Saturday, January 23, 2016

About that trip home

Thursday's journey home began well:  lots of sleep, a nice farewell to the ocean, and the usual excellent hotel check-out service.

As soon as the cab left the hotel's property, the driver pushed a few buttons on his van's after-market CD player, and Kenny Rogers started singing about the coward of the county.  I didn't recognize the next song, but it was Kenny again.  As the cab entered the airport's property, Kenny began asking Ruby not to take her love to town.  In retrospect, I should have taken this as a sign to avoid Charlotte and stay at the hotel, but I didn't.

The flight to Charlotte went well, as did my passage through customs and immigration; Global Entry is the only way to go.

The short flight to Raleigh appeared to be going well.  The plane was full, the pilot was talking--and then a man walked onto the plane, the pilot stopped, and the man announced that they had canceled our flight, the only other flight to Raleigh that night, and all the flights to Raleigh on Friday.  Mind you, the weather in Charlotte was fine, the weather in Raleigh was fine, and the weather at all points between the two cities was fine.  As best I can tell, American just didn't want the plane stuck in Raleigh.

Off the plane we all trooped.

Thanks to Gina, while everyone else was waiting to see what American would do for them, I headed to Hertz, where a rental car was waiting.  Three hours of driving later, I arrived in Raleigh, home but much more tired than I had expected to be.

I've been snowbound since then.

I do not currently heart American.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I was going to write about my trip home

and I still will, but not today.  Today, I must draw to your attention this absolutely great trailer for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie.  (Thanks, Eric, for pointing me to it.)  I was going to see this movie, of course. because it's a superhero flick, but now I'm positively excited about doing so.

Seriously, this looks great.  Even if the movie ends up sucking, the trailer is a beautiful piece of work.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm home

but only after what proved to be a longer and more complex day than I had hoped to have.

More about it tomorrow, because right now, I'm exhausted and going to bed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Another lazy day

I generally follow Anthony Bourdain's admonition to be a traveler, not a tourist, and I had planned to do so during this visit--and then I didn't.  Yet again, I've stayed within the confines of the resort for my entire time here, healing and taking it easy and, of course, attending many Cayman Cookout events.

Ultimately, I'm okay with that decision.  I've needed the time to heal, and though I am still not at a hundred percent--I still cough multiple times a day--I am dramatically better.

I'll get to it next year.

Being lazy here is easy.  Sleep late, eat lunch on the beach, swim in the ocean, splash in the pool, doze in chairs ocean-side and pool-side, and the day vanishes.  The night invades with its dark beauty

Click the image to see a larger version.

and then it's time for a late dinner and more reading and relaxing.

A pretty good life, at least for a while.  I leave tomorrow, and I know I could stand this same stream of lazy days for another week or four.

It's been great to be here, and I look forward to saying goodbye (for now) to the ocean tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Feeling guilty, feeling relaxed

Today, the skies stayed overcast all day, the ocean churned, the winds played music in the palms, and temperatures dropped just enough that climate control was never necessary.

Click an image to see a larger version.

As this shot from where I ate a late lunch shows, shorts and light shirts were still the order of the day, but few ventured into the water.

It was a perfect day to do nothing, so that's pretty much what I did.  I slept late, relaxed, read, dozed, and took an already slow-paced life down a few notches.

Two of my favorite beverages from other days joined me in this process:

water and a virgin mango daiquiri.  Yum.

Being me, I of course felt guilty at how little I accomplished--but I managed to get over it and keep on relaxing.

I have no plans other than a dinner reservation for tomorrow, which right now sounds absolutely perfect.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nothing going on, lots going on

That's how the day felt, a mixture of absolutely nothing and more than enough.

Each day here, I sleep a ton, get up as late as other commitments permit, and feel a little better.  Each day, I get out of bed hoping today will be the day when the cough is gone, and each day, the cough remains--but a little less present, a little less forceful, a little bit better than the day before.

The ocean at lunchtime was rough enough that the hotel didn't put any of its usual stuff in the water, but some folks, including me, still went in.  I enjoyed lunch--a virgin mango daiquiri, water, a burger, and salad--on a chair directly in front of the frothing, surging ocean.  (So few people bothered to go outside on this Monday that I got a great spot even though I arrived late.)  After lunch, I splashed in the ocean and enjoyed being pummeled by the waves, which managed to take me down and force me under on multiple occasions.  On one of those times, I lost my sunglasses; I deserved that loss for being dumb.  (No worries, though; a replacement pair will hit my house in a few days, courtesy of Amazon.)

After some additional rest, a little time in the pool, and some drying, I returned to the room to snooze and read.

Dinner was at Andiamo, a restaurant on the hotel's property.  The breeze was strong and the night cool, so a Caesar salad, a bowl of pasta, and some gelato proved to be absolutely perfect.

I brought a few things to watch on the in-room DVD player, and of course I have books, so each night I have many entertainment options.

As I said, nothing happened, and plenty happened.

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!


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