Sunday, January 17, 2016

Two big meals


Today's main Cayman Cookout events--and the only two I paid to attend--both involved big meals, though in very different ways.

The first was the "Bon Vivant Champagne Brunch," which began at noon, ran for nearly three hours, and included a live cooking contest between two local teams of two people each.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Around 500 folks attended this event.  We crowded around big tables to eat and chose dishes from two long rows of chef stalls in hallways outside the main room.  A caviar bar, a long cheese table, a charcuterie section, a big raw bar, and many stations with hot foods left even the hungriest diners with more to try than anyone could possibly fit into his or her stomach.  I enjoyed almost everything I sampled, with a chocolate and banana dessert--an iffy choice for me in the first place--the only dish I found truly weak.

The other meal, "Seven to Savour: An Evening with Eric Ripert & the Chefs of Cayman Cookout," is the showcase (and most expensive by far) event of the festival.  Despite its high price, this meal always sells out quickly, as it did this year.  Everyone dresses up, goes to an assigned seat in Blue by Eric Ripert, and enjoys a meal composed of seven dishes from the seven top chefs in attendance at the Cayman Cookout.

As one would expect, the menu for this year appeared marvelous.


It tasted even better.  Tonight marked my fifth such meal, and I have to declare this one the best yet.  Every single dish was excellent, delicious and complex and completely marvelous.  Each dish also contained surprises.

Consider Hubert Keller's squab breast.  At first glance, it is a very simple dish


with a squab breast and a small stack of tiny pieces of pineapple.  When I flipped one of the slices, however, it was clear that a skinless squab breast was sitting inside something that looked like but was not a skin.  When Chef Keller came by our table, he explained the amazing process by which he created this pseudo-skin, the very precise way in which he cooked the concoction, and the almost as complicated process of producing the sauce on the plate.  I can't remember everything he used in these two processes, but suffice to say that both the creativity and the skill necessary to create this dish were amazing.

And so the 2016 Cayman Cookout closed.  For the next several days, I will stay here and enjoy this amazing hotel and wonderful island.  I already hope to return for the 2017 Cayman Cookout!







2 comments:

David Drake said...

Dear Mark,

What is the advantage of fake skin on the squab?

I quite like the skin on chicken breasts (dunno that I've ever had pigeon) regret it when they're skinned for 'health reasons'. Is the fake skin healthier?

As always,
Dave

Mark said...

I believe Chef Keller created the fake skin to produce a more luxurious dish than the original skin would have allowed. It was definitely not healthier; it was tastier and full of more different flavors.

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