session I could not catch this trip.  I've learned from my last two times here that you cannot judge a chef's food by the one meal he or she prepares in the kitchen of another restaurant, but this was at least a chance to taste some of Boulud's food.

The meal was good, but the dessert, which he called a Coupe Calamansi, was simply outstanding:  light and fruity and incredibly bright, yet also quite satisfying.  Imagine a sort of parfait in a wide glass, with many different types of fruit, a yuzu gelee, a few crunchy bits, some cream, and bits of some sort of cake, and you'll have the general picture.

I look forward one day to eating in his signature New York restaurant, Daniel.

Cool breezes stir my room's drapes, and the ocean soothes me with the sound of its waves.  It is lovely here.  Were I wealthier than I will ever be, I'd happily come here for a couple of winter months and write and swim and stare at the ocean.  

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